My Ultimate Tourist’s Guide to Paris!

Note: This post was never completed as intended. I had originally planned to add more. I have discovered this unpublished post nearly 2 years after I started it! I think this information is great as-is, though I do very much wish I had finished this post. I may think of something every now and then and add on to this. If you ever have questions or seek advice about Paris, study abroad, or traveling in general, please feel free to ask!

Packing

If you need to buy another suitcase while you’re in Paris, there are several places you could look. I would recommend Rayon D’Or, because they have a wide selection and price range. I went to their location at Republique.

If you need any type of travel accessories (bottles and containers that fit the 100ml carry on requirement, for instance) there is an amazing store called Muji which can fulfill all of your needs and more. They have several locations across Paris. I went to the one in Forum des Halles.

As for the type of clothing you should bring, obviously it first depends on the season. As a general rule, a monochromatic wardrobe will be classic and versatile, with a few statement pieces for pops of color. Bring comfortable walking shoes, but not “sneakers.” I have noticed a sort of “sporty” fashion that is popular, including jogger pants and brand name running shoes, like Nikes. So, perhaps you can make that work for you. If you are only in Paris for a short amount of time, I would not worry about looking your most fashionable. I know it may seem like a big deal beforehand, especially if it’s your first time in Paris, but unless you’re going for fashion week, just be practical and comfortable above all else.

Measurements

Most people are familiar with some of the measurement differences between the US and Europe, such as how Europeans use the metric system and Celsius instead of Fahrenheit. However, I was unaware of just how many different ways there are to measure everything you can think of, and they’re all different in France! Here is a run-down of what you can expect to encounter that might catch you off guard:

Distance/Height/Weight/Volume: kilometers, centimeters, kilograms, liters.

Temperature: Celsius. So I still haven’t gotten used to this, but if you keep in mind freezing is 0 in Celsius and 32 in Fahrenheit, it can be somewhat helpful. I just use my phone to check the temperature in Fahrenheit.

Time: 24 hour clock. I recommend changing your phone to a 24 hour clock before coming to Paris to get used to it. Now I keep it this way all of the time!

Dates: Written as day/month/year

Names: Written as Last Name/First Name

Floors of Buildings: The ground floor of a building is 0. The first floor above that is 1, and so on. The first floor below the ground floor is -1, and so on. This takes a while to get used to.

Money

I’ve never exchanged money before, and honestly I don’t think it’s worth it. You absolutely need cash while you’re in Paris, however, because many places don’t accept cards (or require a chip card), or if they do accept cards, they have a price limit that you must spend in order to use a card. In any case, I think the best way to get cash is to take it out in large sums from ATMs. This limits bank fees, and you don’t have to pay exchange fees either.

Transportation

The two best ways to get around Paris are your feet and Paris’ amazing public transportation system. This includes buses, the RER trains (which go outside of the city to places like Versailles and Disneyland) and the metro. The Paris metro is really easy to use and is probably one of your best resources. You can get a map of the Paris metro pretty much anywhere (for free) and they are posted at least two times in every metro stop. Now depending on how long you will be in Paris, you have several options regarding tickets. If you’re only going to be there for a few days, then just get a booklet of tickets. If you’re going to be there for a week, a good option would be a Paris Pass, which gets you into pretty much all of the major museums/tours and acts as a public transportation pass. If you’re going to be there for several weeks, I recommend getting a Navigo. You can get these in weekly or monthly passes. I’ve been using it ever since September 1st and I haven’t looked back. It is seriously the most useful, easy little card ever. To get one, you have to have your picture taken in any of the photo booths that are in nearly every metro station (it costs 5 euros). Then, take this photo to the desk in the metro station and ask for a weekly/monthly Navigo pass. You can buy tickets and recharge your Navigo at any of the automatic ticket machines in the metro, which all have an English language option.

Eating Out

Rule number one of eating out in Paris: never sit down to eat unless you have at least 1-2 hours.

The food service industry is very different from what Americans are accustomed to. You will either take your own seat or wait to be seated, and then your drink and food orders are taken. Once your food is delivered to you, you will probably not see your waiter again for much of the meal.

