Monday, January 24, 2011

bonjour & bienvenue (!!)


where to begin?!  i have been in paris for about one week (un semaine) now.  the time has whizzed by in a way, but also since (luckily) i'm pretty much settled in for the time being, it also feels as though i've been here awhile.   i like that feeling very much :)

i arrived in paris to the company of dav, one of my fletcher housemates who is also a parisian expert.  dav whisked me around the city, for which i am so grateful.  i had last (and first!) been to paris back in 2006, and it was a whirlwind!  over the past couple of days, dav and i bebopped all around.  i tried different fromages (cheeses...cheeses!!) & meaty meats at one hidden little spot not far from the pompidou modern art museum.  this was big for me ~ not being a cheese person (at ALL), i discovered a few kinds that i enjoyed very much! still in shock myself.

 fun facts:
~paris is the #1 most visited city in le monde (the world) !!
~paris is known as the city of lights - but the "lights" of paris actually initially referred to it's intellectual residents, not the evening luminescence. 

strolling around at nighttime with dav, it was easy to see the reasons behind both of these facts above.  old edifices glitter with lights in every which way, and in addition the water of the seine reflects each little beam. i gained a new respect for napoleon (he did a lot in 17 years!) and paused in awe at notre dame (completed in 1334!!) and the town hall, hotel de ville.  outside hotel de ville now, there exists a great pedestrian square with ice skating in the wintertime ~ hard to imagine that this was once the site of gruesome executions. ravaillac, henri iv's assassin, was quartered alive here in 1610:

the next day dav and i explored around the student area where la sorbonne and sciences po are located. la sorbonne began in the 1200's as a college for 16 poor students to study theology.  i am in awe of the history here. as a typical european, dav was disgusted at my photographic attempts, but he grudgingly obliged to document me below:

after more strolling through other neighborhoods (paris is made up of 20 different arrondissements, or sections of the city that swirl around like a snail shell), we decided to take a breather at paris' most famous destination for macaroons, la duree.  let me just say, i had never had a macaroon before, and these were delectable!  especially with piping hot tea (pardonnez-moi, i mean herbal infusion :P) the flavors were potent, especially the lemon and chocolate choices :)

after a wonderful dinner of fish soup and broiled salmon at chez andre with dav and his friend, it was time for dav to head back to brussels.  just in time for my friend kim from home to arrive!  it was so nice to have a partner in crime to become more familiar with the city - and a friend to pardon my moving-in mess & stress :P

oui, there was green grass in january!!  it was an unseasonably warm weekend, around 8C.  lucky us :)

under la tour eiffel, nicnamed la dame de fer, the iron lady.  well done engineers!

kim and i strolled the avenue des champs-elysees, where 13 roads intersect! (and the arc de triomphe at the end.)

and before a delightful chocolate chaud (hot coco) in one of the cafes closer to home, les deux magots (where picasso, camus and hemingway hung) we got our stroll on once more :)

we also ventured to le musee d'orsay, a beautiful museum that was made in an old railway station!  although many of the impressionist & post-impressionist paintings were out on loan (it contains the largest collections in the world), i discovered a new artiste that i enjoy: henri-edmond cross.  i wasn't familiar with any other pointillist painters aside from seurat, up to this point (yep, i went there :P) my favorite piece of cross' is les iles d'or:

outside le d'orsay:

after kim's departure, i spent this past weekend exploring another museum with another friend from home!  karen, who has been living in switzerland for the past several years, introduced me to le pompidou, paris' modern art museum.  the building itself is a work of art.  the views from the top of the building are great, even on a chilly wintry day here in paris:

i'm really happy (je suis contente) that i had such good company with me my first few days here, to help me adjust into ma vie a paris (my life in paris - or, as the french pronounce it, "parii").   there is so much to absorb about french culture, even from the dogs!

bien à toi!

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