Rendezvous in Paris

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This weekend I did something only a child of the internet age would do. I spent a weekend in Paris with a friend that I have never met irl (in real life). Three years ago, Matt messaged me on YouTube and I quote: “So, I saw your Tina Fey song and I was wondering if you wanted to be best friends forever?”  And the rest was history.

After many years of talking via skype he told me he would be studying for the year in Paris. He offered me a place to sleep if I was ever in the area. So, since I am in Glasgow for the semester I decided to take him up on that offer and I flew to Paris for a weekend. And no, he wasn’t secretly a 40-year-old, balding murderer. He was the same great guy I’ve been talking to for years.

Before we get to that I have to mention Thursday night. Instead of packing and sleeping I decided to go see the VengaBoys live. You know, that band from the 90’s with such classic hits as “We Like to Party” and “Boom Boom Boom I want you in my room…” I knew that I would be tired on the plane the next day but, as a friend told me, “You’re only in Glasgow once!” and opportunities like having your eleven-year-old dreams come true don’t happen very often. So even though they didn’t come on until 1 in the morning, I went to see these aged popstars:

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And I saw them with these fabulous people:

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The next day I caught a 12:50pm EasyJet flight to Paris, landing at about 3:40 to meet my friend at the airport. We took the metro into the city. As we walked from the metro to his university housing we passed many beautiful sights including the River Seine, Notre Dame, and the Pantheon among others. The beauty of Paris was already apparent from that first walk. The other thing I quickly noticed was that the noise of the city sounded distinctly different. I was unused to hearing the French language fill the air, providing a different kind of lovely white noise that immediately made me smile.

After we got to his room we spent the rest of the weekend inside without doing a thing:

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I’m only kidding. We filled our weekend in Paris with only the best of things. Our first stop being the famous English bookstore Shakespeare & Company:

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This amazing store is one of few bookstores that was of any use to me as an English speaker, but it was also one of the most aesthetically pleasing bookstores I’ve ever been to. Outside there were the cheap, on sale books and then inside there were two floors filled with books new and old in small rooms and narrow hallways. Upstairs there was a piano and someone was playing some nice jazz tunes so we sat to listen on some cozy seating. We struck up a conversation with the piano player as well as some others in the room. He was from Germany and we also talked to a lovely young singer from France and a girl from Oklahoma studying in France for the semester. After only just meeting them we extended our invite to them to join us for the evening.

The girl from Oklahoma decided to join us for dinner which was at an all-you-can-eat Korean buffet. There I also met two of Matt’s German friends and we chatted over some delicious Korean food. After the meal we did a bit of wandering Paris by night where I saw this beautiful bridge of locks:

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And took a dark picture with Notre Dame in the distance:

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It was a beautiful night in Paris. Then, we said goodbye to the girl from Oklahoma and met back up with our other new friend, the pianist from Shakespeare and Company. He invited us to a very Parisian apartment that he was house sitting and we all talked and listened to music over some French wine.

Oh, I almost forgot! The man at the convenience store where we bought the wine thought that I was “very beautiful and had dancing eyes” according to Matt’s translation. Besides the age, language, and personal hygiene barriers between us I still have high hopes that we will live happily ever after!

It was a fantastic night filled with surprises and memories, the perfect start to my brief Paris stay.

The next morning we set off to visit the Musee D’Orsay. It was quite a long walk and we were a bit tired from the night before but it was absolutely worth the visit. This museum was extraordinary. We spent a good long while seeing amazing sculptures, including some I recognized from my high school art history class, and beautiful Impressionist paintings, including some famous Monet’s and Manet’s. Perhaps my favorite part was the Van Gogh section which had several recognizable paintings including his self-portrait and the painting of his room. As with a lot of museums, both the famous and the lesser known pieces of work were equally incredible to witness in person. I had a great time exploring the museum and seeing some great art. I didn’t take any photos (I’m not sure they were allowed anyway) but I’m glad I didn’t see the museum through a lens.

Then we went to a small cafe for lunch called Le Petit Provence. Because Matt is a regular there we received a free glass of wine to go with our meal which included an entree and dessert. My dessert was a cheese platter and I felt so French! (Except not. I felt very American the whole weekend. All I said to people was Merci. Maybe I said Pardon once. I can only pretend).

