One of my last weekend trips during my Study Abroad term has been a whirlwind weekend in Pairs. I traveled there with three other girls from Caltech, all studying abroad here at the University of Edinburgh, and I had probably the best trip of my life! Traveling with other Techers was a fantastic experience, and a great one for making closer friends: we three new each other, but not well, and I feel like I learned a whole year’s worth about each of them in the 48 hours we spent in Paris.
We went into our weekend with a huge list of sights to see and places to eat, but soon realized that there was no way we could possibly fit in everything we wanted to do! We each independently decided that we just had to come back some time in the future, circumstances willing, so we spent our second day in Paris more leisurely than our stressful, packed first day, allowing ourselves time to soak in what was around us instead of sprint across the city, trying to get a glimpse of everything we possibly could. I’ll just have to come back to see everything else!
Three of our group of four also spoke at least elementary French, so we had a great time talking with locals and speaking amongst ourselves. Surya and I spent the entire time at the Musee d’Orsay speaking in French, which was a great experience in "how can I discuss Impressionist art with a 3rd-grader’s sophisticated vocabulary?" But it was a good challenge and a really fun time.
We arrived on Friday night and checked into our AirBnb before heading straight to the Louvre, which was free from 6pm to 9:45pm on Fridays for anyone under 26. We arrived late, with only 20 minutes until closing, so we booked it straight to the Denon wing of the museum, where the Italian art is displayed, so see the Mona Lisa. And we were lucky that we had arrived at that late time, because there was no one else there! We got up close and personal with the painting (as close as you can with a 4 meter perimeter).
The outside of the Louvre is beautiful at night.
On Saturday morning, we went for breakfast at Laduree, which is famous for it’s macarons and other pastries. It was an incredibly rich, filling breakfast, and we headed to a free walking tour of Paris right afterwards!
Our walking tour met in the Latin Quarter, at Font St. Michel, a giant fountain. We then walked towards the Louvre, stopping to learn about architecture, history, and folklore in the buildings we passed.
We of course stopped for Eclairs at the end of the tour.
We then sprinted around Paris, hitting up a few familiar sites and climbing all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower!
We got the chance to tour the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral after dark, which was gorgeous. We also gave ourselves a walking tour of Monmartre, the artist’s quarter, and saw the Moulin Rouge, the Moulin de les Gallettes (which was, in the Belle Epoque, a dance hall that Renoir painted!), the apartment that Van Gogh lived in for two years while in Paris, and le Consulat, a bistro/cafe where Toulouse-Lautrec, Gaugin, Van Gogh, Renoir, and other artists ate and talked during the late 1800’s.
On Sunday, we went to Cafe Angelina for breakfast, home of even more amazing macarons and pastries, and the best hot chocolate in Paris.
We also went back to the Louvre, then to the Musee D’Orsay, and then to the Montparnasse neighborhood for lunch, which is home to the best buckwheat crepes on the planet!
This is Renoir’s painting of the dance hall in Moulin de les Gallettes!
We flew back to Edinburgh on Sunday night, and I cannot wait to return to Paris for another visit.