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The Day I Fell In Love

Paris, IDF, France
6 Kudos
I’m in love. The kind of love that makes your heart soar and palms get sweaty and you dream about it and you wake up and you just can’t imagine anything better than what you have. Yeah, I’m in love. With Paris. Don’t get me wrong, Paris wasn’t all rainbows and butterflies. We got lost, I got 4 hours of sleep, at one point I think my feet hurt…. Okay, so it was pretty much rainbows and butterflies. I didn’t mind getting lost; this city is magical. Every turn proved to have something equally as beautiful as the turn before it. I got four hours of sleep because I was listening to the hustle and bustle outside our apartment window. It’s not the same hustle and bustle that Chicago has, which was riding on my last nerve. This noise was different… I can’t quite explain it. Maybe it’s because they were speaking in French (You could say that most awful things, but if you say them in French, it sounds beautiful) or maybe it was just that the noise was pierced with laughter every few seconds. I’m not sure, but I didn’t want to miss a minute of it. Plus, my tummy was full of DELICIOUS food. I mean amazing. Pictures can never do this justice… EVEN THE PICKLES WERE DELICIOUS.

So jetlag aside, we hauled our butts out of bed around 10am, which was later than I had expected. But unlike what I’m used to, there was no rush. We weren’t hurried or checking our watches; we just casually got dressed and headed out in a random direction, in search for breakfast. As it turns out, the French don’t really do breakfast. Actually, they just have a pastry and drink some beer. Having said that, we finally found a place that had some typical breakfast foods… and I ate what will go down in history as the best omelette ever created. I mean, seriously. I can’t even explain. It melted in my mouth. I’m 90% sure that it was soaked and then fried in butter, but I don’t really care. I’m probably going to dream about that omelette.
After breakfast, we lollygagged around, took our time, and wandered towards the train station heading to the Catacombs. Expecting a one hour wait in line, we arrived to find a line that wrapped all. the. way. around. the. block. Eerily similar to a Great America line for the Raging Bull, EXCEPT LONGER. How is that even possible?! But we waited…. and waited…. People ahead of us started saying it would be three more hours and they stopped letting people in at 4. It was 1pm at the time. QUICK MATH. We were right on the cusp. Honestly, I was ready to call it quits and go wandering through the streets. Thank god we didn’t. The Catacombs of Paris are, quite possibly, the most amazing thing I have ever seen. Housing more than 6 million unnamed bodies (now nothing more than bones), the catacombs consist of miles and miles of underground tunnels. A cemetery outside Paris became the principle burial ground for the city in 1130, but by the end of that century, the city was expanding so rapidly, that the bodies were exhumed and their bones were stacked into walls above ground. The situation got increasingly worse, but it wasn’t until the 18th century that the Catacombs came to be.

As gross as it might seem, it was absolutely incredible. Hundreds and hundreds of years old, millions and millions of unnamed souls, all stacked upon each others; strangers until their death. Latin and French sayings engraved everywhere, I was constantly trying to decipher what each one said. I really can’t even explain this place enough… It gave me chills then, and even the thought of it gives me chills now.

Sacre-Coeur (Sacred Heart of Basilica) literally made me cry (I actually mean literally.). It’s the highest point in all of Paris and you can actually see the world from the steps of the stairs. The inside of the church was beautiful; stained glass, painted ceilings-the whole 9 yards. But outside, on the steps, was where the real magic was. I sat down, stared out, ate a macaroon, and listened to the most talented street performers sing to me. Honestly, I could’ve sat there forever. Ya know how everyone as their one happy place in the world? I’m convinced that the steps leading to Sacre-Coeur are my happy place. I would go back there every single day if I could.

But the fun didn’t stop there! We went to Moulin Rouge and walked down Pigsalle, which was where all the World War 2 soldiers would go to find prostitutes. Now it’s pretty much all sex shops and strips clubs-quite the sight to see!

Next up, of course, was the Eiffel Tower. What can I even say about it? You see it in pictures and you expect to be amazed, but you don’t expect to be floored. I expected to see it, take a few pictures to show people, and go get a crepe. But no. No, no, no, no, NO. This place was magnificent. I mean ASTOUNDING. It’s bigger than you would ever expect anything to possibly be. It is the Great Dane of monuments. The giant Sequoia of landmarks. Logically, mom and I did cartwheels in front of it.
We took an elevator to the top and saw the city lit up, expanding almost as far as I could see. The inside of the tower was packed beyond belief, and if you thought people at concerts trying to get to the front were rude, you’ve never met someone trying to get up the Eiffel Tower. It got a little bumpy, and at one point I was sure my mom was going to throw a left hook into a woman’s face. But alas, nothing quite as exciting as that. We practiced our assertive, keeping-our-place-in-line skills and escaped unscathed.

