Week 2: Exploring Paris and Learning its Ways

Sophia Raymond
June 11, 2016

This evening marks a full 17 days of being in Paris! And even though it’s true that Paris is beautiful in any weather it’s overcome by, I am so happy that it’s finally starting to clear up! The forecast for today is 73 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny – and we’ve gotten to enjoy that weather for the past few days now. It’s what this city needs to soak up all of the excess weight that the Seine has packed on!

Whenever I’d imagine the Seine River, I always had the image of picturesque dinner boats floating along, people strolling down the bank and sitting with friends and a bottle of wine. I never thought I’d also get to see what the Seine looks like when it’s completely overflown, no longer with people strolling the banks but with ducks swimming in their place! A few days ago the trees were up to their necks in water and the highway was completely submerged. It’s been a challenge for the city to deal with, but it’s also another cool sight that I’ve now seen!

Friday June 3 was the first day I got to go shopping! My friend and I went to one of my favorite neighborhoods thus far: Saint-Germain-des-Prés. There are so many cool places to shop here such as “kilo shops”, where you can find every cool vintage accessory or article of clothing that you can imagine, and most of the things are priced based on weight! 20 euros per kilo… that’s about five vintage Parisian scarves that you can take home to your friends! After shopping, you can grab a table on the terrace at Le Molière for a croque-monsieur and do your Parisian-watching for the day. And as I’ve learned, there’s no better way to follow a dinner than by heading to Amorino’s or Berthillon’s for gelato or ice cream, or to Pierre Hermé for a flavorful and utterly perfect macaron.

Another great place for shopping is the Marais neighborhood, where you’ll find a glorious shopping mall right next to the beautiful Hôtel de Ville. The Marais is also the home of the Place des Vosges: a quaint yet architecturally stunning courtyard built during the reign of Henri IV complete with intricate fountains and little gardens. It also housed author and playwright Victor Hugo! This is a great place to hang out on a very nice day – lots of people gather here when it’s sunny and warm to picnic and enjoy each other’s company. It’s also a nice place to lounge after a visit to one of the Marais’s may museums, including the Musée Picasso (which is a must-see!) and the Centre Pompidiou.

Montmartre has to be my favorite neighborhood, though. It’s winding, narrow streets lined with gorgeous and unique buildings and it’s bohemian and hip atmosphere – “bobo” as the French call it – make this neighborhood a popular hang out for the Parisian “hipsters”, if you will. Here is where you’ll find tiny bookstores tucked between buildings, hip bars and cafés, art galleries galore, the Place du Tertre, and of course, the summit of the city: Sacré Coeur. From this impressive basilica, one can see the entirety of Paris, complete with its monuments such as the Tour Eiffel and the Grand Palais. You can’t leave Paris without seeing the city from this point.

If there’s anything I’ve learned so far about Parisians through my people-watching, it’s that the rumors about Parisian style are true: It’s really, really good. Almost everyone I’ve seen has drawn my attention in some way or another, particularly by the clothes. It seems as though the Parisians abide by two simple rules when it comes to fashion: Comfort is key and keep it classy. A Parisian native that I met here told me that people tend to dress better in Paris because it’s a capital city. However, you won’t see people wearing nice dresses and fashionable suits everyday. In Paris, the people love their Chelsea boots, their slim-cut jeans, their scarves, their trench coats, their Stan Smiths, and their leather jackets. The Parisian women don’t curl or straighten their hair either; they just let it do its thing. And it always looks awesome because it’s worn with confidence. I admire that the French work with the attributes that they were born with instead of trying to perfect or change everything about them – something I feel is very apparent in the US. Layering is also a popular style here, and every Parisian woman loves her lipstick – even if she doesn’t wear any other makeup at all.

The most exciting thing that I’ve gotten to do this past week was spontaneously deciding to go to the Palais Garnier to see the Paris Opera Ballet perform Giselle. As an ex-ballet dancer, I have always dreamed of seeing the Paris Opera Ballet perform, and Giselle is my all-time favorite ballet. The Palais Garnier is without a doubt the most magnificent theatre I have ever seen, inside and out. And, the best part is that I got to see the ballet for only 10 euros! All you have to do is go to the box office about two hours before the show starts and ask for their cheapest seats. Although you only get a partial view of the stage, it’s totally worth it!

Hopefully the weather continues to stay warm and sunny over here, especially for the EuroCup! Watch at home and cheer for France to get in on the fun! Until next week, à bientôt!



Sophia Raymond

<p>Hi, there! My name is Sophia Raymond and I&#39;m studying Public Relations and Marketing and Indiana University. Curiosity may be what killed the cat, but it&#39;s what fuels me! I&#39;m a writer, designer, and visual arts creator, and I&#39;m an absolute nerd for 20th century history (currently binge-watching CNN&#39;s Decade series). Usually, you can find me rock climbing, painting, or snuggling with my adorable Irish-doodle Sookie, but this summer I&#39;ll be studying abroad in Paris to further my French fluency and explore Europe! Life is a beautiful thing, and I plan on making the most of it.</p>

2016 Summer 1, 2016 Summer 2
Home University:
Indiana University
French Language
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