Paris Was Ours.
My second post-mortem post, coming to you once more from Marshfield. It’s my very last post and it’s all about my very last week in Paris. We packed more into this week than any other week we were there, so it’s a long one. Prepare yourself. Feel free to read it in spurts if you have to. Maybe get up, get a snack, check Facebook, come back to it. Let’s jump in.
After going out Friday and Saturday and then just going out on Sunday (if you paid attention to the italics, I hope you understood the difference,) we were ready to tackle a week full of shopping and culture, since we hadn’t gotten any of it done over the weekend.
Monday, Jeff and I ran some Christmas present errands and then climbed the Montparnasse Tower, which he had wanted to do all semester and which I was sort of indifferent to, but once we were up there, I was so happy we had done it. The view is absolutely incredible and the location makes the view arguably better than the Eiffel Tower. If you look at a map of Paris, Eiffel is waaaayyy over on the left of the city, and everything of interest is right in the center, which makes it tough on the top of the Eiffel Tower to pick out landmarks, especially if it’s hazy. Don’t get me wrong, the view is spectacular, you can see for several miles all around, but it’s almost too high to notice everything. Montparnasse is just south of the center of the city and it’s so much fun to recognize everything we had come to know so well over the last few months.
The Luxembourg gardens, Notre Dame on the far left and the Pantheon on the right.
Montparnasse Cemetery (which is apparently HUGE)
École Militaire on this side of the Champs de Mars, Eiffel in the middle (bien sûr) Trocadéro at the end of the trees there, and the skyscrapers of La Défense in the background.
The wide street on the right is the Rue de Rennes, which leads up to that small black turett, St. Germain-des-Près, one of the oldest churches in Paris (ca. 550!) and then, of course, that big ol’ building in the middle. The Louvre. Yes, that whole thing. It’s all the Louvre.
And that’s still the Rue de Rennes, but here you can see the shadow of the Montparnasse, plus the lovely and underrated St. Sulpice over on the right.
And Eiffel again and the golden dome of Les Invalides, where Napoleon is buried.
Added pluses of this view? A: You can see the Eiffel Tower in all its glory, and B: you can’t see Montparnasse. I thought it was a famous author who said that the top of Montparnasse was his favorite (and the most beautiful) spot in Paris because it was the only place you couldn’t see the Montparnasse, but when I tried to Google the source, it was just people in comments and forums and captions, so maybe the Parisians have adopted that as a little inside joke and it’s no longer attributed. But whoever originally said it, they were right.
So that was an excellent, impromptu activity on Monday. We also went to the J. Cole concert that night, which wasn’t exactly Parisian, but still supah fun.
Tuesday Natalie and I had been planning to act as our fake Saturday. We skipped our classes (no shame, no guilt) and headed out with our umbrellas and our to-do lists. It was raining off and on, but we walked and walked and walked with no problem. Started at Coutume, a coffee shop established for the sake of fixing the no-good-coffee-in-Paris problem. Our friends had found it early in the semester, but we had yet to go, so it was high up on our BWL list (Before We Leave, for those of you who don’t remember or didn’t read my first reference of that a few posts ago…) I got a mocha and she got a chai. Deliciousness.
This was one of our last chances for walking around, taking pictures of random things, so here’s your last dose of these, soak ‘em in:
look at the sky
By now we’re at the corner of the Luxembourg Gardens (see the gold fence there?) and we both really loved that building and stopped to take pictures and had a small moment where we lamented our imminent loss of our city. We were just sad.
Then we found an adorable stationary shop with this on the wall and we were happy again.
We took the bus up to the Place de la Concorde from the top of the Luxembourg Gardens and made some vieille dames friends (the old ladies who ride the bus have to be some of the friendliest people in Paris.) This was the second time I’d ridden the bus in Paris and the second time that the route had to be changed because there was a demonstration going on. Not sure if this is a daily occurence or if I just have bad luck, but maybe this time it was good luck. They dropped us off one stop before we were planning to get off, but we got out and looked across the river to the place and there it was:
A RAINBOW. l’arc-en-ciel.
