I’ve Left My Heart in Paris

I think it’s safe to say that I’m in love with Paris. I don’t know how our long distance relationship is going to work or when we are going to see each other again, but I think it’s going to work out.

This is what I love and will miss about Paris

  • the wide Haussmannian boulevards with terminating vistas
  • catching glimpses of the Eiffel Tower and the Sacre-Cœur
  • all of the beautiful parks
  • the public transportation, but espicallly the RER B, which I spent so much time on
  • the food (if anyone tries to tell you that being a vegetarian in Paris is hard, they are lying to you)
  • the Seine
  • riding the 6 and going through Vavin (which is pronounced like ‘va-va’)
  • the breathtaking art museums
  • listening to the French speak English, which they are terrible at
  • picnicking in one of the beautiful parks
  • did I mention the food?
  • being able to navigate the maze that is Les Halles
  • walking everywhere and feeling safe while doing so
  • the uniform sandstone buildings
  • getting lost and stumbling across something beautiful
  • or getting lost and then discovering that you know exactly where you are

I think what really made Paris special and what I miss the most were all of my amazing classmates, my professor, and all the friends that I made. If it were not for them, I don’t think that I would have had such a phenomenal time.

 

Life Post-Crepes

I have arrived! Eight and a half hours across the Atlantic, and I am home. I wish I could say with complete confidence that the flight back was a piece of cake, but, alas, I was just as terrified for the return.

The most difficult question to answer since returning has been this one: How was Paris?

How on EARTH does one answer that!?

You’re asking a girl who has just…

Climbed to the “top” of the Eiffel Tower:

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Walked to the depths of the Catacombs:

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Watched fireworks set off from the Seine on Bastille Day:

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Feasted her eyes on some of the most famous works of art ever created:

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Visited famous chateaus:

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Saw the burial grounds of some of the most influential men and women in the world:

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Had her first experience ever at one of the most magical places on Earth:

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Ate some of the most delicious food she will ever eat:

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Mastered public transit:

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Had a blast learning about architecture and urban planning alongside of six new friends:

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…and SO much more!

You know, it’s questions like these that make me wish I had kept up with my blog, because then I would have a quick spot to refer to in order to answer this exact question. However, it was difficult to find time to sit in front of my computer and do much of  anything when I had only one month and the entire city of Paris to explore. Still, each moment will be etched into my memory until the day that I die, and the valuable things I’ve learned about architecture and planning in Paris will never go to waste.

For example, I think what impressed me the most about Paris was a simple concept called “compression and release” that we talked about numerous times throughout the course. This concept describes the idea of walking through small, narrow streets throughout a city that surround you to the point of being unable to see anything too far in the distance. However, upon exiting the street, you’re immediately lead into an open area where certain large landmarks are placed with an element of surprise. This concept explains why I was so fascinated with the Eiffel Tower. The Tower is easily one of the tallest buildings in the city; yet, it’s not clearly visible in many spots. In fact, it often sneaks up on you. You’ll be navigating your way through small alleys and narrow boulevards, and suddenly, in front of your eyes, the Eiffel Tower will peak through an opening and awe you with its beauty. Allowing yourself to be surprised and awestruck by these landmarks is a pivotal part of the experience.

My love for the City of Lights has just begun, and I intend on returning in the not-too-far future. Whether its for an extended stay or just enough time to satisfy my pastry cravings, I’ll be back.

Parisian Doorknobs

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A mosaic of all the doorknob pictures I took while in France.

Well, I’ve finished my final project and it is now attached…yikes! Click on the Parisian Doorknobs link below and you will be taken to the Prezi website. In the screen’s upper lefthand corner will be a blue tab that reads ‘Present,’ click it. You can then watch it in auto play mode or manual. bon visionnage!

Parisian Doorknobs

Post-Parisian Pastry Syndrome

Personally, my trip back home does not mean relaxing by the pool but, going back to my internship and part-time job. My part-time job is at Chili’s near an amusement park close to my hometown and not the most relaxing place to work on the weekends. Being surrounded by okay food, impatient customers and smelling like fajita makes me miss Paris and its food culture.

In America, restaurant goers want everything fast. They want to be seated immediately, have their drinks brought to the table promptly and their food out with no time at all. There is no time to relax during that period or even have a decent conversation with the people you are dining with. Unlike Americans, Parisians took their time with serving food and eating their food. They do not need their waiter every time their water ran out because there was a  carafe  of it on the table. Parisians also do not eat one huge plate of food for dinner but a three course meal. When I was in Paris eating a meal was a ritual not a race. I wish Americans adopted this idea that a meal is a time to spend with others and taste delicious food.

