Paris is unlike any other city I’ve visited. It is a myriad of things. At first thought, it is the harmonious accordion melody, it is exquisite style, it is F. Scott Fitzgerald’s frosted wedding cake buildings, it is good food and fancy people. The more I learn about the place and spend time there the more I see past the veil of romanticism and see how the people are, granted I still have SO much more to learn. Paris is romantic, artistic, open, gritty, ornate, busy, diverse, strong, loud, and full. They love to sit at their cafes at all hours of the day, they love to appreciate the time fully. Quite unlike the rushed culture of the States, it’s something I love about Europe, people just seem to put more value in things like relationships and good conversation…aka four hour long coffee chats.
As my second trip, I could revisit some of the great touristy sites but also dedicate more time to exploring actual neighborhoods and watching the people. Thankfully I had some dope friends studying abroad in Paris to show me the cool areas and things to do, shouts to demmm.
Our first day we brunched, admired the cool edgy posters plastered to crumbling apartment walls, explored Jardin du Luxembourg and simply walked around the Parisian streets, stopping to admire window displays and to sample Pierre Hermé macarons. We made our way to the Notre Dame Cathedral which never fails to leave me in awe. Being from the States, coming across structures like this always blow me away. It’s such an aged structure, completed in 1345. Meanwhile, anything from the 1800’s charms me back at home. The cathedral stuns me in its enormity but also its history, it has seen so many people pass through its doors and worship in its great halls. From village people, the Hunchback (heh), the French Revolution, to millions of visitors from around the globe today, so many paths have crossed here. The history and stories seem to echo within the grand arches and spiky turrets, it gives me chills.
After perusing the cathedral we hit up the famous lock bridge where I locked on to nobody lul then headed to the Eiffel Tower, which always gives my heart such a thrill.
Hanging with Paris study abroad homies is awesome cause I get to see what Paris is from their perspective, past the touristy rosiness and into the more chill and authentic Parisian lifestyle. From bomb brunch suggestions, rose flavored gelato, to swinging our feet as we sat along the Seine and visiting the Shakespeare Bookstore which is like a real life Flourish & Blotts (shoutz to you if you get that reference), its a pretty sweet life. Paris is just such a lovely place, everything is so quaint and elegant, everyone dresses so well ( the States should take note), and every cafe and restaurant seems so inviting. One of the most interesting experiences of this trip for me was visiting the catacombs, I’ve always wanted to go after reading a National Geographic article about it years ago. Naib & I waited in line for about an hour and a half before entering the corridor of death, literal death. The catacombs are in the underground quarries of Paris and hold the remains of 6 million people, isn’t that astonishing?! 6 MILLION people. I don’t know why I was so excited to go, but once we started walking down the cold spiral staircase and started reading about the history of how graves were dug up in order for the city to expand and in order to fix the ineffective cemetery situation, my stomach dropped and I went cold. We got mad creeped out. We kept walking through the low ceiling stone quarries, avoiding the water dripping from the ceiling and finally arrived to the ossuary, framed by the sign that warns “Come no further, you are entering the Empire of Death.” We walked in and felt a chill crawl up our spines. I knew what to expect but to actually witness the piles and piles of bones, literally tunnels that seem to stretch forever with nothing but bones…Skulls designed symmetrically over each other, some creating hearts, some X’s. To see the infinite rows of femurs and limbs, the remains of people that existed centuries ago, their souls left to uneasy rest, amid 6 million other uneasy souls. It was a really cool experience, it put history into a physical perspective, it made me feel so small in the greater scheme of things. It was really thought provoking but I was so creeped I had to hold on to Naib half the time! Then I left him there to rot, thanks for the tour Naib!!!! Here’s a Before & After Pic!!!!!
Other highlights of trip was wandering the Le Marais neighborhood with Naib, I went back the next day to share my experience with my friend Sara. He took me to the best Shwarma place in the city, and it did NOT dissapoint. All his friends stared at me as I took my first bite to gage my reaction, they were pleased haha. Le Marais is such a cool, hip area. There’s a ton of Jewish stores and bakeries, Stars of David everywhere, and alongside them many Arab stores and shwarma places as well. I loved seeing that aspect. Dont get me wrong the classic street cafes are great to visit but lets be real, my favorite parts of any city are the cultural parts. Think about it, in Chicago Devon Street, Chinatown, Pilsen –even my neighborhood which is Hispanic and Arab– these places are the most intriguing. Who knew all these cultures could mesh together so harmoniously? It was very cool to see the more cultural side of Paris, all these different colors and faces and different inflections of the French language. The neighborhood was also home to super posh boutiques and stores, we window shopped, tried on hella glasses in my pursuit of some frames, and ate a tonnnn.
Going back through the trip I smile, there were just so many nice moments like crashing back at our airbnb after a long day of walking and soaking in the sites, rubbing our sore feet and cracking up over the photos of the day, chatting with Morgan at a hipster and overheated cocktail bar, simply staring at the Eiffel tower, yelping as we see it glitter for the first time, navigating the Metro alone, sitting along the Seine sipping wine and indulging in Macarons, that first bite of the street crepe, passing the same building 4 times with Sara because we enjoy wandering aimlessly, even if that means wandering in circles, eating amazing food… So many great moments and such great people to spend them with, I’m glad I could share this trip with so many people, it gives Paris an even fonder spot in my heart.
Au revoir Parie! Till next time!