Hello from Charles De Gaulle International Airport!
It seems like ages since I last introduced myself to you all. I will blame this time lapse on the obscene amounts of bread and adventures that have consumed my life over the past 50 or so days. Until recently I have not been inspired to write as much as I have been inspired to read and draw, which also may explain my absence from this platform. In any case, here are a few pictures I drew after checking out the Picasso Museum in Le Marais. Picasso challenged the conventions of faces in drawings, evoking a new type of reality through his unique expression. Me? Well, you can be the judge.
Face and Hand, Distortions
Face (?) #1
What I’m trying to say is that in Paris, even the most inexperienced of artists (Re: Right) find inspiration through the seemingly endless lineup of wonderful artwork across the city. I swear there must be five hundred museums; going to all of them is an impossible feat, let alone discovering everything each museum holds. As we glided past the Louvre museum on our Seine River tour, our guide told us that if we wanted to view each artifact in the Louvre each for 4 seconds, it would take THREE MONTHS to make it to the end (fact check me, do it). Ummm what… Suffice to say this little tidbit has scared me into only visiting the Louvre once so far, traipsing my way lazily through a magnificent Egyptian exhibition.
Our Sciences Po student ID card has proven QUITE valuable. Not only does it let us into the Sciences Po buildings (in which hundreds of French and exchange students chit chat in groups looking chic as ever), but also it lets you in free to most museums in Paris. France has this (beautiful) system where young people get reduced fares on places that require a fee- it’s almost like they understand that culture is important even when you have no money!!! With this advantage, I have treated myself to the serenity of Musée Rodin’s sculpture garden, gotten lost in Musée de L’Orangerie’s mystifying Monet waterlilies, perused Musée Quai Branley’s enlightening Asian-Pacific exhibit, and of course visited Musée D’Orsay’s unfathomable 5th floor collection of Impressionist art, in which I left feeling noticeably happier than when I had entered.
Museums have been a joy to say the least, but it’s the parks that have allowed me the time to reflect on the beauty I have seen as I lay in the grass with my backpack under my head. Paris takes great pride in their parks here. Not only are they natural recluses from the hustle of the Parisian rue, but they’re also places of aesthetic pleasure, a picturesque Parisian landscape that seems to say, “You thought we couldn’t do nature? Ha! We can do everything.” Yes, Paris. Yes you can.
Parc de Buttes Chaumont is a 5 minute stroll down the street from my homestay. It boasts a rustic-looking gazebo as the apex of a big and winding grassy hill. At the top of the hill is a view of Paris not quite like that of the Sacré Coeur (pictured below), but just as breath taking. On a good day (of which we’ve been blessed with many) there are runners, picnickers, dog-walkers, young families with their kids, teens in their groups, book-readers, people who want to snooze in the sun, and just overall a beautiful atmosphere of calm and happy. I am ten pages from the end of my novel, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovish, most of which has been read either in that park or on my daily commute to and from Sciences Po on the Metro.
Misty View from Steps of Sacré Coeur, Mid-Morning
So many little aspects of Parisian life make me so happy. It’s the things that you only pick up as a Parisian quotidian, an every-day Parisian. These are where I find the most magical parts of the city; in the gesture of politesse on the Metro as a young man gives his seat to an older woman; in the exchanges at the counter of the café, when you give the cashier exact change with your one and two euro coins, and he gives you a slight, knowing Parisian nod accompanied with his merci; in the mini dog who runs over to you as you lie in the grass in the park, unchained and unabashed in his curiosity. These moments are what I love most, and the beautiful thing about them is that there is no rule they have to follow. Everyone who lives in Paris finds the true joy of being a Parisian in their own way. From the routine breakfast of coffee and cigarette (yum?), to the ten pages squeezed in on the trajet to school, to the bisous you receive when you meet your friends for a tea after class.
These are my rambling thoughts as I wait to embark on my WONDERFULLY EXCITING trip to Venice, Florence, and Madrid during Toussaint holidays. Every day I add places and activities to my running list of “Things to do in Paris”, and every day I get that much more anxious about completing them all. But alas, you can’t do it all, and I will make sure to keep you guys updated as I coast into the latter half of this enchanting sojourn called study abroad.
DISCLAIMER: This post was written on Saturday, 22 October 2016 however an editing mishap delayed its publishing.