Another component of the Paris food culture I miss is the food itself. As a girl who diligently watches Top Chef, I was overjoyed to see and taste all the delicious food in Paris. There I decided not to shy away from any food and try everything from raw beef, the smelliest of cheeses and even snails. By trying a variety of foods, I found out that snails just taste like the butter and garlic they are cooked in (Who does not like garlic and butter?)  and that I like salmon tartare better than beef tartare. All of the food I ate in Paris was delicious and I already miss those flavors. Bread and pastries will never be the same for me ever again. If America embraces Parisian food culture, we all would be more relaxed and living a higher quality of life.

 

Parisian Street Art

Amongst the many things I love about Paris, wall/street art is definitely in the top 10. Street art is all over Paris, and under the city too, since it can be found in the metro, sewers, and catacombs as well. I took several pictures of street art during my stay and I reveal them to you for your enjoyment.

Natural looking woman.

Natural looking woman.

It made sense to someone.

It made sense to someone.

Wall Art is often random.

Street Art is often random.

Can you see the Wall Art?

Can you see the street art?

What I like about this skull is someone drew pupils in the eye sockets.

What I like about this skull is someone drew pupils in the eye sockets.

Wall Art can be large, like on the side of this building.

Street art can be large, like on the side of this building.

This is actually an advertisement for the artist's blog.

This is actually an advertisement for the artist’s blog.

Two women kissing.

Two women kissing. Sometimes the art is a mosaic rather than just a painting.

Space Invaders are all over Paris. We even saw one in the metro.

Space Invaders are all over Paris. We even saw one in the metro.

Some centaur smooching.

Some centaur smooching. Maybe the centaur is supposed to be on a leash?

Spider Man flying from building to building.

Spider Man flying ‘solo’ from building to building.

This isn't wall art, but it's so cool anyway. Those are latex gloves that have been blown up and tied together.

This isn’t wall art, but it’s so cool. Those are latex gloves that have been blown up and tied together.

The French like clowns, the more the better.

The French like clowns, the more the better.

I go weak in the knees for art with skulls.

I go weak in the knees for art with skulls.

This appears to be an alien Darth Vader with bling.

This appears to be an alien Darth Vader with bling.

Here's a sassy comeuppance to the typical skinny chick.

Here’s a sassy comeuppance to the typical skinny chick.

A wall art rendition of The Little Prince by an unknown artist

The Little Prince by an unknown artist in an unknown location: It’s not Parisian, but I love it!

Paris in China?!


Luxembourg garden fountain?

http://news.yahoo.com/photos/replica-of-paris-in-china-becomes-ghost-town-1375720919-slideshow/

I found this article to be so interesting! I guess it looks like Paris (kinda…), but it certainly doesn’t feel like Paris! The windows are not casement and the Luxembourg garden fountain looks nothing like the real one. This place just looks run down and depressing. The idea is neat, but this concept is a mega fail! What does everyone else think?

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/57895709#[/vimeo]

Views of Paris

When I returned to the United States, my family drove me out to Western Pennsylvania for a family wedding. The drive was filled with views of gorgeous mountains and clear blue skies. These views were the total opposite of the ones I saw in Paris but, they were still as moving and breath-taking. Views like the view on top of the Sacre Coeur,Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame draw thousands of visitors a year. Yet, I wonder what are the best views of Paris.

Each view has its own distinct attributes and outlook on the City of Lights. For example, the view from the Sacre Coeur gives you a view of Paris from its highest geographical point in Montmartre where, the view from the Eiffel Tower highlights the city from a architectural wonder. These places are able to give us a bird’s-eye view of the Seine, the city’s wide boulevards and landmarks like Notre Dame, Center Pompidou, and the Pantheon. The problem with views from landmarks like the Sacre Coeur and the Eiffel Tower is that these iconic structures are not featured in the view of the city. Can you imagine a view of Paris without the Eiffel Tower? Personally, my favorite view of the city was from the Center Pompidou not because of its height or its grandness. I love  that you can see the rooftops of buildings and above those roof tops a huge landmark appears without missing a major feature of the cities skyline.

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        View from Eiffel Tower

View from the Sacre Coeur

View from the Sacre Coeur

View from the Center Pompidou

View from the Center Pompidou

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Place(s)

On my last night in Paris, a guy asked me what my favorite place in Paris was and at the time I couldn’t give him an answer. For the record, his favorite place is the Opéra Garnier, which is an excellent choice.

