After my first visit to Paris, I had no intention of ever returning. I was in 8th grade on spring break with my family, and (you can ask my mother) I was miserable! It snowed (too much for my taste), and there was a homeless man living outside our hotel. And of course the subway smelled like pee and scared me to death with so many people crammed in. I swear. This city was totally lost on me.
But after Paris round 2, I’m 100% smitten with it.
Sure, the people are sometimes rude (they’re just needing a big ‘ole helping of southern hospitality) and the subway still smells like pee, but the City of Light really is incredibly charming, contrary to my 14 year-old convictions. And today was literally the most perfect French day ever. It began with a pain au chocolat and a crêpe this morning from a corner bakery before we got on the subway to Versailles. And notably, the corner bakery was on the street corner right beside my hotel – what’s Wake’s equivalent – Subway? After waiting in line at Versailles, we saw the king’s quarters, hall of mirrors, and queen’s chambers (along with an uber eclectic crowd tourists from all over the place). Then Anna Selig (WFU ’13) and I went into the gardens while the rest of the group returned home … and here begins our most perfect day.
We walked up and down the stunning gardens of Versailles. We then flawlessly navigated back into the city (a big feat, might I add) straight to the Musée d’Orsay, where we grabbed another crêpe (this time with nutella and a Coca-Cola “light”) and entered Nirvana. I literally saw every great 19th-century piece of art I could ever have imagined. It was incredible. There was also a special Manet exhibit (an artist I have written two extensive research papers on at Wake for my art history classes). I just loved being able to see his sketches and major works condensed in one place. It was simply incredible.
From there, we popped back on the subway (navigating it effortlessly, of course) to tour Notre Dame and then walked down the Ile St. Louise (per my favorite art history professor’s, Dr. O’Neill, suggestion) and found the restaurant and ice cream place she suggested. The Auberge de la reine blanche seated Anna and I at an intimate little two-person table by a big, open window. We people watched, drank wonderful red wine and had a truly French meal: I had coq au vin – delicious, of course. Coq au vin is a very traditional French dish – essentially chicken cooked in wine with carrots, onions, and potatoes.
After dinner, Anna and I walked back down the Ile-St-Louis, found a cute little boutique (bought scarves that the boutique owner taught us how to tie) and got an ice cream cone at Maison Berthillon (also at the recommendation of Prof. O’Neill … and it was SUPER). After some brief down time, we took a subway out to the Boulevard Montmartre and found a cafe with outdoor seating and enjoyed another glass of wine. We spent our night just sitting and talking – and of course people-watching along with a patio full of French people doing the exact same thing.
J’adore Paris! 10 more cities to go, could it get any better?
*Photography by Sarah Crosier