Oui Loved Paris
Eiffel in love at first sight!
Brittany, another Chapman student studying in Prague with me, left for Paris on Thursday, February 27th, and landed in the city of love around 5:00. We were both a little nervous about finding our way through the city on public transportation, but we rocked it. We had plans to meet up with Stefan, some of you may know him as another friend from Chapman or from Holy Trinity, and go out for dinner. We were able to find him with no problems, we went up and saw his great apartment, and then he took us over to out hostel. The Plug-Inn Hostel turned out being a great hostel that was also in a prime location. Montmartre is a hill in the north of Paris that is filled with great restaurants, cafes, and shops, and an amazing panoramic view at the top of the mountain where Sacré-Cœur sits. Many artists had studios or worked around the community of Montmartre such as Salvador Dalí, Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso, and Vincent van Gogh. Montmartre is also the setting of several hit Old Hollywood films. So far obvious reasons, I was thrilled to be staying there. After we dropped things off at our hostel we headed out to dinner at a small café, and dined on a Croque-Monsieur…as well as Escargot, which was forced fed to me by Brittany. We walked around a bit after dinner, and visited the cathedral, then called it a night so we could wake up early and get out full day if sightseeing in!
Our first stop on Friday was the glorious Notre Dame, but when we got out of our metro stop we came across a the Fontaine Saint-Michel. It’s a monumental fountain that was completed in the 1860 during the reconstruction of Paris. After that we headed over to Notre Dame where we met up with Brittanty’s roommate from Chapman, Frances, and her mom, Debbie. After we talked for a bit we took a tour of the inside of the cathedral and I was able to add some commentary that I’ve learned from my Art & Architecture class. The windows and vaulted ceilings really do leave you speechless. We walked outside at the perfect time to hear the bells ring, and I of course started looking for Quasimodo, but no luck! Outside of the cathedral many people were walking by one of Paris’ hidden gem. There is a marker on the floor signifying the exact center of Paris.
We later walked on to Mémorial des Martyrs de la Déportation, or the Memorial of the Deportation. It is a memorial to the 200,000 people deported form France to the Nazi concentration camps during World War II. The memorial is supposed to convey a sense of claustrophobia, as if putting you in their shoes. The gate at which the boats docked is still there and the artistic memorial is built around it. To brighten up our day after reflecting on Paris’ history we walked maybe 100 feet to the infamous Love Lock Bridge.
Couples have been putting locks on the bridge since the 90’s to show their love for one another. It has become such a popular mission among couples that there are multiple bridges now with locks on them. We later found this out when we found the first “original” Love Lock Bridge.
We moved onto Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, which opened in 1919. It was known for being a gathering place for writers such as Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce. Unfortunately the original building was shut down during the German occupation of Paris, and a new store opened in a new location where it resides now, in the Latin Quarter. The owners of the bookstore, also own the building next to it, and the story is if you get there early enough, you can stay in their hotel/hostel for free! Down the street we got our first taste of some French pastries with some cream puffs, and traveled over to the skinniest apartment building in Paris; measuring at two windows/one door width.
Debbie shared with us, the builders of the building most likely did it because you use to get taxed based on the footprint you built on…nothing about height! Pretty sneaky! The golden gates of Palais de Justice caught our eye, as well as the Concierge next door. You may recognize the Palace of Justice from Steve Martin’s Pink Panther. The Concierge is a former royal palace and prison in Paris, and is where hundreds of prisoners from the French Revolution were kept until taken to the guillotine. This is also well Marie Antoinette spent her last days before being taken to the guillotine as well. After the gruesome La Concierge, we went to the Île de la Cité, which is one of the two remain natural islands in the Seine River where the medieval city was founded.
The weather started playing games with us and would switch from the rays of sunshine, which I have not seen in a while being in Prague, to raining, and then the crazy sunny rain. As we walked towards the Louvre in the rain, we saw the most bold rainbow we had seen. The unique weather resulted in a clear double rainbow over the city. At the Louvre we just took some pictures and walked around, still waiting a bit for the weather to clear up, and once it did we continued our walk down the Champs-Élysées, and made an obligatory stop at the Disney Store. That night we had a great dinner and Brittany and I made a stop at the Moulin Rouge before heading back to the hostel.
