Can I tell you a secret? I have never been to Paris
Paris, the city of love, the stuff of dreams. The place where so many great heart-warming (some, heart-melting) movies take place. Movies like Amélie, Paris Je T’aime, The Beat that my heart skipped, Before Sunset, Moulin Rouge (I was 16 and hormonal. BIG IMPACT)… but also some tough films like La Haine. So many stories about Paris, and here I was, still a Paris Virgin!
That’s right, I had never been in Paris. Not once in my whole 29 years of existence. Now, if you live in a different continent this may not seem unusual, but if you live in Europe, Paris is literally no more than a couple hours away by plane, and if, to top it off, you are half French and have never been to Paris… well, then it is a little strange. But enough with this now. Brace yourselves, for my Paris virginity has finally been taken!
Believe it or not, my reasons for visiting Paris were not even entirely pleasure-related. I had to attend a week-long conference organized by the International Society for Gesture Studies -a very well known entity to me (and the most natural thing to talk about) but for the rest of the world I’m guessing it is kind of an eyebrow-raiser. So, yes, I was trapped for a week in an unspeakably hot old building with another 450 persons who study how we move our hands. Quite the peculiar bunch we are!
The program was so interesting and intense that I had little time to go sightseeing and, hence, taking pictures. Luckily, we were staying at the Quartier Latin (5th Arrondissement), which seems to me like the best corner in Paris, with tons of cool clothing shops, restaurants and bookstores! In this blogpost, I just want to share what I have loved about Paris, plus a picture or two!
Loved our neighborhood, two steps away from the Pantheon
I stayed at Hôtel Des 3 Collèges, which was a lovely hotel with tiny but cosy and very clean rooms. I felt like at home! And the best is that, two steps away was the Pantheon!
I saw these scenes daily as I walked towards (and back from) our conference venue at La Sorbonne. So lovely!
Loved that people wear perfume, are neatly dressed, and populate the cafés till late at night
I am convinced I love The Netherlands (where i live), that we have the trendiest cafés, a lively atmosphere, nice shops and I’ve even grown to be fond of the Dutch casual (albeit all too same) clothing style. I am convinced of it until I step into a place like Paris. Everything is really chic. The buildings are majestic, the streets are gorgeous in pale stone, and everybody is fancifully and neatly dressed. I love that SO much! While I appreciate the easy-going vibe here at home, part of me wishes I could dress up daily and have it not be weird.
The second thing that I liked is the outdoors life. Not only do the French sip wine till late at night when the weather is good, but they also eat until late. I forgot how relaxing life feels when you can eat dinner at whatever time you like, unconstrained by the ticking clock showing you that it’s 9pm and your local restaurant’s kitchen is closed. No matter how much I try to enforce an earlier schedule, I will always remain a creature of the night.
Loved all the bookstores -and went bananas!
France is one of the countries with most financial (and otherwise) support for its culture, as evidenced -for instance- by their numerous subventions to promote French-produced cinema, and the importance placed on celebrating film and arts festivals. One thing that positively shocked me in Paris was the amount of bookstores. Some general, most of them specialized in topics that make you question their business viability. But all of them still there, around each corner.
I always buy books in French, written by Frenchauthors, when I travel to France, in an attempt to keep my French skills at a decent level. However, this time I stumbled upon an anglophone bookstore called San Francisco Books. I bought three books: one to satisfy the hipster portion of my mind (Paul Auster: The Brooklyn Follies), one to satisfy my heart (Helen Fielding: The Bridget Jones Diary -how could I not have read it, right??) and one that I will probably never read, to try and bring my intellect forth (Dante: The Divine Comedy). I had said to myself that I wouldn’t buy any new books, as I already have so many unread ones at home, but I just can’t help myself! I spent about an hour in the shop trying to choose and pondering whether I should read my first Japanese authors, or correct past mistakes such as never having read The Great Gatsby. While rummaging through the shelves I was sort of eavesdropping on the conversation between the (presumed) shop owner and several customers, talking literature and degrees and reading events at other bookstores. Reading events? -I thought. Just like in the movies! Love. There.
I stuffed my face like there’s no tomorrow
I would be officially overweight if I lived in France. The food is just too good to be true and everything contains abundant amounts of my guilty pleasure number one: CHEESE! I had many delicious meals, including these three delicious, classical fat-bombs you see below: Tartiflette, Fondue, and Galette. After long conference days where we were fed rabbit food (seriously, healthiest academic event ever!), I had no second thoughts on a little indulgence.
Le petit prince is everywhere
I’m a little sad because I resisted the urge to get myself a French copy of The Little Prince, arguing that I already had the book back at my parents. Well, as it turns out my dad confused the pile of books to be donated to the public library with the keepers’ pile. Long story short, adieu, mon petit prince… If only I’d known this two weeks ago!
I fell in love with Chimneys
I find this fascinating how buildings, rather than having one big general chimney, have separate chimneys for each of the apartments. Don’t ask me why, but I found this quite peculiar, and decided to take a couple of pictures:
I reaffirmed my conviction that having pink toilet paper is very French
When I was a kid, I always spent Easter with my dad’s family, in the Lorraine region (yes, that one where the Quiche comes from!). I have many memories of these times, but one thing that always called my attention was the pink toilet paper. Now, there is nothing strange about pink toilet paper, you can find it pretty much at every supermarket, but somehow, there I was in the toilet, a little dizzy at the cocktail dinner party, when I spotted the pink toilet paper. I smiled and thought to myself (or rather, said out loud, since I was a bit tipsy) Ahhh, the French ❤
Eventually, I could spend a few hours snooping outside the Quartier Latin
I bought my first long dress ever
And saw her, finally!
Ok, and this weird building
So this was a little from my Paris trip! I still have to work out the complete pics gallery, which I’ll upload soon on the Travel Photo section. Now, onto the next adventure!!
♥ Ingrid ♥