Paris, What’s Good?

Even though I hate to admit it, I think one of my favorite European cities might be Paris. The city has become a big cliché, being dubbed a city that oozes romance, but I believe there is so much more to it. I went to Paris for the first time with my parents about ten years ago. My second time was when I went on a field trip during high school four years ago. The third time was again with my family, but this time around I was more of a tour guide, as I had to show around my mother and American relatives. This is the story of my third trip to Paris.

I’m someone who loves art, so I was really looking forward to this trip, because Paris is widely known for her museums. We went to four museums: Musée Marmottan Monet, Rodin House, the Louvre, and Musée d’Orsay. I think both the Marmottan Monet and d’Orsay made me realize why it is that I totally love Claude Monet. His technique, his color palette, his subjects; they all speak to me. I consider Impressionism to be my favorite art movement, because it is so intricate and different from real life. To me, it opens a new world and I believe experiencing this new world is fundamental when visiting Paris. The Rodin House, too, is a very special museum and a totally different experience you should not miss. The collection shows you the whole process of sculpting, from sketches and drawings to the sculpture itself, which I find fascinating to see. Due to the hot weather, we were unable to walk through the garden. I personally don’t believe I can speak for the Louvre, because it is such an overwhelming museum that just confuses me every time I visit. I’m also not the biggest fan of realism and ancient history, which is what the collection mostly consists of. I have to admit that I think it is really cool how the audio-guides at the museum are Nintendo’s. You can both hear about works of art and follow specific tours that show you around. For example, there is a tour that shows you all the masterpieces exhibited. I highly recommend anyone visiting the Louvre to use one of these audio-guides, because they do make it easier to navigate through the massive museum. My cousins (10 and 12) think otherwise:

me: Can you tell me more about the Louvre?

10-year-old cousin: We saw a bunch of people around a tiny Mona Lisa painting and there was a giant painting of the last supper behind it. There were like only 10 people looking at that. I also got an amazing hippo at the museum and called it Pelushe. It was hot.

aunt: They had very nice shops, don’t you have anything to say about that?

12-year-old cousin: It was aight. I mean, it was big and it was hot and, um, I wished we could have gone on the Beyoncé tour.

aunt: You’re crazy, this is the Louvre you’re talking about!

me: Beyoncé tour?

12-year-old cousin: Beyoncé made a music video and she was singing in front of all these paintings in the Louvre, and people would take you to all these paintings and it looked really cool on Instagram.

me: What museum did you like best?

10-year-old cousin: My favorite was the Louvre, because I got Pelushe.

12-year-old cousin: I liked the Marmottan-Monet Museum, because Sona was gawking and saying OH MY GOD ITS MY HUSBAND. I got a coin and it was pretty. Musée d’Orsay had a Monet painting that I absolutely adored. I don’t remember the name, but it looked like a three-year-old had painted it and it was hanging next to this other intricate painting by Manet. The museums were good.

10-year-old cousin: OOOH MYYY GODDDDD.

Something else about Paris that I find charming is the Seine. The river itself is not really something great, but the landmarks it flows past are. A couple of the landmarks along the Seine are the Eiffel Tower, Musée d’Orsay, the Notre Dame and the Grand Palais. I believe going on a boat ride on the river at night adds another dimension to your overall experience of Paris. Besides it being very romantic, again, it’s also enchanting. Everything seems bigger when you’re on the water, as the river flows below the pavement. The Notre Dame looks bigger and more gothic in the dark, the Eiffel Tower is illuminated by tons of lights, and the people themselves seem to wake up to have drinks and enjoy life at several cafés and on boats along the river. The atmosphere of the city changes, while still keeping that element of romance and beauty, which is amazing to experience. Unfortunately, we took a tourist boat and were not stuck with the best company:

me: Can you tell me about the boat tour?

10-year-old cousin: So, um, when we were on this boat tour, we had four Mexicans sitting next to us.

12-year-old cousin: NO, ONE OF THEM WAS ARGENTINIAN AND ANOTHER WAS A WHITE PERSON SPEAKING SPANISH.

10-year-old cousin: Shht. And these Mexicans were getting drunk –

12-year-old cousin: THEY WERE DRUNK

10-year-old cousin: – and they kept yelling at people and one of the girls had her buttocks shoved up into our faces while she was taking pictures.

