P A R I S, Part I

2.25.2013




At the beginning of each year, flight attendants "bid" for their vacations for the year. It's like saying, "Please let me go on vacation in July." It's all based on seniority (like everything with my job), and I'm brilliant and didn't bid! So, they just gave me the leftover vacation in January. Awesome?

In a lot of ways, I'd almost prefer it that way. Flying for me is madness during the holidays, so a quiet winter respite seemed like a great idea. It's also an ideal time for those of us that fly standby to go somewhere, because it's a lot easier to get on flights since it's such a slow season. 

Bryan and I brainstormed places to visit for a long weekend. London? (We wanted longer than a weekend). Spain? NOPE, I JUST SLEPT THROUGH THAT. PARIS? YES, PARIS. He'd never been out of the country (except for Jamaica...which KIND OF counts, but not). My friend Hannah lived there for a year, and if you've ever found yourself interested in falling in love with France -- she can help you.

Hannah gave us an itinerary shared the little places hidden from the obvious tourist attractions. She recommended a place to stay, and we decided on the weekend. Little did we know in our planning, that we chose a great weekend to go. On the first Sunday of every month -- ALL OF THE MUSEUMS ARE FREE.   That changed our lives for the better.

Grab a tasty beverage or macaron or croissant and let's go find Jean Valjean!




Paris is the only international flight that CVG has left. We sat in the exit row right next to the bathrooms, so we never really slept. That's fine, though -- because I soon discovered that I could watch Argo and catch up on all of the Best Picture nominations that I hadn't seen. 

We arrived in Paris before the sun. We were really tired, and remembered quickly that we did not adequately prepare for a country in which we could not read or speak the language at all. We walked with all of our luggage up and down the same street about twenty times because we couldn't read the map correctly. After some kind and patient Parisian Starbucks baristas pointed us in the right direction, we found our little sliver of a hotel building -- right down the road from the Bastille. It was a simple place with no elevators, and our room was conveniently located on the sixth (and highest) floor. This was my first lesson in "why French people are skinny, and Americans are fat."

Our first afternoon, it was very cold and windy and rainy. After my trip to Ireland when everyone was like "YOU FOOL, WHY ARE YOU WEARING THOSE WELLIES," I opted against bringing them and that was the worst idea ever. I brought my boots that look like these, and quickly realized I'd worn the soles to the point that there were enough holes to make my feet soak in freezing water. 

We wandered, we meandered, we got lost more times than I can count. The first day we saw the Bastille, Notre Dame, and Parthenon with lots of cathedrals and cafes mixed in. I found myself marveling at the way all of the women were dressed. It was effortless. The way everyone sipped wine at any hour of day. The way they managed to care enough to make everything beautiful. The smell of crepes, and fresh fish in the market. I loved it.





Worth mentioning about this day: Not only were we severely sleep-deprived, but I was extremely hormonal and in retrospect -- should have been shackled in a pre-menstrual quarantine. BUT HEY, ISN'T NOTRE DAME BEAUTIFUL?


"Where's Waldo: Bryan Edition"
We were both surprised by how patient and kind the French were to us when we needed help. I'd only heard horror stories and by default found myself believing stereotypes and was kind of afraid to approach people when we needed directions. 

It felt like we walked five thousand miles. (Let that be an indication of how much I've been exercising). With the abundance of cafes and bakeries, I was fascinated by how everyone met in a cafe to smoke, drink, and maybe just have a snack. I don't even know how many baguettes with ham and cheese we had. America is all about the bigger the better, and how much can I get for my money? Everything was quality over quantity. I'm pretty sure they're thinner because they walk everywhere, it's too expensive to really eat anything substantial, and baguettes take a really long time to chew. My jaw got so tired that I was like, WHO NEEDS FOOD. With as much as we were walking, I felt entitled to eat pastries for every meal. Bryan felt similarly.


Fun fact! This is the flower shop where I had a meltdown and Bryan says I turned into The Hulk. We didn't know where we were going, it was raining, and I was about to lay down in a puddle and start singing I Dreamed a Dream and fall asleep forever. REAL LIFE, PEOPLE.



The second day we did The Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Musee Rodin, Musee D'Orsay and some park wandering and lots of pastries and espresso again. On this day, I WORE TOMS WITH SOCKS, AND IT'S OKAY TO JUDGE ME LIKE THE FRENCH WOMAN IN THE LOUVRE DID. I WOULD TOO. I had no other options. At some point we'll all make sartorial mistakes for the sake of proper blood circulation. 