Anxious to see the Eiffel tower, we woke up early to meet up with Stefan at the Hotel de Ville and the head over to the Eiffel Tower to see Frances and Debbie. The Eiffel Tower was everything I had hoped for and more, the only thing I would’ve changed was the season. I would love to go back during summer and just hang out all day on the grass eating in the park below the Eiffel Tower. After gawking at the tower for a while we went down a couple of streets to an avenue lined with shops, restaurants, and bakeries and ate til we couldn’t anymore!
Stefan then recommended we go to visit a cemetery, which I was a bit apprehensive about at first, but it was quite a sight. The Père Lachaise Cemetary is the largest cemetery in Paris measuring at 110 acres. This cemetery housed many World War I memorials as well as some notable artists such as Edith Pilaf, Oscar Wilde, and Jim Morison. It was quite humbling to see plaques dated back to the 1800’s and imagining how much change these people saw their lifetime. It is a beautiful and mysterious place (a little eerie too), but it also reminded why I’m here in Europe; we all have one life to live, so why not live it to our fullest.
But enough sadness, we all headed back to Hotel de Ville to see the great ice skating rink they have set-up and ride the carousel, mind the average of the riders of the carousel was probably 6 before we got on, but it was fun. Well fun until we needed to pay for it as they collected tickets from kids. Thankfully we had Stefan with us to explain we didn’t think we needed to pay and we were ale to pay on the spot! Phew! Ha! The Hotel de Ville is the building housing the city’s local administration, including Paris’ Mayor. We ended the night with another great meal, a visit to a viewing terrace of the Eiffel tower so we could see it lit up and sparkle, and other trip to the Basilica of the Sacré Coeur. Live musicians played all night on the steps and as a break from the cold we went inside the basilica to observe some of their Saturday night mass, which was so nice. To be able to go into a religious house with friends of all different backgrounds and religions and witness the words I try to live by, being spoken in French, was a great end to the night! I had such a great time with Stefan, Frances, and Debbie, and I’m embarrassed to say it, but I think it’s because of Frances’ mom, Debbie. I miss traveling with an adult who can think of all the plans, leaving us kids to just enjoy. It sounds lazy and silly of me, but it really made me appreciate all the traveling I’ve done with my parents, and how much care they put into planning.
I did leave a bit of the story, as well. I had was thinking of going to Disneyland Paris on Friday with a friend of Stefan’s, who was also a fellow cast member back home at Disneyland, but he wasn’t able to and I didn’t want to go by myself. But, after multiple people convincing me I would regret if I didn’t go, I decided to venture on my own to Disneyland Paris for a half day on Sunday before our flight. Well, the day started off well when I got off at the correct metro stop to make a transfer to a train, but it went all wrong when I needed to buy a ticket for the train and my credit card was not working, and cash was not accepted. Well after having a slight panic attack…I closed my eyes, channeled my inner Peter Pan and just flew over the turnstile. Alright, well I may be playing it up a bit! Just promise me you won’t turn me into the Paris Police! I figured out which train I was supposed to, got off at the end of the line, and thought everything would be OK, until I saw you also needed a ticket to exit. Cue panic attack #2. Well this time I decided to Buzz Lightyear and go to infinity and beyond…the exit! After getting out of the train station I went to a window to get my “free” ticket for being a cast member…which ended up not working. So as you can tell I was off to a great start. But once I got in and started walking down Main Street, I couldn’t help but smile.
I had an…above average day at the park, but I was happy I went. The park needed some help in certain areas, well actually a lot of areas, but they also had some really cool additions that we don’t have. I also found it surprising to hear the characters talking in French. I was under the impression they might have done a mix of French and English, but instead I got a very peculiar Mad Hatter, with a heavy French accent, as well as a lisp and character voice…it was a bit all over the place! Ironically, some of the cast members that I met were the rudest French people I had interacted with all weekend, as well as some of the guest! Nevertheless, I’m glad I went, was able to but some souvenirs, and see the boss…Monsieur Mickey! It also really inspired me to get back to school and audition at Disneyland again; I’ll gladly admit it: I miss working at The Happiest Place on Earth!
I met back up with Brittany, and we headed home, to an apartment that was still infested with bed bugs, so I’ve been staying in a hotel this week. It actually ended up working great because the hotel had a karaoke competition we all went to last night, and cheered on Ellie to winning the competition and an enormous $40 drink for the table. I think we found our spot to go out on Wednesday nights, Ellie just needs to win each week! Haha! I’m in the airport now heading to a weekend in Geneva to spend time with Paul and Angela! I can’t wait!