My last holiday within Europe before returning to Los Angeles soon, was an extended weekend in Paris starting last Saturday morning. It was wet, yet inviting, and I was able to reacquaint myself with the city after several years, as well as to reconnect with a handful of good friends, both old and new.
I have to say I’m smitten. I suppose I’d forgotten about the fact that years ago in 2004, when I applied for the national assistant language teaching program in France, I had hoped to get placed in Paris. Instead, I was placed in Bar le duc, a tiny town in Lorraine, where I lived very happily from 2004 to 2005.
Now, about seven years later, I’ve kept in touch with some of the teachers whom I met during that year in Bar le duc. I was able to stay with them in their lovely Sant Ouen flat just outside of Paris, meeting their neighbors, their cat and their 11-month baby. They also came to visit me in Barcelona last year, so it has been a fruitful exchange.
Many of my Instagram pictures are from Sant Ouen, as well as from the famous Puces Flea Market there, which sells unique antiques and generally bizarre items, at equally insane prices. There are actually two parts to the market– an expensive, trendy area and another ethnic and grittier side. The Marche is overflowing with character and on the weekends, it’s dynamic and literally bursting with life. Scenes from Midnight in Paris were filmed here as well as in the Rive Gauche, naturally.
In between lunch, dinner, wine and drinks with friends, I meandered about through a few different districts of the city such as the Rive Gauche, Belleville and the Marais, seeing the Notre Dame and the Pompidou on “White Night”, as well as a few covered arcades during rainier moments. I was lucky enough to go on not one, not two, but three Context Travel walks exploring French wine, food and neighborhoods.
I’d hoped to visit the Musee d’Orsay, but the timing was off as it was closed on Monday, my only truly free (and the rainiest) day. I also gradually started to wrap my head around the quite intricate and fairly efficient metro system. Though often crowded, I enjoyed the subway musicians, jugglers and performers in the train working hard to earn those tips.
The city is chic and fashionable, yet incredibly humane, multicultural and edgy, and I found great inspiration in that combination. It’s no wonder great Spanish and Catalan artists, as well as artists from all over the world, have gone and stayed there long-term.
Yesterday, Tuesday, and my last day, I finally closed in on the Tour Eiffel, the Arc de Triomphe and the Champs Elysee. Afterwards in the late afternoon, I just barely made it home to Barcelona with Ryanair…. It was a whirlwind and mostly wet trip, but definitely worth it. I hope to return next summer for a longer visit, but for now, “Au revoir, Paris!”
In the next few weeks, I’ll write a few more posts on the Context walks I went on, a little more on White Night 2012 and finally, about flying (and surviving) a flight with Ryanair.
These Instagram pics are somewhat random, but a good sampling of the more memorable places and things I saw. As always, I wish I would have taken a few more pictures with friends. Those memories are my most treasured souvenirs.