Monday, July 8, 2013

Bonjour, Paris!

I make it no secret that Paris is my favorite city. I had the opportunity to fundraise with my high school three times for trips to Europe that included Paris in 8th grade, 10th grade, and after graduation. I didn't really fall in love with Paris until my last trip three years ago. Every since then I have been dying to go back. The food! The art! The architecture! The atmosphere! The gardens! The History! To me, the city is like a giant museum. My best friend, Rachael, began studying in Paris the semester before I came to Torino and my Parents were dying to go back, so we made Paris our last stop.

From Porta Suza in Torino, we took a very fast train to Paris, which took about four and half hours for only around 50 euros including our multiple pieces of luggage (which was the only annoying part). Our apartment was below the 18th arr. and between the 9th and 10th arr.

The first night we tried to eat at one of the top restaurants on trip advisor called 1000 & 1 Signes, which  has Moroccan/Middle Eastern cuisine. Paris has a lot of good ethnic food options from the countries it historically colonized or had influence in. Unfortunately, since we didn't have a reservation, we couldn't get in. But I would still suggest this place (moderate pricing/really good reviews) or trying other ethnic restaurants like Vietnamese, while you're in Paris.

We attempted to go up the Eiffel Tower, but the lines were so long and with so much to see and so little time we decided to pass. We saw Notre Dame, which is worth going in, but we also passed because of the line. We did go inside Sainte-Chapelle, which I highly suggest. The upper chapel of the church is completely lined with stained glass. Go on a sunny day to see the beautiful colors and images of the glass really well. I met up with Rachael for falafel in the Jewish area and then we went to Jardin du Luxembourg, which is one of the prettiest parks in Paris. It started raining (of course), but the park was still gorgeous. The next day, we went Musee d'Orsay. The museum is inside an old train station and has a lovely collection of impressionism, post-impressionism, sculpture, Orientalism, photography, and furniture. We also went to Musee de l'Orangerie, which houses eight water lily murals by Monet and other impressionism paintings. It was very small compared to d'Orsay and especially compared to the Louvre.

The next day, I took my parents to one of my favorite places in Paris, the Père Lachaise Cemetery. You may think it is weird that this one of my favorite spots, but visit and then you'll see. This cemetery is one of the most peaceful, beautiful places I have ever been. It is known for the many famous people buried there, including Chopin, Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison, Edith Piaf, and many French politicians, writers, composers, and artists. We then went to eat some macaroons, the best French pastry. We went to the popular Pierre Herme where we got flavors like olive oil, green tea, creme brulee, and chocolate and passion fruit. A must do. From there we walked over Pont Alexander III, which is a bridge lined with sculptures and has a view of the Grand Palais and of the Eiffel Tower. We met up with Rachael for Lunch and visited Shakespeare & Company, the very popular English bookstore, and the lock bridge behind Notre Dame.

My Parents returned to America the following day and I stayed with Rachael for another week. We went to Centre Du Pompidou, got gelato, went back a few times to Luxembourg, and saw the Eiffel Tower lit up at night. On the last day, Rachael had goodbyes to say, so I went off to Jadin des Plantes, had a delicious crepe dinner, saw the Bastille, and went back to Pont Alexander III to see the sunset. It was a great relaxing day for my last day in Paris and my last day in Europe and the end of my semester abroad.

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