Week 7: Playing Tourist

Monday started off with my internship, which was spent finding quotes Annie used for the French publication of her book in their original English translations. This is not an easy task, but I’m motivated by the fact that this is for a really important book that is going to be published by Yale. It’s pretty intimidating!

For class that afternoon we met at the Pompidou to get library cards to the Kandinsky library and see the Roy Lichtenstein retrospective. The Kandinsky is a reference library that claims to have every art book ever published. I’m not sure if this is true, but I know I will be using it a lot this semester. I was conveniently able to look up a quote for my internship while I was there, too. We spent several hours looking through books full of amazing works that are difficult to find otherwise. Some of my favorites were a book of Claes Oldenburg’s sketches and a beautiful book of Andreas Gursky’s work. I’ve decided that he is a perfect photographer and one of my favorites. I really want to see his work in person.

Then, we went to the Lichtenstein retrospective. This was probably one of the most complete exhibitions I’ve ever seen. I don’t quite know how to explain, it, but it was like reading a book. By the time I had gone through the whole thing, I felt completely satisfied. I can honestly say I’ve seen every Lichtenstein work of art that you would ever want to see, and I learned so much about him as an artist that I didn’t previously know. He was incredibly inter-disciplinary and art historically-aware. I’ve always appreciated him stylistically, but I really had no idea where he started as an artist and where his work went after his most well-known pieces. Considering how thorough this exhibition was, I am really excited that I will be in Paris for the Pompidou’s next exhibition on Dali. If it’s as good as this one, they will be two of the best exhibitions I’ve ever seen.

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Tuesday morning I had my internship after French, where I went through every chapter of Annie’s book and copied all the quotes I need to find translations for. I will now get to spend some quality time at the American Library in Paris, because she will be out of the country for the next few weeks. Tuesday I also had a major scare with my computer. It glitched during an update and looked like my computer had completely restarted and I lost all of my information. After freaking out for a while, I restarted my computer and everything was back to normal like nothing ever happened.

After that stressful, short amount of time, I decided that even though I had a good amount of work to do, I really needed to do something fun and relax. One of the things I’ve been realizing is that even though I’ve been in Paris for practically a month and a half, I haven’t fully let myself be a tourist, and I think this has been causing me a lot of unnecessary pressure. I decided to dedicate the afternoon to letting myself be a tourist. First, however, I made a stop to do what I has originally intended to do last Sunday: get second ear piercings. This is something I’ve been wanting to do forever but just never did for no particular reason, and decided to just do it since the place I went to was actually pretty inexpensive.

Right across from the jewelry store is the Saint-Jacques Tower, which is all that remains of a cathedral that once stood here. Nicolas Flamel was a patron of the church and is actually buried here!

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I kept walking down the street to the Paris Hotel de Ville.

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And then walked across the bridge over to Notre Dame.

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Finally, I was actually at Notre Dame during the day!

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And then I went inside…

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The way the cathedral is lit on the inside, it looks like an HDR photograph in real life. It’s crazy.

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After Notre Dame, I wandered down the Seine and through the rest of the island, which was pretty empty.

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I then crossed the Pont des Arts, one of the several lock bridges in Paris.

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After that I walked down along the Louvre and Tuileries until I got to the Metro stop on my line and headed home.

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Oh, and if you ever wondered how they move things into tiny little Parisian apartments with 2 person elevators, this is it:

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I have so many more photos, so I’ll be putting them all on Facebook as well!

The rest of my week was pretty uneventful; just schoolwork. I did go to Chipotle for lunch on Thursday because I can only go so long without guacamole. I’m not even a big Chipotle fan but man, it was so good.

Week & Weekend 6: Mixed Feelings

This week was filled with some ups and downs.

Monday started off great. I finally figured out my whole internship situation which I can now explain in full detail! I am assisting the academic writer Annie Cohen-Solal, a historian who has written several books on subjects like American Abstract Expressionism, a biography on Jean-Paul Sartre, and is currently working on a monograph on Mark Rothko. She also served as the Cultural Counselor to the French Embassy in the United States. So, basically, she has done amazing things, met amazing people, and is an incredible person. And I get to work with her three days a week! I got right to work on Monday. She gave me several excerpts of her writing that she was lecturing on in Zurich on Friday. My job was to prepare a complimentary PowerPoint presentation to her lecture by Tuesday night. I get really into PowerPoints and make them quite often, so I spent a lot of time on this which was slightly stressful considering I also had a bunch of school work. However, I wanted to make sure I did my first assignment well, and she was pleased with it.

Monday afternoon I had my first critique for my main photography class. This was the project I mentioned last week that gave me so much trouble. I didn’t know what to expect, but overall the critique went well and my teacher really liked one of my concepts. The prints were absolutely awful, but I’ll fix that by next time! Since it went well, I may share it here now that I’ve had some time away from it.

Tuesday was when things started to go downhill. I forgot to turn on my alarm and woke up at 9:40 for my 9AM French class. It’s the only class I have that day, and by the time I woke up it was too late to even try to get to school since it takes me 30-40 minutes. Oversleeping and missing class is basically one of my worst nightmares, so it was not a great way to start the day and made me overly-stressed and anxious the rest of the day. I had to hurry and get ready to go to my internship with Annie and I was still even 10 minutes late for that. I spent the whole time reading about American Abstract Expressionism (the topic of her lecture) and preparing the PowerPoint. The rest of my day was spent doing homework.

Wednesday was pretty much a class and homework day. I was still feeling left-over anxiety from missing class (yes, it gets me that badly). I also started to truly feel homesick for the United States. I think a lot of it has to do with autumn starting, which is my absolute favorite season and time of year. I love the weather, colors, air, smells, clothes, food; all of it! Autumn in the US is pretty distinctly shaped by both Halloween and Thanksgiving in a way I never realized until coming to Paris. There will be no pumpkins here, or turkeys, or pilgrim hats. So, I was pretty sad to realize that I will be completely missing out on my favorite season for an entire year. I need to figure out what Parisian fall traditions are so I can try and cheer myself up with them. They probably just involve wine, cheese, and bread, like most things here.

