Three Days in Paris Just Isn’t Enough…Nantes, Spring 2009
As soon as I got to Paris, I knew that three days would not be even close to enough to get a true taste of life in the heart of the cultural capital of the Western world. And by the time I left, I knew that no matter how much time I spent in Paris, I would always leave wanting more.
Since Liam and I arrived in the early evening in Paris from Switzerland, we were pretty much exhausted. My host brother, Alexandre, lives in Paris and kindly offered to let us stay with him in his apartment, which was SOOO nice, because we didn’t have to deal with being in a hostel. So when we got there, we just pretty much crashed for the night so that we would have enough energy for the next few sight-seeing packed days.
Friday ended up being our art day. In the morning, we actually ended up leaving Paris to go to Giverny, an hour train ride outside the city to visit the former house of Claude Monet with his famous gardens where he painted some of his most well-known works of Impressionism, including the water lilies. We were really excited at the prospect of getting there early in the morning so that we could go to as many museums as possible in the afternoon, but it didn’t quite work out that way. So after making about 17 trains throughout the entirety of our spring break, whirlwind European adventure, we missed the tiny little train to Giverny on Friday morning. And so we had to wait two hours for the next one. But we got there, and rented a bike and rode along the Seine until we reached the house. I thought that the Parc de la Beaujoie, where I ride my bike all the time in Nantes, was the most beautiful garden in France, but then I saw Monet’s gardens. I went absolutely crazy taking pictures of all the flowers!
So in the afternoon, we headed over to the Musée d’Orsay and tackled the Louvre in the evening. We learned a nice little trick to get in for free—because apparently for youths between the ages of 18-25, museums are free… but you have to be from the European Union. So we might have told a couple of white lies and passed for English instead of Americans. Honestly, I didn’t really feel too badly about it.
I think I decided in the Musée d’Orsay that I should have been born in Paris at the turn of the century… the Belle Epoque, Impressionism, the Eiffel Tower, Chopin noctures on the piano, theatre of the Boulevard du Temple, the début of Coco Chanel in the fashion world… all of it. That’s where I belong. I felt almost transported there while walking through this museum. And I saw the paintings of my favorite artist of all time: Auguste Renoir.
As I stepped out of the Louvre late that evening, I caught my first glace of the most iconic image of Paris: the Eiffel Tower, lit up against the hazy night sky and sparkling in the moonlight. I’d never thought that it would affect me too much, but standing there, I felt like I had to pinch myself to make sure that it was really happening. I had made it to Paris, and somehow, even though I had only been there for a day, I felt almost as though I had belonged there my whole life.
And that was just day 1 in Paris.
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