The next morning after our magical day in Strasbourg, Tim and I hopped on the train back to Paris, where we enjoyed our last day together. After our first weekend, we felt like pros at nagivating the city, so we didn’t even print directions to the hotel. Big mistake. That decision ended up costing us hours (mainly thanks to the confusion on a map of an avenue with a boulevard), but we tried to remember that over the course of 9 days, a few hours doesn’t make a difference.
After finally finding the hotel, we rushed back to the creperie on the Champs Elysees for a very late lunch (more like dinner appetizers). Our waiter was wonderfully entertaining – he basically sang every sentence (“je vous ecouteeeeeeeeeeeee” “merciiiiiiiiiii”) with his deep voice and French accent, and had no problem taking breaks from his job to run outside and meet up with his wife and daughter. It was enough to make me wonder if he as acting that way on purpose to entertain his American customers!
Champs-Elysees lit up.
We spent the rest of the afternoon/evening on the Chaps Elysees, roaming around, enjoying the Arc de Triomphe, admiring the Christmas lights which were finally on (!) and then sitting down for dinner at an Italian restaurant, Vesuvio, where we sat outside and had an amazing view of the Arc. Afterwards, we stopped in at Brioche Dorée for some hot chocolate so we could stay warm at the Eiffel Tower. The tower was our last stop for the night. We went back to the same bench where we sat and took pictures the previous weekend. Two visits in two weekends… we decided that was enough to make it our bench.
The next morning, we woke up and rushed straight to the airport without even having time to pick up a baguette before breakfast! After saying goodbye, I had a full day ahead of me to explore Paris, so I went straight to the Musée d’Orsay. This museum is filled with countless famous works, especially by Van Gogh and Monet. Unfortunately, most of the Monets were moved to the Palais Royale for a special exhibit. Still, I was overwhelmed by all the beautiful art at the museum. Afterwards, I met up with Katrina at the Centre Pompidou, where we both wallowed together in the sorrow of having to part with our boyfriends. I’d already seen most of that museum with Tim, but we skipped one of the floors (modern art can be tiring in large doses), so I went back to that one with Katrina, where I discovered tons of beautiful pieces by Klein, Kandinsky, Matisse, and Picasso. This work was much cooler than the weirder sculptures (of for example what appeared to be a pile of animal hearts) that Tim and I spent most of our time trying to understand, so I wished we’d gone to that floor instead. Still, I was lucky that I got the chance to go back.
I was especially excited about seeing several Kandinsky pieces because I hadn’t noticed his work before but I love the playful youthfulness of his pieces:
Composition IX - Kandinsky
Trente - Kandinsky
The following week, I found myself in Paris again because I had an afternoon flight to Copenhagen out of CDG. I got there early in the morning and went to the Musée d’Orangerie, which has all of Monet’s water lilies. Definitely ranks among my favorite of the museums I’ve been to. His paintings sweep across entire rooms – I didn’t realize how large they were – and the colors were just gorgeous. They are clearly so famous for a reason. I found myself focusing on very small sections at a time, and took pictures of some of my favorite details. In general, I prefer to only photograph paintings if I have special details I want to remember, since you can find a better picture of the entire piece online anyway.
After the Orangerie, I met up with some Duke friends! Chaele, who is studying in Paris, and Erin and Hannah (studying in Madrid and London) who were visitng her for the weekend. We climbed to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, where we enjoyed an incredible view of Paris. Then, we wandered through the Champs Elysees (seriously, this place never gets old) and made our way over to the Louvre. By the time we got to the Louvre, I had to leave for the airport. My time with the girls in Paris was short, but I was glad I got to see them at all!
On top of the Arc with Chaele and Erin.
Sidenote: All the museums and even the tickets for climbing the Arc de Triomphe were free for me since I have a student visa in the EU! This has been a great perk about traveling in Paris. The city really encourages student exploration, so almost all the museums are free to EU students. Future study abroaders, keep this in mind, and be sure to bring your passport with you wherever you go when exploring Paris!