Paris Day 1: Straight ahead, and then turn on your second left, not right, left

At 4 AM, we (Dana, GPod and I) left our flat and took a slightly sketchy cab to St. Pancras International to board our 5:40 AM Eurostar train to Paris. There’s something so much more thrilling and romantic and reminiscent of previous centuries about traveling by train. We boarded carriage 5, I passed out and woke up in France. Everything should be that wonderful.

I consider myself pretty map-savvy. I think I have a decent sense of direction and can handle the urban planning of a city. That said, it’s not me, it’s Paris. Whoever planned that city is a moron and their Metro map sucks. Now that we’ve clarified who is at fault, I can now tell you that after I successfully followed Hanah’s directions to get to Colonel Fabian metro stop the three of us got lost for about an hour. Hanah (friend from Brandeis, studying at the Sorbonne for the semester, graciously hosted us for the weekend) lives a two minute walk from the metro station so you can understand how frustrating it is that it took so long to find it. I think that British people are bad at giving directions, but they seem to know where things are even if they’re not so good at the verbal communication part of it. Parisians don’t know how to give directions because they don’t know where anything is. They just make it up and smile confidently. It has nothing to do with the fact that they don’t speak English. Every person we asked told us to walk in a different direction. Finally, we ended up at an eyeglasses store 15 minutes in the wrong direction and the woman who worked there showed us our location and our destination on Google Maps, I took a screen shot and we finally found Hanah’s apartment.

Hanah made a list for us various sites to see and their corresponding metro stops which helped us get a sense of where things are in proximity to each other. Our first stop was a restaurant with a view of the Arc d’Triomph. A nice meat restaurant that doesn’t do dessert very well. Crème caramel? More like egg jello, if you canimagine such a thing. Next, we walked down Champs Elysee on our way to the Petit Palais museum. Sadly, the sky was gray and it was freezing. I have a feeling things look much nicer in the spring when everything is in bloom. We didn’t spend so much time at the Petit Palais, but just enough to see some Courbets and watch art students sketch the surrounding sculptures and paintings. We decided that we’d go to the Pompidou Centre, but that first we’d stop at La Duree, a bakery that has kosher macarons! Macarons in the French sense, not the kosher for Passover sense. And of course they weren’t kosher in the end. Sad story, but they tasted great!

Loved the Pompidou. If you want to see contemporary sculpture, you should go there and you will love it. Very inspiring, interesting use of materials, but couldn’t touch anything and I had a hard time dealing with that. I was told that I must must must go Brancusi’s studio, which is now part of the Pompidou, and I only had 25 minutes before I had to meet Dana and GPod in the lobby. I asked one of the guards where to go and he told me it was closing in 20 minutes. So I made a run for it and spent the last 20 minutes of my trip to the Pompidou exploring Atelier Brancusi. Mind blown. In awe of the tools, the workplace, the history, the process. Felt like home. Nothing I’d rather do than be an artist. Whatever I do, I will make with my hands.

After the Pompidou we went to Rue de Rosiers, home of many kosher restaurants. At least 5 different people told me that I must go to eat the best falafel in the world while I’m in Paris. So we did. It was a great falafel. But truth be told, I prefer shwarma, so I’m not sure my palate is sensitive enough to really appreciate a good falafel. I ate it in 6 minutes. I wanted another and in retrospect, should have gotten it. We walked around a bit and then made our to the Eiffel Tour. There’s nothing like seeing it for real. The magnitude of it, it’s presence immediately before you cannot be experience the same way in pictures, movies, or trinkets. I don’t know why I was so moved by it but it was definitely one of the top three moments of this trip (with Brancusi’s studio being one of them, and an experience I had in the Louvre being the third—in no particular order).

We wanted to go to the top, but it was closed so we could only go as high as the second level. Still! It was spectacular. Didn’t want to leave even though I couldn’t feel my toes. I’ll post pictures shortly…Even though we were freezing we stayed out a little longer, got lost a few more times and made our way home.

And now for your viewing pleasure:

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