So, so, so much to write about my trip and piece together out of my travel journal. But as I’m sure you’re curious. Here’s a quick rundown of my Top 10 favorite Parisian experiences.
10. Running the canal. My first morning I went for a run near my hostel and enjoyed the quietness of the Qua du Seine in the early hours.
8. Deciding what to eat. This was actually a bit challenging, as it would have honestly been nice to have a dining companion. I never knew what to get and going into restaurants (versus sitting a cafe tables) was a bit intimidating. Still, I managed to enjoy plenty both thanks to recommendations and exploring on my own. My favorite things were my morning pastry, usually from the patisserie near the Rue du Crimée Metro stop; the Croque Monsieur at Café La Palette; the gourmet chocolates from Un Dimanche A Paris (thanks Maggie); the Chocolat Blanc and Salted Caramel ice cream from Berthillon on Ile St. Louis (thanks Catherine); the Filet deJulienne (and especially the buerre blanc) and Café Blanc (10 Rue Croix des Petits Champs) in Les Halles; the housemade ratatouille at Café 2 Moulins (yes, the Amélie café); and the street crepe in Montmartre.
7. Hearing music everywhere. Yeah, I get the guitar strumming hippies on the street in the Haight, but I love nothing more than strolling along to timeless music. Especially while eating ice cream on a sunny day on a bridge crossing the Seine. And thanks to Midnight In Paris, 1920s jazz seemed to be a favorite of the buskers.
6. Contemplating art. I am so glad I took everyone’s advice at hit up the Musée d’Orsay. Seeing “Bedroom at Arles” in person almost brought me to tears. I wrote down a lot of the paintings I liked, maybe I’ll post that someday. Unfortunately I did not make it to the Louvre (too overwhelming), Musée d’Orangerie or the Rodin Sculpture Garden. I just have to go back! The whole city is truly art though. The architecture is breathtaking. And the street art scene is super vibrant. I was really excited to see Invader’s stuff everywhere, including a hipster bar I popped into one night. Plus the homes and haunts of folks like Van Gogh and Picasso. Tres bon!
5. Literally geeking out. I may have happened into this trip due my skills as a PR major, but my English major was indulged in Paris. Touring the Left Bank, stopping into Shakespeare & Company (where I bought the new Jeffrey Eugenides novel), exploring the nooks and crannies of Montmartre, and talking about 19th century French literature with a new Parisian pal. No surprise I actually filled up multiple pages of my travel journal.
3. Sacre-Coeur! Sacre Bleu! The view from here was absolutely my favorite. Not since sunrise at Villa Borghese have I been so moved by a view of city not my own (okay, I’m spoiled by constant ridiculous views in SF). Plus the scene on the steps leading up reminded me so much of Dolores Park, I felt at home for a bit. The Eiffel Tower was spectacular, of course, but not soul moving when up close. Silhouetted agains the sunset though from this view? Stunning.
2. Seeing the city on two wheels. I LOVE THE VÉLIB! I truly wish every city had bike sharing, such a great way to see more of the sites. Most lanes and separated bikeways were really well marked too. Of course there were the terrifying roundabouts, including the one where I tore my stockings while avoiding imminent death. But, c’est la vie.
1. Parisian Pals. According to the folks at my hostel (who were great, but didn’t seem to venture too far out of the hostel, especially in evenings), actual natives are difficult to meet. And if you don’t speak French, forget it. Of course, I challenged this notion. Granted, at the aforementioned Tape, I couldn’t communicate with those who tried to talk to me. Then I chatted briefly while waiting to park my bike in Marais with a French dude named Bruce, who had lived in LA, but felt intimidated to go out after he said it was “unusual” that I was out by myself. Luckily, my perseverance paid off and my final night in town I decided to head out in the equivalent of my own neighborhood. Since I live in the most touristy ‘hood of SF, I knew there would have to be local spots in Montmartre. And my Haight-sense paid off. I found a great local haunt and ended up hanging out with a group of fun French guys and a German couple who also followed my same game plan. We drank absinthe, then a French-Polish version of the Caprihina, then I was kindly escorted across the outlying neighborhoods of Paris at 2 a.m. whilst discussing Flaubert and The Cure. Le awesome.