Travel

Paris: Day 1

Oh. My. God. Today we left London and came to Paris, and I just have to say that I was not AT ALL emotionally prepared for France. We got off the train, into a taxi, and I immediately started crying. I cried for a solid 20 minutes and I’m pretty sure greatly freaked our taxi driver out.

Why am I crying? It wasn’t sad tears at all. I mean, maybe a little, but for a really happy reason. For as long as I can remember, memere used to talk about taking me to France with her. God, I miss her so much. I can’t even describe how much I miss her. So I think when I got here and found myself in the middle of a city that she loved, it just hit me. It’s like I could feel her with me. Spooky? Nah. Real. Yes. That’s how her love was. It just enveloped anyone that was around her. 

To be able to picture her as a kid running around and visiting Paris was just too much for me. So I cried. I used to be embarrassed when I was moved enough emotionally that I would cry. But not anymore. Why? Because it’s who I am. Sometimes, it’s how my love for someone gets poured out. I’m not going to hold back from loving on somebody because it might make somebody else uncomfortable.

Anyways, enough about my crying abilities and more about Paris.

Let me start by saying that the train station has this RIDICULOUS escalator system that does have steps, but instead is this straight up ramp that moves. Oh that sounds nice, right? No, unless you are a body builder or too drunk to care about your muscles or well-being. We almost missed our train this morning, and we had to run up this ramp, which I’m sure was AT LEAST at a 87 degree angle. Oh wait, we also had to drag our luggage up the ramp with us. 4 women, running up the ramp, and I keep thinking am I on the freakin amazing race or something because unless I am possibly winning a million dollars, why am I running with my literal 80 pounds of luggage behind me. (I am NOT a light packer.)

Anyways, I had to make sure that I got that in there, as I will be sore for days and probaby complain to everyone who will listen or who speaks english. Which is like 5 people in Paris.

You know when you see a postcard or a movie where Paris is a feature, and everything that is so cliche Paris is just right there, front and center? There are dark, handsome waiters and men playing Edith Piaf on the accordions and sidewalk cafes and store windows, decorated with perfect, small treats? And you just think, “That’s probably not what it’s like?” Yeahhhhhh, that’s EXACTLY what it’s like. It’s a dream, guys. It’s kind of unreal.

So our taxi driver ignores my crying and takes us to our hotel. When he says, “Here eeet eees,” (I’m typing in a French accent), we all start giggling. Not because of his adorable broken English or because we are all high off of the smell of fresh baguettes, but because of the location of our apartment. Our hotel sits on the Seine River. A 10-minute walk to the left takes you to the Louvre. A 10-minute walk to the right takes you to Notre Dame. A 56-second walk straight ahead takes you to the banks of the Seine. And here we are, 4 American-Armenian-French women, just giggling like little girls because it’s all so unbelievable.

We got into our hotel and up to our apartment, and I was met with the most perfect pair of windows overlooking the rooftops of Paris that I have ever encountered. I haven’t actually ever encountered any windows overlooking the rooftops of Paris, but if I had, these are the best. I’m a window lover, guys. I can’t help it. They’re these massive, wood-lined windows that open and have no screens blocking me from literally hanging my body out of them. I love windows without screens. I don’t know…something about them.

We decided to get dressed and go explore the city. We were hungry and curious. We walked to the Louvre (I know, I’m so casual about it. This is what happens when you go to Europe. You become ultra fancy and don’t even realize it), and I tried not to cry. We collectively agreed to save the museums for another day and opted to walk around the city and explore our neighborhood.

There are two things that I’ve noticed about Paris: Number 1, everyone is a model. Everyone. Like, I’m pretty positive that the man who asked me for change on the street just walked in Armani’s fall collection show. Number 2, there are hundreds of vendors selling BOOKS. My god, there are so many books. I wanted to touch all of them. I love touching books. I’m weird, I get it. I was like a moth to a flame. I actually started considering what clothing and shoes I would leave in France to make room for the hundreds of books that I was going to buy. We paced ourselves with the book purchasing, as we had a full day of walking ahead of us.

A few minutes after bookmageddon 2k16, we saw a perfect little cafe to eat at. We grabbed a table outside and quickly realized that hardly anyone speaks English. This was fun, as we got to practice our French! (I have been designated as the one in the group to only say, “Merci!” as my French is truly horrendous.)

Lunch was amazeballs, or as they say in French, amazeballs. I had the Salade Parisienne, which is basically a really normal salad, but you eat it in France and you cry all the way through it. We had some Bordeaux wine, and basically I fainted 12 times because everything was just so amazing. Halfway through lunch, a man playing an accordion comes near our table and starts playing Le Vie en Rose by Edith Piaf. Maybe you didn’t hear me. A MAN PLAYING AN ACCORDION WAS PLAYING MY FAVORITE FRENCH SONG BY MY MEMERE’S FAVORITE FRENCH SINGER WHILE I WAS EATING LUNCH IN PARIS. I gave him a few euros, althought I would have happily emptied my wallet and hugged him. Paris makes me very emotional. And generous.

After lunch, we wandered. Man, we wandered like total champs. We all bought a few souvenirs…things from here and there, but nothing crazy. After an hour or two, we realized that we needed something sweet, and found ourselves in this perfect little sweets shop on a busy corner. To my delight, they had a huge gluten free selection, and the shop attendant kept feeding me all of the gf options. In that store alone, I literally had 3 macaroons, a cookie, and a huge piece of cake, all given to me by the world’s most wonderful pastry shop attendant. And then I bought 12 cookies and the entire cake. Aunt Linda called it her “Favorite Store in Paris.” We will be back there. In like 10 minutes.

Also noteworthy: We found a gelato place, which sounds like it shouldn’t be noteworthy except that we are constantly craving gelato. Who can blame us? Gelato is the shiznit.

So we headed back to our apartment with hands full of souvenirs, french wine, enough sweets to feed an entire generation of French-Armenians, and incredibly full hearts.  A few minutes passed in the apartment before we realized that we just couldn’t be in the apartment while Paris was out there being all sexy and delicious, and we decided to walk down the 100ish feet to the edge of the Seine and relax.  With the Louvre at our backs and the Seine in front of us, we watched the sun set and talked about life, our greatest struggles and our happy moments, and for the first time in a very long time for me, everything just felt right. It felt so, so, so, so right. Things made sense to me. Everything kind of fell into place.

So now here I am, it’s 1:04am and I am sitting Indian style on the hallway floor of my apartment, feeling more content than I’ve felt in years. Maybe ever. I feel like tonight is the beginning of something really great for me. It’s funny how a place can make you feel that. Maybe it’s because I am so proud to be French. Maybe it’s because I am so proud to be the grandaughter of Therese Renee, my memere. Maybe it’s because I had so many macaroons that I am high and possibly dying of sugar poisoning. Is that a thing? It might be after I eat that entire cake for breakfast tomorrow.

Whatever it is, my soul is at peace. I feel loved and drunken with joy.

This is Paris.

Until tomorrow, friends.

 

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