If you would like to order water, the best method is to ask for “une carafe d’eau” (a carafe of water). The glasses are fairly small, but at least you can refill them yourself instead of trying to track down a waiter!

As in many European countries, tipping is unnecessary unless you feel that you received extraordinary service.

Sometimes, you may eat at a restaurant that seats you at a table with complete strangers. I’ve had this happen to me a few times in various European countries. You can either completely ignore them, or make some new friends!

Pickpockets & Beggars

Everywhere you go in Paris, you will constantly be warned against pickpockets. These are warnings you should seriously heed. Pickpockets aren’t out to hurt you physically, they just want to take your stuff, and they’re good at it. Since coming to Paris in August, I am literally the only one of my friends that still has their phone. It is not difficult to avoid being pickpocketed, you just always have to be aware of your bag. If you have a purse, make sure it is always closed and in front of you. Make sure that it closes in a secure manner, such as with a zipper. If you have a backpack, whenever you are in a crowded area or on the metro, swing in over one should so that it’s in front of you. If you are just keeping things in your pockets, do so at your own risk. As long as you are aware, you should have nothing to worry about. I’ve caught people sticking their hands in my bag twice since coming to Paris, but I’ve never had anything stolen yet (probably because I’m really paranoid). Still, it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Aside from pickpockets, there are people all over Paris who want to take your money. They have many tricks to try and get you to give it to them, but the best thing to do is to ignore them. Homeless people have the cutest puppies you will ever see in your life. Women will sit crying and holding small infants. Groups of men will try and get you to play this finger game with them, and then while you’re distracted they’ll take your wallet. The worst are the clipboard girls. These are usually young women who walk around popular tourist areas (Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Arc de Triomphe) asking if you speak English. If you say yes, they will start telling you about some charity they are raising money for and ask you to sign their clipboard and donate some money. Seriously, ignore these people. They are everywhere and are very persistent, so the best thing to do is keep walking very determinedly in one direction. Don’t even try to be polite or talk to them. Just ignore them.

Apps

During my semester in Paris, I had an international data plan. However, during previous, shorter trips, I just used my phone in airplane mode and used WiFi, which is becoming more and more accessible anywhere you go! I usually don’t travel with my computer, and I do not have a tablet, so my phone is the main way I access information while traveling. As a result, I have discovered certain apps that I love to have while traveling. In some cases, apps will allow you to download information onto your phone, which is great because then you don’t need data or WiFi to access it, just a full battery! Also, these are all FREE apps, and I have an Android but I’m sure they’re all available on iPhone as well.

Google Translate: This is one such app that will allow you to download certain languages on your phone. That way, you can always translate on the go. There is also a camera mode which is useful for reading things like signs and menus, though it is admittedly not perfect. Still, Google is my favorite translation app!

Duolingo: If you want to have some semblance of the local language before you go (which I highly recommend), download this app and practice the language 10-15 minutes each day. It’s really fun and kind of addicting!

TripAdvisor: This app is a must-have! You can download entire maps and travel itineraries for cities to reference on your phone without any kind of connection. There are countless reviews and rankings for activities, restaurants, sites, you name it!

Google Maps: Granted, you really need a good data or WiFi connection for this to be helpful. Regardless, I do not know what I would do without it! Physical maps are not always easily available, and if you are planning on the fly, this app is a necessity.

Airbnb: If you are like me and use Airbnb to book most of your lodging while traveling, you need to have the app on your phone. Yes, you will need some kind of connection to access it, but you will be glad you can directly message your host when you get lost on the way to the residence!

Viber/WhatsApp: These are free messaging services that I have used to communicate with my family and international friends while abroad! It’s basically an app that allows you to text via WiFi or data, so you do not need a phone signal. I prefer to use these for texting, though I have made calls with Viber before. Sometimes you get the “ocean” sound and you need to have a strong connection, but it works for the most part.

XE Currency: An easy currency conversion app to calculate costs.

Unit Converter: This is non-specific, but it can be very helpful to have a measurement converter when traveling in countries that use the metric system.