Thursday I actually got up in time to go to French. I also gave a presentation in one of my classes, which was another small source of anxiety this week as I really had to prepare two PowerPoints (and like I said, I take them seriously). It went over well though. Thursday night I spent a lot of time watching Netflix and Hulu because I finally found a simple way to make them work in Europe. Actually, every night this past week was spent watching Netflix and Hulu. Hey, I miss my American TV shows!! I also met some friends at Breakfast in America again because what better way to cheer up than good old burgers, fries, and shakes?

Friday I got up early because I was able to make up the French class I slept through on Tuesday. It was really fun and I actually like that class better than mine. I would switch to it if I had another reason to be in school on Fridays. I then spent the afternoon babysitting for Dov and Francesca’s kids, which involved picking them up from school, watching a lot of 1940’s Mickey Mouse cartoons, and eating 3 frozen pizzas between the 4 of us. Overall, it was a good day. Random fact: frozen pizza is one of the few things that is actually cheaper here than in the US. You can get a decent one for 3-4 euros, where in the US they are usually $7-8+.

Friday night when I got back from babysitting, my friends asked if I was up for going out in our favorite Saint Michel area. We ended up at this Canadian bar that they had gone to before. The guy who served us was really nice and from New York. They had popcorn there for 4 euros which we ordered super enthusiastically because we all miss popcorn. A lot. I especially miss it because thanks to my popcorn-enthusiast family, I love making fancy stove-popped popcorn! Anyway, the bar also has a great deal where you can get 5 Coronas for 20 euros. I don’t know anything about beer or what I like or don’t like, other than it smells like bread (yum) and I like to use it in cooking and baking. I decided to go for it and split the deal with Miranda. Turns out I like Corona. We had a great night there and will definitely return again! Afterwards Miranda got a crepe (her food weakness), Anna got 2 euro fries (her food weakness), and I was saved from getting gelato because it was closed (my food weakness). That area is dangerous.

Cheers

Cheers

Saturday I let myself sleep in before meeting Miranda and Shelby on the Champs Elysees for some shopping. First we tried to see the Arc de Triomphe, but turns out you have to pay to even go under it, so we decided to wait until another time when we can go up at night. We walked around looking for food until we found a Paul boulangerie. They’re a chain, but they have amazing soft pretzels. It’s the only place I’ve seen them in Paris so far. Afterwards we hit up the H&M, which was the first time I’ve bought something for myself in Paris that wasn’t food. I let myself splurge a little because I figured it would be worth it considering how unhappy I am with the clothes I decided to bring. Also I don’t own a long sleeved shirt and forgot black tights. These are essential things, right??

Miranda and I (sort of) at the Arc!

Miranda and I (sort of) at the Arc!

Pickle-flavored Pringles are a thing here. It's also normal to have chicken-flavored chips. I ate some by accident.

Pickle-flavored Pringles are a thing here. It’s also normal to have chicken-flavored chips. I ate some by accident.

Saturday night I made a list of everything I want to do while I’m in Paris (that I haven’t done yet). It is scarily long, and considering there are several weekends where I will be traveling out of town, I wanted to start doing things as soon as possible. So I planned to do two museums on Sunday, since it was supposed to be a rainy day. First, I woke up as soon as it was light outside to go shoot for my second photography project. I really like Paris at 7:30 AM on Sundays. Too bad I probably won’t be able to get up at that time every Sunday since it’s one of the few days I can sleep in.

Little things make me smile.

Little things make me smile.

After that was done and I got ready for the day, I wandered down rue de Rivoli for a while trying to find a store that ended up being closed because it was Sunday.

The Harry Potter fan in me had to...

The Harry Potter fan in me had to…

At that point I was really hungry, so I decided to splurge a bit and have lunch at a cafe in the Tuilleries where I watched little birds fluff their feathers and play in a pool.

A weird panorama where I tried to get my food and view in the same shot.

A weird panorama where I tried to get my food and view in the same shot.

Pretty view

Pretty view

Then it was finally time to go to my first destination: Musee de l’Orangerie. This is one of the two smaller museums in the Tuilleries, and it houses Monet’s gigantic panoramic Water Lilies and the collection of Walter-Guillaume. The Monets were absolutely amazing. I loved being able to get up close and see all the globby layers of paint and brush strokes. I think the rooms they are in are designed very appropriately as well. The Walter-Guillaume collection is full of works by Renoir, Cezanne, Picasso, Derain, Soutine, and Modigliani, just to name a few.

I feel like someone in my family has a print of this??

I feel like someone in my family has a print of this??

Some new favorite Picasso's.

Some new favorite Picasso’s.

Soutine's quirky portraits.

Soutine’s quirky portraits.

He was not afraid of color!

He was not afraid of color!

Awesome miniature recreations of the collection. Remind me of the KC Toy & Miniature Museum!

Awesome miniature recreations of the collection. Remind me of the KC Toy & Miniature Museum!

So cool.

So cool.

After that, I headed to my second destination: Le Petit Palais, a FREE art museum. You see that word? You still have to stand in line to get a ticket, but then it’s FREE. If you’re in Paris, you should go here! The building is absolutely amazing. I actually really enjoyed this museum because it is full of artwork I’ve never seen before by artists I’ve mostly never heard of. Yet, it is all really beautiful and I found some new favorites. It’s nice to still discover new artists I like in the city full of the world’s most iconic artwork.

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LOVE this!

LOVE this!

Pretty cool

Pretty cool

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At one point I looked out a window and realized it was really fall. That happened fast.

At one point I looked out a window and realized it was really fall. That happened fast.

