It’s hard to say that I’ve been in love because, honestly, it’s never happened. And, to be frank, I strongly believed that it would never happen. Love, itself, is a strong, powerful word that nobody really can define. It’s emotions, excitement, and chaos mixed into four letters, which made it hard for me to believe that such a thing could exist for one person in your life.
Well, perhaps for a whole city.
Never have I ever walked through a town where I can feel an intangible magic in the air. I used to think that was Disney World or New York City, but none of those compare to Paris. Like every city, Paris has its ups and downs. There are the gypsies on the metro who try to steal your wallet. There are stuck-up assholes who refuse to even give you the time of day.
But then there’s everything you’ve only seen in movies. The Seine rolls by your feet just as you had imagined when Anne Hathaway stood professing her love in “One Day.” The Eiffel tower stands strong and you can see Demetri and Anastasia walking below it in “Anastasia.” And the roads of Quartier Latin where you can get a glimpse of where Owen Wilson waited for his carriage in “A Midnight in Paris.” Or the unbelievably majestic staircases of the opera house where Gerard Butler sweeps his Christine off her feet in “Phantom of the Opera.”
And they say Hollywood is great.
Everything is fast-paced, like New York, yet appreciated at the same time. Ha, if that’seven possible. It’s hard to even describe the city because not only is it big and beautiful, but it’s also chaotic and messy. I think that even if I did live here for a year, I still wouldn’t get enough of my surroundings.
Was this my first time in Paris? Well, I think that’s pretty obvious based on the past couple of minutes of lovey-dovey descriptions. Aside from the airport, I had never stepped a foot into this city until a few days ago where I rushed to do everything there is to do in Paris within four days. And if you are well-versed in big-city culture, any person would know that this is almost impossible, especially in the capital of France.
They also didn’t lie when they said everyone in Paris speaks English. I spent days walking around and asking people for directions in French (which was a valid thing to think), but nobody understood me because apparently nobody even speaks French. Well, not nobody. Even when a person did understand what I was saying, they automatically switched to English, which is a habit I think that I’ll be dealing with for the rest of my life. Thanks to my American accent, I think it’s pretty obvious I’m not quite fluent in the language yet.
It happens in the restaurants, mostly. I went to a café/bistro with one of my close friends near Saint Chapelle and we spoke in French to the waiters, who only responded to us in English. Luckily, they corrected our French, and it was like I was in French class all over again. “Very good. You said that perfectly! You speak very good French!”
While staying in Paris, I decided to take advantage of my surroundings as much as possible. Almost every morning, I woke up at six a.m. to just walk around and take pictures. I’m sure my roommates thought I was crazy for this, because not only did I wake up early, but my bed creaked every time I moved. So I woke them up (sorry guys!) every time. But the morning walks were worth it. Solidarity time is that portion I think we all need in our lives. That sounds sad, but it’s true: we need time alone to think. And I could do this before the city even woke up. I could observe a sleeping Paris.
And it’s absolutely beautiful.
This was something I missed from home. I need space, and any European would tell you that space decreases about ten times more when you’re here. But these morning walks gave me a little more space because less people were out. I could walk around, traipse around, dance, sing, whatever without anyone knowing. And even if they did, they didn’t know me so who cares? Plus, they’re also up at six a.m. for possibly the same reason.
So you want to know how I got my Notre Dame and Seine pictures without lines and crowds in front of me? Well, this is how.
And I learned so much about so many things. I didn’t get to climb the Eiffel Tower or shop on the Champs-Elysees, but I still got to document some great memories. I didn’t have time to edit any of these, but I promise I will get those done when I get back to the states.
After climbing hundreds of steps, I realized that going down the stairs was the hardest part. The view up top was amazing and I got to see the bells of Notre Dame and embrace my inner Quasimodo (one of my favorite Disney movies by the way). You can see almost everything from the top of Notre Dame, which is really part of the magic of the church. It took them 200 years to build this church, and seeing the intricate design of the interior just adds to how unbelievable it is. Yet, after walking through many chapels and churches, my brain exhausted, especially since Notre Dame was the first church I visited in Paris. Everything afterwards seems smaller and less extravagant, and then I just think of how many people died building this thing. Whoops, sorry to leave that on a bad note.
Literally the two words that pop up in your brain after hearing the word “Paris.” Is it amazing? Well, yeah. It’s huge as hell. Honestly, I don’t think it’s the prettiest thing in Paris, and I wish people would know a little bit more about the city than just that. But, in physics terms, it’s freaking amazing. Each leg of the tower has the same pressure and weight on the earth as an old man sitting in an arm chair does. How rad is that?
Spooked out from Halloween, yet? Not until you’ve seen human remains neatly lined up in rows underground for what seems to be an hour long walk. Don’t overthink it, because if you do, you’ll be running through the halls just to get out of there.
Never actually went inside, because, to be honest, I just wanted to see the Mona Lisa, which I knew was smaller than my window and was going to be surrounded by more people than I was willing to push through. But I went at night with a couple of my girls, and we had a little photo shoot of our own. And I will add this: we were sober.
One place that I never even knew about in Paris was the city of Montmartre. Part of the reason that I came here was because I knew that if I was with my parents, they probably wouldn’t want to come. Why? Well, it’s the red-line district of Paris. Everything is very street-art and perhaps not as sophisticated. That would be the last word I’d use to describe this place. Sacre Coeur is gorgeous and standing at the top of a giant-ass hill was cool. I actually chose to go there because I saw it from the top of Notre Dame and thought it’d be cool to stop by. Moulin Rouge (yes!) is near this site and is actually located on a street filled with endless lines of….wait for it…sex shops. And if you’ve seen the movie, that makes total sense. Advice to new tourists: don’t go see a show at Moulin Rouge. I know Nicole Kidman really makes it look exotic, but it’s really not. It’s just variety shows and you’re paying to sit in the theater, not to watch the show.
Arc de Triomphe
Does it count that I climbed it to see the Champs-Elysees even though I never went? Maybe not, but it was cool. A little foggy that morning, but that’s another factor to how lucky we were in Paris: it never rained! Also, these stairs were a little harder to climb than the ones at Notre Dame. I’m not even sure why since it’s not as tall.
Okay…just look at these pictures. It’s not even fair.
Love Lock Bridge
I know some of you are literally obsessed with the love lock bridge, because it “symbolizes” your love. For those of you who don’t know how this works, let me debrief you. So you and your significant other show up at the love lock bridge (which has expanded from more than just one bridge) with a padlock. Then you put the padlock and the bridge, lock it, and then throw the key into the Seine to symbolize your everlasting love. Well, one, they had to take down the original bridge because the weight of all the locks was causing it to fall down. So logically people decided to just continue putting locks on more bridges to cause those other ones to fall down. Not to mention that the amount of keys at the bottom of the Seine is probably killing some fish at the same time. Congratulations, world. That’s what love is.
Apparently the film “Marie Antoinette” was filmed here, and it doesn’t even begin to describe how big this place is. We spent 5 hours at this palace and didn’t even get to see a quarter of it. Take the bike tour: you’ll get more places. The palace, itself, is interesting, but I rushed to leave because of all the tourists with their selfie sticks whacking me in the face. Outside in the gardens is where it’s at. The Hamlets was a little (well, compared to the whole grounds) garden where Marie Antoinette and her children lived. They had farms, houses, everything. At first I thought it was just a cottage, but she’s got a whole city back here. It’s like walking through Epcot.
Chocolate. Macaroons. There was more, but I ate it all.
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