Christie H. (ac_holl) wrote,
Christie H.

Paris, finally

I have a paper due tomorrow.  In less than 24 hours.

Normally, this wouldn't be a problem.  That's why I haven't done it yet.  Unfortunately, over the weekend, when I was prioritizing my homework, I forgot to include "this is the class that I hate the most and all of the readings are incredibly boring and I rarely take notes in class" next to the paper assignment.

Before you ask, yes.  I have started.  I have three sentences.  Because I still have no idea what I'm writing about.

So I decided that while I'm on my computer, I might as well do something productive.

I'm now in Paris.  For the first day, we (the two boys and my roommate) decide to head off into Paris and see stuff.  So we did.  And we walked everywhere.  Really.  Several miles.  I was very tired by the end of the day.  Most of the walking was done to get out of the "touristy" area, where all the meal prices were so high.  We had become so accustomed to the prices in smaller cities that it was a shock to find out that it was near impossible to buy just a sandwich for around three euro.  (We were also in the wrong quarter, as we would find out later.)  But we continued on and saw a lot of the touristy stuff.

Before that day, I had no feelings toward the Eiffel Tower.  Really.  I didn't love it or hate it, I just knew it was the piece of architecture associated with Paris.  After walking right next to it, I hated it.  I still do.  It's ugly.  It detracts from all the beautiful architecture around it.  Though my mind wouldn't be completely made up until later that day.

We took a tour on the "Bateaux Mouches" down the Seine.  It was a nice way to be introduced to the city.  I was entertained by how many languages everything was announced in.  (At least five.)  It was on the trip that I realized I didn't like the Eiffel Tower.  Why?  Because the moment we rounded the corner and the Eiffel Tower was in view, the only thing people wanted to see/take pictures of/pose in front of, was the Eiffel Tower.  They were so busy crowding along the sides that it distracted me from looking at the other buildings.  I couldn't even get pictures of some of it because they were all standing in the way.  We passed five or six other important buildings, but no one cared.  I was pissed.

Taken on our quest to find a decent sandwich.  What they don't mention in all of the tour books is how much graffiti there is.  It's literally everywhere.  This was my favorite.

Champs d'Elysees, the prime shopping street in Paris.  Also very expensive

Now, if you thought me keeping track of days was bad before, you're in trouble.  It's about to get a lot worse.

I have no idea if that was all on Sunday or if I just didn't take any pictures the next day.  However, from this point on, my days had a very nice schedule.

When school started on Monday, I was very happy that I was in the morning class.  That meant that I had the rest of the day to do whatever I wanted to do.  And we did a lot, most days.  On Tuesdays, we had walking tours with the professors.  We were divided into groups for this and I was with Professor Hayes.  On Wednesdays, we had a group dinner.  On Thursdays, we had a museum visit with our walking tour groups.  On Fridays, our homework entries for the week were due, which meant that most Thursdays after museum visits, we would all gather at a cafe and do homework together.  The homework was the only bad part of the trip.  Because we had to give up a day to do homework, we lost a day each week to do something fun.  This was always a buzz kill.

School was hard to get used to.  Our teacher only spoke in French, wouldn't answer us if we asked in English, and it was for four hours.  I don't mind four hours of straight class, but four hours of the same subject was a lot of work.  It took a lot of getting used to.
The first day, we started a tradition.  Ariel, Madison, Clint, Ian, Austin, and I all went to the Jardin du Luxembourg together.  While Austin didn't always join us, the rest of us would spend most afternoons together.  We would generally look at the map, find someplace to go, and then spend the day there.  Or we would run errands, or just go to lunch, etc.  It was always all of us.  And the first place we went to?  Gorgeous.*

We ended up there by accident.  We started walking after we had gotten something to eat, with the intention of finding ice cream/air conditioning.  Air conditioning is not standard in France because the weather is so mild and this day was particularly hot.  We were all sweating like crazy.  After getting sufficiently lost, we consulted the map and thought the Jardin was close so we decided to go there.  And there was ice cream!  And shade!  And entertainment!  And water (that was not cool but whatever)!

The next day we had our first walking tour.  It was probably the most beneficial walking tour we had, since we always ended up around the same area when we would meet up.  It's a tourist hotspot which means the food is cheap, it's the center of town, and there are a lot of bars.

The square at St. Michel, where we met for most walking tours.  This was in the center of the square.  There were a lot of street performers in this area.

Shakespeare and Company!  One of the most famous bookstores in the world.  All the books are in English.  And I'm still kicking myself for not buying one there.  Oh well.  Guess that just means I have to go back.

The Pantheon.  Also upset I never made it back here.

We ended our walking tour with Professor Hayes buying us all gelato.  I was very happy.  But I didn't want to go home yet.  So I walked around a little more with Gretchen.  We ended up here:

Notre Dame

It was very awe-inspiring.  And the line to get in was ridiculous.  I promised to come back on a weekend-day, early morning, so I could get in quickly.  I never did.**

Gretchen and I kept walking and browsed through a lot of touristy boutiques with presents in mind.  Neither of us bought anything that day, but I did go back to those shops later when buying presents.  We ended up at another building.  It was big and impressive and neither one of us knew what it was.  We would learn on our walking tour for the next week that it was the Hotel de Ville.  Every city has one.

It also had this really cool art piece in the front yard, where if you stood at the right spot, it looked like a perfect globe, but was in reality not shaped that way at all.  I can't believe I didn't get a picture of it.

On Thursday, we had our first museum visit.  We went to Sainte Chappelle.  We stood in line for an hour, but it was definitely worth it.  I would've stood in line for three hours to stand in the chapel again.  It was so beautiful, I almost cried.  Or did I cry?  I don't remember.  But I know I wanted to.  You look at these photos and tell me you don't want to cry.

Sainte Chappelle is really small in comparison to a lot of other cathedrals.  It could fit inside several other churches.  But it doesn't need to be bigger.  I don't think I would be able to handle the beauty if it was any bigger.

We also went to the Conciergerie, which is right next door to Sainte Chappelle that day.  It's a former royal palace and prison, mostly known for housing Marie Antoinette before her death.  It wasn't quite as beautiful, but it was impressive.

Apologies for the blur.  Due to lack of flash.  The room where Marie Antoinette was kept (with dummy).

And that concludes a week in Paris!  Now I need to go stare at my word document and hope this paper writes itself.  *fingers crossed*

À bientôt!

*I really need another word.
**Do you see a pattern forming yet?
Tags: france, stories, travel
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