After a little break we went on a walk around the Notre Dame, which we didn’t enter because of the ginormous queue. But, it’s an incredible building from the outside and we walked around to see the whole thing.

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Afterwards we stopped again at Shakespeare and Company. I wanted to buy a book as my souvenir from Paris. We found a wonderful used copy of Robert Frost poetry. And while he’s not a French author, it’s a good keepsake from the bookstore and had many notes, circles, and underlines from the previous owner which I loved. We also stopped in a Canadian bookstore on our walk to see more books. You can never see enough books! Matt had to drag me away as we were late meeting one of his friends back at the University.

When we returned we met up with one of Matt’s French friends, who speaks impeccable English. We sat in the courtyard over some beer and chatted for a bit before parting directions. Matt and I went for dinner at a nice Chinese place and then on the way home grabbed a bottle of wine from a local convenience store. We had been invited to a boat party but since it was so far away we decided to enjoy the evening together over wine and music and it was such a great night. We ended up finishing two bottles of wine, introduced each other to new bands, rocked out to some great tunes, talked, wrote messages in my Robert Frost poetry book, and went for a short walk around Paris. It was so fun.

On my final day in Paris we woke up early in order to see everything we hadn’t yet seen on the previous two days. I finally took a picture of the Pantheon under construction and the large naked Buddha in front (which might not actually be a Buddha but totally looks like a Buddha)

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Then, we walked along the river Seine to go to the Louvre. It was an absolutely beautiful day and you could see the
Eiffel Tower in the skyline.

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Matt knew a secret side entrance into the Louvre so we skipped the long queues and went straight in. With my University of Glasgow student card I was able to get in for free and then we saw lots and lots of amazing art. I decided to take selfies with the 3 most famous pieces of art in the museum in order to, like, make a statement about the sacredness of old art and the new age of technology…or something. The first one being the Sphinx from Egypt:

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The second being Venus de Milo

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And then, of course, Da Vinci’s famed Mona Lisa:

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I’m really happy I was able to fight the crowds to get up close and personal with this art. However, it definitely begs the question, is art better just because it’s famous? Do people even care what they’re looking at?
For example, I walked AROUND the Venus de Milo because it’s a SCULPTURE. This was the view from the back.

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Why is the crowd so obsessed with seeing Venus from the front only? She’s a 3D sculpture is she not? I found her quite beautiful from the backside!

Besides the famous three, the Louvre was packed with incredible art including more works by Da Vinci, Egyptian mummies, giant Mesopotamian sculptures (pics below), classic architecture, Napoleon’s apartments, and the most amazing ceilings I have ever seen:

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I had a great time exploring the place. I know if I ever went back there would be even more things to see because of the size of the place!

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Then we took the metro back to our favorite restaurant from the day before, Le Petit Provence, and both dined on a new entree, new dessert, and the same old free French wine.

Finally, we did what every Paris trip needs to include: a visit to the Eiffel Tower:

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We didn’t go up the tower but we walked underneath and viewed it from every angle. No matter how many times you see a landmark like this on television or in pictures it just can’t beat seeing it in real life. Here’s my obligatory Eiffel Tower pictures:
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After visiting the Tower we went on a nice walk that look us all the way to the Arc de Triomphe, which was also under construction:

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then to the square where Marie Antoinette and the royal family were guillotined, then to a cool obelisk, and we ended up back at the Louvre. It was a trip of a day.

We took the metro back so that I could pack up all of my things, had one more meal in Paris (the Chinese restaurant from the day before) and then Matt saw me off at the metro that took me to the airport.

This weekend was terribly fun. I loved the big touristy things (seeing Mona Lisa smile) and the little things (drinking wine with friends).

The whole time I was there I could not stop thinking about how beautiful the place was and how amazing it is that I have chances like this: not many people can just fly off to Paris for a weekend. I live a charmed life and I do not take it for granted. Nor do I take for granted the people that make it so amazing! When I arrived back in Glasgow I had to walk home for about 30 minutes in the pouring rain but I couldn’t wipe the smile from my face.

Paris, I will never forget you! Maybe I will return one day and say bonjour once again!

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