Over Easter Weekend, many of my friends took their last opportunity to travel outside of Paris before the final weekend. While searching for local activities, I decided to explore less-known places that might not have been on everyone’s list. I took the time to wonder through smaller neighborhoods, and I road the metro for an hour to spend time in one of the biggest parks in Paris.
One day, while exiting the metro station, I saw a flyer for a photography event. After a couple minutes of research, I discovered that April is the month of photography throughout the city. Therefore, there are several small exhibits of pictures ranging from the Vietnam War to Dior. When searching for some exhibits in the center of the city, I noticed multiple events were located in one neighborhood. I decided to visit that new neighborhood, and I found myself in Saint-German-des-Prés. Lined with countless galleries, this area in the Latin Quarter was originally home to several underground jazz clubs. I went there to see an exhibit of photos by Don McCullin. The exhibition, titled “Looking East”, focused on photos of war and urban populations in Eastern Europe and Asia. The photo that struck me the most was one of a Marine in the Vietnam War with post-traumatic stress syndrome. It was so clear in the soldier’s eyes that he would never forget the horrors he had witnessed.
On Eastern Sunday, I decided to visit a new park where I could walk and work on some homework. After looking at a map of Paris, I circled one of the largest parks in Paris: Bois de Boulogne. This green space covers acres of land, and the Louis Vuitton Foundation is situated in the northern part of the park. The foundation was built in 2014, and it looks like a large mélange of colorful glass. The building hosts classical music events and special exhibitions. Unfortunately for me, there was no special exhibit at the time, but I did get to take a tour of the building itself. While some may not find touring a building very exciting, the Louis Vuitton Foundation is an incredible piece of architecture. After learning about the hurdles the creators faced in building such a complex structure, I ventured outside to find a large fountain underneath the building. After spending about an hour in the foundation, I started walking through the park. Walking through this area was the closest I have felt to truly being in nature during my time in Paris. I found multiple paths into dense forest, and I took the time to explore most of them. After walking for around thirty minutes, I relaxed by a lake and read a book. This spontaneous excursion was the perfect way to spend a Sunday.
I have found it has been rewarding to take time to explore Paris outside of the commute to school. By taking time to visit most corners of Paris, I have personally noticed the clear differences between neighborhoods. These are things that I had read about in multiple French classes, but I did not truly sense it until visiting most of this city’s arrondissements.
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<p>My name is Jonathan Skewes, and I am an advertising major at Pennsylvania State University. I have studied French for six years, and it is one of my true passions. I also enjoy playing soccer and discovering different cultures and countries.</p>