Saturday, April 3, 2010

Paris, "Qu'ils mangent du gateau"


Breath-slowly. Smell the luxurious rich scent floating upon the breeze, filling the streets and cafes with a culture so unique and full of life. I have arrived. Bonjour Paris, je suis arrive'.

Stepping off the plane onto French soil was so surreal I knew it was a dream...I ventured off on my own for the shuttle to Paris. The morning was still fresh with the smell of dew in the countryside airport of Beauvais 1.5 hours north of Paris. My excitement could barely be contained as the bus whirred along the French highway. Already differences were apparent from my home in Italy. Farms were organized, clean, and proud. My mind was full of french words and grammar still trying to reconnect what has been lost while in Rome. Looking at objects and retrieving their meaning and word, I was preparing for the French, harsh about who speaks their native tougue, and full of pride with every breath. I was ready to be thrown into Paris to survive with the tools I possess.

Later, poking out of the distant horizon, the eiffel tower bore its face, ever solid and gracefully ruling the skyline above the city. What a welcome! I made my way to the hostel once the bus dropped me off at the station. It took awhile because the shear beauty astounded me! I felt the differences in this city from that of Rome. Yet no comparison can be made, for they are made of different materials. I enjoy each for their own specialties.

The first day I just walked. Walked until I couldn't anymore. Like I have said before, I like to get a feel for a city. I observe. Listen. Watch. I can feel the vibrations in the air and the energy of the city. Paris is delicate and amorous. Facades shown with integrity in the Parisian fashion, and the people, heads held high yet going about their daily duties. I felt oddly out of place in my Roman fashion clothes and walk. I tried to blend and mimic and learn. My french was coming back wonderfully, using it with a soft touch just like the French would want. I acquired the most knowledge just by hearing others speak and learning the mode of Parisian French. The rhythm of the city was difficult for me to adjust to coming from chaotic Rome. It was like a personality disorder for me having both these languages and cultures inside and trying to display them both up to par with the locals. I achieved a balance though, and in the end really developed a feel for the Parisians.

The next day I ate breakfast consisting of a croissant, orange juice and a small baguette. Full and ready to move, I left for a free tour of the city! I worked the metro like a dream and arrived at the tour just in time. I really loved walking around learning about the history of the city and taking pictures of all the main sights. I went to Notre Dame, Louvre, Champs-Elysees, l'Arc de Triomph, Les Jardins Tuilleries, and much more. Paris was full of hidden gems of history and architechture!

I ate crepes during the day and always espresso. There was a calmness to the city that I could not place my finger on. I was astounded at the French way of life, so absolutely different than the italian mindset.

The next morning, I stopped at a caffe facing the rising sun. I drank my espresso and made plans for the day. I would explore the northern city and then make my way down to the center. The sun was gently grazing the city of love with its light and I saw Paris in its full splendor. The Seine flowed strong and steady like the vein of the city. Notre Dame ruled over the island in the middle watchful with its soaring buttresses and gothic architechture. Its Rose Window as ever an eye of color and art swirling with light for all to behold. Its enormity gives way to grace as the stained glass windows cover its sides and its architecture draws every eye.

Paris at night is just as beautiful as during the day. The moon over the eiffel tower is drawn from a story book and I am reminded of its fame. I meet my friends the next day who live in Paris. After catching up for a bit we then toured their part of town in the Garden of Luxembourg and the Pantheon. I ate a excquisite french dinner yet I made a faux pas...when I went to cut the Brie cheese for my baguette I cut the tip of the triangle. All of the sudden I heard laughter and shock. I looked up to see all faces towards me. I was then told that the tip of the cheese is NEVER cut like that and I should shave the side instead of taking the whole tip. I now know for future reference to absolutely never make this mistake again. I am very happy I learned it though in a fun environment as apposed to an official French dinner in the future!

My time in the fair city was coming to an end when I traveled to Versailles for the day. A quiet yet still large city that was the country getaway for the french court. I toured the Palace of Versailles and roamed its exquisitly cut gardens for the day. Swans swam gracefully upon the lake at the center. The winding paths curved and encircled beautiful fountains and flower beds. I could have spent days in the garden and not seen enough. I plan on returning in the future.

Honeslty there was so much I saw and did in Paris it is hard to fit it into a blog! I spent 5 days there and achieved so much, yet I know I could do so much more! The whole environment was amazing and it drew me in for good. The language helped me fit in so much better. I love not feeling like a tourist. Yet the Parisians were colder to me than I would have liked. I guess it was because I was a stranger and they do not act the same as Romans...obviously. I anticipate my return to Paris to uncover the rest of its mystery and regality. But for now, its splendor and majesty will always hold it as one of my favorite cities. Au Revoir.


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