Sunday, November 14, 2010

La Parisian Ghetto

This weekend (or long weekend, I should say), I spent in Paris with Ashley and Kate. We arrived Wednesday evening and stayed through Sunday afternoon. It was an intensely long, long weekend on the European continent but it was great! I'm not even sure I can begin to describe all of my experiences, and I figure it's best to not write a novel as this post. Instead, I think I'll briefly list the things we did and saw with a few added commentaries to the most important. When I come home in less than one month (!!) you can ask me for more details!
The view from La Sacre Coeur

Wednesday evening: We arived  at Chales de Gaulle after spotting the Eiffel Tower at night from the plane. We then took the metro to our hostel toward the center of Paris and realized that Paris is a very dirty city (hence the title of the post). Wandered around the area of our hostel and had dinner in a petit restaurant where the servers were very friendly. Headed in for an early night to start our day bright and early.
L'Arc de la Defense

Thursday: Headed on the metro to Le Louvre to view the sights. Saw L'Arc de Triomphe and walked through the Tuilleries gardens. Crossed through the ten-lane roundabout - the biggest intersection in Paris - and to the Champs-Elysee. Meandered through Gucci and Dolce & Gabanna (when in Paris, right?) and watched an Armistice Day parade with French soldiers. Walked down the Champs-Elysee whilst shopping a bit and saw L'Arc de la Defense at the end. Had lunch and headed toward La Notre Dame. LOVED the cathedral and sang some Hunchback of Notre Dame whilst there. Walked along Le Seine and through Left Bank seeing the area toward La Musee D'Orsay - a famous French art museum. Saw Van Gogh paintings and lots and lots of sculptures. Headed toward the Eiffel Tower and saw it lit up at night, including the flashing lights that go off for five minutes every hour on the hour left over from the Millennium. Had wonderful food in another petit restaurant and enjoyed true French wine. Saw the Eiffel Tower up close and personal and absolutely thought it was fabulous at night.
La Notre Dame

Friday: Headed to Versailles to visit the Chateau de Versailles. Ran into other Harlaxton students (twice) and enjoyed an audio tour of the Louis XIV and Marie-Antionette's castle, but got separated among the thousands of people from Kate and Ashley. Found each other again and headed toward Le Louvre. Explored the giant museum that took up more than just a glass pyramid (like I originally thought) and wandered through the Palais de Louvre realizing that we only had energy and patience to see specifically the famous art. We saw Venus de Milo, the Sphinx, Ramesees the II, and of course, the Mona Lisa. We were exhausted from our collective days of walking so we had an early evening back at the hostel.

Saturday: Our destination was the Cimitere de Pere Lachaise to visit the grave of Oscar Wilde at Kate's request (she's a creative writing major). We got a bit lost but eventually found the hundred acre cemetery only to be more lost once in. We found Oscar Wilde's grave and Kate was able to leave her kiss with it, as is the tradition. We then headed toward Monmarte, the Bohemian artist area with the destinations being Le Mulin Rouge and La Sacre Coeur cathedral. The area was really odd because it was full of tourist markets, but we found awesome prices for the things we wanted. The cathedral was incredible and a beautiful monument sitting atop a giant hill that overlooked the city. One of my favorites. Then headed back to the area around our hostel for some shopping and dinner. We ended up having sushi at a Japanese restaurant where no one spoke English. It was actually one of our best meals! We spent the evening (after dessert from a brasserie we passed) hanging in our hostel talking to the internationals that were also staying there; most specifically, dancers from Venezuela and Cameroon. We discussed the world and all of its differences and all that other intellectual stuff!
La Sacre Coeur

Sunday: Packed up and checked out of the hostel and headed back to the Eiffel Tower. Kate and I went up the Eiffel tower, me stopping at the second tier and she all the way to the top. The view was AMAZING and the rain let up enough during our weekend for me to get awesome pictures. It was definitely great, but the Eiffel Tower is at it's best at night completely lit-up. We headed back to the airport to head home afterward, reminiscing about the long weekend we had gone through.
A view from the Eiffel Tower

Overall, Paris was not at all what I expected. It was neither better or worse, it just was. The sights were awesome and so fun to see, but I'm not sure what else Paris had to offer? If I were to go back and not see any of the sights again, I'm not quite sure what I'd busy myself with! The Parisian people were extremely friendly, as long as you began your conversation in French. Good thing I knew enough elementary French I could begin the conversation and ask my question, or at least say, "parlez-vous anglais?" in which case, they usually did.

Paris was also full of disparity, espeically beneath and around the Eiffel tower. I've never encountered gypsies like I did this afternoon and so many immigrants without a real job. It was very bizarre to be around, especially so close to places like the Champs-Elysee. The French also have no sense of personal space and so metro travels were not always pleasant during rush-hour. My slight claustrophobia was never helped and I became very huffy toward people that pretended my presence was non-existent. But once again, I deeply appreciated the laid-back sense of the English and their posh-ness as I began to experience the French culture. The English accent has never been as welcomed by me as it was when I landed in East Midlands this evening!

I feel like to get a true sense of the city of Paris, a second trip will have to be made at some point, and definitely in the summertime. I don't feel like I can make a final decision toward my thoughts on the city simply based on this one experience. I definitely had a wonderful weekend and a great time with Ashley and Kate. We have wonderful collective stories and inside jokes from all our experiences together. We all went through tired, crabby and irritable moments, but what's a trip to Paris without the crankiness? We simply had to remind each other, hey, we're in Paris!

1 comment:

  1. Very cool Erin, love the picture of the Effel Tower, nice view.