Let them eat cake [in Paris].
Bonjour! I just returned from a wonderful six days in the city of lights with the one and only Megan Lois Wrinn. When Meg and I both decided to study abroad, we constantly joked about ‘meeting in Paris’ and being ‘together Paris’ (Anastasia, anyone?). It was a dream come true to do just that!
Meg arrived early Thursday morning (early as in 9 am…ouch) while I arrived around dinnertime. Little Meggie managed to keep herself occupied in Paris, which is typically a very boring city without much to do (I hope the sarcasm is obvious). Our first night brought us to a bustling outdoor cafe where we caught up on each other’s lives over a carafe of Rosé and, because Megan just can’t help herself, guacamole and chips.
Our first day was a typical first day in Paris…we got off the metro and landed smack-dab in front of the Eiffel Tower. We are now the queens of the arm-in-arm stroll, which we employed heavily while making a huge loop around the Tower and its gardens, pausing for a picture stop about, oh, every three minutes.
Afterwards, we stopped by the Arc de Triomph before continuing down Champs-Elysses, arguably the most famous street in the world. (Don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard of it. I hadn’t until Rick Steve’s mentioned it). Champs-Elysses is the home to Louis Vuitton, Ladurees famous macaroons, Chanel, the Sephora flagship store, and countless others. About a mile down the street is Place de la Concorde, the site of Marie Antoinette’s execution. About a mile after that is the famous Louvre museum and the beautiful gardens. Our plan for the day was to start at the Arc and then make our way down to the Louvre for the 6 pm free student entry.
Then the ‘petit palais’ happened. The sun glistening off the tons of gold caught our eye, and we couldn’t help but deviate off to our right (down about another mile) towards what a sign called ‘the petit palais.’ This was anything but petit. Turns out that the petit palais was actually the first structure on our ‘little’ walk and not the destination, which is actually ‘Hotel de Invalides,’ a former hospital for war veterans (decked out in all gold and marble, of course). We spent about an hour and a half strolling down this street, which was lined with golden angels and beautiful, lush strips of green grass.
The rest of our day ended with the original plan, albeit with two exhausted, hungry gemelas. We started to wonder if our plan was a bit too ambitious, especially for Megan, who has become used to taking a two-hour siesta in the middle of her day.
The abundance of bread and croissants (not a bad thing) only contributed to what was basically a meltdown in the Louvre. [unfortunately the video is too big to share]. Fortunately, the metro was close and the hostel was only a short walk. Day 1, and our stomachs, felt stuffed from Paris.
The rest of our trip unfolded a little more casually and relaxed; we strolled by the river on our way to Mass in Notre Dame, browsed a famous American ex-pat bookstore in Saint-Michel, and soaked up some sun in as many gardens as we could find. We also explored the Latin Quarter and student section of Paris.
On Sunday, we took the Metro to visit Hillsong Paris, one of the church plants from Hillsong Church in Australia.(I also visited Hillsong Amsterdam!). Since I have been to the NYC Church too, it was very cool to see how no matter where it is in the world, it is the same!
Marietta, a friend of Megan’s from Seville, joined us on Sunday and we had a lovely dinner at a cafe overlooking the Eiffel Tower. We managed to snap a few pictures of it sparkling. We had to get dolled up for the occasion.
On Monday, while Marietta explored the Louvre, Meg and I laid on the grass outside and took in the sun. In the distance I could see the top half of the Eiffel Tower and to my left was the Louvre. It felt so nice to relax, in PARIS, with my sister by my side. Around us dogs were playing, couples kissing, and schoolchildren taking pictures with the naked statues (How cultural of them). It was such a wonderful moment!
Afterwards we decided to find Rue Cler, a market street that we read about in the Rick Steve’s travel guide for Europe that Tom Woodman gave both of us before we left. It took us a while to find, but was definitely worth it.
Rue Cler was NOT for tourists, as we soon figured out. We quickly stashed the cameras and tried to look as normal as possible, but still got ‘the look.’ We gathered a small picnic of Quiche, kiwis, macaroons, and wine from local stores, then sat by the Seine to drink it all in [literally]. We ended our night back in Saint-Michel for a cheap but delicious meal of crepes, both dinner AND dessert ones.
We visited the Palace of Versailles on Tuesday. Thanks to the ‘Royal Diary’ series, Meg and I read all about Marie Antoinette and the French monarchy when we were little and were super psyched to see the famous palace. Everything was gold, gold, GOLD. Marie Antoinette’s bedroom was especially dazzling. The 2006 film ‘Marie Antoinette’ with Kirsten Dunst is a great way to acquaint yourself with Versailles if you want to know more about it!
The gardens were huge and breath-taking. It took us all day to see half of the estate–it’s that big! My favorite part was a little farming village that Marie Antoinette had built so that she could feel ‘normal.’ I even spotted a ‘heeland coo’ and felt like I was back ‘home.’ We returned to Saint-Michel and the wonderful Creperie Genia for our last Parisian meal.
Our departure was Paris was slightly horrific; gypsies almost pickpocketed us (note to self: if the escalator stops, just run) and our bus going to the airport was late. We had to take a taxi for a large sum but made it just in time for Meg & Marietta to sprint to their flight. Luckily, the attendants let them board the already-closed gate. I could finally calm down on the flight back to Edinburgh, which thanks to the time change, was technically only ten minutes.
Part of me still can’t believe that Meg and I did it, that we actually met in Paris. When I let myself back into my flat yesterday afternoon, I had a text waiting for me from my sister.
‘Did that week really just happen?’
We had our moments in Paris, the most comical being our meltdown in the Louvre and the least-funny when we watched the taxi meter on our way to the airport. But our trip really felt like a dream come true, partly because it was. This whole semester has been out of this world and doesn’t feel real, even now.
I celebrate my halfway point while doing some downward dog under the Eiffel Tower. Tonight, I’m going to my first ceilidh (kay-lee), a traditional Gaelic folk dance. I’ll be sticking around Edinburgh for the next few weeks to finish up my last week of classes and begin ‘revision period,’ aka study time. I’m looking forward to staying in my home base for a while and enjoying the new Edinburgh weather.
It’s 5:09 PM in Edinburgh, and the sun is still fully out…this time two months ago, I would have said goodbye around 2:30. Spring is coming to Scotland, and with it, lots more adventures!