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.

IMG_20130930_172948_646 IMG_20130930_172755_400IMG_20130930_203819

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!

Edited_2_JPEG

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

Edited_10_JPEG Edited_6_JPEG Edited_5_JPEG Edited_4_JPEGEdited_12_JPEG Edited_15_JPEG

And then walked across the bridge over to Notre Dame.

Edited_20_JPEG Edited_21_JPEGEdited_18_JPEG Edited_16_JPEGEdited_23_JPEG

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

Edited_25_JPEG Edited_28_JPEG Edited_27_JPEG Edited_26_JPEGEdited_58_JPEG Edited_57_JPEG Edited_54_JPEG Edited_53_JPEGEdited_55_JPEGEdited_62_JPEGEdited_60_JPEG

And then I went inside…

Edited_30_JPEG

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

Edited_31_JPEG Edited_32_JPEG Edited_37_JPEG Edited_35_JPEG Edited_34_JPEG Edited_33_JPEG Edited_38_JPEG Edited_41_JPEG Edited_42_JPEG Edited_40_JPEG Edited_43_JPEG Edited_46_JPEG Edited_48_JPEG Edited_45_JPEG Edited_47_JPEG

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

Edited_65_JPEG Edited_68_JPEG Edited_67_JPEG Edited_66_JPEG

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

Edited_70_JPEG

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

Edited_73_JPEG Edited_72_JPEG Edited_71_JPEG

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

Edited_74_JPEG

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 5: Homework in Paris is Still Homework

I’ve basically spent the entire past week and most of the weekend doing school-related things and finishing up my first photo project for critique on Monday, which had a lot of last-minute problems. Despite all of this, I did find some time to explore this week!

On Tuesday, I finally went to Shakespeare & Co! It was even more awesome than I thought it would be. I could spend days in there reading all of those books. Of course I went right to the art section, which had a lot of books I’d never heard of before. I took note of a few to check out later on Amazon, because as awesome as the store is, it’s pretty expensive. I did get a nice 4 euro tote bag, which I’d been needing.

IMG_20130917_145110

On Wednesday, I got to go on the roof of my school for part of a class. It has an amazing view of Sacre Coeur, and it was the first time I had an elevated view of Paris since arriving.

PCARoof1

Thursday night I went out to an Irish bar with Anna and Miranda, who wanted to do go out before they left for Amsterdam for the weekend. It had a really great atmosphere and played lots of wonderful “American” music that was once again really nice to hear. We definitely plan on going back there sometime!

Mellon shots!

Mellon shots!

Friday and Saturday were pretty much dedicated to solving the Murphy’s Law that surrounded my photo project. Depending on how I feel after my critique I may dedicate a post to sharing the photos. After all the problems this weekend I’m just glad they’re done but I don’t know how I feel about them.

Sunday I met Francesca for brunch and she showed me some great shops, including a fromagerie! I hadn’t been in a cheese shop yet because I found them intimidating, but now I had some new cheeses to try and some amazing bread to eat them with. Fun fact: apparently white wine is the best wine to eat with cheese, not red! I’ve found that I am partial to white anyway, so this is good news.

Afterwards, I decided to finally go up the Eiffel Tower. This is probably the most touristy thing I have done since coming to Paris, but I knew I had to do it at some point. This doesn’t mean I didn’t want to, but I just don’t enjoy doing things with lots of people pushing and waiting in lines and taking photographs of each other in the middle of everything.

TourEiffel1

Just a walkin’ down my street.

TourEiffel2 TourEiffel3

The very top of the Tower was closed, so I could only go to the second level. I didn’t mind this, but I think I would like to go back one other time to go to the very top at some point. Maybe once there’s less people around, even if it will be freezing!

TourEiffel4

TourEiffel7 TourEiffel6 TourEiffel5TourEiffel11 TourEiffel8 TourEiffel10 TourEiffel9

The view is stunning, and it was neat to see the whole city and find landmarks that I’m now familiar with. At the same time, maybe because I waited so long to go up, it wasn’t that incredible to me. I know, I know. I’d rather go to museums any day over this kind of thing.

