The adventures that start along the line of “let’s make a bad decision” usually end up as the best stories. Have you had those adventures? You need at least one.
Start by taking a last minute trip, one you didn’t see coming – could be to anywhere. Down the street, next town over, next city, next country, next continent. This time, my adventure was Paris. Now, I was supposed to be in Iceland with the photography society, but shit happens. Also, Iceland. In February. I’m from Canada.
I fled permafrost.
Semester schedules for postgrad students aren’t always that reliable, so I couldn’t go to Iceland. But then friends have birthdays and the –schedules suck anyway -SO WHY NOT mentality takes over. Considering that a friend and I stayed up almost 24 hours by the time our heads hit the sheets at our accommodations in France, it’s incredible we registered anything at first.
We stayed in the 2nd arronsidssement, just off Montorgueil street in a hub of restaurants, boulangeries, patisseries, et markets – we ended up eating at a new place nearby almost every evening. The flight was easy, only an hour and a half, and Charles de Gaulle airport is easy to navigate, alongside the train to get into Paris (take the RER train, it’s 10 euro and a half hour ride). After dropping our backpacks off and bags off, we went to the first place we could, which ended up being our favourite stop. Cafe du Centre is lovely, and has an excellent selection of different food. While in Paris, we tried their pesto gnocchi (twice, it’s excellent), french onion soup (drool-worthy), and foie gras (because I’m a horrible, horrible person fight me), and when I go back to Paris I am 100% going back.
After exploring a few shops, defeat was admitted and we dragged ourselves back to our beds. Being awake for as long as we had been proved too much, and we got over 12 hours of sleep.
The next morning, we woke up early (well, it would have been earlier if I could have woken up at the first or third alarm) and made our way to the catacombs. From our place, google told us it would take about an hour and half to walk there. We made it in 45.
The catacombs were so amazing, and if any forensics kids read this and you have a chance to go to Paris, frolic on over. Anyone who can handle going 132 steps beneath the earth into ancient stone caves to see (literally) thousands of dead people’s bones, you’ll love it. They even have an audiotour and a neat-o gift shop. (That’s right. Neato.)
Capitalism. Can’t beat ’em, ‘cuz I’m weak.
Shortly after our battle with claustrophobia, we ended up at Sennelier – a famous art shop started by Gustave Sennelier in 1887, a chemist who loved fine art. It wasn’t until after I’d gone here and bought oil pastels that my friend told me about Sennelier’s history with pastels, in which they created the first set of oil pastels for Picasso. Any art shop is going to make me happy, but this in particular was quite lovely for me, especially with the history adding into my memory of my version of Paris.
Food is expensive in Paris. If your common sense wasn’t already tingly, it should be now. Most places in Paris don’t seem to go under €17 for most entree’s, let alone appetizers. So we walked for a while finding places that fit within our (poorly) constructed budget for the trip. It was all worth it, though. IF YOU THINK IT’S NOT WORTH IT, do it anyway or starve. I’m not going to go through every single day we were there, because no one has time for books not on their reading lists, so here goes: Paris condensed.
The Louvre is expensive if you’re over 26 or planning to eat food (and they don’t give a rats patootie if you’re a student, btw) but absolutely incredible. I would recommend going if there were no people and security actually checked your tickets. Also some AC. If not, still go, but you’ll be wrestling with underfoot children and people gawking at an empty display in the Egypt section explaining to their fellows that the barren space is a “modern art” installation.
Did ancient Egyptians have curses for stupidity? The world would be down an orange authoritarian psycho. Anyway.
The Eiffel tower you need to visit twice. Once during the day, see the fanciness in the light of the (questionably present) sun, and once at night. Every hour on the hour the lights on the Eiffel tower glitter for 10 minutes, and no matter the weather, it’s beautiful from everywhere you can see it. The reflection of it’s lights on the river is amazing, the romanticism of Paris confirms itself.
The Pompidou is very cool. More art – (actually) modern. We got to see installations by Cezar and Sheila Hicks, from wall boobs to hanging string. The Library/ Book Store in the building is amazing, and I found at least 8 books I need to order when I go home (traveling with books is not for the weak. I am weak.) There are too many names to list, but I was able to see some of the most incredible modern art paintings and installations through the 2nd floor gallery in the Pompidou, and I loved it even through hanger (hungry anger) rumbling inside me.
Thrifting in Paris is overrated and not for the faint of heart. I tried, and the old ladies won. 0/10 will not attempt again. I think the best way to thrift in Paris might just be to get lucky and leave it at that, because the spots I went to were vicious. When you run away from the attempt, treat yourself to some crepes at any local cafe. Sit outside, even if it’s freezing. Paris brings it’s A-game to the world of outdoor heating, and sitting outside watching the snow fall is an experience I won’t forget anytime soon.
Heard of Laduree? I hadn’t. Go. Order the hot chocolate, you’ll pour the equivalent of a molten chocolate bar into your cup and you’ll like it. The Macaroons are deadly, the cakes are €49.99 and you’ll never want to eat sweets from anywhere else again. Right outside is the Champs d’Elysee
Go to Angelina’s, buy a pastry, order an iced chocolate frappe. Watch your life flash before your eyes because it all led to this minute. Life is good and then it’s gone. Kidding.
Galleries Lafayette is a great experience in customer service, aesthetic, and being made aware of your monetary standing in the world. I saw my tuition bill on a bra. I almost bought perfume, and I don’t part with my money all that easily – they’re that good. The ceiling is gorgeous, the architecture of the building breathtaking, with the dome of the ceiling slowly shifting colours. Top notch makeup is here, so if you’re looking to find something special for yourself during your trip to Paris, I would recommend visiting Galleries Lafayette.
Just go to Paris.