Friday was my first fully-free day in Paris.
During the summer of 2021, I participated in an immersive French program in Vermont, where I fully carried out day-to-day interactions in French and developed deep friendships with other students. One of my friends from that program is currently living and teaching in Paris… so of course, I had to pay her a visit! During my visit, we ate a fantastic lunch, reminisced about our summer in Vermont, and caught up on where we have been led since then.
After our nostalgic conversation, we decided to explore Paris and sight-see.
Our first stop was Shakespeare and Company, which is an English bookshop. Though one can acquire the same books at Barnes and Noble, the interior and exterior of the store are what make visiting a unique experience. Winding wooden staircases, warm yellow lighting, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, live music, and of course an abundance of houseplants, produced a comforting ambiance that I hope to recreate in my future home. I didn’t buy any books, but I definitely enjoyed looking around the nooks and crannies of this beautiful place.
Our next stop was Notre Dame, where we just viewed its exterior. Notre Dame’s gothic architecture against autumn-kissed trees was a sight to see, and I hope to visit again one day when it is open!
Then, on our way back to the metro stop, we passed by a church (unfortunately, I forgot its name) and decided to go in. Especially because of my faith background, I enjoy visiting different churches and seeing how each Christian community glorifies God. This church, though simple on the exterior, contained beautiful paintings and stained-glass windows. Because it was early evening, the sunlight hit the windows just perfectly, and the wooden pews became a display for a kaleidoscope of colors. Though a spontaneous stop, this was by far my favorite excursion of the day!
Later that night, my cohort and I hung out at one of the student’s AirBNB. This was a meaningful experience since it was the first time we got to spend time together without having class or going to a restaurant. After playing some games, I returned to my hostel, eager for the next day of Parisian festivities.
Saturday began a little later than expected… but I think this was the first day where I had acquired more than a few hours of sleep.
One of the things I wanted to do in Paris was go shopping at the flagship stores for Parisian brands that I like. Again, taking my preferred transportation (scooters), I rode along the Seine and traveled through arrondissements that I wouldn’t have passed through otherwise. Breezy but beautiful, I enjoyed the tranquil ride; not to mention, after the refreshing ride, I finally bought the scarf that I’ve had my eye on for months (score!).
Later that night, my friend and I attended a concert for an American artist we like (kind of ironic…I think?). Each year, I have a goal where I try to go to one concert, mainly because I enjoy the experience of concerts, but also because my bucket list of artists to see live is gargantuan. Though I hadn’t listened to the artist’s newest album, there were a lot of songs that I knew because of my friends at Hope. It was bittersweet to have a moment where I was reminded of the people and memories that I love and cherish so dearly.
After returning home, I realized that I had only less than 24 hours in Paris and had so much to do in so little time!
Sunday was an early morning, but I was excited to see Paris wake up and turn into a bustling city.
I am a huge advocate for individuals taking themselves on a date. To me, this entails doing activities that I enjoy, having time to appreciate where I am, and allocating time to reflect on my life. For me, this is exactly what Sunday entailed. That morning, I took a scooter past the Louvre and headed to the Musée d’Orsay (per the recommendation of my sister-in-law).
As a self-declared admirer of the arts, I was excited to slow down, after a few busy days, and spend my morning looking at the pieces of Monet and Degas. I enjoy looking at art because my childhood was characterized by art lessons and taking trips to art museums. Visual art, to me, brings a sense of comfort and peace, to where each moment I look at the piece, I can dissect its meaning, placement of objects/people, and choice of color scheme, all to augment my admiration for its depiction.
After the Musée, since I had not had a single croissant in Paris, I continued to enjoy my morning by drinking my daily coffee and eating a croissant at a nearby café. I challenged myself to not look at my phone and truly just soak in the emerging beams of sunlight and conversations that were happening beside me.
Then, I headed back to my hostel, where I needed to check out before I headed back to Geneva. However, I took a spontaneous detour through a park and took some more time to admire Paris’s beauty.
Once I returned to my hostel, I felt refreshed and ready to take on another week in Geneva. This trip, with its academic and personal pursuits, was much-needed and made me excited for the remaining weeks to come.
Check out some of my favorite pictures from Paris!