the weekend that the world came to paris: 9/20-9/21
it was my last weekend in paris! and it was my busiest one yet. i calculated that i spent around 15 hours of the weekend walking; i am still exhausted and it might take me another two days to recover. anyway, this weekend was quite incredible in the fact that quite a few classmates of mine ended up in paris. emily and vincent from w&l, hannah from horizon (who i hadn’t seen in over two years!)—and i also hung out with florence and anna (who i also saw on thursday). basically i was rushing from seeing one person to the next—it was totally crazy that my social life was more active in paris than it has ever been in phoenix. i loved every minute though!
emily is currently studying in brussels and was in paris for the weekend. we met up around noon on saturday at the st michel fontain to get lunch and i was able to show her around a couple spots in the city. as it happened, the weekend was the weekend of journées du patrimoine in france which meant that every public monument was open to the public—and free too! this did mean that there were visitors all over the city and queues were long. after eating at a creperie, we went to notre dame, sainte chappelle, and walked around the northern part of cite island before i took her to marché mouffetard where we got ice cream and chatted before walking through the latin quarter. emily is a studio art minor which means that paris is the perfect city to explore; there is art on every corner! the city itself is a masterpiece. at the musee d’Orsay last weekend, i learned that paris was essetially revamped under the reign of napoleon iii. called haussman’s renovation, old neighborhoods were demolished, parks and squares were added into the city, suburbs were merged into the city limits, a modern sewer system was put in place, and new wide roads were built. the most recognizable part of the renovation was haussman’s apartment buildings. rather than contemplating buildings as singular units, he thought of the architectural character of the city as a unified whole. this is why all the apartments in paris look homogenous—and absolutely beautiful.
emily takes some incredible photos and we did remember to take one together! we both agreed that we were only too happy to be away from w&l for a bit. lexington may be home but leaving for a while always does some good.
emily went to go check into her hostel around 4 pm which is when i went to go see florence. we first walked to le marais where kevin was working! as a tourism student, he had to work for journées du patrimoine so we said dropped by to say hi (and take a selfie with him!) before going to the second arrondissement, an area i really haven’t gotten to explore too much.
we walked around for a while before going to galeries lafayette, an incredibly posh shopping mall with a terrace that looks over all of paris! it started pouring while we were there so we grabbed something to eat at the starbucks inside while biding our time. the mall is one of the most beautiful buildings i have ever seen—i couldn’t get over how big it was! last year, in amsterdam, i visited bijenkorf, a 20,000 sq meter mall and i’ve been to harrod’s in london and kadewe (the largest shopping center in continental europe) in berlin. despite this, i was still duly impressed.
we both agreed that we were exhausted and that we would go home—when i got a call from anna. “hey meera! want to do something in paris tonight?” she asked. i told her to come into the city and i went to florence’s place for a half hour or so to rest. anna is actually the best—-florence lives on line 11 and she came all the way to her place to meet up with me. she told me that she wanted to see the eiffel tower as she hadn’t had the chance to yet! you really can’t leave paris without seeing the eiffel tower so we headed over to trocadero. directly across the seine from the eiffel tower, it’s one of the very best places to see the tower from.
around 9 PM, i decided to get back home so we said our goodbyes and made tentative plans to see each other again sometime in the next year! i really needed to go to sleep and take it easy—after all sunday was shaping up to be really busy too! i ate a huge dinner, and kevin and i watched the voice and listened to french songs before i finally dropped off to sleep.
i slept in on sunday morning and ate lunch with kevin before heading into paris. i went to musée rodin where i got to see hannah! hannah was living in paris earlier this year but left right before i came; well she’s back in town! hannah works as a model and has lived all over the world in the last two years—from south africa and greece to japan and singapore. we hadn’t seen each other since high school graduation and senior night so there was quite a lot to catch up on. between hanging out with jiao—who is an accessories designer, and now hannah, i feel like i know a lot more about the fashion industry! i told her that all my previous knowledge had been from the devil wears prada and hannah said the movie wasn’t too far off in some cases. the museé was the perfect size—intimate and accessible with a beautiful garden where many of rodin’s most famous works were displayed—the thinker, the burghers of calais, the gates of hell, the kiss, etc.
here’s a photo of us looking entirely too happy by the gates of hell.
christoph (my mentor) told me to read up on rodin before going because his works have to be understood in context so i did! he was incredibly successful during his lifetime and of course has a huge following now as well. the musée also displays quite a few pieces by rodin’s lover and student, camille claudel.
hannah and i went to a café and drank chocolat au malabar and talked until i told her that i had to go meet vincent at st paul. (see what i said about running around paris and meeting people?) we agreed to try to meet up again this week and i hope that we’re able to! i’m leaving to cologne on saturday morning so it might be a rushed week—last projects at work, packing, etc.
vincent is (now) a w&l alum! he just graduated in may and we became closer friends while working on a water filtration project in guatemala over spring break—this means that we’ve now hung out in three different countries! he’s visiting paris for a couple days before heading off to cambridge where he’s doing his phD in physics (he’s also a genius). we spent a couple hours walking around paris—the first and second arrondissements—and got dinner quite close to musée pompidou. i was telling vincent about how kevin and jonathan put ketchup and grated cheese on their pasta (in lieu of pasta sauce) and he couldn’t believe it! i couldn’t either when i first heard of it but after i tried it, it really wasn’t so strange. (i still prefer pesto though!)
he actually didn’t use the métro all day and spent literally 12 hours on his feet. i’m pretty sure my feet would fall off if i did that. i know oyumaa and i want to make it over to cambridge sometime so i’m sure i’ll get to see him again in the next year when i’m living in england.
when i finally got home around 9:30 PM, i just collapsed onto my bed and went to sleep ridiculously early. lots of catching up, lots of walking, and a lovely last weekend in paris. it’s so crazy how all our paths intertwine and the people you know show up in the least expected places.