I apologize for the absence dear readers, and for the time warp I'm currently holding this journal in! I wanted to tell you some more Paris stories before heading back to more current stories in la ville rose (Toulouse's nickname)
So here's the thing about Paris. I have already been twice. And honestly...I'm not a huge fan of the city. Yes, I appreciate the history and the beautiful monuments and the quirky neighborhoods. But I don't enjoy the sheer size of it, the constant rip off all around the tourist sites and the general dirtyness of the city. Still, I had a great time in the town this time!
This time I decided that I had seen most of the big sights, so I was going to make my own schedule. Yes, that included seeing Notre Dame again and going to the top of l'Arch de Triomphe again, but that was about where that part ended. I found my friends (from Wash U and a French friend) who were in Paris and hung out with them, and with them discovered some cute little places. There was this adorable bookshop called "Shakespeare and Friends" or something like that and I could have stayed in there for hours. Their second story was a reading room with books you couldn't buy but that you could sit in their quaint little study and read for as long as you pleased. And like any good bookstore it was stacked high with books, shelves everywhere bursting with books, and those great ladders to reach books on a high shelf. I was super excited, but my friend insisted we go back out and see Notre Dame instead. Another friend took me to a truly adorable courtyard, if I only knew what it was called. But we wandered through the old Jewish quarter which has buildings leaning on each other and little switchback alleys that were adorable in the Paris sunset. That night we had dinner at a mongolian restaurant, much like HuHot, for anyone from Iowa who knows what I'm talking about. My two friends (they were both British) were enchanted by this place where you picked you food and they grilled it for you on a giant black grill. I was entertained by their excitement, and the food was good, so I didn't mind much. Another friend showed me a Mexican restaurant which was perhaps the closest thing I have seen to a real Mexican restaurant as I know them...and still wasn't that close. Still, that was delicious and the decoration was properly "naco" :)
I also had a great solo adventure in Paris! Because no one else wanted to go, I took a morning by myself to go to the Musee d'Orsay. It was the last big museum I hadn't seen, and I must say, it was worth it. I saw the original Starry Night and the original Van Gough portrait where he is on the light blue backround and you can see his lack of ear? Plus a lot of really cool sculpture I wasn't expecting and tons of schools of painting I didn't even know existed. I'm losing some of my painting ignorance, and even if it isn't very sophisticated of me, my favorite schools are going to remain Renaissance and Impressionist. Sorry if I like when things are made beautiful and to actually resemble real life. Musee d'Orsay was great, but way too much to take in at once. I powered through one entire level, every room, in as much detail as I could manage, and then had to call it a day. I met up with a friend and picnic-ed at a long avenue with a great view of the Eiffel Tower :) Pretty great day, must say.
My program also arranged some great events for us, like a private visit to the Pompidou museum. We had a guided visit which was really nice and even better, we had the museum to ourselves for an hour! Although my program taking me was the only way you were getting me in the Musee Pompidou (I might have mentioned...I am not a modern art person) I really enjoyed my visit! And now I can say I have gone and don't need to go back :)
In brief (or not so brief) that was my trip to Paris! Lots of really great times, but walking around so much in the cold might have given me a cold. I was glad to return to Toulouse and nurse it in the warmer climate and more relaxed atmosphere of my own town!