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Bonjour! I’m Erin.
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Monthly Archives: May 2014
Jamal beat me to this when he was in Paris last fall, but I had to go and check out the rooftop of the Galeries Lafayette for myself. The weather was unbelievable early last week, and I knew a panoramic view of the city would be magical with a clear blue sky. Pro tip: go early in the morning to avoid feeling like a sardine. The Galeries Lafayette open at 9:30, I got there at 10, and was able to walk around and browse (they have every luxury brand you could think of spread across eight floors) without keeping my arms pinned to my sides. I made the mistake of stopping in on Saturday afternoon and it was madness, I couldn’t even get on the escalator for the crowds. The view from that roof terrace is worth it at any time of day, though.
This Radiohead song was playing outside of the entrance both times I walked by, and it’s been on constant repeat in my apartment ever since. It’s going to be one of those songs that I can listen to years from now and immediately be transported back to Boulevard Haussmann, caught in the throngs of shoppers:
Other Paris Details of Note: I am more social here than I am back home, accepting offers of happy hours and shopping trips and dinner at a fancy sushi restaurant. All of the walking around I’ve been doing (averaging 6km/3.5m per day) has seriously taken its toll: I had to break down and buy sneakers because my feet were killing me, and guess what? Parisians really do wear sneakers, I’ve seen it (though they did judge me for my casual footwear when I stopped into Hermès this morning).
I needed tea for my apartment, so I walked over to the 17eme down Boulevard de Courcelles to Mariage Frères. I bought a box of Rouge Métis, a red fruit roobios, and my standard, Paris Breakfast. I love the neighborhood around parc Monceau, all luxe Haussmann buildings at their best and wide, leafy avenues. When I was undertaking the apartment search, this neighborhood, Ternes, was the first I checked, though I quickly realized it was well out of my price range. No surprise there, considering I stopped for lunch at Le Diplomat on the way home (mostly to use their wifi) and paid €11,50 for a croque madame. To be fair it was delicious, but mon dieu, the same sandwich costs half the price elsewhere.
Other Paris Details of Note: It stays light until 9:30pm, nutella crepes really are worth the calories, and everyone seems to be in love, or at the very least content to make out in public.
On my first Sunday here, my fourth day in Paris, I finally decided to go and visit my favorite Iron Lady. I had been here long enough without giving her a proper “Bonjour,” save for a quick glance as I walked through Saint Germain my second day. The crazy thing about this city is how you can get lost in a crowd of tourists around the major landmarks, but then walk one block away and have an entire street to yourself. A few streets away from the Eiffel Tower, and I was the only person around; you couldn’t even hear the cacophony of the crowds. It is impossible to take a bad photograph of La Tour, I swear.
Other Paris Details of Note: I have officially been here one week already. One week! And lest you think I’ve spent this last week only eating croissants and macarons and visiting iconic landmarks in Paris (ahem), I’ll have you know that as of today, I’ve also written close to 4 thousand words of my novel. I broke 50k today.
I love my neighborhood. We stayed in Montmartre on the last trip, too, and it feels really “mine” this time. Remember Villa Leandre? It did not disappoint in person, though I had to awkwardly wait on the corner for a Russian tour group to take their photos before I had it all to myself. Patience! I forgot how much patience goes into shooting. And how much covert lurking is needed to not look too tourist-y. I’m really good at lurking.
My landlord told me a brief history of the neighborhood on my first day here: When the Prussians invaded the city in 1870, they massacred the family that owned the moulins (the windmills) in Montmartre, and pinned their body parts to the fans, staining them red with blood. Years later when the first cabarets were opening, Montmartre, not being within the Paris city limits at the time, was able to open several bars and use wine from their own vineyards without paying the alcohol tax to the city. They needed a name that would draw attention, and thus the Moulin Rouge was born. Kind of macabre when you know the story behind how it got its name. I can see the famous red windmill from my terrace.
Other Paris Details of Note: I have a croissant every morning, I’ve already been to Ladurée, and the weather has been so beautiful I could cry. Why didn’t I do this sooner?
I made it to Paris! My luggage, however, was not so lucky and did not make the connection in Charlotte. The 40 minute connection that I had to run for. Quelle suprise my luggage never made it on my flight, there was no way it could have being two terminals away and with that short a time window. A US Airways representative at CDG, disregarding my obvious panic, said simply, “Ah, yes, your bag is in Charlotte.” Bon, mais I am in Paris, not Charlotte. “It will be on the next flight to Paris.” Promising! I planned for this exact scenario, so all the important things are in my carry-on. Except my shampoo…hmm. “It will be delivered by noon tomorrow.” That’s not so bad, right? I can buy shampoo somewhere. I’ve missed French pharmacies anyway!
Noon came and went. “Before the end of the day.” Okay, well I’m not going to sit inside all day waiting around (although I was writing).”Between 8-9pm.” The rain had finally stopped, and I had yet to see the Eiffel Tower. Walked six miles through Saint-Germain-des-Prés and back. 9pm. No bag. “Within one hour.” 10pm. I Skype Jamal in a moment of crisis, he calls US Airways, escalates to a supervisor (“Hello sir, I see you’re calling about your daughter’s luggage?” DAUGHTER, YOU GUYS). And then! Magique! My luggage! My luggage being brought up the street, I clutched it in my hands, vowing to never let go, Jack, I’ll never let go, and I schlep it up, up, up four winding flights of uneven stairs, thus ensuring I burned off the nutella crepe I inhaled earlier. I have never been so happy to see my shampoo and pants in my life. Pants!
Donc, bien sûr my luggage was delayed. Et bien sûr it rained for most of the last two days. But if I focused on that, you wouldn’t get to hear about how I went to a boulangerie at 7am and bought a fresh, warm croissant for €1, and successfully completed the entire transaction en Français. Or how I met the incredibly sweet and funny Christine for un café gourmand and then crazily made her check my mattress for bed bugs (long story). Or how she even offered to lend me clothes if my luggage was any more delayed! Or how the sun stays out until 9pm. Or how, as I approached the Eiffel Tower for the first time I gasped like a silly American tourist. Or, perhaps most importantly, how fascinating and trippy it is to watch “Friends” dubbed in French, though at the same time excellent practice since I know all the (English) dialogue by heart.
So yes. Paris so far isn’t half bad.
PS. I miss Jamal.
May 3, 2014 / Travel /