After finally making it to the top AND back down, it was almost 12:30am. The rails stop running at one, so we were hard pressed for time. Not only that, we had to take 3 different trains to make it home, so we were actually RUNNING through the halls of the metro stations. Running. We probably looked ridiculous, but we made the last train by 2 minutes. It’s been an insanely long day and I think my feet are going to cut themselves off in my sleep tonight, but I can say, without a doubt, that I’m in love with this city. I can’t even believe that I have another full day here. I left America two days ago, but man, it feels like a lifetime.

UPDATE: Day 2, Paris, France.
Today, my jetlag caught up to me. Hard. I slept until 1pm, and still felt groggy. As upset as I was about missing out on precious time, I have to say that I can’t remember the last time I slept in nearly that late. Aren’t all college kids supposed to stay up until 5am and sleep until 1pm? Apparently I only do college right when I’m halfway across the Earth.

After pulling myself together, we went for a walk. I’ve never enjoyed just walking so much. We accidentally walked into the most beautiful gardens that skirted the Museum of National Archives. How do you accidentally run into the Museum of National Archives?!? This city is full of amazing surprises. At every single turn. So after I got my fill of the gardens, we continued on to Marais. I would compare the feel of this neighborhood to Bucktown, for all my Chicagoans out there. Unlike Bucktown, however, this place was old. I mean, old. Containing more pre-revolutionary buildings and roads than anywhere else in the city, Marais was once considered Medieval Paris. It turned into a sloppy, dumpy quarter and was going to be destroyed until Napoleon the III demolished the narrow streets to create broad boulevards that would accommodate his army. So in this beautiful district, we got falafel sandwiches. At one point, we asked for directions in our sad attempt at French. The man we asked repeated our question in a much more beautiful way. HE MADE “FALAFEL” SOUND BEAUTIFUL. Further proving my point that anything can sound beautiful in French. ANYTHING. So we finally made it to L’Au Falafel, took our delicious snacks, and wandered off to find a spot to sit. Once again, we stumbled upon something stunning, and ate our falafel on the steps of some gorgeous building in Paris.

Moving on, we took the metro to Notre Dame. I think the CTA should take some notes from the metro in Paris, because it is so easy to navigate. By day two, I already felt comfortable going almost anywhere in the city. Arriving in the historic district of Paris, I was blown away. How many times can i say that this city is amazing, without sounding repetitive? Notre Dame is astounding. Beautiful beyond belief; each tiny detail had extraordinary significance. The edges of the building were spotted with protruding statues that looked similar to snakes, but entirely different. They signified souls caught between heaven and hell, trying to escape. Christ sat on the “throne of judgment” above the center door and above an angel and a demon, which were weighing souls (the demon depicted cheated) on a balance. *Sigh* I could go on for hours spouting each details’ significance. I think it would take days and days to learn everything there is to know about Notre Dame. Instead of standing in the line to go inside (After the line to the catacombs and the line to the Eiffel Tower, we were over standing in lines) and opted to explore around it instead. A star on the ground 30 feet from the center doors marked the exact center of Paris, and didn’t seem to be noticed nearly as much until I sat on it and suddenly everyone around wanted a picture. From there, we embarked on a mission to find wine, cheese, and bread to take to the Luxemburg Gardens. Crossing the famous “Love Bridge”, peppered with locks on both sides, I was astounded that we just stumbled upon this famous landmark. I’m not kidding when I say that you’re always stumbling upon beautiful things in Paris.

We finally found a market, grabbed some cheese, some wine, and some plastic cups and made our way to Luxemburg. 60 acres of public “gardens”, it proved to be an incredibly beautiful and well kept version of a public park (think “park on steroids”). Benches were every where (along with love birds making out on said benches), fountains, children’s playgrounds, and, of course, flowers. Pictures can’t do it justice; it was magnificent. So, for dinner we had fresh bread, wine in plastic cups, and cheese with a side of pickles and olives. It was the best dinner I’ve ever had. We sat there for hours, soaking in the scenery and appreciating the absolute beauty that is Paris.

Thus ended my time in Paris. I know everyone says they love Paris, blah blah blah. But no, I REALLY love Paris. I love everything about Paris. They don’t really litter on the streets, but if they did, I would probably even like the litter in Paris.
Story Details

Culture and experiences

Catacombs of Paris
Catacombs of Paris
Incredible and well worth the two hours wait--this was one of my highlights!

Points of interest

Watch out for the scammers, but definitely take a minute (or an hour) to appreciate the incredible street music and the view!
Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower
Captivating. 100 times better than I had expected, and incredible when it starts to light up. Walk along the rive and do cartwheels in front of it to cross "cartwheels in front of the Eiffel Tower" off your bucket list!
Luxembourg Gardens
Luxembourg Gardens
Perfect place to bring a little wine, bread, and cheese to and have a little picnic (not sure if that's entirely allowed, but we did!) Go in the evening and stay for sunset!

On The Map