We'll Always Have Paris

There's no good way to say goodbye to Paris. In fact, I'm not sure there's any good way to say goodbye to a place. You can't hug it and promise to text in the morning,  I can't poke the Eiffel Tower on Facebook or Skype into my favorite cafes. It was hard to leave new York, I was scared about what the next month would bring, but i knew I'd be back in 30 days, which is no time at all.  When I booked the car to take me to Orly, I realize I. Had no idea when I'd be back. If ever. I planned to spend my last day re-visiting all the sights I loved, trying to check museums off my list and photograph anything and everything that I'd seen everyday and would suddenly not see the next morning.

Thursday morning I met up with my friend's high school French exchange student, Anne Charlotte, at Le Carousel de Louvre, which is basically a glorified food court.

We caught up on the last few years and headed to Les Arts Décoratifs to see an exhibit about Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs, a less intense version of the Met's Alexander McQueen exhibit last summer. There's something about seeing clothes presented in a gallery rather than just on the rack that's so intriguing and beautiful; you can appreciate the art, design, and construction of the pieces rather than thinking about how a dress would look on you or where you'd wear it to. Seeing the evolution of the Louis Vuitton trunks from quality checkered travel cases to the gaudy bags/status symbols they are today was also surprisingly fascinating.  We both enjoyed tiny exhibit on Babar and rooms of Art Deco architecture at the museum.

That afternoon, convinced a few friends after class to venture to the legendary Longchamp Store.  The rainbow of purses, plus the surprising discount, made another rainy day adventure totally worthwhile.

We ventured through the pouring rain for one last dinner at Fuxia, an impressively cheap and amazingly delicious Italian restaurant we found in Le Marais that had another branch near the Luxembourg Garden.  I'll seriously miss the food here.  Especially the tomato carpaccio...

Friday morning was spent with chocolate chaud, edits, laptops, edits, more edits, and reading, eager to meet our 5:00pm portfolio deadline for workshop.

After completing my work faster than expected, I headed out with a friend to do what we all really come to Paris to do: shop.

And shop we did: clothes, shoes, lingerie, gifts, jewelry.  I had a few euros to get rid of and I took full advantage.  Unlike American shopowners, Parisian shopowners are honest.  They'll tell you if something looks bad on you, and not encourage you to buy anything unstylish.  It seems like their overall goal is customer happiness, rather than making a sale, which is oddly comforting.

Naturally, I overslept Saturday morning, Bastille Day, so my plan to have my last petit dejeuner was already ruined. This year's Bastille Day was Disco themed, so enormous mirrored disco balls covered the city, making the day extravagantly bright.  If only Fourth of July had themes...

I decided to walk to the Orsay, grabbing a baguette sandwich for lunch on the way. I can't believe i waited so long to visit the Orsay- it was incredible! The museum is housed in an old train station, so in edition to its amazing collection of impressionist artwork, the building itself is a spectacle to enjoy.  The views over the Seine were also gorgeous, even in the overcast weather.

Since I'd arrived in Paris, this was one of my first days wandering the city alone. No company, no agenda, just the city. I reveled in being a free agent, but found after a few hours I was sad not to be able to share my reveling, my enthusiasm for Paris with someone else. (I did, however, stop into a few puppy shops, and share my enthusiasm with a few too many adorable dogs...)

I wandered the streets aimlessly, trying to remember every little cafe and beret and landmark. I had the best chocolate eclair I've ever eaten at a small patisserie only a few blocks from home. It's funny how you only start seeing a place in a new way when you know your time there is limited.

That night, in lieu of crowded Bastille Day festivities, I met friends for Indian food at a restaurant in a building from the 17th century.  We're dubious to whether or not this is actually true.

Food is not spicy in Paris. Flavorful, but never spicy. Even the various chutneys, curries, and other dishes we enjoyed barely had a hint of spice. Indian food for beginners.

After gorging ourselves on lentils and cauliflower and naan, we went out for one last gaufres avec glacé (we wanted macaroons, but all the patisseries close far too early, yes, even Paris has its weak points...)

On the stoops of the Pantheon, we watched fireworks explode behind the Eiffel Tower, the best cliched way to end my month in France.

It seems surreal actually, that I lived in Paris for a month. Getting back to New York was shocking, I was convinced that all the street lights and crossing signs had been replaced while I was away-- everything is just so bright! I just jumped back into real life- apartment, job, friends, work- as if a month of my life hadn't been sent elsewhere, disrupting my usual pattern. I feel like I was in Paris forever and I simultaneously feel like I never left.

I'm sitting in a tea house in Park Slope, listening to some guy sing about how sad he is to be single (maybe because you're playing for an audience of mommies and lesbians. Just a thought), and I can't help comparing it to Paris, just like I compared Paris to New York every day I was there.

I'm so happy I went to Paris. I'm so happy to be back home in New York.  I'm happy I had space from my regular life, to learn and grow and get a new perspective, and I'm happy that Paris encouraged me to take risks, challenge myself, and explore the world.