Want to know where I'll be in two and a half weeks?
THE BEACH. Spring Break 2011, I am very excited about you.
You may remember hearing that the Seine River flooded a few months ago. Because of this, the Musée de Louvre was closed during our first few days in Paris, which meant we couldn’t visit it until our last full day in the city.
Before hitting the museum, Marie and Taylor and I started the day with pastries again because Paris. (White bread is basically protein there.) We took the metro to the Louvre and met up with our friend James at an adjacent Starbucks. (This would be our real fuel for the day.) James was one of our good friends from Asbury and just happened to be in Paris briefly after touring Turkey and Iraq and Italy and I can’t even remember where else. (Let’s just say he got questioned at U.S. Customs when he returned.) It was perfect timing to meet up with him.
Not six hours after we’d crawled into bed following a day in Versailles, we rose again to continue exploring Europe. My sadness over our abbreviated night of sleep was lessened by the fact that we were GOING TO LONDON, the city I’d always most wanted to see. We got ready groggily and walked through mental and literal fog to the metro, which we took to the train station. For some reason I’d been worried, yet again, that we would be stopped attempting to move from country to country (because we look so menacing and everything). But after getting our passports stamped without a hitch, we arrived at our Chunnel train with seven minutes to spare.
Our first stop Monday morning was Rue Crémieux, which is a whole road lined with pastel houses. We went just to marvel at its cuteness. It looks like Instagram and Anthropologie had a street together. I imagine its homes are inhabited by life-size Polly Pockets who keep My Little Ponies as pets.
After admiring (and maybe envying) the colorful homes, we made our way to Place des Vosges, which is cute but in a different way. It is the oldest planned square in Europe and was also once the home of Victor Hugo. (Going to France really made me want to re-watch — maybe even read!?!? — Les Mis.) Place des Vosges, as far as I can tell, is like the 17th-century version of a subdivision. Not only were the houses perfectly symmetrical, but the trees were trimmed into rectangles. There was something very Alice-in-Wonderland about it.
Paris, I was surprised to find, is much like the cartoons portray it. For instance, in the week we were there, I repeatedly saw men playing accordions on street corners. (I know, right?) In these moments, it felt as though Paris was caricaturing itself.
If you thought (like I did) that the cute little Parisian pastry shops were just a cartoon stereotype of the city, you’d be wrong. There’s a boulangerie (bakery) and a pâtisserie (pastry shop) on practically every block of the city. Pastry shops are to Paris what Walgreens are to Chicago.
As you may know if you got bombarded by my pictures on Facebook last week, I just got back from my first international trip — one to Paris with two of my friends from college, Taylor and Marie-Claire (the second of whom grew up in France and so knew the language and how to get around). We also spent one day in London, my new favorite city.
I’ve decided to blog about this trip by breaking each day into its own post because so much happened. If you want all the deets, join me here as I recap the experience. (This will also be a good exercise for me in writing speedily.)