12-year-old cousin: I wanted her to fall into the water.

aunt: Why are you remembering the bad experiences first? Why aren’t you talking about the Eiffel Tower?

10-year-old cousin: The tower flashed, like, there were flashing lights.

aunt: *gets mad at my cousin for not saying more about the tower*

10-year-old cousin: Big boat.

12-year-old cousin: I was afraid I was going to fall into the water and die while we were on the boat. Um, so, we saw the Notre-Dame, but it was under construction like most of the things we have seen in Europe. Big boat.

As I had already been to Versailles a couple years before, I did not necessarily feel the need to visit again, but that does not make the palace less remarkable. On the day we went, though, it was incredibly hot. We had to wait in line to enter for literally two hours and as you can imagine, the palace itself did not have air conditioning. My advice: don’t go to Versailles in summer. It will also make walking through the incredibly large garden impossible. You will also be unable to see anything due to the massive amount of tourists. I remember from my first visit how big of an impression Versailles made on me. It made me imagine living there hundreds of years ago, wandering the endless hallways while wearing a massive skirt, or running through the garden while playing hide and seek.

me: What did you think of Versailles?

10-year-old cousin: *looks angry while cuddling Pelushe* It was hot, I got a sunburn, I had to go to the water twice.

aunt: That was fun!

10-year-old cousin: It was big. I was imagining how all those plants were managing to stay alive in this stupid HEAT. Case closed.

aunt: Didn’t you like the hall of mirrors?

12-year-old cousin: No, that was actually boring. Quote me on this: The Versailles was stupid hot, stupid crowded, and I couldn’t see anything. I’m a short person. There was this person standing in front of me and his head was taller than the ceiling, I was like AAAAH.

It is so unfortunate that my cousins were unable to experience Versailles properly. What I love about Versailles is the fact that the palace is massive but still absolutely beautiful. The architecture is impressive; both walls and ceilings are covered in intricate art and the view from the windows on the gardens is magical. Let me correct myself: the gardens themselves are magical. Numerous fountains and statues form a stark contrast against the greenery and its size makes it very interesting to wander through. The air feels clean and life feels peaceful when in the garden. There is even a period drama film, A Little Chaos (2014) in which the gardens of Versailles play a central role. Everything about Versailles is out of this world, and that is why I believe everyone who has the chance to pay a visit to the palace should actually do it.

I believe Paris is a city you should just wander through in order to really experience it. Especially Montmartre, the area around the Sacré-Coeur, is beautiful to walk through after visiting the basilisk. The Sacré-Coeur, in my humble opinion, is like every other church or cathedral or basilisk you have seen, with as differences its color, exterior, and location. The view from in front of the Sacré-Coeur is perfect if you want to see most of Paris from up high or take pretty pictures:

me: What did you think of the Sacré-Coeur?

12-year-old cousin: Ooh yeah, I liked this one! It was pretty and I liked the thing, the dome. And I got a snow-globe of the Sacre-Coeur. I also liked how you could see the city, but not the Eiffel Tower, like, the biggest structure of London—I mean Paris.

10-year old cousin: Religious, big, white, praying. There were a million candles.

The area around the basilisk is even prettier, though. Small alleys with even smaller shops are very romantic and the uneven and rocky pathways add a touch of antiquity. Montmartre is known as the neighborhood where a number of famous artists such as Van Gogh, Picasso, and Renoir used to live. Many artists still live here. You might also recognize certain areas in the neighborhood, as Montmartre has been used as the set of movies such as Amélie (2001) and Beauty and the Beast (2017).

If you were to visit Paris anytime soon, I totally recommend you visit these four museums, take a boat ride on the Seine, experience Versailles and most importantly: walk around Montmartre. I felt so wholesome and for some reason sophisticated while in Paris. The atmosphere of the city is really nice and life feels less rushed. Being at these museums especially, looking at masterpieces, made me feel a type of happiness I had never felt before. For some reason, I associate the color pink with all of these places, and I think that pink is the exact color one should describe Paris as. There are still a couple museums such as Musée l’Orangerie and Musée National d’Art Moderne that I want to go to and I would also love exploring Paris by night a bit more. I’m already looking forward to my next visit to the city. What about you?

[1] Picture by Amy Lin

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