After several hours of walking and museum-going after waking up early and carrying a tripod around Paris, I was pretty tired even though it was still early afternoon. I decided to walk over to the area where I babysit, which is quickly becoming a new favorite spot of mine. I stopped for some gelato (finally!) and have some treat yo self time.

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Caramel & Chocolate

Afterwards I made my way back home and spent the rest of the day relaxing and watching things. So, despite having some moments of doubt, Paris still manages to win me back. Even if it has to bribe me with art and gelato.

One Month in Paris: Slowing Down

Today marks one month since I arrived in Paris! In some ways I still can’t believe it, but I have also already settled comfortably into new routines.

After one month, I still haven’t gone up the Eiffel Tower, stepped into a clothing store, or eaten a whole baguette. I have, however, gone to several art museums, become super confident using the metro system, and eaten many pain au chocolates.

I have already learned so much since coming here. There are many cultural differences between America and France, and I still have much to figure out, but I think in the past month I have gained a pretty good sense of how things work here. Maybe one of the biggest differences is the pace of life. The French love to take their time. You hardly ever see people rushing, especially when it comes to food. The waiters don’t come around to refill your drink every minute and there’s no such thing as take-home boxes at restaurants. I also hardly ever see people eating and walking, except baguettes. Every type of person can be seen at any time of day walking down the street eating a baguette.

There is also definitely a greater emphasis on quality over quantity. I think this is partially why things are so expensive here, or at least compared to in America. The French generally have less, but what they do have is very good quality and they take pride in it. The things that people get every day are still inexpensive, like fresh baked goods in the morning and bottles wine at night. Everything is savored, enjoyed, and spent time on because it worth spending time on.

I still have yet to experience a stereotypically rude French person, but I think I understand where it originates from. The French have a different standard of manners from Americans, and if you come to the country completely ignorant to them, I can see how it would be really offensive (as would be true anywhere else). They are actually very polite in a lot of ways, but you have to know the proper context to use this politeness. In shops, or with people you encounter in more personal spaces (an apartment building, school, restaurant, etc.) everyone says “Bonjour/Bonsoir” to each other. If you are on the street but do something that leads to a direct interaction with someone (i.e., holding a door open) They will thank you and also greet you. However, when you are on the metro, the unspoken goal is to have a little interaction with others and attract as little attention to yourself as possible. The metro has its own set of etiquette entirely, but that’s a lot to get into!

Of course, there are a lot of things that are socially acceptable in France that would be looked down upon in America. There is more blatant nudity in advertisements and on magazine covers. There is also an abundance of PDA between couples of all ages, especially on the metro. I never even realized how relatively tame Americans are when it comes to PDA until I experienced the French version.

The French also are very laid-back when it comes to work (or at least from what I’ve experienced at PCA). They never seem to be in their offices when I want to find someone and they take incredibly long lunch breaks, so between 1-2PM I can never find a teacher or administrator. However, in contrast to that, if a teacher has to cancel class because they are sick or even for a national holiday, they reschedule the class to make it up, which usually happens on a Saturday. I find this bizarre, but I guess the French assume you’re always going to be flexible so you can just go to class on Saturday if you have to? I know this would never work in America because we kind of have the general assumption that people are busy and constantly have plans.

There is a very “French” way of dressing, which I don’t really fit into at all. For women, it involves flats, heels, booties, or boots. Usually black, or another darker color. They some how always are in very good condition despite all the walking they are put through. Then black pants, dark jeans, or a professional-looking skirt. A simple top with a blazer, or maybe a light sweater. A scarf, and probably a trench coat. Natural or no make up. Long hair, usually down. I’d say this is a typical uniform for a French woman. There are of course exceptions and the norm varies between age groups. Denim shirts and jackets are also really big here. All the women have huge, fashionable bags as well.

A weird phenomena here is chocolate cereal. I don’t think cereal is a popular breakfast option here (baguettes and croissants, always) but if you were to have cereal in France, it will be hard to find one without chocolate in it, This doesn’t mean sugary, unhealthy chocolate cereal like we have in America. It’s just the way cereal is here for some reason.

All the chocolate cereal...

All the chocolate cereal…

One of my favorite parts of using the metro are street musicians. Very often there will be a person playing the violin, accordion, or saxophone either in a metro stop or even on the train. My absolute favorite are the full bands that play in the bigger metro stops. There’s nothing like racing between stops to super-Parisian band music!

An interesting part of life here are the billboards. There are advertisements everywhere, and I find them fascinating. I especially like the gigantic ones in the metro stations. It’s also a fun way to practice my French while I’m waiting for a train.

Well this became a ramble of some more observations I’ve had regarding life in France, but a lot of people liked my first one so I hope you enjoyed it! This weekend will consist of lots of homework, and I hope to go into Notre Dame providing the weather is nice. I also am having brunch on Sunday with Francesca, Dov, and their kids. Ah, la vie Parisien c’est bon!

Weekend 4: Sunday, Parisian Art and American Food

Sunday I woke up with the intention of finally going to the Musee d’Orsay. First however, I needed to shoot the second-to-last photo for my assignment I’ve been working on, which meant taking the metro across the city (almost an hour commute) to go to Miranda’s new apartment. It was a lot of fun though and we had a nice morning before finally heading off to the museum.

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This woman on the metro has Daenerys Targaryen hair!!

The weather was absolutely perfect and it actually did not rain the entire day, which I think was a first this past week. It wouldn’t have mattered that much because we spent a lot of time in the museum but it was still nice.

So, the d’Orsay. We started from the ground up, weaving our way through. I actually had my camera with me, but you’re not “supposed” to take photos there, so I only took phone pictures. I totally could have gotten away with my camera for the most part though. They only enforced the no photos rule in random places, like the van Gogh galleries. Oh well, I am definitely going back!

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I’m Hugo!

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I discovered a lot of new favorite paintings while I was there, and gained a new appreciation for so many I knew existed but never really looked at until I was standing right in front of them. A few of them I didn’t photograph but still wanted to include them so they’re reproductions I found on Google.

