Did you go somewhere cool recently?
You know it.
Where did you go?
La ville des lumières.
Why Paris? Oy, this list could go on for days.
Why does anyone go to Paris? To fall in love, to be inspired, to create, to see the best art in the world, to eat great food, to get macarons from Ladurée, to learn the history, to see la Tour Eiffel, to see the beauty, and to observe the life — the tourists with cameras glued to their foreheads (me), the locals enjoying drinks and company at the nearest café, the dogs in the Luxembourg gardens, the fathers holding their sleeping daughters in the Metro, and the hostel owners who switch from English to French to German to Portuguese without so much as a twitch.
We go to Paris to figure out what all the fuss is about.
I’m no exception. I’m in love with and fascinated by Paris, invigorated and inspired by its size and diversity and population and excited by the speed of its life and the courage it requires to live it. I also desperately want to know what all the fuss is about — the tourist’s and the local’s.
The trip this weekend, however, was my second weekend-long trip to the city of lights. It was quick, but certainly still worth the trip. And this time it was all about the art for me. I went because I wanted to see the le Musée d’Orsay, Le Musée de l’Orangerie, Le Musée Rodin, Centre Pompidou, Le Grand Palais, and every other art museum in the city. Unfortunately, I only made it to Le Musée de l’Orangerie and app. 1/5 of le Musée d’Orsay, but it’s a start.
How’d you get there?
We took an SNCF train from Nantes to Gare Montparnasse.
Do anything fun?
- Walking along the Seine from Place de la Concorde (Louvre) to La Tour Eiffel Friday night. Not knowing the way, we let the sparkling tower serve as guide.
- Monet’s Nymphéas//Water Lillies at le Musée d’Orangerie in the Tuilerie Gardens. What a treat it was to find this gem of a museum hiding in the gardens of the Louvre. Not only is it home to some of Monet’s best and most celebrated work, but it’s small, it’s beautiful, and it doesn’t make it onto the itineraries of many tourists, so crowds aren’t an issue. What’s more, because photos and phone use are forbidden in the oval rooms where les Nymphéas are housed, the quiet, peaceful sanctuary Monet had hoped to create with these paintings becomes a reality.
If you’re in Paris, go. Go and sit for a while, you’ll be happy you did.
- KATY SCHUELE. I got to spend the day with one of my favorite people ever. She’s casually spending the semester dancing in Paris and happened to have a Saturday free to dance around the city’s sights with me. Because she and I live in New York and Chicago, we never get to see each other, but I mean, of course, you put us both in Europe and in Paris we shall meet. Aaand why wasn’t “Most likely to reunite in Paris” a senior superlative? We win.
- Wine and a cheese plate on the street, outside, in Marais with Katy. We drank, we ate, and we laughed and laughed and laughed. In Paris. I couldn’t have been happier.
- Spending two hours in the Impressionisme and Neo-Impressionisme wings at le Musée d’Orsay. Monet. Sisley. Degas. Renoir. Pissaro. Cézanne. Guillaumin. Seurat. If you’re like me and have time for nothing else at the museum, get yourself to the paradise that is the 5th floor.
Learn anything new?
I learned how much I love Impressionism. What started as a reaction against the detailed rigidness of realism towards the end of the 19th century quickly became, at least to me, an exercise in using as little as is necessary to convey a message or emotion or feeling. Identify the essential, eliminate the rest (i.e.: my goal in life). And for the impressionists I love, this means the use of color is deliberate and meaningful, the strokes are loose, and the detail is in giving the viewer enough of a feeling for a scene to recreate it in his or her head. Impressionist paintings exist as memories do in our head: the scenes are a bit blurry, but full of color and light and feelings.
Because of my visits to Musée d’Orsay and l’Orangerie, I want to plan a Spring trip to Monet’s home and gardens in Giverny, France where he painted les Nymphéas.
Have any regrets?
I wish I had had more time.
Would you go back?
I’ll be back before the end of the semester, I know that. At this point, I’d say chances are also good that I’ll find my way into an apartment there someday. I know, I know, I have to come home first, but there’s just something about Paris…
Le Dîner Vendredi :
For dinner on Friday I went for a delightful smoked salmon salad & une crêpe au sucre at Castle Café casually located next to the Eiffel Tower. It was oh so touristy, but we didn’t care. The food was great, the view was great, & I mean…Paris.
OH. And we shared a fantastic bottle of Sauvignon Blanc because, I mean…France.
Le Petit Déjeuner :
Free breakfast at the 17 euro/night hostel totally won this time. Croissants and baguettes and butter and jam and granola and REAL dark French coffee? Yes, please.
Le Déjeuner Samedi :
Unfortunately, our time in heaven at l’Orangerie let us forget about the clock until 15h00 when our stomachs reminded us that eating was a fun thing to do. At that point, we had walked the Champs-Elysées and were ready to climb l’Arc de Triomphe. But first, food. Again, we found ourselves in a tourist sanctuary, but once again, I didn’t really care. I stared at the l’Arc while I ate my goat cheese; I’d say that’s a win.
And yes, yes I did eat those tomatoes. Well, most of them.
Le Déjeuner Dimanche :
After my second date with Monet, this time at the Musée d’Orsay, we walked along the Seine to the Latin Quarter for a sandwich at The Smith’s Bakery. The name’s American, but the sandwiches were French and we were happy.
I may or may not have also eaten eight Ladurée macarons this weekend — 2 vanilla, 2 pistachio, coffee, rose, salty caramel, and a raspberry marshmallow. It’s completely casual and I’m so not sorry about it. Nor am I sorry for making your mouth water with this photo.
Yes, they are that good.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I’m just really happy. I was happy in Paris, I’m happy in Nantes. Things are good.