Hello beautiful people! I’m coming to you with part 4 of my France diary series. This week was all about experiencing Paris, a place I have always dreamed about going.
An Anti-climatic Beginning
If you read my last diary, you know that the ride to Paris was not at all what I expected (but what’s new). Once we arrived in Paris around 1pm, and got an Uber to our hotel, my roommate and I were so exhausted (/traumatized) from the trip that we passed out in our beds. Yep, the first two hours I was in Paris were spent napping. #jetsetter #glamour
After a glorious two hour nap, we met up with the group and toured the area we were staying in. We walked around main streets, as well as visiting some fragrance boutiques along the way.
After seeing what was planned for the itinerary, a group of us found a little restaurant to enjoy some wine, cheese, and of course, bread. We toasted to the next week in Paris and everything that we will get to experience. After drinks, my roommate and I went back to our room, ordered a pizza, and fell asleep at 10pm watching A Christmas Prince. (I swear my time in Paris gets more exciting.)
Eiffel Tower, YSL Museum & Designer Shopping
Our first full day in Paris started out taking a bus to see the Eiffel Tower. Obviously I had never seen the Eiffel Tower before, this being my first time in Paris, so I was very excited. We rode the bus to the side of town that housed the Eiffel Tower, and without knowing, I caught a glimpse of it through street openings and thought it was construction. Oops.
Seeing the tower in all it’s glory brought forth a variety of thoughts/feelings. 1. It’s a lot bigger than I imagined. 2. It’s very industrial, and not as lovely as I deemed it in my head. 3. It seemed very much like a tourist attraction (which it is), with people walking around trying to sell you various merchandise relating to the Eiffel Tower. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I saw the tower, it’s a staple of this city. But next time I would want to see it from a more local point of view.
After visiting the tower, we made our way to the YSL museum. If you don’t know who Yves Saint Laurent is, 1. I’m a little offended and 2. open another tab and google the name. Enlighten yourself, please.
This museum was an extraordinary place, for many reasons. The museum was built, obviously in honor of Yves Saint Laurent and the work he has done, but also as an act of love by his partner, Pierre Bergé, who crafted this museum to highlight YSL’s creative journey, and the work he produced in the height of his career. The museum has some amazing work displayed, from his sketches to finished garments. I would definitely recommend checking it out.
Once our time at the YSL museum ended, we headed for a couple different designer stores (Hermēs and Louis Vuitton, to name a few), to study how they approached displaying their fragrances (you know, research).
I definitely vibed more with LV’s displays. They were neat, simple, and aesthetic, complimenting the space well.
Wednesday began visiting the Musée d’Orsay, which was a lovely way to start the day, if I do say so myself. The space is really interesting in that it used to be a train station, which you can tell by looking at the photos.
Some snaps of the art:
After the Musée d’Orsay, we made our way the Louvre.
I discovered many things about the Louvre that I didn’t know before. First, I didn’t know that the museum starts below the famous Louvre pyramid. I honestly thought the pyramid was separate from the actual museum, you know, for aesthetic reasons.
The other interesting thing I didn’t know was that the Louvre originally housed King Louis XIV, who then moved to Versailles because he wanted more land to build on, and wanted to get out of the city.
Here are some pictures I snapped at the Louvre:
Also I’d like to add that I bought a Mona Lisa glasses wipe. I use it everyday.
A Night in Paris: Art, Cigarettes and Champagne
Wednesday night, my friend Sarah was invited to catch up with an old family friend who is living in Paris right now (long story short, her name is Diane, and she used to date Sarah’s dad).
Sarah, Cassidy, Hana and I navigated our way to her apartment, feeling very accomplished that we successfully used the metro and found our way to the correct destination. We arrived at the apartment around 6:30pm, greeted by a friendly, dark-haired woman. Going into the night, I expected a glass of wine, a few simple conversations, and to be in bed by 10.
Like most things in life, I was wrong.
The night unfolded to be one of the most interesting, stimulating, and zany situations I have experienced.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Greeted at the gate down a dimly lite Parisian street, we walked back to a little apartment, opening double white doors, walking into a house that has so much to look at, the first glance is overwhelming. Diane immediately pours us all a glass of champagne, and toasts to the night.