I still suck at cell phone selfies.

I still suck at cell phone selfies. Oh well.

The only other notable thing this past week was that I have finally started figuring out food stuff. It only took me a month, but I actually tried cooking and making meals at home. It was soo worth it. I also did some research and was able to find a lot of things I initially couldn’t, like oatmeal, almond milk, and peanut butter. It just takes persistence, but it’s possible! Also everything I’ve been buying is organic and it isn’t even that expensive. You just have to know what you’re doing and spend some time shopping. I found this stuff that is like apple sauce except with bananas. I never even thought of making apple sauce with not apples. It’s pretty yummy, but kind of what I imagine baby food is like. Also, Monoprix (the main grocery store chain here) has AMAZING quinoa. Who would have thought?!

IMG_20130919_203740

Oatmeal!! With raisins.

IMG_20130921_160045

A European twist on my favorite sandwich: peanut butter and bananas on toast!

IMG_20130920_195315

The meal I could eat forever: stir-fried veggies in soy sauce and egg whites with quinoa.

This coming week the weather is supposed to be really nice, so hopefully I don’t get too swamped with school work so that I can go out and enjoy it! I still have so many cathedrals I need to go see, among all the other things. I’m also hopefully going to finally figure out my whole internship thing, and then I’ll share about that as well. I also want to start photographing the area I live in and prepare more posts about every-day life for me here. We’ll see how it goes!

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.

IMG_20130915_120955_670

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!

IMG_20130915_211848

I’m Hugo!

IMG_20130915_211423 IMG_20130915_153255_123

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…

dorsay3

The Birth of Venus by Cabanel

dorsay2

The Birth of Venus by Bourguereau

IMG_20130915_160041_276

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

IMG_20130915_161324_024

The pastel Symbolist paintings by Redon were beautiful!

IMG_20130915_160452_187

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)

IMG_20130915_170819_053

Bonnard makes cool cats

IMG_20130915_171047_610

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.

IMG_20130915_162801_697

Just a whole room!!

IMG_20130915_163457_832

My new bed.

IMG_20130915_162940_984

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.

IMG_20130915_171909_321

Way bigger than I thought it would be!

IMG_20130915_172142_717

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?

IMG_20130915_185125_750

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

IMG_20130915_191231_667

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.

IMG_20130914_150704_182

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

IMG_20130914_144657_786

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

IMG_20130914_151003_253

One of the most colorful steles I’ve seen

IMG_20130914_143952_418 IMG_20130914_144751_183 IMG_20130914_144815_121 IMG_20130914_145005_108 IMG_20130914_145206_746 IMG_20130914_150140_960

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!!!

2013-09-14 14.27.08 2013-09-14 14.27.32 IMG_20130914_145251_805 IMG_20130914_151102_156

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

IMG_20130914_143601_662

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

2013-09-14 14.31.452013-09-14 14.33.12 2013-09-14 14.33.202013-09-14 14.35.34 IMG_20130914_143622_794IMG_20130914_145100_196 IMG_20130914_145148_253IMG_20130914_151046_780

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!

2013-09-14 14.30.49 IMG_20130914_150322_106 IMG_20130914_153610_426

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.

IMG_20130914_145915_303

This guy can not handle losing his nose

IMG_20130914_150051_063

The Louvre has Voldemorts too! But they have ears.

IMG_20130914_150202_484

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

IMG_20130914_150524_924

I found the ears

IMG_20130914_150731_383

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.

IMG_20130914_150909_458

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.

IMG_20130914_150915_028 IMG_20130914_151407_481

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

IMG_20130914_151746_499

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.

IMG_20130914_151959_388

Those obliques are intense

IMG_20130914_152407_527

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

IMG_20130914_152433_729

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.

IMG_20130914_151910_199 IMG_20130914_152013_770 IMG_20130914_151935_524 IMG_20130914_152108_141 IMG_20130914_152602_053 IMG_20130914_152720_302 IMG_20130914_152639_405

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.

