It’s hard to believe that the first time I went to Paris, I was convinced I was going to hate it. How could it possibly be as great as everyone said it would be? I marched right up to the Eiffel Tower my first night and called it ugly. Two seconds later, it started twinkling. I apologized profusely for my mistake. True story (those who know me probably won’t doubt the apology detail). Paris is now one of my favorite cities, if not my favorite city in the world.
After Venice, we got on a plane to Paris where we met my good friend Camille. Remember Camille? My Parisian friend who got to go to New York with me more times than planned because of my New York Consulate adventures? I think that Paris was my favorite part of the whole trip, I had such a blast with Camille and her family and it was fantastic seeing my brother again. Briana only stayed until the next afternoon before catching a train back to Nîmes to continue her adventures with her host mom. Camille has an internship right now, so that gave me lots of solo travel time in Paris. Briana and I went to the Musée Rodin before she went to catch her train. After, I headed off to the Orangerie. The museum isn’t large, but it houses Monet’s greatest masterpiece, Les Nymphéas (Waterlilies). It takes up multiple rooms and is incredibly immersive. I had no idea the painting was so large and made up of so many panels! I lingered there for quite some time enjoying the ever-changing colors and scenes of the painting. Apart from Les Nymphéas, there isn’t too much to see, but I did discover the work of Marie Laurencin.To take a virtual tour of the rooms housing Les Nymphéas, click here. Click “l’ensemble de l’orangerie” at left for a brief explication of each panel.
I decided to walk back to Camille’s afterwards. I, of course, got a little lost, but I’d planned for that and it’s a good way to see things. I made my way over to the hotel where my brother was staying. He was on a one-week trip to Paris with his international communications class. With Camille, we went to a crêperie, Le Flibustier (The Buccaneer), for dinner. I’d been there with Kathleen and X and thanks to X, I was able to find it again. Apparently every crêperie in Paris is located on the rue d’Odessa, right by the gare which services Bretagne, Montparnasse-Bienvenüe. I guess a bunch of Bretons got off the train and all just said, “Paris! O, look, a road! Let’s open up shop right HERE.” I greatly enjoyed being there to see my brother have his first cidre et galette. He wasn’t a huge fan of the cidre, but neither was I at first. Now I love it. There was a guy playing the accordion in the restaurant (they’re everywhere in Paris). Obviously, he heard us speaking English (my brother doesn’t speak French), but he refused to believe that Camille was French, let alone Parisian. Camille thus became Mexican for the night ; ) The three of us went off to explore the Latin Quater after our meal.
The next morning, I met my brother and took him to see the Egyptian wing of the Louvre. Or, well, part of it, it’s huge. I decided to visit Père Lachaise afterwards. That deserves its own post for the story. After several hours, I made my way out of the cemetery and found my brother. I was in charge of cooking dinner that night for my brother and I and Camille’s middle brother, Éric, who I also knew from the aumônerie in Nantes. My brother tagged along as I did my grocery shopping and observed the cooking. I made pork chops marinated in honey and mustard and a tomato, onion, and chickpea salad. It was a fun sibling dinner.
My last full day in Paris, I went to Versailles. That also deserves its own post for how incredible it was. Afterwards, I met Camille for an early dinner (18h30 is really early by French standards). We reserved using lafourchette.com and got a 40% discount on a plat + dessert. Score! The food was so yummy! Then we went to a play, apparently a very Parisian thing to do therefore Camille insisted I must do it. We saw Le tour du monde en 80 jours. Hilarious!! Especially the parts making fun of the Brits and Americans. I loved the “Where is Brian?” sketch. Seriously, how many French people who tried to learn English were traumatized by this Brian guy?
My last day, I woke up really early for the love of my little brother to accompany him to the airport. Upon my return, I had lunch with Camille’s family. Did you know you can eat manta rays? I did not. Now I do. It’s actually pretty good, kind of creamy. Camille and I went to see Sainte Chapelle, which is incredibly gorgeous and historically interesting. We’d hoped to go to the Musée d’Orsay after, but the line was much too long so we decided to wander instead and then go to the Musée de l’Armée. We only visited the part about WWII and the reconstruction era. It’s a very modern museum and incredibly well done and educational. Then, it was time to catch my train back to Nîmes. I feel I must mention that the last three days I was Paris, all public transportation was free due to a spike in pollution. Considering that and the fact I had to pay for no museums, it was a great deal.
I have a feeling we’ll meet again one day, Paris!