This painting is INTENSE. I really like it and was unfamiliar with it until now! Dante and Virgil in Hell by Bourguereau

This painting is INTENSE. I really like it and was unfamiliar with it until now!
Dante and Virgil in Hell by Bourguereau

Sorry Botticelli, but I actually like both of these “Birth of Venus” paintings more than his. Is this terrible? Maybe it’s because during my first week of school I think every teacher used Botticelli’s painting for an example or assignment of some kind. It’s not bad of course, but I just like these better…

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The Birth of Venus by Cabanel

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The Birth of Venus by Bourguereau

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I really liked the work by Gustave Guillaumet, particularly this painting Preire du soir dans le Sahara

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The pastel Symbolist paintings by Redon were beautiful!

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Can I please have a bejeweled winged crown thingie?

There were also so many works of art that I either forgot or didn’t realize were at the d’Orsay, so when I saw them I completely freaked out. It was really fun going with friends who for the most part equally freak out about art. Also most paintings are far larger than I am.

Cheesin'

Cheesin’

I AM IN THE GRAVE

I AM IN THE GRAVE!! (I yelled this a bunch)

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Bonnard makes cool cats

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A pleasant surprise.

I also had no idea that the d’Orsay had such an extensive collection of Art Nouveau decorative objects. This basically made it the museum of my dreams.

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Just a whole room!!

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My new bed.

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I need a sink like this in my life.

We spent several hours making our way through the first two floors. We were pretty tired by the end, but had to get to the last floor because that’s where all the major Impressionist work is. Once we finally got there, they made the announcement that the museum was closing in 15 minutes. So we rushed through to quickly see Moulin de la Galette and Luncheon on the Grass before it closed. Obviously I’m going to have to go back because there’s still so much to see, and I think I missed a few paintings on the lower levels, too.

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Way bigger than I thought it would be!

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Miranda can’t contain her excitement.

After the d’Orsay closed, we were all craving good old American burgers and fries. I recently learned of a diner in Paris called Breakfast in America so we headed over there. It was amazing. We all gorged ourselves on burgers, fries, and milkshakes. Yes they have veggie burgers, my first in Paris! They also play what I guess they consider to be “American” music which was everything from Of Monsters and Men to Led Zeppelin. They don’t play music in French restaurants unless it’s a live musician, so this was a nice homey little touch. Also I had the song “Breakfast in America” stuck in my head the whole time. I wonder if they ever play it?

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The milkshake I got is called Obama. It is peanut butter and chocolate. This is brilliant.

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Avocado veggie burgers forever.

After this super amazing museum-filled weekend I’ve been looking up other artworks I want to see in case they are in Paris. Turns out a lot of them are in America. Go figure.

Oh yeah, and I officially have plane tickets to go to Florence the first weekend of November! I’m flying into Pisa and then taking a 70 minute shuttle to Florence, so I get to see a bunch of the Italian countryside as well. It seems so far off but I know it will be here all too soon. Except I also can’t wait. Ahh!!

Weekend 4: Saturday, Back to the Louvre!

Saturday I woke up with my throat feeling even worse than it did before. I did not want to have another rainy, stay-inside-all-day sick day, so I decided what better thing to do than go to the Louvre? I took a ton of vitamin C, had a mug of tea, and set off through the rain.

This time, I started off exploring the Egyptian section. The Louvre has the most amazing and extensive collection of Egyptian art I have ever seen. It’s not just typical things you see in most museums, either. They have artifacts covering the entire range of Ancient Egyptian life. Just by walking through the galleries I feel like I gained a much better sense of what life was like for them than I have at any other time. I have always been fascinated by Ancient Egypt and would love to take a class on it (hey there, Ancient Art History credit I still need to fulfill) but seeing this collection really peaked my interest not only artistically, but regarding every aspect of their lifestyle. They were a really incredible people.

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This is what it’s like to look at Egyptian art at the Louvre. Yeah.

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Their mummy is much bigger than the Nelson’s and doesn’t have a creepy computer generated face on the label.

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One of the most colorful steles I’ve seen

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I think in a past life I may have been an Egyptian. As a child, my favorite toys were things that were very small. Polly Pocket, doll houses, you name it. I was the Queen of Tiny Toys. I also love things that are colorful and shiny. And, my favorite animals are cats and monkeys. Well, guess what they have a lot of in Egyptian artifacts? Tiny, colorful, shiny cats and monkeys!!!

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They have tons of other super tiny, intricate little sculptures as well. They are amazing!

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Look at the tiny hedgehog on the far left!! I didn’t even know they had hedgehogs in Egypt…

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Also, some of the works were lit really beautifully. My phone pictures do it no justice, you’ll just have to go see it for yourself!

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One of the reasons I picked Ancient Egyptian was because I figured it would eventually lead to the Seated Scribe and Code of Hammurabi. The Scribe was almost at the end of the Egyptian collection and when I finally saw it, it actually surprised me. It’s so big and vibrant!

I looked deep into the eyes of the Seated Scribe

I looked deep into the eyes of the Seated Scribe

For some reason I find a lot of Egyptian artwork in museums to be really amusing. One of my favorite things at the Nelson is the Egyptian head that looks exactly like Voldemort. Well, the Louvre has not escaped this scrutiny either.

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This guy can not handle losing his nose

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The Louvre has Voldemorts too! But they have ears.

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Does anyone actually swim like this?? They’re like Ancient Egyptian versions of those scuba diver bath toys.

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I found the ears

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He’s so blue, he don’t know what to do

After I got through the Ancient Egyptian stuff I wanted to keep looking at ancient collections so I moved on to Greek and Roman.

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They have soo much pottery!! I was amazed no one was in there until I went in and it was a bajillion degrees. I will probably spend some quality time in there when it gets colder.

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I went in a circle somehow so I took the elevator downstairs and ended up right at the Venus de Milo.

