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La Ville de la Lumière et de l’Amour – Paris

I am a North Penn student spending my junior year in France. This article is my journal from my recent trip to Paris, starting the day after I arrived and was mugged.

                A dream for tourists seeking adventure; a playground for young lovers craving romance; a canvas for the struggling artist searching for inspiration and publicity – Paris is the city. A city known throughout the world and the city that has haunted my thoughts, making me dream of one day of living as a Parisian.  A city that made me forgive and forget the incident of our arrival, and opt to stay in the city of lights and love.

                12 Avril, Jeudi Matin, (Thursday Morning)I had the weirdest dreams all night and woke up so incredibly sore forgetting I was in Paris.  The soreness brings back the reality that the mugging last night actually happened, but at least I slept well.  Poor Bernice tossed and turned all night. Sharp pains in her neck made any position uncomfortable, so she’s somewhat sleep deprived. But she’s very courageous as she opted to stay in Paris with me, rather than going home early.

                After we make another trip to the police station, we plan on checking out the Le Quartier St. Germain des Près.

                Jeudi à Minuit, (Thursday at Midnight) – We just got back from a full day and a wonderful dinner with my host dad. I was so happy to see him. With him working in Paris this week, and with what had happened yesterday, meeting up somewhere seemed necessary.  Honestly, I feel so much better and reassured.  Seeing a familiar face drained me of my fears.  I also finally got to see the new apartment (my host family is moving from Toulouse to Paris this summer) and we had dinner at a traditional Parisian bistro nearby.  We finished dinner around 11pm, just in time to make it to the Eiffel Tower while it’s illumined. I can’t get over the breath taking scene, and I’m like a little kid at a fireworks show when I see it. Incredibly stunning!

                13 Avril, Vendredi Soir, (Friday Evening) – We decided that today was our lucky day, as we already faced some bad luck at the beginning of the trip, and I have to say, it was a pretty good day.  After breakfast we made our way to the Musée de Pompidou where they had an exposition on vidéo vintage. It took art to a new level: through motion picture and sound.

                My favorite part of the day though was what we encountered at La Cinémathèque Française. The exposition of Tim Burton was completely intriguing. From his sketches and early works to his ideas for big motion pictures, we spent a good two hours immersing ourselves in his original and wacky world.

                Now, after a little dinner at the apartment, we’re preparing to venture out again to see a play at a small theater.  We’re going to see Le Portrait de Dorian Grey, a story of a man who never ages.  A classic French play, in a classic French theater.

                14 Avril, Samedi Soir, (Saturday Evening) – Overslept. The play last night was good, however I liked the story line better than the actual play, and it was rather long. Tiredness won out as we gave up on our plans to wake up early this morning.

                A late start didn’t ruin our plans though, and we headed to Les Catacombes de Paris. In 1780, a very important cemetery, le Cimetière des Saints-Innocents, closed at the demand of the state.  The state council then decided in 1785 to move all the bone remains from the cemetery, creating these tombs under the streets of Paris. Never knowing this piece of history, but instantly intrigued, the long wait seemed worth it, and we were able to walk along the millions of remains, all arranged under the earth. It was so cool.

                The exit conveniently had a Starbucks just around the corner, so we had lunch there.  After we walked around le Quartier Latin, and with nowhere to be, we took our time, taking in the scene. Of course, some shops caught our eye, and girls being girls, we spent the rest of the day shopping.

                15 Avril, Dimanche Soir, (Sunday Evening) – Today we met up with Bernice’s cousins and brother for a Sunday Brunch in Montmartre, home to the famous Moulin Rouge.  With a reserved table at the Boulangerie Coquelicot, a restaurant nestled in the hilly town, I had a brunch complete with bread, smoked salmon, potatoes, an egg, seasonal fruits, and yogurt: it was probably the closest thing I’ve had to an American meal for a long time. It was delicious.

                Afterwards we walked around the town, and made it to the top of le butte de Montmartre. At the top there’s le Basilique du Sacré-Coeur. By the end of the day we ended up in “city hall” and then at le Seine (the river) and we toured Notre-Dame. The gothic cathedral is highly impressive and outstandingly beautiful; my favorite part being les grands vitraux (the giant stain glass windows).

                Bernice’s brother toured the city with us during the day, and having lived in Japan for three years, he offered to make us a simple but typical Asian dish for dinner. Chicken, bean sprouts, egg noodles, and broccoli never tasted so good.

                16 Avril, Lundi Matin, (Monday Morning) – For our last full day in Paris, we have nothing planned, so we’re packing a lunch for a picnic in a park and then probably going to walk around taking in our last glimpses of Paris before we leave. We never made it to Le Louvre this week, but I don’t think we have enough motivation or energy to withstand the lines and crowds today. Plus cleaning the apartment is definitely in order.

                17 Avril, Mardi L’Après-Midi, (Tuesday Afternoon) – Sitting on the train, three more hours to go until we arrive back in Toulouse.  Bernice and I are both extremely exhausted, but nonetheless very happy with our trip. Unfortunately, I have no pictures to share as my camera was one of the things lost on day one. But I ended up buying some postcards and photos by Robert Doisneau as souvenirs of Paris, including the famous La Baise, a photo of a couple kissing in Paris. I also have some new clothes and perfume in my suitcase, plus macaroons for my host family. I will have to make one more visit to the police station back in Toulouse to bring closure to the mugging at the start of the trip. Ugh!

                20 Avril, Vendredi L’Après-Midi, (Friday Afternoon) – Finally finished with the police. Tuesday we went after arriving at the train station only to be told that Friday morning would be better, so I returned at 10am this morning. However, I think we talked more about my exchange and experience in France, but either way, two hours later I have a completed deposition, the possibly of being partially reimbursed for what was stolen, and a relief that part is behind me now.

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Brian McCaffrey May 04, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Bonjour Caroline! I'm at work and I don't have the time nor can I spare the brain power to write en francais! So glad you got to enjoy Paris after such a rough start. It is a beautiful city and you only scratched the surface...just one more reason to return (: I'm a climber and loved seeing Paris from atop Montmartre the Seine from atop Notre Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tour. On one trip to Paris, I stayed just outside the Pompidou centre and my hotel room looked out on to Sainte Eustace. Beautiful flying buttresses lit at night. The Rodin museum, Sainte Chappelle (near City Hall as I recall), Orsay, Louvre all wonderful but equally wonderful just walking the streets, sitting in a cafe, lounging in Luxembourg gardens watching the boys and girls sail boats in the fountain. So much charm and elegance and beauty. Two of my favorite places on earth are Monet's home in Giverny and Chartres Cathedral south of Versailles. Ahhhh..... Thanks for continuing to write so personally and eloquently about your experiences. (On your flight home, you should make time to read your early blogs and then your later blogs and appreciate how your perceptions and writing have matured and grown so beautifully). adieu, Brian
Lisa Loper May 04, 2012 at 03:35 PM
I am so glad you stayed. I admire your resiliency to overcome what happened and make the best of your trip. You should be proud of yourself.

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