IMG_20130914_154929_257

Oh no, Jesus 😦

IMG_20130914_155209_218

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

IMG_20130914_155158_580

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!

IMG_20130914_163836_307

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.

IMG_20130914_155349_284

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.

IMG_20130914_164746_709

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

IMG_20130914_164816_402

Did not know this was here. Yay!

IMG_20130914_165207_529

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!

Week 4: Sick Days & Travel Plans

This past week was pretty uneventful, mostly because I spent the weekend not doing school-related things and then I remembered I was a student. I’m very good at time management and don’t put things off, but I am going to have to figure out how to balance sight-seeing on the weekends and doing homework. Luckily, my teacher gave us another week on our first photo assignment which saved me from being super stressed out.

Also, this week it officially became fall in Paris. After Sunday, leaves were on the ground and it has rained every day. I can even wear boots, a scarf, and my jacket and not look crazy. The rain isn’t too bad since it’s more of a constantly drizzle/mist, but I hope there are at least a few clear days in the future.

Tuesday I met with Francesca and her children for the first time. They are family friends who live here in Paris. I actually had one of her daughters pose in a photograph for my assignment! They have a really charming apartment and a very friendly cat that sheds everywhere. Also, I am now their babysitter for this semester! This was an unexpected but welcome surprise. Tuesday night my friends and I went back to Saint Michel to eat in front of Notre Dame because it’s the best. Of course I got more gelato!

Thursday I felt myself getting sick all day, which was exactly what I didn’t want to happen while I was here, especially this early on. After class I went to a pharmacie to get throat medicine and vitamin C, and then oranges and nectarines at the market. I have been OD’ing on vitamin C ever since and I think it is working! I spent Thursday night vegging out and finally watched Monsters University, which was great.

Friday morning I met with some friends to shoot another photo for my project, then spent the rest of the day editing my Versailles photos and consuming tons of vitamin C. By the end of the day I was tired of sitting in the same spot, so I went out to Le Bar a Soupes, a place recommended to me by my art history teacher and fellow vegetarian (thanks Madeline!!). All of the soups looked delicious but I chose a mixed vegetable soup. It was perfect for my throat and very filling. I spent the night watching In Bruges to get myself pumped to go to Bruges at some point while I’m here. Speaking of which…

One of the more exciting things that developed this week was that I started making travel plans for while I am here! I already have tickets to go to Poland for a short trip the last weekend of October to visit a friend from high school, and a weekend in Florence during November is in the works. I also want to take day trips to Bruges, Aachen, and possibly Amsterdam. I had a really big “duh” moment when I realized that I could go to Munich for Oktoberfest this year! I wish I had thought of it sooner because now everything is pretty booked or expensive. I’m going to try and find a way to get there, though. It would fulfill all my little middle school dreams when I first started to study German and celebrated Oktoberfest in school every year. Sorry France, but Germany is still my favorite country! If I had the money, I would travel somewhere every weekend. There’s so much to see and I have such easy access while I’m in Europe. I want to take advantage of that as much as possible while I’m here. Of course, there is plenty to see and do in Paris as well! I mean, I haven’t even been up the Eiffel Tower yet. Woops.

Versailles!

We honestly could not have picked a better day to go to Versailles. I think there’s some kind of magical bubble over the entire estate that makes the sky absolutely perfect, because I can’t imagine seeing it any other way.

Versailles is definitely the kind of place you need to experience in person to fully understand. I mean, I’ve generally known of its existence for a long time. I studied it in art history and heard the dimensions and facts regarding its size and grandeur. One of my favorite movies is Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette. Despite all that, seeing it in person was crazy. My eyes have never had to absorb so much exorbitance at once. There’s so much gold, so many decorations, paintings, statues, and then the gardens that go on forever. After seeing all that, I understand why there was a Revolution. Also, in the gardens they have surprisingly inexpensive food and I had a really yummy panini.

I took a lot of photos at Versailles. Like, way more than I realized until later when I put them on my computer and had to spend an entire afternoon editing them. So, I think for the most part my photos will speak for themselves. There’s not much else to say, you really have to see it for yourself. And try to go on the most perfect day you can imagine. It will be worth it.