We had already had a great day, but this marked it as one of our greatest in Paris. We squealed and took pictures and walked across the bridge and took more pictures, (had to throw this one in)
but the rainbow was gone as soon as it came and we continued our to-do lists. Picked up some Christmas ornaments at the little market huts on the Champs Elysées and bought some souvenir macarons, then finally headed home to change for dinner.
Wednesday we took a boat tour on the Seine, which is such a tourist/field trip thing to do, but it was so fun and at a perfect time of evening and the vantage point is actually surprisingly great. I was lazy at first and took pictures from inside the heated boat.
But then I said screw it and I’d launch myself out onto the deck for better pictures of all the things I knew I would regret having sucky pictures of later on…
Most notably the Notre Dame, of course.
But also the Île-St-Louis:
And I scampered out to the bow for the Pont des Arts, which I hope if you read this whole blog, you know by now that it’s my favorite bridge.
And then back to the Eiffel Tower:
And that night I got one more glimpse of Lady Liberty Jr. one block away from my apartment:
And also, (after one last Best Steak Dinner Ever) Jeff and I climbed the Arc de Triomphe at night, which my family had done when they were here and I had been jealous of their pictures, so it was on my BWL list. But let me tell you something disappointing, the pictures aren’t half as great as the real thing.
And my last time on the Champs:
And at this point, sinking down below the Champs on the escalator to the Charles de Gaulle metro stop, I had to take a deep breath to ward off the depression that had started creeping in from the edge of my periphs…
Thursday. Our last day. Our view from the metro exit every morning on the way to class:
Our class building:
Our visit to Shakespeare and Co:
Actually, the shop was closed because the owner had died that week. His name was George, he was 98. He had opened the shop in the 50s under a different name, but then changed it to Shakespeare & Co after the famous bookshop of the 20s, owned by Sylvia Beech and frequented by Hemingway and Gertrude Stein. But this shop is not the same one, as so many tourists originally think. (We did too, until this week…)
This shop was pretty influential too, though, judging by all the notes people had left for poor George.
We walked over to stand under/in front of/in the presence of Notre Dame for the last time. Just stood there until we couldn’t handle the cold and the wind anymore. Then trudged home to clean and pack up THIS:
We finally had a handle on the packing, then it was time for a final aperitif with the lovely Françoise and Jean-Pierre, who finally sent us the picture we had taken at our last dinner:
They’re the cutest. And I’ll miss them.
Out to dinner with 28 of the kids in our program, which was a spectacular turnout, as I said in my Au Revoir post. The restaurant was not ready for us, even though they had been fairly warned. But despite being split up at dinner, rained on, and pressured to buy ridiculously expensive drinks in the bar we ducked into, we had a great, great night. Amorino for the last time:
My favorite street in Paris:
Love and goodbyes and tears and laughs and toasts and more love:
And 16 troopers who made it to the Eiffel Tower with champagne:
I love every one of these people more than I thought I could love a group of friends I’d only known for four months. I tried to get that out that night in my toast, but I don’t know if they fully understood it. Each of them is so unique, interesting and interested and I will miss their collective company for the rest of my life. I will miss these four months for the rest of my life, but the reason is because of these incredible people. I thank them profusely and I’m so grateful I had this experience and that I had it with them. And to the people who didn’t make it into this photo, those words apply to you too.
And I have to say thank you to those of you who kept up with this blog as well, I really appreciate the following, and I’m newly surprised each time someone says they read a post (or all the posts) that someone would be genuinely interested in what I had to say. This was originally a record for myself of my time here and a way of communicating with my family everything I was doing, but it turned into so much more than that and I’d like to thank the people reading this that I don’t even know.
And I have to say goodbye to Paris. Thank you for teaching me and shaping me and showing me and raising me and never being predictable but always being accessible. I miss you already and I will never forget the magic. See you soon.