So, it’s a new year, so I think I’ll try blogging. I figure it could be a good creative outlet or something. I can challenge myself and reach new goals. Or forget about this within a month. Whichever.
Christmas 2011, I received this beautiful diary from a family member. In it, I wrote one entry, describing how my resolutions for the year 2012 were going to be: writing in my journal on a regular basis, managing my time in a more efficient way, stop procrastinating, and visit Paris. Every year, when I set goals for myself, I forget them by the time February comes around, so I’m quite pleased to say that 2012 was different. I finally did go to Paris.
Paris. Freaking Paris. I haven’t kicked this procrastination habit of mine, so, of course, I was in Paris for the last few days of 2012. I was there for eight, beautiful, Parisian days, from the 27 of December til the January 4th.
I can’t even begin to describe how badly I always wanted to go. It was my life’s dream, I mean now, I feel kind of empty as I have nothing much to look forward to. Apart from going back of course, but nothing beats the first time.
Why have I always wanted to go to Paris? Well apart from it being the most beautiful, the most visited city in the world, I’ve always wanted to go because of my background. My father is from France(I was born in Canada), but he left France a long time ago along with my grandmother and my aunt. My grandfather stayed in France, and I still remember the excitement I felt every time he would come visit with toys for my siblings and me, a cool accent, and so many stories. French is my first language, as my mother is also from a French speaking country in the Caribbean, and I didn’t start speaking English fluently and regularly until I was about twelve years old. Since, I’m ashamed to say, my French has become more and more rusty. I still speak and understand it, but sometimes words escape me.
So, I obviously had personal ties to the country. When I was younger, my grandfather would come visit us sometimes, but then he didn’t. I think travelling tired him and he was getting old. The last time he came to visit us, I was 8 years old, I think. We would call him on the phone, and we would ask our parents about going to France to see the Eiffel Tower and “grand-papa”. We never did. My parents never had enough money to travel. In fact, the only time my father went back to France since he immigrated here, was when my grandfather passed away three years ago. My parents went, but they couldn’t afford bringing me and my siblings.
The desire to go visit Paris was and is still here. It’s cheesy, but every time I even thought of France, I felt giddy and accordion music would be playing in my mind. So, 2012 came around and I was dead set on finally visiting Paris. I talked to many friends about it, but I figured, I might as well go alone. No one seemed to have the money or the desire to go. My mom is very protective, and I knew she wouldn’t sleep well knowing I was in a new city by myself. So, I proposed the trip to my cousin. She’s my cousin on my mom’s side, and we’ve always been very close. She’s only two years older than me, and despite the fact we get along, we share very different views. My desire to go was much stronger than hers. During the planning, and on the trip as well, we clashed a bit. She’s more into being pampered, and staying in hotel chains. She is very set in her ways, and isn’t as willing to try new things.
After much struggle, hotel cancellations, and an overwhelming amount of advice, I was finally on my way.
We land in Paris around noon and once we get off the plane and get through customs, I felt slightly underwhelmed. For one of the world’s primary airports, Charles de Gaulle wasn’t very impressive. I found the information desk and asked about where to get the Paris Museum Pass and the AirFrance shuttle that would bring us into the city. The woman behind the desk told me that I could buy the pass and board the shuttle from Terminal 1, and that we were in Terminal 3 right now. So we walked to find this train that would take us to Terminal 1. It was a short ride, but really? I actually wasn’t expecting to have to take transportation from one part of the airport to the other. And Terminal 1 was huge. We did get lost for a bit but we finally bought our pass, and got on the shuttle. We took the one that stopped at Charles de Gaulle-Étoile. Our hotel was only just down from the Arc de Triomphe, off of l’avenue de Friedland.
I slept on the ride there, but once we stepped off the shuttle, and I looked around, sleep was the last thing on my mind. I was right next to the Arc de Triomphe and it was beautiful. We walked to our hotel, got showered and dressed, and decided to go la Tour de Montparnasse. I asked the woman behind reception about directions to get to the nearest metro station. She told us to go to George V, but I obviously can’t follow directions as I ended up at the Saint-Philippe-du-Roule station. But the walk was nice. Paris is so beautiful, that getting lost is fun.
I went to the information desk and asked how to get to Montparnasse. Which was dumb, since I downloaded an app on my new phone that tells you which metro to take even while offline.
Now, I’ve always been told that Paris smells absolutely horrible. I didn’t smell anything, but not until I got to the Metro. It actually did smell quite disgusting, but it looked nice.
My cousin and I each bought a carnet of ten tickets at the machines they have. I bought mine first, and as I was waiting for my cousin to buy hers, a man came up to me asking me for a bit of change. He had to go somewhere but he had left his “carte bleue” at home. I’m not sure what that is, but I just shrugged and told him I did have change. I just held my hand open and he took the coins he needed. It was the first time I’d ever seen euro coins, so I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to give him. He took a bit of change and asked me where I was from and when I answered, he told me my accent wasn’t Quebecois, that it was sort of in the middle of Canadian and French. He was very nice and wished me a nice “séjour à Paris”.
So, we got to Montparnasse, and holy crap the view was beautiful! Like actually, none of my pictures show just how gorgeous it was. But here are a few anyways:
I actually did not find out I had a low light option on my phone until late in the trip, so a lot of my pictures are horrible. Oops.
Anyways, we stayed there for maybe an hour, and the sky had darkened. We were hungry, so we went to a place called “Café Montparnasse”. I ordered a quiche, and it was pretty alright. I asked my cousin how she was enjoying her hamburger, she told me: “C’est mangeable.” Ha. Okay.
We headed back to our hotel, and the most amazing happened. On the metro, a man got on and started playing the accordion, and as the music was playing, the metro we were on went over the Seine, right before Bir-Hakeim station(this was line 6) and we got a great view of the Eiffel tower as it was twinkling. I didn’t know they light it up once an hour after sunset, but I guess we were lucky to be there at the time. It’s super cheesy and cliched, but with the view and the music playing, I felt like I was in one of the many movies I’ve seen about Paris. It was a lovely thing to experience on my first night.
The Arc de Triomphe was also very beautiful at night and we walked by it on our way to our hotel.
I want to go back to Paris. I have to. I was already in love with Paris, but just being there solidified what I felt. From my first day there, the first steps I took near the Champs Élysées, to the wonderful perfume of people, bread, urine, and France that floated on the crisp Parisian air, I just knew I had to come back. My first hour there, I was already regretting buying a round trip ticket.