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I just kept walking through the sculptures. They were generally either missing really important body parts or had too much of the ones that remained. Also some craaazzzy headless drapery going on.

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Those obliques are intense

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This guy reminds me of someone… (hint: Nelson)

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She has some serious issues

No, this is just a wall in the museum.

No, this is just a wall in the museum. Above a fireplace.

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After the Ancient Greek and Roman sculpture, you are directly led to Northern European sculpture. The subject matter goes from ancient gods of marble to Jesus, Mary, and Popes in painted wood.

Well, except for her.

Well, except for her.

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Oh no, Jesus 😦

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There’s that Northern love of grotesque detail I learned about!

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All the while, I was trying to figure out how to get over to the rest of the ancient stuff where the Code of Hammurabi is, but I ended back in Italian and French painting where I was last time. Not that this is a bad thing, but I wanted to see new sections and I spent a lot of time there during my last visit. I finally figured out that I would need to get to the opposite side of the museum to see the rest of the ancient works, so I decided to go to Northern painting instead. It took me a while to find that, too, but when I finally did it was so worth it!

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I totally forgot that these paintings were in the Louvre until I was standing in the room looking around me and I think I audibly said, ohhhhh! It was a nice surprise.

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Look at the Louvre trying to be cute. Too bad no one follows this sign. Literally as I took this there was a woman photographing a statue using her flash. Sigh.

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Hey there Lucas Cranach the Elder. He has a very similar composition at the Nelson.

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Did not know this was here. Yay!

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I super-studied this painting in art history and I think even wrote an essay about it. It’s really darkened in person.

From one of my favorite places to say, the Studiolo in Urbino!!

From one of my favorite places to say, the Studiolo in Urbino!!

Also did not know this was here. The inside is in beautiful condition!

Also did not know this was here. The inside is in beautiful condition!

I shall end with this.

I shall end with this.

Some day I might go to the Louvre and actually bring my fancy camera. I want to experience it all with just my eyes first. Also when it’s not raining and there are less tourists. Working at the Nelson this summer spoiled me and I want museums to always be empty when I’m photographing in them!

Weekend 3: Homework, Food, and Montmartre

Since my school week ends at 4:30 on Thursday, I had quite a full, long weekend.

Thursday after class my friends and I went to an art supply store and then ate dinner at this super cheap Chinese restaurant we discovered the previous week. Afterwards, I went to the Palais de Tokyo with Miranda to write an exhibition review for a school assignment. Since I’d never been there before, I was pretty overwhelmed. The space is used to display contemporary exhibitions, but it is unlike any space I’ve ever seen. Also the manner of the exhibition was rather unique: It was essentially an exhibition made up of over 20 exhibitions, each showcasing an up-and-coming curator. As you can imagine, it was huge and confusing. After a very long day, I couldn’t really process it, so I took a few notes and decided to come back another time to decide what I was writing my review on.

Friday, I went back to Montmartre with Miranda to find a prop for a photo I wanted to take this weekend for a school project. I ended up quickly finding exactly what I wanted for 6 euros! Afterwards we got crepes and I got ice cream from the same place we went to last time, but I tried a new flavor. We wandered around and explored new parts of the area. It is one of the most charming places I’ve ever seen. I can’t believe people actually live there! Eventually we somehow ended up at the Moulin Rouge, which was pretty cool. After Montmartre we headed back and got ready for a housewarming party at a fellow student’s new apartment. It was fun to get to talk to some people I hadn’t really spent time with yet.

Dreamy Montmartre

Dreamy Montmartre

Oh hey there, very modernized Moulin Rouge

Oh hey there, very modernized Moulin Rouge

Saturday I woke up with the intention of shooting as many images for my first photo assignment as possible. By the end of the day I had only shot one. The location of the shot was at Luxembourg gardens, which I hadn’t been to yet. It was beautiful, but I was carrying heavy camera equipment so I couldn’t enjoy it as much. I think we spent at least 2-3 hours there because my friends had some things they needed to do as well. I got the shot I needed and we headed back. After hanging out at the St. John’s dorms for a while we decided to fulfill our Italian food craving at a place we found online. It turned out to be way more expensive than we thought, so we turned around and went to a place in Saint Michel. I’d been in that area once before for some school book shopping, but it is completely different at night! I think it is one of my favorite places in Paris. There is a tiny street too small for cars that is lined with every type of food you could want. We had an amazing meal at an Italian restaurant (I got Margherita pizza and it tasted just like my favorite pizza at home), and then we decided to get gelato afterwards. On our way to the gelato, we saw a place selling 2 euro fries and decided to split that first. We walked over to the Seine where there is an amazing view of Notre Dame and ate our fries. Afterwards we obviously still had to get gelato! I had dark chocolate and caramel. It was incredible! We brought our desert over to Notre Dame, but this time sat on these stair/bleacher type things in front of it. There were street performers dancing with fire and doing other tricks while playing music. We stared at the Notre Dame, which is magnificently lit at night, watched the performers, listened to the music, and ate amazing gelato. It is probably one of my favorite moments so far in Paris. I wish it could have went on longer, but I had to get back to the Palais de Tokyo to finish my exhibition review because the exhibition closed on Sunday.

Notre Dame at night

Notre Dame at night

Fries!!!

Fries!!! Also, I’m not eating my finger, I’m pointing.

Sunday I got up early because Miranda I were going to Versailles! Which I think deserves its own post because I have so many photos! Look for that soon.

Weekend 2: Le Marais & the Louvre

I started off my Saturday morning with the goal to run to the Eiffel Tower (and back). Ever since I realized how close I live to the Eiffel Tower, I really wanted to use it as a running goal. I hadn’t had time to run since coming to France, so I was pretty excited. However, running on the sidewalks in Paris is no easy task. You have to maneuver around pedestrians, children, dogs, street cafes, and you have to stop a lot. Plus, once I got close to the Tower, there were tons of tourists and there was a pretty bad car accident. I also went down the wrong street a few times Still, I did it!

