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.
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.
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.
Les Zombies: the best French 80s, female punk band that you’ve never heard of.
On Monday, Caitlin and I visited Saint-Denis in the north of Paris. Saint-Denis is known for 2 things; first, it is the first church to be done in the Gothic style and second, it is home to the burial place of the French kings.
One thing that I noticed while I was that the sculptures of the kings and queens up until the 16th century had lions and dogs buried at their feet. I noticed that almost all of the women had a dog or dogs at their feet and the men had a combination of a lion, a dog, or both at their feet. So I did a little research and I discovered what the symbolism behind them is.
Lions represent strength, bravery and courage, which makes sense that they were at the feet of kings.
However the dogs can represent 2 things. First of all, when they are at the feet of women they symbolize fidelity and affection. When they are at the feet of a man, it shows his valor as a knight or a hunter.
Bogna Jakubowska, “Give Me Ex Ore Leonis,” Artibus et Historiae 12 (1991): 57.
So the public transportation in Paris is fantastic. It’s probably the best that I’ve ever been on.
Things that make it great
1. It will tell you when the next train or bus is coming and the longest that I’ve ever had to wait has been maybe 1o minutes.
2. The trains out to the suburbs and the metro is connected
3. On most roads the buses have their own bus lane, so that instead of getting stuck in traffic, the bus is able to go right through
4. In addition to the metro and RER, there is also several tram lines that run around the edge of the city
5. The newest line of the metro, line 14, is ridiculously fast and it was also the first automated metro line, meaning that there are no train drivers.
What I don’t like
1. The bus schedule is super hard to figure out. For example, last weekend Carol and I were coming back from a fireman’s ball and we decided to take the bus back. Well, we ended up taking the bus in the wrong direction and we ended up in Northern Paris. Fortunately we were able to catch a cab and we made it Cité Universitaire. Unlike the metro and RER, the bus lines are really difficult to figure out. There are a bunch of lines that run right next to each other and the maps are really confusing. I’ve also found it really difficult to find the bus stop in the direction that I want to go on.
Overall, I think that the public transportation in Paris is outstanding and it is far better than anything that we have in the States.
So today for class, we went to Bercy. Bercy is on the Eastern edge of Paris and it used to be the industrial center of the city. It is now home to the Ministry of Finances, the Palais Omnisports de Paris (a sports arena/concert hall), and the new Bibliothèque national de France.
All day I’ve been trying to figure out if I like this modern Paris and I’ve come to the conclusion that I like the idea of it. I like that it keeps the Haussmannian rules of the older Paris but it does so with modern architecture.
The main reason that I don’t really like it is that it does not feel established. So I know that people live, work, shop, and eat there, but it didn’t seem like they did. Some parts felt almost kind of dead. Maybe if I went back in the early evening it might feel different.
So Paris has about 400 parks and gardens. For the month that I’m here, it would be impossible for me to see them all. Right now, my two favorite parks has are the Place des Vosges and Parc Montsouris.
In 1605, Henri IV had started to build Place des Vosges and it was finished by 1612. Originally the square was filled with gravel and it was used for parades. Much later it was planned out the way it is today, with grass, trees, fountains, and benches. It is not a very large square but it was the first of its kind.
Parc Montsouris was opened in 1889 and it has not changed too much in the past 124 years. Montsouris was designed in the English landscape style. While the park looks very natural, every tree, plant, rock, hill, and the lake was put there for a reason. The park is also very quiet, even though the RERB runs right through the park. You won’t even realize that it is there until you are on the bridge over the tracks.
What I like so much about the Parisian parks is that they get used so much. There are always people in them. There are people picnicking, children playing, joggers, old people sitting on benches, couples making out in the grass, and everything else. Back at home, I feel like our parks don’t get used as much as they do here in Paris. I can’t wait to explore more of the parks in Paris and I’m sure that my list will continue to grow!
So today Becca and I were able to escape Paris and venture out into the suburbs. After the insanity that was Versailles, it was nice to go somewhere quiet. We had an amazing lunch with my aunt’s sister and her husband, and then we spent the afternoon exploring the countryside outside of Paris. It was so nice to get out of the city and to see fields and forests. We saw everything from roman ruins, medieval villages, châteaux, new suburbs, and everything in between. One thing that I did notice is that the towns and villages are very compact, so that everything is very walkable. This is very different from being at home, where everything is just sprawl and to get somewhere you have to drive.
Before Père Lachaise was built on the outskirts of Paris in the early 18th century, they had run out of room to bury the dead in the graveyards. However, since the cemetery is not consecrated, they had a difficult time getting people to be buried there. So they dug up some famous people and they reburied them at Père Lachaise.
The cemetery is very beautiful and park-like. The older portion of Père Lachaise has meandering pathways and it feels very natural. The newer portion has a grid and is very organized. You would think it would be easier to find things in the newer section but it was actually more difficult. The grids were so large that if you had to find someone in the middle you could easily get lost.