Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Things I Did in Paris (in no particular order)

1. Went to three different art museums: Musee d'Orsay, the Louvre, and the Centre Pompidou. My favorite was probably Musee d'Orsay because I love 18th and 19th century art, but they were all pretty cool. We didn't really spend much time in any of the museums, probably because you could spend forever exploring them.  The Louvre was so crowded, but I did get to see the Mona Lisa. My thoughts? It's cool to say you've seen it in person, but there's just so many people trying to look at it, and it's really really small. So basically you have a hundred or so people in a restricted space taking pictures of a 600 square inch portrait. But you can't really go to the Louvre and not see it.
The Mona Lisa

2. Visited the Palace Versailles. I really liked Versailles, but it was incredibly crowded, too. The gardens were lovely, though, as was the Hall of Mirrors and seeing all the Marie Antoinette artifacts. I think I'll have to watch that movie when I return at the end of the summer.
The Gardens

3. Climbed the Eiffel Tower. We trekked up the 600 or so stairs to the top level (that's the highest you can walk up) and then took the lift to the very top. The views were incredible. It was a gorgeous day, and we finally made it to the top at about 7 in the evening (though it still seemed like the afternoon) and the rays of sun were streaming through the clouds. It's about as close to heaven as you can get. Also, the Eiffel Tower is huge in person. When you're right up against the iron lattices you really feel the magnitude of the tower.
At the Eiffel Tower

View from the first level

View from the top

About to walk up (top), at the first level (middle), at the very top (bottom)

4. Went to the Eiffel Tower at night. Twice. With bottles of wine. The first night we went it was just a small group of us. We took the metro and got to the tower right at midnight. "It's midnight in Paris!" I said to my friends, as the tower sparkled behind us. Truly incredible. We sat on the lawn, drank, talked, and listened to music before the next light show at 1 am. This one was all white lights, though, so the effect was really different. At that moment, I really fell in love with Paris.
Midnight in Paris

5. Studied for finals. On the night of the Summer Solstice (where there's a huge music festival in Paris) our entire group was basically forced to stay in to study for our exams the next night. I stayed in my room, wrote my art history paper, and memorized image IDs. I think everyone felt cheated that our exams were in Paris (and our midterms were in Florence, no less), which really prevented us from getting out and exploring Paris. The city is so big and sprawled out that it would have been impossible to see everything we wanted, but I certainly tried.

6. Went to the Opera Garnier and saw the gorgeous Chagall ceiling painting in the theater.
7. Went exploring on my own. After our exams on Friday I had basically the whole afternoon to myself. My friends were headed to the Pantheon for an extra credit assignment, and since I didn't need the extra credit, I decided to head to Sacre Coeur and Montmartre. Luckily our hotel was a block away from a major train station and navigating the Paris metro is so much easier than a lot of the other cities we've visited. I climbed up the steps to Sacre Coeur and was rewarded with a gorgeous view of Paris. After heading down the steps I spent the next few hours wandering through Montmartre, window shopping, actually shopping, and enjoying a nice picnic lunch in the park while people watching. I had a bit more time left to kill afterward and decided to head to the Luxembourg Gardens. I wasn't sure what to expect but was amazed when I finally got there. They were beautiful. I'm so glad I took the time to see some more of the city, which is something I hadn't done much of in any of the other cities. There's something to be said for experiencing a city like Paris on your own. Still, I feel like I could spend another weekend there, just wandering around and exploring, which just goes to show how much there is to do in Paris.
Sacre Couer (top) and views of Montmartre (bottom)

8. Enjoyed some real Parisian pastries. Including a french apple tart (awesome), two mini caneles (my first time trying them; was not disappointed), pain aux raisins (not a pastry, but darn good nonetheless), and my absolute favorite, an almond tart. This almond tart was awesome. It was my special treat on the night I studied for exams, and I savored every bite. Goodness.
A mini canele in Montmartre 

9. Departed for Oxford, where I am now. I'll post more about Oxford soon, but to say that it's beautiful would be doing it a disservice. The campus is lovely - gorgeous gardens, centuries-old buildings, and really nice people. I can't wait for the next six weeks.


  1. sounds like you made the most of paris. after all the art history classes i took i couldn't NOT go to the louvre and am very glad i did despite the crowds. versaille and going to the top of the eiffel tower are certainly on my list of things to do next time. looking forward to your next chapter.

  2. you crammed a lot into a very short time, for sure! did montmartre make you want to (re?)watch amelie? hope you get to spend more time at musee d'orsay, the 3rd/4th arrondissements and bonne marche + ina's favorite food store when you go back. that's a reasonable amount to cram into a long weekend. xo - m.