Macarons, Wine in Baby Bottles, and living the life in Paris / by Amanda Liew

Ah Paris…dare I say, one of the most amazing cities in the world? I went this past weekend to meet up with Madeline and her two fantastic friends from the Penn Lyon program, Zach & Theresa. After a harrowing 7 hour journey which included the tube, a train, a shuttle bus, a plane, another bus, and then ending up lost in France by myself (“I see two giant monuments. I think they’re famous. I have no idea where I am. Please come find me!”) I finally made it to Paris…which is only two hours away from London. I’m not surprised that would happen to me. I got in Thursday night and we rested up for a smashing weekend.

Friday morning we headed to the Louvre to try and beat the crowds. I had been there once before, but it was still really nice being able to see other exhibits I hadn’t seen. This was my favorite new piece at the museum:

Theresa, Madeline, and I outside the Louvre:

On our way to the island to see Notre Dame, we walked across a bridge where people leave padlocks with messages on it.

At Notre Dame and actually walked upon the Remembrance Day memorial inside it! I was really surprised they still let the tourists walk around while the service was held. Supposedly Sarkozy was there too, but I’m not sure if that was true.

Making sure we hit up all the good sights, we headed over to Arc de Triomphe and saw some Remembrance Day things there as well
We were absolutely exhausted at this point so we headed back to our super sketchy hotel (but actually. I’m pretty sure we were in the ghetto..), took a power nap, and then headed off to the South End for an exquisite French dinner! Turns out the French really like prix fix menus and for just 17€ we got a 3 course meal! I got mussels, duck confit, and a creme brulee. It was absolutely amazing!

We attempted to get up early the next day to get a good start and beat the crowds again at Musee d’Orsay, but alas, we woke up really really late. Look how great these guys are:

We had to wait in line for the line an incredibly long time, so we played the I’ll-shout-out-a-scenario-and-you-all-act-out-your-responses-while-I-take-a-picture game. Here were some of the best ones:
Musee d’Orsay was amazing!! I actually liked it so much better than the Louvre probably because the way it’s organized inside. In the Louvre you feel like you’re walking through miles and miles of artifacts, whereas Orsay has 3 rooms in each section, allowing it to focus on a specific category or style. They also had all of my favorites like Degas, Seurat, and Monet. I’m a sucker for Impressionism & Pointilism so I was pretty much in heaven. Unfrotuantely there was a strict no-camera policy, so I couldn’t get any pictures, but I think it actually made me enjoy the art more. As Madeline said, “I see absolutely no point in taking picture of art.”

After picking up Macarons at Laudree (more on that later), we headed to Sacre Coeur which is a church at the highest point in Paris. We had no idea how crowded it would be, but there were droves of people bringing up a late lunch to gaze at the city. It was definitely a spectacular sight:
Me and my baguette!
The view of Paris:
As the sun was setting, we decided to break out our macarons. We got them at Laudree which is often considered one of the best macaron shops in Paris! All of those ratings were absolutely right. I had always imagined macarons to be sort of like whoopie pies - cake, cream, cake. But wow was I wrong. The outer layer kind of has a tiny crust that cracks when you bite into it, then you hit the soft cookie part,  then the inside of the cookie is incredibly chewy, and then you make it to the creme.
High on the deliciousness of macarons, we snapped some more sunset photos - the colors were beautiful!

As night hit, we headed to the Eiffel tower! Normally the grassy area behind it is blocked off so you have to keep on the pavement, but one of the fences was broken, and everybody had stormed in for picnics, pictures, and fun. We spent about an hour just goofing off and taking jump photos with the Eiffel tower in the background. I think that these moments are the best part about being abroad - the moments where you aren’t rushed to see every sight possible, but rather have the benefit of being able to relax and take a city in slowly.

Not ready for our night to end, we headed to Le Refuge des Fondues, an absolutely ridiculous fondue restrauant that’s a hot spot for study abroad students. There’s a huge wait no matter when it is, the restaurant is so tiny you have to climb over the tables (They make you do it! It’s an entire process!), there’s graffiti all over the walls, and they serve wine in baby bottles!! The food itself wasn’t fantastic, but the experience was definitely worth it. We were surrounded by Parisians, Spaniards, Americans, and so much more- everybody shouting and cheering at the slightest thing, singing Happy Birthday at the top of their lungs, and having an amazing time.
Madeline getting helped over the tables by our super bizarre waiter hahah:
To end up the night, we walked around the area a little bit more to find Moulin Rouge!! We met up at a bar with Theresa’s friends, went back to our hotel, and passed out!

My last day in Paris was the shortest, yet probably my favorite (except for Theresa and Zach not being there! They went to Versailles). Madeline and I just took the morning to stroll around Le Marais, an area that was quite posh (oh ho! I’m such a Brit) and had cute shops and cafes. I think we both liked it so much because we had no plan except to wander.

We saw a guy leaning against a door oh-so-model-like, and I just had to snap a picture hahah:

We stumbled upon the Bastille! Earlier we thought it would have been I guess the actual Bastille…but it was destroyed so I guess that makes sense:
After stumbling upon a chocolate fair, getting one of the best falafel sandwiches “in the world,” we continued on with our day of relaxation and sat along the Seine. I think if I had to pick a highlight of my entire trip, I would pick this moment. We took goofy pictures, creeper photos, basked in the unusually warm sunlight, and just enjoyed Paris. This is what I call living the life.

What a perfect way to end my trip to Paris! Well, at least in my mind, this is where I make my Paris trip end because I also got lost on the way back to London - trying to figure out that the train you’re on is no longer running and you have to switch to a different line and then take a special bus that isn’t on any map all in French was pretty difficult. But alas, it was all worth it for a wonderful trip in Paris!

Au revoir!