Versailles_01

This installation was right across from where you exit the train station. I was super excited to see it because I’ve always wanted to see one in person! I’m not sure who the artist is though.

Versailles_02 Versailles_03 Versailles_04 Versailles_06 Versailles_05 Versailles_07 Versailles_08 Versailles_09 Versailles_09-2 Versailles_10 Versailles_13 Versailles_12 Versailles_11 Versailles_10-2 Versailles_16 Versailles_18 Versailles_17Versailles_19 Versailles_22 Versailles_21 Versailles_20Versailles_23 Versailles_23-2Versailles_24 Versailles_24-2

Versailles_25-2

Who knew Descartes was so ugly?!?

Versailles_25

I love the way this restoration work looks. So Klimt!

Versailles_26 Versailles_27-2

Versailles_27

Lumiere and Cogsworth?

Versailles_27-3

Sooo cool to see this painting in person!!

Versailles_29-2

Marie Antoinette’s bed (!!)

Versailles_29-3

All the beds have these silly flouffy things on the top.

Versailles_28 Versailles_29 Versailles_30

Versailles_31

Versailles_32 Versailles_33

The Hall of Mirrors! It was really hard to take photos here without people's heads in them.

The Hall of Mirrors! It was really hard to take photos here without people’s heads in them.Versailles_35 Versailles_37 Versailles_36

Versailles_37-2 Versailles_37-3Versailles_38

Versailles_39-2

I could not get a good photo of this painting, but those legs are super fabulous in real life.

Versailles_39

This room is right after the Hall of Mirrors and I think they put it there on purpose to cleanse your visual palette. Even if they didn’t it was really beautiful to see something so simple after all that extravagance!

Versailles_40-3

I would probably look like this if birds pooped in my eye, too.

Versailles_40

Of course Versailles has palm trees.

Versailles_40-4

This is how perfect it was. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a sky like it before.

Versailles_41

Perfection!!

Versailles_42

Coolest gardens ever.

Versailles_43

Versailles_44 Versailles_45-2 Versailles_46Versialles_45-4 Versailles_45 Versailles_45-3Versailles_47 Versailles_48

So there you have it! Versailles is amazing. Just another favorite memory from my time abroad so far!

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.

Week 3: School Begins!

This past week was my first week of class! I was excited, but also as I mentioned before, I was reluctant about some of my classes. Much of that changed during the week.

Here is my schedule for this semester:

Junior Seminar I: Monday 2-7:00 PM, 3 credit hours
French I: Tuesday & Thursday 9-10:15 AM, 3 credit hours
Fashion Films II: Wednesday 10:30 AM-1:00 PM, 2 credit hours
Motion Graphics I: Wednesday 2-7:00 PM, 2 credit hours
Digital Photo Lab I: Thursday 10:30 AM-1:00 PM, 3 credit hours
Introduction to Visual Culture: Thursday 2-4:30 PM, 3 credit hours
For those of you familiar with KCAI, you can see the classes work kind of differently. Some electives are 2 credit hours, and all classes are once a week with the exception of French I. I still need to figure out what the difference is between 2 and 3 credit hour classes, because they meet for the same amount of time each week. Overall, I really like my schedule. I have a nice, long weekend starting after my last class Thursday at 4:30 until my first class Monday at 2:00. I also only have one class Tuesday morning and then I’m free the rest of the day. This gives me plenty of time to work considering I am taking 4 studio classes (a record for me) and I want to do some traveling on the weekends.
Monday: Junior Seminar I
I was able to have a relaxing morning and get to school an hour and a half early. Once class started we did the basic introductory go-around and syllabus review. This class seems to be my most intensive, but being my main photography studio class that makes sense. I am really looking forward to it, as I was surprised to learn we will be working mostly in film this semester. Luckily I brought my Mamiya 645 (a medium format camera) instead of a 35mm camera, because our assignments require either large or medium format. I’m also excited to be able to use a 4×5 camera in Paris, since I wasn’t sure if this was going to be an option here. Of course the cost factor is incredibly high here in France, but I just keep telling myself using large format in Paris will be worth it. I am already  super inspired and have tons of ideas for our first assignment, as well as the following assignments. Other than taking photos, a part of the class is going to exhibitions around the city and writing reviews of them. I am so excited for this as it gives me another reason to visit some smaller, not as hyped-up touristy museums and see what they have to offer.
Tuesday: French I
French is going to be very interesting. The teacher does not speak much English and teaches the class entirely in French. This makes me incredibly glad to have some basic knowledge of the language’s spelling, grammar, and introductory vocabulary. I feel like I have a good grasp of how the language works grammatically, I just don’t have a large vocabulary or confidence in speaking it. Since this was only the first class, I’m not sure at this point how things will go.
Wednesday: Fashion Films II
Okay, the title of this class is really misleading. This is the class that the head of the department recommended I take, and I grudgingly obliged because it had “fashion” in the title. Little did I know this was really just a film class! We are going to spend the entire semester watching and analyzing films while learning how to write scripts, storyboard, and everything that goes into making a short film. I love films and have always wanted to learn how to make them, but I also found it extremely intimidating and scary. There is so much work that goes into making a film, even one only a few minutes long. The part that has always really scared me was not the planning or shooting process, but editing. However, with this class I get to learn Adobe Premiere Pro, which I already have thanks to KCAI giving each student the Adobe Creative Suite. So now I get to learn how to make a film, edit it, and watch a ton of great movies in the process! This class is definitely a pleasant surprise and I can’t wait to start learning more!
Wednesday: Motion Graphics I
This is not a class I was initially registered for because it conflicted with a photography elective that the head of the department wanted me to take. However, my desire to learn Adobe Affect Effects was greater than my need for another photography class, so I switched. I am also really excited for this class because AE is a program I have been wanting to learn for some time now. Considering all of my friends are animation majors and I spend a lot of time in their studio, I’ve seen how it works but I’ve never actually used it. Now I get to join in the fun and learn a little animation myself. This class is in a 5 hour block, but it only meets every other week. We spend most of the time doing tutorials and independently working on assignments, so we get to work on our own time at our own level of expertise. I hope by the end of this semester I can say I’m confident in my AE abilities and maybe have some cool animations, too.
Thursday: French I (again)
This class gave me a much better feel for what it will be like this semester. It was actually pretty fun. We’re still just going over basics, but I think it will be really helpful. On a completely random note, as I was looking through my workbook I noticed in a section talking about professions and one of the examples was “Il est avocat.” (He is an avocado) I have no idea how someone can be a professional avocado, so I looked up “avocat“. Turns out it means lawyer and  avocado. If you wanted to say someone was an avocado, you would have to say “un avocat“. French is weird.
Thursday: Digital Photo Lab I
I think this class is going to be super helpful. It’s a purely technical class about Photoshop, Bridge, and digital printing methods. While these are all things I have a good amount of experience in, taking an entire class dedicated to them will greatly improve my workflow and make sure I’m not doing anything wrong. Plus, I want to get better at printing. We don’t have to shoot any work specifically for this class, so I can use it as a chance to improve either the photos for my other class assignments or the photos I take for fun while I’m here.
Thursday: Introduction to Visual Culture
I was not entirely sure what to expect with this class, but I think it will be very interesting. It will be partially conducted through social media: Facebook, tumblr, Instagram, etc. which we will use to create a visual dialogue of things we see or find interesting. We will then connect them on a historical timeline. I am most interested to see the connections between artists across time and how they create a chain reaction of influence upon one another.
So there you have it! I am really excited for this semester. I am so glad I get to learn so many new things, particularly programs in the Adobe Creative Suite. I want to eventually learn how to use as many of the programs as possible since I have them and they can only help me. I also get to further my experience with medium and large format film photography, in Paris of all places! I am still waiting to hear about the internship but I am hopeful. It will take up a lot of the free time I have in my schedule right now, but I think it would be worth it. My next update will be on this weekend!