I have no idea what our trip would have looked like if the museums hadn't been free. Our American currency is like peanuts compared to the Euro, and we aren't Rockefellers. We had a small budget. One of the (many) great things about the museums being free is that the security guards don't give a riiiip if you take photos of everything. I imagine it's how businesses feel about you when you bring a groupon. They're rolling their eyes on the inside and annoyed by all the riff raff showing up (like the American wearing Toms with socks). But WHATEVER, DON'T CARE.


OH, HEY GIRL.



There's much more to come.

What's your favorite thing about Paris?




26 comments:

  1. Um my favorite thing about Paris IS PARIS. This post sounds exactly like James and my first day in Paris except reverse and I wanted to drown him in a puddle and I wore shoes with socks too one day can you read my post and then we can talk about it: http://www.paleo-project.com/americans-in-paris-take-one/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No big deal, just read every Paris post you've written ever. It seems that you had a more beautiful and glamorous experience than I. Your outfits were GOOD. And I am going to have to say that James and I sound exactly the same on Paris day one. I need to go back right now. We should go together!

      Delete
  2. EVERYTHING. Except the part where it rains and it's cold and you have the wrong shoes and you want to throw yourself in the Seine Javert style. That part is pretty rough, but you totally rocked it well, and by that I mean ate a lot of pastries.

    Also, I got soooooo excited looking at the pictures!!! I'm so glad that some of my suggestions were useful and I only wish I could have been there to help you not get lost!

    ~Hannah

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really don't know what we'd have done if you hadn't helped us out with the itinerary! IT MADE THE TRIP, really. Plus, I think your deep love for Paris was my motivation in the moments I wanted to jump into the river. It helped me persevere. I can't wait to go back!

      Delete
  3. Oh my gosh, you had me laughing so hard. I've never been to Paris, but your commentary was just so funny. And I love your pic with the Mona Lisa. Hilarious. Glad you had a good time, despite wet feet!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahah thanks Erin! I didn't even really know how much it's usually a no no to take pictures in the Louvre (or any of the museums, really). So I think it makes the Mona Lisa thing even funnier. Also, every time I see your name pop up in the comments I get embarrassed that I AGAIN forgot what empirical means. ;)

      Delete
  4. That's why I love your posts so much. You're not afraid to share the bad parts of the trip (which in retrospect can be pretty darn funny!).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hahah girl I had to keep it real. We really did have such a fun time and I like that our mishaps are good stories, you know :)

      Delete
  5. I loved seeing your pictures and reading your words about one of my favorite places! I was surprised with a trip to Paris for my high school graduation (I know, I know- it is so ritzy glitzy, I can hardly handle it!). I think my favorite thing about Paris was that I could get entirely lost, not end up seeing what I wanted to see, and still feel like I was having the best time. I was able to do all the great touristy things, but I loved cafe hopping, going to their massive flea market, and having a picnic by the Eiffel Tower!
    The only thing I hate about my trip to Paris was that I forgot to bring a converter so I have Roseanne Roseannadanna hair in every picture. I had dreams that my trip to Paris would end up with me on the back of a boys moped like in "Passport to Paris," but my hair and awful sense of style at 18 kept Jean and Michel far, far away!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HAHAHA PASSPORT TO PARIS. So proud of you for tying that in - I wish I had thought of that. GIRL, same thing happened to me. I have a universal converter but for whatever reason the outlets were a different shape than the stupid thing I bought from the airport eons ago. Eventually I ran out of dry shampoo and came to the resolve that I'd rather have really dirty hair than Gilda Radner on SNL hair.

      Delete
  6. Oh Man I love Paris! We have just decided to go to Florence for our anniversary this year instead but now I'm rethinking-again! We tend to stay in Montmartre and I love wandering the residential streets and all up behind the sacre coeur. I also freakin' love the pere lachaise cemetery. I think I just love walking actually. A bottle of wine sitting by the seine at night with the local students. So much!
    For food-Mao's falafel in the student area near Notre Dame and pizza in Montmartre. Ooh and ice-cream. Hmm-feeling relieved I have not booked our Florence flights yet...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Waaaah so much goodness in a comment! Montmartre was my favorite. We both decided this first trip was our 'tourist foundation.' We had a limited amount of time there, and we checked every main attraction off the list. If and when we'd go back I'd love to do what you just described. I'd just want to be French for a week and enjoy not having to do anything besides eat and walk!

