Paris Part I
When people ask me how my trip to Paris in December was, typically my first response is, “Cold.” And it’s true — our trip was really, really cold. (Or at least it seemed so to someone who’s lived in Southern California her whole life.) But my second response is usually, “But amazing!” and that it was.
Sara’s program in Córdoba ended right before our trip, so she came up to Madrid, and from there we flew to Paris. There was plenty of snow on the ground when we arrived, which was gorgeous, and we found our way from the airport to the city to our hostel, where we were given a private 2-bed room for the same price we were going to pay for a shared room. Awesome. Our hostel was located near the Montmartre area, at the base of the hill where the Sacré-Cœur basilica is located, so after getting food at a nearby grocery store, we climbed up the hill to the Sacré-Cœur. It was snowing as we headed up there, and, at the beginning, the snow was beautiful and exciting and so much fun. We would soon get sick of it, but at first it was delightful.
The Sacré-Cœur was stunning, both inside and out, especially because we saw it at dusk. From it, there’s a view of the entire city, but it was too cloudy to see much that night. Then we climbed down the other side of the hill, avoiding the evil snowball-throwing kids along the way, walked through the Red Light District, and found the Moulin Rouge. Pretty epic, mostly because I adore the 2001 movie, though, by then, we were starting to feel super cold, so we hurried back to the hostel. I should mention, by the way, that during the entire trip, I was wearing cheap sneakers and Sara was wearing Converse, neither of which were waterproof or warm. So, yeah, that was the cause of most of our discomfort. Not fun times. Anyway, back at the hostel, we had dinner and then went to bed.
The Moulin Rouge.
The next morning, before heading out, we got clever and wrapped our feet in plastic bags in order to avoid the wet feet issue. It didn’t solve the cold feet problem, but at least it was something. Y’all wish you could be as cool as us. Anyway, our first destination that day was the Eiffel Tower! It was closed due to the snow, but we saw it from the base. After the Eiffel Tower, we rushed off to the Musée des Arts et Métiers. In general, this trip involved a lot of rushing from one destination to another because of the cold and snow. It would be really nice to go back to Paris in the spring and be able to slowly wander the streets and get a feel for the city, but I still loved this trip.
Fancy feet insulation system.
Me in front of the Eiffel Tower.
The Musée des Arts et Métiers is featured in one of my favorite novels, Foucault’s Pendulum by Umberto Eco, and, in fact, the title of the book comes from the Foucault’s Pendulum located in this museum. We got free admission for being under 26, hooray! The museum is filled with all kinds of historical inventions and other nifty technology stuff, and at the end, we reached Saint-Martin-des-Champs, the former church that now houses the pendulum and where the climax of Eco’s novel takes place. So I geeked out over that for a while. Yay, Umberto Eco!
Foucault’s Pendulum! So much nerdy excitement!
We next visited the Centre Pompidou, a modern art museum that was really interesting in the way modern art museums tend to be because the art is insane and way too deep for anyone to understand. I mean, who wouldn’t love giant blocks of toothpicks or human-shaped couches? Oh, and free entrance there as well! Paris is magical for people under 26. Actually, I think you’re required to be a European citizen to receive the under 26 free admissions, but none of the museum employees had enough energy to argue that our Spanish student residency cards did not signify we’re EU citizens, and therefore we only paid admission at two of the ten destinations that usually charge (and we probably could have gotten one of those two for free had we realized at the time how useful our IDs were).
My favorite piece of art at the Pompidou.
When we left the museum, miraculously enough, it was sunny out, though still freezing. We walked to Saint-Chapelle, a Gothic chapel that Jessica had raved about, and, not gonna lie, it was the lowlight of the trip for me, though that was largely because my feet felt like they were about to freeze off and the chapel was not heated like I expected. But the chapel features stained glass windows that depict the entire Bible, so that’s pretty neat. I’m sure I’d appreciate it more in better weather.
Stained glass in Saint-Chapelle.
Next was the Notre Dame, which became my new best friend because it was warm inside! And quite pretty as well! I know I saw it when I was in Paris when I was 6, but, of course, I barely remember it, so it was neat to see again. We were very tempted to do reenactments of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (the Disney version, of course), but we resisted.
Me in front of the Notre Dame.
After the Notre Dame, we returned to the hostel for a macaroni and cheese dinner (so delicious) and then went back out to see the Louvre. More free admission! I’ve seen way more museums in Europe than I needed to in a lifetime, but I still thoroughly enjoyed the Louvre. If I were more of an art person, I’m sure I would have died of excitement at some of the monumental pieces of art I saw, but I am not. I did still enjoy them, though. I will say that the Mona Lisa is ridiculously overrated. Also, Umberto Eco, the author I mentioned earlier in this entry, was a guest curator at the Louvre at the time and had a temporary exhibit on lists, so that was awesome.
Outside the Louvre.
And those were our first two days in Paris. I’ll save the last two days for another entry so this one doesn’t turn into a novel. See more trip photos here.