First impressions of Diane: Friendly, deeply southern, kind, beautiful, and a bit crazy. Throughout the evening, she asked every one of us personal questions, wanting to know everything about us. She would immediately fill our glasses if they were even the slightest bit empty. She gave me a back massage a couple hours into the night, randomly, which to be honest, I didn’t mind much. She is the type of person who makes you feel like you are the most important person in the room, and everything you have to say is significant.
After pouring us our first glass of champagne, she led us into the living room, where 4 older men sat having conversations on the couches. We each took a seat around the room. One of the men, Diane’s husband, had wild, grey hair, a friendly smile, and a hint of crazy in his eyes. He greeted us, and throughout the night told stories of his time traveling, his time as a painter (if you look at the photos of the apartment, all of the paintings are his), his time spent with famous fashion designers (including Yves Saint Laurent), his time getting cocktails with infamous muses in the Parisian art community. He spoke as if he was writing a memoir, always handing us a plate of who-knows-what, drinking countless glasses of champagne, smoking hand-rolled cigarettes.
The next man we were introduced to I unfortunately don’t remember the name of. He spoke with a thunderous voice, mostly of politics. He excused himself about an hour into the night, stating that he had to fly to Milan to have a cocktail with a friend and then Dublin for business. That was the entirety of what I know about this man.
The next guy on the couch looked significantly younger than the rest of our acquaintances, his age falling in the early 40’s I would say. Sitting on the couch with a drink in his hand, he looked almost hazed over, unattached. As the night progressed we discovered this unattached man is actually quite intelligent, having studied at Columbia, written multiple books, taught high school English in a foreign country, founded his own company selling iced boxers that help men produce more sperm to increase the chances of getting a woman pregnant (snowballs, look it up), worked along side of Yves Saint Laurent for costuming his school’s play, was married to the head of Chanel’s sustainability department, and took place in the spreading of Yves Saint Laurent’s ashes at his funeral. He was whity, and charming, engaging, but also had a look of misery in his eyes. Perhaps that hidden misery is why he always had a drink in his hand and a cigarette between his fingers.
I said that there were 4 men sitting in the living room, but I only really remember the three I just mentioned. All I remember about the 4th man is that he had a bad knee.
Who the hell are these people?
The night unfolded as you might assume, we sat in awe listening to these crazy stories, drinking too much champagne, eating whatever the hell was on the coffee table. We talked about our personal lives, our career aspirations, our time in France, our views on certain topics. As the night progressed, the music seemed to grow louder. If you’re familiar with Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Nick describes himself as being both within and without, looking at himself through a window experiencing a scene. This is how I felt that night. I was within this party, this Paris apartment, drinking with these interesting, total strangers, but I was also very much looking in from an outsider’s view, watching myself throughout the night.
The night ended around midnight, dancing in the dining room, eating old Halloween candy. They called us a cab, and we arrived at our hotel room, dizzy from the champagne, confused about who we just met and what we just experienced.
The next morning made the night seem like a weird dream. We went to breakfast, not speaking much about the events preluding the day. I’m thankful to have met these people, even if I don’t remember their names, even if I never see them again. I have never felt more enlightened in my life.
Thursday was spent walking around and admiring The Palace of Versailles. Walking through the elaborately decorated hallways, it was as if I was looking into the life of Louis XIV, seeing him float through the corridors with his red-soled heels, admiring himself in the hall of mirrors. Versailles was unlike anything I have ever seen, and probably the most grand.
Last Day of Parisian Paradise
The last day spent in Paris was bittersweet. We started the day by enjoying breakfast at an adorable cafe named LouLou.
The rest of the day was spent Christmas shopping and planning how to fit all of the things we bought in our suitcases. The night ended with a dinner with the entirety of the group. Wine was shared, stories were told, toasts were given, pasta was eaten, and the laughs were constant.
I haven’t entirely processed my time spent in France. I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to share glimpses of my time with you, but there is so much more that went unwritten. I had the privilege of getting to know some of my classmates better than I know anybody. I’m thankful for the little moments that may have gone unnoticed. I’m thankful that I was given the opportunity to travel and experience things that I otherwise wouldn’t have in the States.
My time in France was full of laughter, exploration, emotions, fragrance, shopping, sight-seeing, and lots of baguettes. I’m sure you will see a “France After-thoughts” post in the next couple of weeks, so right now I am ending this final diary part with the gratitude for everyone who made this trip special. You will always hold a place in my heart.