      Delete
  7. Yes! I've been looking forward to this recap! I've never been to Paris so I don't have a favorite part, so you wearing socks with toms in Paris is my favorite part right now. And that is so awesome that museums were free for you and you got to take pictures!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know, it was such a blessing for us that they were free. I seriously don't know what we would have done otherwise because the museums were a nice respite from the cold! I can't wait to see your New York recap. You guys did SO MUCH!

      Delete
  8. I'm so confused! I got yelled at for taking pictures in the Louvre! Like multiple times.......!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Girl that's what I am saying. They DO yell at people like every other day except for the day it's free. Because there are thousands of people there and you can just tell that the security guards just gave up even trying.

      Delete
  9. I too recently went on a trip with my husband when I should have been in a pre-menstrual quarantine. These men in our lives deserve some sort of award for not killing us or leaving us in those puddles singing and pouting and acting like menstruating toddlers.

    YES to our monies being like peanuts compared to the Euro. You're right- that must be why the French are so skinny! That and smoking all the damn time, plus all that coffee. Life is better as a skinny French woman, but I refuse to conform. I want the buttery croissants sans all the walking and lung cancer. And you rock those Toms with socks if you want! SHUT UP SNOTTY FRENCH WOMAN.

    The one area in which I disagree is that I will chew as much as needed for those wonderful baguettes. Living in France two summers ago, I'd stop at the bakery after school every other day and get a nice, fresh, warm, chewy baguette and consume half of it on my walk home. Why do we not love fresh bread as much here in America?? It's a travesty. Especially because once I got home from my walk, I'd dip that fresh baguette in a good ol jar of Speculoos (called Cookie Butter here at Trader Joe's) and it would be HEAVEN. I should have given you that tip before you left! Dang ittttt.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If anything, my PMS has just confirmed with each passing month that Bryan is a supremely wonderful and patient human. I am sure you feel similarly about Ben in that regard :)

      It needs to be said that I did LOVE the baguettes. I think the skinnier variations of the bread were sometimes crustier at the ends and that's when my jaw started getting tired. I totally agree - Americans believe Starbucks pastries to be delicious and that's just not the truth.

      Re: Speculoos -- Thanks to my profession I am totally over Biscoff cookies. It's the saddest, but I've just eaten too many. So I know it to be a totally delicious spread but it's lost its sparkle for me.

      Delete
    2. I've never had the actual cookie, but I guess I can understand being sick of it. Sad day, though. I survived on that stuff my summer abroad.

      Delete
  10. I've never felt a particularly urge to visit Paris, but this post made me feel extra-wanderlusty about France.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I have been waiting for this recap! I want to go to Paris so badly! You have made it clear that it is imperative that I do. The Louvre would definately be one of my favorite spots. I love how everyone walks everywhere over there. I would totally die from the exertion but it just seems like it would be so much fun. You made me laugh so hard and that picture of you with Mona Lisa is so great!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Doesn't everyone have a Hulk moment? Mine came when I realized the tiny apartment we rented didn't have an actual shower, and so I had to stand in the freezing bathroom holding a spout over my head. La Bonne Vie, baby!
    But seriously, Paris is awesome, and I'm so glad you had fun. I think my favorite part was a tie between eating my weight in macarons and finding a crepe stand on every corner. And the Musee D'Orsay. Can I pick everything?

    ReplyDelete
  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    ReplyDelete
  14. whatever fran, WHATEVER.

    i really want to go to paris but i what i want more than anything in this post is being stuck on a plane with no one to talk to and all the best picture nominations in front of me to watch at my choosing. that is sad.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Fist pumps in solidarity to Parisian sartorial mistakes. On our honeymoon in Paris, I opted for hideous white sneakers and a backpack - A BACKPACK! - for a day of sight-seeing, which inadvertently included a stroll through the Jardin de Tuileries DURING PARIS FASHION WEEK. Sacre bleu and oh mon dieu. But my feet were hella comfy and pick-pockets be damned.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Solidarity fist pumps to sartorial mistakes in the name of comfy feet! On our honeymoon in Paris, I opted for hideous white sneakers and a backpack – A BACKPACK! – for a day of sight-seeing, which inadvertently included a stroll through the Jardin de Tuileries DURING PARIS FASHION WEEK. Sacre bleu and oh mon dieu. But my feet were hella-comfy.

    ReplyDelete