Snapped a quick pic under the tower before turning back.

Snapped a quick pic under the tower before turning back.

Once I got back, my friend asked if I wanted to go to le Marais so I met up with her and we spent the afternoon exploring.

On our way down, we passed a photography museum we heard about (Maison Européenne de la Photographie) and decided to check it out. There were several featured artist exhibitions going on that were progressively more interesting. It’s a huge building with tons of floors and is pretty confusing to navigate at first, but once we figured it out we really enjoyed it.

An interesting way to display photograhs

An interesting way to display photograhs

Dali and cats? Perfect.

Dali and cats? Perfect.

Then it was on to le Marais. This area of Paris has lots of great shops, boulangeries, chocolatiers, and patisseries. There’s also a lot of interesting graffiti and the most Americans I’ve heard since coming here, yet it is not touristy in the way that, say, the Eiffel Tower is. It is one of my favorite areas of the city so far!

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An adorable and tempting chocolate shop.

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For some reason there are signs with DC and Marvel heroes on them. I am okay with this.

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Super amazing smelling and looking boulangeries:

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I let myself get a treat. I decided to try something new and got a chausson aux pommes. It’s basically an apple-stuffed croissant. YUM.

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They take their mopeds and motorcycles seriously here.

The end of a pretty garden street.

The end of a pretty garden street.

Terrifying graffiti

Terrifying graffiti

St. Paul

St. Paul

In a bookbinding shop

In a bookbinding shop

Later that night we went to a super cheap Chinese restaurant we heard about and then to a party at another student’s apartment. It was another fun, full day!

Sunday I woke up with the intention of going to the Louvre. I had already been in Paris for almost two weeks without going, and that needed to change! First off I had to go get a Navigo pass. These are monthly passes that allow you access to all public transportation in Paris for a flat rate. They are completely worth it if you are spending a good amount of time in Paris. I love having it and it makes me feel a little more Parisian.

On my way to the metro station, I stopped in this really amazing smelling boulangerie right across the street from where I live. It’s one of those places that makes me wish there was a way to capture smell like a photograph. I was happily surprised to find that they have sandwiches with hard boiled eggs. Hooray for vegetarian-friendly fare!

Lunch, Paris-style

Lunch, Paris-style

Then it was time for the Louvre. I entered through the shopping mall entrance, but it turned out to be a free entry day anyway because it was the first Sunday of the month, so the line moved very quickly. Once I was inside the Louvre, I realized I had no idea where to go or start or where the things I wanted to see were located. For some reason, I had this feeling that I needed to see the Winged Victory of Samothrace before anything else because that was the thing that mentally solidified being in the Louvre for me. I started to freak out trying to find it and maybe had a little panic attack. Luckily it didn’t take me that long and I was able to stare at it and get over myself enough to start walking in a direction.

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Ahhhh!

I had no idea where I was going but I ended up in the French painting area. I think most of my time was spent looking without really seeing. I needed to get an over-all feel for the museum before I started scoping out the major works. After wandering around through French painters I didn’t know very well, I came across the big ones that each had their own rooms (Gericault, Ingres, David, Corot, Delacroix, among many others). Of course, their biggest paintings were not in their individual rooms.

I kept wandering and ended up in Italian painting. I figured I should get the Mona Lisa over with, being my first time at the Louvre. I made my way to the front, got my crappy cell phone photo, and was immediately pushed aside. I wouldn’t mind it if I could actually look at the painting, but since that’s obviously not an option I got out of there as soon as possible. It’s a pretty weird phenomena to think about. One of the world’s most famous paintings, and all people want to do is take a photograph standing in front of it. I don’t think anyone actually looks at the Mona Lisa.

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I was also kind of shocked at the amount of tourists blasting their flashes away at these super old paintings. Like Leonardo’s St. John the Baptist. That painting was clearly in better condition at one point, and there are now tourists flashing it with their cameras all the time. There are signs everywhere with pictures showing not to use flash, but everyone does anyway and no one regulates it. This is definitely a big difference from American museums.

Moving on, I then found the big, famous paintings by the French artists I saw earlier. I found this especially exciting because these were works I studied a lot in my art history classes, and yet there is no comparison to seeing the real thing in person. The size makes such a difference. Having said that, here are a few photographs I took of them (for all you non-art history people).

Ingres’ Grande Odalisque

I actually thought this painting was smaller in person than I thought it would be.

This painting was smaller in person than I thought it would be.

David’s Oath of the Horatii

This was bigger than I thought it was!

This was bigger than I thought it would be!

There was also Gericault’s Raft of the Medusa, which was exactly how I hoped it would be!

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Another thing I realized about the Louvre is that I found myself constantly looking not only at the walls, but the ceiling as well.

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The whole building not only contains art, but is art!

I wandered around some more and then decided to go look at the Greek sculptures. Marble sculpture will always completely blow my mind. I can’t comprehend how something that was once a huge hunk of marble becomes an incredibly life-like representation of humanity.

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At this point they were starting to close off certain parts of the museum. I don’t even know how long I had been there but it was at least 4-5 hours. I decided I should start meandering out of the museum. I was pretty tired and had seen way more than I could absorb.

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This guy is cool.

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Oh look an area of the Louvre with no people.

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Dat baby’s face.

So I definitely need to go to the Louvre only about a million more times, but I’d say this was not bad for my first time. I now can at least get my bearings when I go inside and I’ll hopefully be able to navigate a bit better. I may need to systematically tackle a small section of the Louvre each weekend. But then school is starting, and I still need to go to the d’Orsay, and the Petit Palais, and the Picasso Museum, and the Rodin museum, and Versailles, and Giverny, and Saint Denis, and Notre Dame, and Sainte Chapelle, and the Pompidou again, and the Palais de Tokyo, and an infinite list of other places. Good thing I don’t have class on Fridays.

