Tuesday, June 28, 2016


I'll try not to make this post too gushing and lovey about this city, but I really truly fell in love with Paris, just as anyone who visit probably does.

I'll start by my arrival in Paris. (How creative, chronological order!) Somehow I'd gained an extra backpack worth of stuff and my suitcase handle wouldn't retract, so I was struggling a bit with the carriage of my luggage. Paris Point #1: three separate men stopped and help me with it in the metro stations.

I was also panicking because of the heavy rains and the flooded Siene and the apparent strike of the people who worked on the metro. I texted my friend, who I was staying with, that I would probably get in quite late, because of having to take a ridiculous number of busses to get into the city. Paris Point #2: none of this was actually a problem and it wasn't even raining.

I arrived at the restaurant where I was meeting my friend and her friends, and was immediately greeted by the chef and a waiter, who I thought were going to complain about the fact that my luggage took up about half the floor space in the restaurant. Instead, they joked about rugby with me and offered to keep it all behind the kitchen. Paris Point #3. And a bonus point for laughing at my weak joke in weak French about cooking my suitcase.

Paris Point #4 was the meal itself. Ravioli in garlic sauce, chicken in mushroom sauce and a caramelised nectarine dish, followed by cookies the chef stole from the other chef and came and sat at the table to joke with us for a while. Point #5 for the banter and free lollipops.

Point #6 and #7 have to go to my amazing friend who hosted me for four nights, and even slept in the lounge of her apartment, giving me her bed (because it would be easier for when she had to get up for work in the mornings, she told me). Fresh pan au chocolate in the morning too. Such a dream.

Another point for not raining, and letting me take photos of the flooded Siene alongside hundreds of other tourists and Parisians alike. I loved the trees dripping with leaves, the art and book stalls alongside the river, and all the cliches about Parisian style are true. Not just in the people but in the city itself. The fonts of the signs, their designs, the composition of that against the old buildings. I loved it. It's a city that is truly a feast for the eyes.

So we must be at Point #9 now, and that goes to the Notre Dame and the Ponte Neuf. I took some pics outside the Notre Dame (not wanting to go in because of the huge line) then wandered to Ponte Neuf, also known as the padlock bridge. Two of the padlock sellers talked to me about how I was taking so many photos, and we chatted for a bit.

Point #10 was the party that night - with friends of my friends slightly out of town in a very green suburb. I thought we were going out for dinner - it turns out, they put out an incredibly spread of quiches, dips, cheeses, fruit, and topped it off with some amazing cakes - a giant macaron and another fruity-mouss-ey type cake. They were super welcoming to me, and made an effort to talk with me despite my very limited French.

On the Sunday we picked up a roast chicken and potatoes from the market, which were like nothing I had every tasted before. Divine and so simple. Point #11 for cheap, yet delicious food.

Palais Garnier (the opera house) gets double points. It was an absolute treat, and also had an audio guided tour that explained the key parts of the opera house in exactly the right amount of time. Designed by Charles Garnier, it is one of the most exquisite opera houses in the world. One room literally took my breath away, I think I said something like 'wow' or maybe swore (can't remember which) out loud when I walked in. Go there if you go to Paris. If I could describe it, I'd say it had lots of gold and marble and paintings, but if you've been travelling and sightseeing you'll probably say 'yes but so many buildings in Europe do'. That's true. But this is literally 10x amazingness.

Another point to staying with my friend and going to an old peach orchard in the outskirts of the city where a band was playing live Italian music, the garden was illuminated by fairy lights, and I ate the most amazing mozzarella it made me want to cry. Would not have seen this side of Paris if it wasn't for my friend.

We must be up to point #15 or something. It's gotta be the Louvre, and it gets a point even though I couldn't go inside because it was closed because of the flooding. I guess I could somewhat call it a sympathy point because while I was there some of the building work caught fire and the police and army turned up, but chur Louvre, you added an interesting element to my photos.

Laduree gets point #16, despite being a bit of a mechanical tourist machine, where you are herded through the shop part with velvet barriers amidst the dim turquoise and gold opulence of the shop. I got a macaron and a cake thing and walked to the Eiffel Tower to eat it (because why not?) along the poncy Champ-Élysées and via the Arc de Triomph. The Eiffel Tower was setting up for the Euro football cup, so boasted a giant blue and gold football hanging up in the triangle part. It was a great way to end the day.

I'll chuck in another point for the Pantheon, and the view from the Muslim centre. And the lady begging from the second floor of a dilapidated apartment by dangling a cup out the window with a piece of string gets a point too. She definitely entertained all of us who were sitting outside the café.

Point #18 goes to the powers of social media for making it possible for me to meet with a friend from law school who was also in Paris and explore the catacombs together. They were creepy, different, artistic and a pleasant relief from the heat of the day. Even if seeing ancient bones piled up and arranged in formations like hearts and crosses doesn't sound like your cup of tea, I'd give it a try.

Point #19 goes to the Sacre Coer and the harpist outside, and the spectacular view over the city. Also to all the people taking wedding photos outside, amongst the hundreds of tourists.

I'll chuck some bonus points out there for the food and the friendliness of the Parisians. I had heard somewhere that French dislike you not being able to speak French, but I never came across anything but helpfulness and friendliness when I said (in French) that I didn't speak French.

Anyway, go to Paris. It's amazing. I really liked it, and it got 20 points.

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