The View from (beneath) the Eiffel Tower

Yes, I haven’t posted since I’ve returned from Paris. Yes, I’m also in denial that I’m no longer in Paris. I’ve been back in New York for a month now, and I’m still obsessing over the experience. It was so different from anything I’ve ever experienced. I know it sounds dramatic, but I feel like my short time there reshaped my sensibilities in so many ways. From what outfit I put on in the morning to what I watch and read, the city has really impacted me. Basically, all the romance and whimsy that writers, filmmakers and artists have talked about for centuries? I totally get it now.

It seems an impossible task to write about the trip in one short blog post, but I’ll do my best by highlighting my favorite things about Paris:

The Eiffel Tower (duh). A few weeks before I left, I dreamed about seeing the Eiffel Tower for the first time. When I actually saw it in person—peeking from the trees as we walked toward the Champs de Mars—my heart literally stopped. I was speechless. It was a weird sense of déjà vu from my dream, combined with pure awe. As we walked closer, the light show began. My heart literally started beating a mile a minute and I got teary eyed. (I know, this post is full of over-dramatics. Just roll your eyes and stick with me.) I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything that’s taken my breath away like that. And the best part? I thought that nothing could compare to its evening luminescence, but when we saw it a few days later in daylight, I was just as dazzled. Remember when Adriana in Midnight in Paris said to Gil, “I can never decide whether Paris is more beautiful by day or by night”? Word.

The architecture. Ever since I took a river tour of Chicago two years ago, I’ve never looked at cities the same way. I’ve become a bit of an architecture nerd, trying to identify the styles that I recognize wherever I go. From baroque to art nouveau, I was in awe of how constructions from centuries ago are still such a major part of Paris. There’s so much attention to detail—from the Arc de Triomphe to the apartment balconies—and every bit of it embodied the glamour I’d always associated with the city.

Shakespeare & Co. The storied bookstore where some of my favorite authors—also known as “The Lost Generation” (Ernest Hemingway, Scott Fitzgerald, T.S. Eliot)—used to hang out back in the day. Well, technically, they used to hang out at a bookstore not far from there, but it was shut down during World War II, and the one we visited is its reincarnation. A dusty, dimly lit bookstore full of history, rare books and a reading nook dedicated to Sylvia Beach? I just about fainted. They even stamped the books I purchased with an official S&C stamp! I left there brimming with writing ideas and dying to dive in to the books I’d gotten. (Currently reading “The Paris Wife,” a brilliantly written story from the fictional perspective of Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley. Love.)

Taste-testing macarons. While it was pure eye-candy just looking at the colorful displays of macarons in bakery windows, my favorite was the plain-old vanilla from Ladurée. Simple, yet decadent. Parfait.

…and taste-testing croissants. Impossibly buttery and soft, they smelled and tasted like absolute heaven. It was the best way to start the day almost every day we were there. I will never eat an American croissant again.

Le histoire! Paris has such a unique and interesting history, and it was great fun paging through our guidebooks before and after each day to learn the story behind the sights we saw. Everything from the Louvre, with its historic artwork and unique story (12th century royal palace turned most-visited museum in the world) to the Notre Dame cathedral was a history lesson, and we learned lots of fun facts along the way. Like, did you know that Napoleon wanted to impress his second bride-to-be so badly, he had a replica of the Arc de Triomphe built for their wedding because the real one wasn’t ready yet? Or that icons like Audrey Hepburn and Coco Chanel used to sip chocolat chaud l’africain (THE most delicious hot chocolate you will EVER taste) at Angelina, a 110-year-old teashop that we visited? It was all so educational but fun—I haven’t done that much studying since my college days!

Comparing it to New York. The conversation is endless. What’s better, a delicious cupcake or a delightful macaron? Eiffel Tower or Empire State Building? NYC subway or Parisian metro? City street style or Parisian chic? The questions go on and on, and I had fun soaking in one amazing city and comparing it to the other back home.

Leisurely café lunches with the girls. Living in NYC, I often miss two of my besties (one lives in Harrisburg, the other’s in law school in East Lansing). We don’t often get the opportunity to sit around and talk for hours like we used to in college, so it was nice to enjoy lunch together the Parisian way: relaxed, with plenty of wine, food and gossip. And not once did a waiter hover or rush us out. A girl could get used to the Parisian lunch hour—it was a welcome break from scarfing my lunch down at my desk in NYC, that’s for sure.

All in all, 9 days in the City of Lights was long enough for me to fall in love—and realize I need to go back ASAP. I’ve also got a serious case of the European travel bug—I need to get to Rome, Barcelona, and London like, yesterday. I’m already Googling flights!

PS: Please don’t hate me if I mention Paris in every single blog post from now on. Seriously, I am completely, irrevocably, head over heels in love. I mean, can’t I just change my blog name to “The View From The 36th Floor, aka The View From Beneath The Eiffel Tower?” It’s got a ring to it, right?

PPS: Feeling inspired by the Paris trip, my 25th birthday, and a new camera, I’ve been trying my hand at (some very amateur) photography. So, I started a Tumblr page to share some random photos from my life. I dubbed it “La Vie En Rose” after my favorite French song. It’s also a lovely Parisian phrase that translates into “life in pink”—the only way to see things, in my opinion! Check me out.

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