What should one do when in Paris?
I’m notorious for my to-do lists when travelling abroad. They – as well as my determination to check off all the boxes, can drive my co-travelers crazy, especially if they are men. This “addiction” of mine originates from my affection for traveling blogs, traveling guides and Instagram material posted by my favorite fashion bloggers.
Before leaving for Paris, I was under the impression that if one couldn’t come back with a box of macaroons (I did) and a hefty photo collection of herself posing nonchalantly in front of Eiffel Tower (I didn’t), then what’s the point in visiting Paris after all? Sometimes one (ok, I) gets so caught up with visiting the “10 Places in Paris You Can’t Afford to Miss” or doing “10 Things to Do When in Paris” that forgets to experience the city in her own way, make her own, perfectly unique and extraordinary experiences. Many of them might not be so Instagram-worthy, but they are still treasured memories.
So let me take a walk down memory lane with this unorthodox traveling diary post and, beware, it is by far not a guide.
11:53 – Tingling with excitement and expectations while sitting in TGV train from Karlsruhe to Paris Est. The 60-year old French guy who sits next to me reads to The New York Times on his tablet and just asked me to watch after his bag while he’s in the bathroom. In perfect, accent-free English. What about the preservation and perpetuation of the non-English speaking French population stereotype, I’ve been brainwashed with since I was 12? What did I get myself into?
13:45 – Waiting for time to pass while enjoying my first “un café” in Paris at L’ Âge d’Or, a cozy and somewhat hipster neighborhood café. I have a date with a Bnbsitter, who is going to give me the keys to the apartment we rented through Airbnb.
14:13 – Bnbsitter is gone and I am home alone, since the others need more time to get from the airport to “our” house. The place is so beautiful and luminous that I wish I could talk the couple that rented it to us into adopting me. Photography and modern art books everywhere, vinyl records, memorabilia, Polaroid photos, colorful patterned textiles, an old camera collection and hand-written notes with instructions all over the apartment. Imagine Amelie’s flat if she had been a massive hoarder with an inclination for art.
15:02 – They are here! Damn, I’ve missed E. so much. (We’ve been friends since my Corfu days.)
17: 14 – We’re walking along Seine – is that Pont des Arts? Look at all these little padlocks! The sun goes down and the city turns it lights on, offering us a magnificent view:
21:33 – J. and I are sitting in a bistro in Le Marais, sipping on wine – red for her, white for me, guzzling olives and talking about life, love, traveling, art and the future. E. and her sister have abandoned us to go to a Banks concert. The group is supposed to reunite later tonight at the apartment.
23:12 – We are already in our pajamas, trying to figure out a plan for the following day, when the two concert-goers storm in, clutching Banks memorabilia and the characteristic McDonald’s paper bag. “Best show I’ve ever been to”, C. says enthusiastically.
23:58 – E. and I are sharing the double bed in the main bedroom. “Look, we have an Ungly Nakes Guy of our own”, she says and shows me a guy walking around naked in his apartment in the building on the opposite side of the street. We play catch-up with each other’s (mostly love) lives until we fall asleep.
10:11 – J. and I head out for food supplies, we need to prepare the snacks we’ll take with us to stay energized throughout sightseeing. We buy baguettes and stroll happily towards home, emulating the stereotypic Parisian scene of the person who runs errands with a baguette in hand – does it function only as an accessory or is it actually consumed? (We will later find out that real Parisians only take their baguettes to the metro, which – if you ask me – is greatly unhygienic and pretty odd, since why buy bread at the other side of the city and carry it with you on a 30-minute ride, when there are boulangeries literally everywhere?)
10:14 – E. is now laughing at our baguettes.
11:03 – At Musée de l’Orangerie. After spending a substantial amount of time staring at Claude Monet’s Water Lilies, we head downstairs for a temporary exhibition of Emile Bernard works. The museum also contains works by Paul Cézanne, Henri Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Henri Rousseau. I discover Marie Laurencin, probably the only woman who is exhibited in this museum. Her work puzzles me, to be honest; it’s relatively old (she was born in 1883 and died in 1956), but it feels so modern, like something that could have been done today. Please Google her and tell me what you think. I also discover Alfred Sisley, whose thematic agenda bores me slightly, but I quickly learn how to tell his works apart by way he uses light in his paintings– is that an odd thing to say? This would prove helpful in Musee d’ Orday the following day. Before leaving I fall in love with a photographic album with black and white photos telling about life in Paris in the first half of the 20st century. I decide I was born in the wrong decade and buy it for my coffee table.
13:20 – We are at the Tuileries Gardens, right next to the Museum, eating our baguettes and duck/people-watching. We are not alone; the Gardens are full of people, mostly teenagers, runners and tourists who are enjoying the beautiful sunny November morning.
To be continued…
One and a half day to go! Stay tuned for the rest of my Paris adventures.
Lots of love and kisses,