I have been mulling over this question for almost a week now and I think I have finally made up my mind. Of course, I am incredibly indecisive so I have two favorite places.

One of them is the top of the Sacré-Cœur. From up here you have all of Paris at your feet and it is absolutely breathtaking. From up here you can point out the golden dome of Invalides, the inside out Pompidou, the Pantheon, Notre Dame, the massive length of the Louve, and of course, no view of Paris would be complete without the Eiffel Tower.

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My other favorite place in Paris are the gardens at the Musée Rodin. Of all the gardens that I saw in Paris, these were the most beautiful. The gardens feel so peaceful and quiet even though it’s right in the middle of Paris. I also think that the gardens perfectly complement Rodin’s work.

Rico, I doubt you will ever see this, but this is my answer to your question.

 

“… you’ll have to fall in love at least once in your life, or Paris has failed to rub off on you.”


I have been back in the United States for three days now. I am happy to be home, but I miss Paris. Once you visit Paris, you WILL fall in love with it. While it may be hard to maintain a long distance relationship, Paris will always have a special place in my heart and I am looking forward to the next time I get to visit it.

So you might be wondering why I fell in love with Paris…well this is why.

1. A big stereotype of Paris is that the French are rude to Americans. I found this to be untrue. As long as you try to speak their language, you will get along just fine with the Persians. I think they appreciate it when people submerge themselves into their culture and I love this about them.

2. Small cars…big cars are completely unnecessary in the US, especially when there are only small parking spots.

3. The bathroom doors go all the way to the floor and the locks indicate when someone is in the bathroom. Shy bladder will never be a problem!

4. There are water fountains all over the city which allows you to carry a water bottle around. Dehydration isn’t a problem when you are walking around the city for hours.

5. There is free WiFi through out the city.

6. There are cafes and museums at every street corner.

7. The streets are wide instead of narrow, which makes me feel more comfortable.

8. Everywhere you look, there is a famous monument or icon of Paris.

9. There is a way to get to every part of the city because of public transportation.

Vive la France!

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Paris, A Moveable Feast

Earnest Hemingway said, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.”

Since discovering this quote by Hemingway, while in Paris, I have mulled it over repeatedly, because of its simple truth. Paris is an indescribable feast that one has to experience to truly  understand. Wonderful experiences can be savored for years, a lifetime even. Timing is everything, and the time was right for me and Paris to meet. With all her annoyances, she still captivated me, and I left a piece of my heart and a big chunk of change with her! It will take a long time to process this trip, maybe years; although, I hope to go back next year!

Some things are easily explained and understood, like the skyline, the view from the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, Saint-Chapelle, the Latin Quarter, Bercy, the Seine, the FOOD, the fashion, the sweet calm dogs, the fountains, the fantastic parks, and the coolest playgrounds anywhere. There are other things that are more abstract and maybe they just strike a cord with my internal value system. Things like beauty for beauty’s sake, fabulous design, substance over bottom line, literary interest, art everywhere, and a formality in manners and etiquette.

What is this “moveable feast” that I can take away from Paris you may ask? Well, that’s difficult to answer as I’m still composing the experience, but I will try. The first thing that comes to mind are the flowers: hollyhocks, geraniums, and snapdragons are everywhere and are in every park. Of course, there are sunflowers and lavender as well, but I am already planning to add the first three flowers to my garden in the Spring. Another item is the contentment with small things: small cars, small flats or houses, small furniture, small portions of food and drink, and small dogs. I can be very happy with smaller things and space and in fact, I shall embrace it. The French seem to be content with things getting old and worn and even prefer things to be old and worn. My husband’s leather chair is very worn and the cushion is being recovered right now. I am sad to see it  recovered as it will look new. My husband thinks I’m being silly. Walking is another part of the feast I can keep for myself. The French walk or ride bikes everywhere. The first few days of my stay, I was frantic, trying to learn the metro system and where everything was in a foreign language, but it is intuitive and so am I, so I caught on quickly. I enjoyed the walking and I want to keep walking.

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And now it is Saturday morning in my little town, and there is a farmer’s market only a few blocks away. I’m going to walk there with my own shopping bag to buy some fruit and flowers. Maybe my husband and I will have our own little feast tonight. The flavor will be enhanced by my experiences in Paris…sigh…I will go back.

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