Monday, March 4, 2013

Paris: City of Love, Lights and...?

Oh Paris.. how I hate to love you and love to hate you! Paris is a city that I just cannot put my finger on. It is so unique and beautiful yet dirty and grim at the same time. It has history and prestige, no one can deny that, and that is one thing that makes it so appealing.. yet, it also can be incredibly strange and harsh. On my fourth trip back to the 'city of love', I found myself in an awkward and confusing love affair with Paris.

It was Carly's birthday weekend (the big 25!) so we decided back in January to head to Paris for the weekend to get away and explore another big Euro city. I knew Paris, I'd 'done' Paris, I'd seen Paris (or so I thought) so while I was excited for a weekend with friends, I wasn't quite ecstatic about my fourth trip back as a tourist. Thursday came and we head to King's Cross to get the chunnel, luckily arriving a bit early to the station and knocking back a couple Bloody Mary's - hey, it's always 5 o'clock somewhere.

A few hours later, we got to our hostel in MonteMarte.. we dropped our stuff, bundled up, got some cheese and wine and headed to the steps of Sacre Cour. As much as my love to Paris is conflicted, the steps of Sacre Cour is one of my top ten favorite places in the world. Truly, the view, the people, the atmosphere, the everything is enough to just make you swoon. We popped a bottle of champagne to celebrate Carly's 25th and had the best time laughing, talking and taking in the amazing view of Paris skyline.

The next day was filled with the Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, crepes and of course more wine.. ending with delicious steak and potatoes dinner! Although the weather was freezing and cloudy, Paris was growing on me. Saturday, we walked to the top of the Arch de Triomphe to see another great view of Paris and the Eiffel Tower in the distance.. then we headed to the Eiffel Tower. I've seen it multiple times before yet it never fails to surprise me how massive it is! It is really overwhelming and its height is even more impressive as there are no other buildings even near it to challenge its magnitude.

After a quick nap and a shower, I met up with my Wake friends who are backpacking through Europe before they start work. After meeting up in London a few weeks ago, I was really looking forward to seeing them again... and I was able to show them the steps of Sacre Cour at night. We sat for a while listening to the live music, people watching, and again - cheese and wine (there's a theme here..)! Afterwards, we all met up for dinner at a restaurant overlooking the Eiffel Tower as it lights up. Another delicious meal and a few drinks at a micro-brewery finished off the night.

Sunday morning held another visit to Sacre Cour - so I really do love this place.. can you tell? - and then I spent a few hours at a cafe reading my book and people watching. So Paris, you've won me over. The cafe culture, the lights at night, the museums, the food, the wine and cheese... its taken a few trips but I can finally say I'm a fan. The city is really different but I have realized that is what is supposed to be its attraction. I think my biggest issue with Paris was viewing it as a tourist and visitor.. my favorite moments of my trip were when I just sat, ate and experienced the culture outside of the museum, monuments, etc. Seeing Paris for what it is: a vibrant and exciting place to live really was amazing!

It is a good thing I've had these new found revelations considering in just one week I'll be heading back to Paris with Momma, Grandma and Papa... and I really could not be more excited about it! So Paris, I'm expecting my next trip to be even more eye-opening than my last. See you in a week..

 Cheers y'all, Lis

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