To end my day, I went out for crepes and wandered around Saint Germain.

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Candy!

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Coolest graffiti ever?!

So there it is. Just another weekend in Paris. This is my life.

My next post will be about my first week of class! Let the craziness begin.

Week 2: PCA Orientation

This past week was orientation week at my school! It was a pretty interesting experience that helped me get a much better introduction to Paris.

The pictures I took this week were phone photos. Since I am just familiarizing myself with the city and I have the luxury of time, I figure any place I really want to study and photograph I can go back to on my own time with my camera and really get the shots I want.

Right down the street from my school.

Right down the street from my school.

A metro station.

A metro station.

So, Monday we started off with a small breakfast and a welcome session. The group of friends I have been spending the week with consist mostly of other Americans spending the semester abroad who live in the dorms at St. John’s, with a few exceptions. It’s really crazy being surrounded by so many people from all over the world who have lived in several countries and speak many languages. I constantly feel over-shadowed and uncultured because I’m “just an American who speaks English.” After the welcome session we had lunch, and then a free afternoon until dinner that night at Bistrot de la Montagne.

Fancy dinner!

Fancy dinner!

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Blurry veggie food.

Blurry veggie food.

After a delicious dinner and lots of sitting, talking, and getting to know one another, we went out and did some exploring into the night.

New friends!

New friends!

Tuesday was the longest day of orientation. We spent a lot of time sitting on hard little wooden stools hearing different faculty talk to us about various aspects of living in Paris, studying abroad, and the school. I also had my first macaroon!

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I think I get the hype. They’re pretty yummy.

The event that night was a boat cruise on Les Bateaux Mouches on the Seine! It was super touristy but still fun to see all of the amazing sights right along the river. I got slightly overwhelmed realizing everything I have to see in the next few months, including my first glimpse of Notre Dame!

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That night  we walked around and explored. I also had my first crepe!

I don't know what this church is but I want to go back to it! I think it was in the 9th.

I don’t know what this church is but I want to go back to it! I think it was in the 9th.

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Nutella Banana. I wish it was peanut butter.

Wednesday was advising day, aka the day we finally got to see what classes were available and pick our schedules! It started off with departmental meetings, then we met individually with the department head to pick our classes. This day really made me miss KCAI. I love reading over each class description and formulating the perfect schedule. It also helps being familiar with all of the teachers and the way classes work with their credits. At PCA, I was pretty clueless. The head of the department basically told me all of the classes I should take, and most of the classes I chose had time conflicts. I was initially unhappy with my schedule, but they advertise the first week of class (add/drop week) as a time to try out classes and flexibly change your schedule, so I’m just going to every class I am interested in and then deciding what to take. So by the end of next week, my current schedule may look very different! One of my photography classes is a fashion class, which I am the most iffy about. When it comes to fashion photography, I have zero interest. That’s another thing I’ve had to get used to at PCA. It’s a very fashion-based school, whereas KCAI is liberal arts, fine arts and design.

That night we went to the Centre Pompidou. Is it terrible that I don’t think I’ve ever heard of the Pompidou before? I don’t know how that happened, because it’s the largest modern art museum in Europe. It is probably one of the most absurd, busy buildings I have ever looked at. It just doesn’t look like a building to begin with; more like a Dr. Seuss creation. Anyway, we had an unofficial tour from a Sorbonne student through the current main collection. It was really interesting because I’d only heard of about three artists before. Contemporary art is not my forte.

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Usually when I photograph art at museums, I also take a picture of the label so I can refer back to it later and research the artist. I regretfully did not do this, so I’m not sure who created these works or their titles. It is really hard to Google work based on a description of it.

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The Rainbow Room!! My favorite.

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So far my favorite part of the Pompidou is the view at the top! But I have yet to see their Modern art collection (it’s currently being remodeled or something so it’s closed). Oh yeah, we get in free with out student ID’s to the Pompidou, the Louvre, Versailles, and most art museums in the city. Yeeeesssssssss!!! After the Pompidou we explored the area and got food (see a pattern here).

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Wednesday night (or early Thursday morning; 2AM) there was an adorable little mouse running around in my room all night and keeping me awake. It especially enjoyed running up my curtains. It finally got so annoying that when I heard Anne’s grandson leave his room, I waited for him to come back and showed him the mouse. At this point it was camping out on this frilly thing that runs along the ceiling above where my windows are. We got a metal rod and after maybe 10 minutes, we lead it back down and out my window.

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Too bad he doesn’t cook.

Thursday was a free day so I finally took the opportunity to work out for the first time since I got to Paris. I was then texted by some friends that they were going to find brunch in Montmartre and I quickly agreed. Finally, Montmartre!!

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Almost immediately after we got there we ran into none other than le Bateau Lavoir. Needless to say I kind of freaked out. It was surrounded by a German tourist group that we followed for a little bit before veering off on our own.

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We ended up eating at Le Consulat. I had crepes again. It’s right across a super touristy shop that is filled with everything I love, so of course we went in.

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If you know me, you know this place is my heaven. It combined the two areas of art history I love the most: Art Nouveau and turn of the 20th century Paris. I have a gigantic le Chat Noir poster above my bed and a giant canvas Gustav Klimt print in my room in Kansas City. I think those were the only things keeping me from buying everything in that store, but I can always go back…

We saw a lot of people with huge ice cream cones, which is a big deal because everything is tiny here. We went to check it out and viola:

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We totally had ice cream. I want to go back and try (almost) every flavor!

Right down the street was this amazing view:

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And then we made our way up to la Basilique du Sacre Coeur.

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You aren’t allowed to take photographs inside, but it is incredible. All of the art is beautiful and the building itself it enormous. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many domes. I honestly don’t know that much about the history behind it, but considering it finished construction in 1914, it is a relatively new addition to Paris, which explains why everything is in such good condition. It also has an amazing view of the city:

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Montmartre is everything I dreamed it would be and I’ve barely explored it! I can’t wait to go back and spend tons of time there this semester.

