Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Last Days in Paris

Boy was it sunny today. I went for a long walk to say bye to the Marais and my favorite frozen yogurt place (myberry), but I didn't get any yogurt/berries because the line was so long. It would have been worth the wait, but I didn't have the patience. Plus it was really hot. I also said goodbye to the Palais Royal, the Louvre and the Pont des Arts. Louvre and Pont des Arts have been frequent hosts to me in the last month or so, and I'll miss them. I also went to Shakespeare and Co. a last time to sell some paperbacks I don't have room for in my suitcase.
Yesterday I hung out with the small group of my Sorbonne buddies that are still here in Paris. I don't remember what we did though, because it's hot and I'm tired.
Okay, so I do remember.

First we walked through the Latin Quarter and got food near Notre Dame, then we went to the Marais to indulge my myberry addiction. Then we took métro line 1 to La Défense, which is a REALLY TOTALLY AWESOME part of Paris. I highly recommend going if you're ever in Paris. It's cool and strangely beautiful, and it doesn't take a lot of time (unless you go shopping in the mall above the metro stop). I guess it's the business district; everything is concrete and metal. It's like being in the future. Like that episode of Spongebob where everything is made of crome.
Anyone remember that?
We hung out for a little bit under this huge crazy thing called the Grand Arche, took pictures with a giant thumb, and so on and so forth. I'll post pictures from my friends Vanessa and Maeghan when they show up on Facebook.

We also listened to stories about crazy French host families, but I'm not going to publish them here. Most French people are pretty cool, actually...but you're as likely to find weird families here as anywhere else in the world. And I mean really, everyone's family is a little weird, so who am I to judge the habits of others? There are a lot of cultural differences with houses and families between France and the US though; I know one of the first things I learned about French culture was that French families are very private. If you visit for dinner, it's not normal to get a tour of the house or offer to help in the kitchen, with dishes, etc. And of course there's the matter of shutters; every night everyone closes their shutters. It's not like at home where I can watch the neighbor's big screen TV through his bay window. The point is, there are lots of little differences, and sometimes they add up.
Personally I'm happy I didn't live with a family; I was wary of it mainly because of the price. Don't get me wrong, it's a great idea for some, and it likely would have been better for my French. But having a French roommate helped a lot as well, and I really liked the dorm I lived in (it's Foyer International, for those interested). I had a great roomie, made great friends, and was in one of the best possible locations.

So back to yesterday's events. After La Défense, we hopped back on the métro and strolled through Montmartre, and after passing by a sketchy massage place, an erotic supermarket (that's really what it was called) and some blatantly named Sex Shops, I finally saw Moulin Rouge and the café from Amelie! After that I went home and got a delicious egg and cheese crêpe. Definitely gonna miss those.

At this point, the most important places that were on my Paris checklist have been checked. Admittedly I didn't go to all of the museums I've wanted; in Paris I've really only seen Louvre, D'Orsay, Carnavalet (which is FREE for EVERYONE) and Pompidou. While I'll always have a softspot for the Louvre, I think my favorite artwork AND my favorite view of Paris is in Pompidou. There's a lot of Picasso, as well as some crazy interactive exhibits and furniture art and all kinds of stuff. That didn't come out very articulately. I guess the best way to put it is that the whole thing is like a Stanley Kubrick movie, with all kinds of bright colors, weird chairs and crazy stuff going on. If you take the escalator up to the top of the museum, your eyes and ears are assaulted with both the view of Paris and these bizarre sounds coming from speakers in the clear plexiglass tunnel you're in. In this museum, ALL of the senses are incorporated into the art, especially with this one exhibit that was made of suffocating insulation.
Okay, I still can't explain it. Pictures will be in the next post.

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