That night, our orientation event was a guided tour of the undergarments exhibition in les Musee des Arts Decoratifs. I definitely learned a lot and our tour guide was very enthusiastic. This is another museum I don’t know that much about, so if anyone has any recommendations let me know because I get in for free!

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After the museum we explored and got food, this time Vietnamese.

Friday was the last day of orientation. We had our last information sessions, mostly regarding the school. Then we had a crepe lunch party. I also met with the career services faculty to discuss getting an internship in Paris. I have a really awesome opportunity I am applying for and will hopefully hear about next week. If I get it, I will share!

That night, the final event was garden aperetifs in the Tuileries. I met more of my fellow PCA students and we drank a lot of wine. Yeah, a school sponsored event that involves alcohol? You would find no such thing back home. C’est Paris!

So, this past week has been a whirlwind of information and new people and places and things and foods. I’m super confident at using the metro now. I’m starting to figure out how to eat in Paris. I fell in love with Montmartre for real. And school starts on Monday. I can’t wait to get my classes figured out, potentially get an awesome internship, and finally have something concrete here in Paris. As fun as all of this exploring is, it is also a lot to take in every day. There are many exciting things coming up though, so who knows!

Day 2: Exploration

I started off my morning with a mini panic attack because I realized I would need to take the metro to the TGV station at 6:00AM the next morning. Before coming to Paris, I thought my excitement would always be greater than any fears I had about suddenly throwing myself into a strange new culture, but in this moment that was proven wrong. Anne helpfully drove me to the closest metro station so that I could see where it was and buy tickets. Once I got back and stopped freaking out, I realized the only way to reassure myself was to go ahead and use the metro. I picked the Eiffel Tower as my destination and set off. (All the following photos were taken with my phone)

It turned out to be a lot easier than I thought it would be. I soon got off at the station and headed in the direction I thought the Eiffel Tower was in. Pretty soon I realized I was wrong, but I kept going anyways.

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If I were rich, I would eat here.

I ended up on the Left Bank of the Seine, and started following it. Immediately as I went down to the bank, there was this awesome floating greenhouse/garden that followed along the river for quite a while.

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I walked along the Seine until I passed the Pont des Invalides and then arrived at the famous Pont Alexandre III, the most ornate bridge in Paris. (This is where I started taking panoramas with my phone and they get a bit funky…)

Pont des Invalides

Pont des Invalides

Pont Alexandre III

Pont Alexandre III

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Pont Alexandre III

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Stairs up to le Pont Alexandre III

I then wandered across the bridge to the other bank…

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La statue de La Fayette

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La statue de La Fayette

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La statue de La Fayette

From across the water I saw this giant domed building which turned out to be the Alexandre III Grand Palais. I need to get inside it somehow, but it’s super fancy.

Alexadre III Grand Palais

Alexadre III Grand Palais

Across the street is the Musee des Beaux-Arts de la Ville de Paris, which I will have to visit again.

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Le Petit Palais/Musee des Beaux-Arts

Le Petit Palais/Musee des Beaux-Arts

Le Petit Palais/Musee des Beaux-Arts

I kept on walking through a park, which was of course beautiful. These flowers made me think of a painting, as does everything else in Paris!

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I then realized I was probably close to the Louvre, so I looked it up on my phone (Yay apps! They have been awesome so far) and started heading in that direction. I came across the great Egyptian Luxor Obelisque in the Place de la Concorde, which is in front of the entrance to the Tuileries Gardens that lead up to the Louvre.

Luxor Obelisque

Luxor Obelisque

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And of course the amazing Fontaines de la Concorde. Coming from the City of Fountains, this kind of puts Kansas City to shame…

Fontaines de la Concorde

Fontaines de la Concorde

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Fontaines de la Concorde

Fontaines de la Concorde

The Two Towers

The Two Towers

I then headed into the Tuileries Gardens, which has lots of beautiful sculptures that each have a unique personality!

Librarie des jardins

Librarie des jardins

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The Pit Smeller

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At lest your day is going better than this guy’s…

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They missed the last ferris wheel ride.

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I also made my first purchase in Paris… Banana Sorbet shaped like a rose!

Yummy

Yummy

Then it was time to finally see the Louvre!

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Funky panorama

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Taking a selfie in front of the Louvre is harder than it looks…

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I thought it was funny how on either side of the pyramids there are things to stand on so it looks like you're touching the tip of the pyramid. Oookay.

I thought it was funny how on either side of the pyramids there are things to stand on so it looks like you’re touching the tip of the pyramid. Oookay.

The museum was closed today, and I actually did not intend to go in anyways, so I just kept wandering around.

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A sculpture in one of the courtyards.

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Through some windows, you can see people installing something!

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By this point I was pretty tired (I don’t even know how many miles I walked or for how many hours) so I figured I should get something to eat. I exited the Louvre through the side and crossed the street, seeing this metro immediately.

Art Nouveau Metro!

Art Nouveau Metro!

Being a super huge Art Nouveau enthusiast, I was really happy to stumble upon this metro station on my first full day in Paris. I kept wandering down the street, which is pretty much all touristy shops. I stopped to get a panini and then kept walking, trying to find a place to rest and eat it.

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This panini was way huger than it looks.

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La Madeleine

This church had caught my eye earlier, so I decided to head down to it and eat in the shade on its steps. Once I had eaten enough, I retraced my steps all the way back to the original metro station I came from and headed back to my new Parisian home. Of course, once I got out of the metro I got lost for a little bit, but I eventually found my way back.

Tomorrow I have to get up at 5AM to leave at 6AM to make sure I get to my 7:37AM TGV train to Avignon. I’m still a little nervous, but after all of my exploring today the excitement is definitely back. I still have to pack, so I’m going to do that and then go to sleep. Bon nuit!