Yo. It’s your old friend Colleen. Remember how I said I was going to Europe and would frequently update my blog so my friends and family would know what I was doing? Well, that didn’t pan out.
Anyways, the first stop on my Eurotrip was Paris, France. My plan was to fly one way from Pittsburgh to Paris and meet my Lindsay from LA on August 23rd.
Thursday, August 23, 2018 Paris, France
I took the red eye from Pittsburgh to Paris. I slept for exactly one hour because the guy behind me kicked my seat all night long. But it didn’t matter because when I arrived in Paris, the woman in customs thought I was European and tried to direct me into the European customs line. How flattering! I am so sophisticated and European already.
Once through customs, I waited 5,000 years in line with all my luggage to get a ticket for the train into the city. Then I proceeded to get lost in the metro. Since I didn’t yet have a European SIM card, I just took screenshots of my directions to the Airbnb. Big mistake. I mixed up the sea foam green line with the periwinkle line and got so lost that I had to go all the way back to the airport train and start again. The Paris metro stations are apparently not handicap accessible, so I had to carry my 50 lb suitcase up and down like 40 flights of stairs. And I was wearing heels. Once, a Parisian man helped me to carry my suitcase. Down three steps. Thank you, monsieur.
Once I found the AirBNB, my arms were so shaky that Lindsay had to carry my suitcase up to the fifth floor. But then we were so excited because we were together in Paris!!!! Yay!!!
I took a quick shower and changed my clothes. Lindsay, not heeding my warning that her curling iron wouldn’t work right in Europe, proceeded to burn off a piece of her hair. We opened up the shutters to let in some fresh air and sunshine, though we were concerned that a pigeon would fly into the apartment while we were out exploring.
We took the metro to the Eiffel Tower and we were actually shook by how big it was. It was a hot, sunny late summer day. Many tourists were outside taking pictures, and many people were out trying to sell plastic Eiffel tower souvenirs to tourists.
We were moments from fainting, so we went to a nearby restaurant called Fermine and had pizza and rosé.
Why rosé? Because my jet lag treatment theory is this: if you stay up late drinking and partying on the weekend, you’re basically entering a new time zone. I usually go to bed at 10pm, but every once and a while I’ll go out and stay out until 3am. So, when I cross many time zones, I feel the best thing to do is just stay consistently buzzed until it’s a normal time to go to bed.
After lunch we had a little photoshoot by the Eiffel Tower. As one does.
Then we just walked and walked and walked, enjoying the Frenchness of it all.
Hours of walking later, we stopped at Bistro Dupleix where we were served smoked salmon toast topped with a pubic hair. Thank you.
After we got the hell out of there, we realized we needed to use a restroom. We approached one of those weird outdoor public restrooms, when a kind Frenchman told us, “Girls! Don’t go in there! There’s a Starbucks just down the street. Follow me!”
So we followed him, though he insisted on staying a block ahead of us the whole time.
After fully emptying our bladders, we stopped by a wine store and purchased another bottle of rosé and some plastic wine glasses. We set ourselves up on the lawn in front of the Eiffel Tower and drank wine until the sun went down. We admired the twinkling lights on the tower, we did not admire the pushy salesmen constantly trying to sell us trinkets and beer. Like, bonjour, monsieur, we already have a bottle of wine!
Once it got too chilly to sit outside, we walked over to Le Zinc and shared a phenomenal tomato tartine and cheeseburger. Not realizing that the French prefer to eat their hamburgers with a knife and fork, we shoved them into our mouths with our hands like good American girls. Then we took the metro back to the Airbnb, climbed the 5 stories back to our apartment, and promptly passed out.
Friday, August 24, 2018 Paris, France
During the night, I listened to the rain through the open window and pigeons cooing in the morning. I woke up at 10am bathed in a pool of sunshine beneath the open window, with a view of a Parisian rooftop across the way.
We had lunch at Cafe Arthur et Juliette with Pierre, whom Lindsay had met at a dinner part in LA. I ate a fromage and charcuterie plate, which wasn’t the right choice somehow. Pierre ate his hamburger with a knife and fork. Then he gave us recommendations for our day and walked us to the bus stop.
We took the bus to the Louvre, where we were promptly scammed for Polaroid pictures of ourselves. Next we walked to Notre Dame along the Seine. We waited in line to go inside. The inside was breathtaking, and I was totally shook by how old the building was. In fact, it’s the oldest building I’ve ever been in (but not the oldest structure I’ve ever been on top of). We wanted to go to the top, but couldn’t figure out the ticket situation.
Lindsay particularly excited to see Notre Dame because she loves The Hunchback of Notre Dame, though she believed it was non-fiction (and written by Leo Tolstoy). She wondered if Quasimodo’s bedroom was still there.
I love her.
Other funny things Lindsay said:
- Claimed that Shakespeare lived in Paris. When I protested, she said he “had a house there.”
- While looking up directions on Google Maps, she said, “We just have to go down this street that starts with ‘Rue’. A young French man walking down the street stopped to point out that they all start with “Rue”. At least we made his day.
Next we went to Jardin du Luxembourg, which was very beautiful. One thing I loved about Paris was all the people sitting outside reading actual paper books. I love reading, but I only know about two other American who read, so this just seems so idyllic to me.
We also noticed that the young people in Paris go out with their friends and actually talk to one another. No one looks at their phones. They don’t take 1,000 selfies. However, they don’t seem to want to meet any new people (especially ones that speak English).
Per Pierre’s recommendation, we went to Chez Prune for dinner. We sat outside on a tiny table facing the street. Pierre sent us a WhatsApp audio message to tell us how to order a cheese plate and wine.
Three rounds of wine later, we purchased some warm cans of beers and sat down on the edge of the Canal St. Martin, which seems to be a popular drinking spot. We listened to Earth, Wind & Fire and chatted until it was time to go home.
Meanwhile, a Tinder date from over a year ago started texting me. Why?
Saturday, August 25, 2018 Paris, France
Lindsay departed at 6am. I woke up at 11 and did my laundry, then took the metro to Montmartre. I had some ambition of seeing the Moulin Rouge and the neighborhood in which Toulouse-Lautrec hung out.
I made a wrong turn in the metro. Instead of taking the elevator to the surface, I ended up going up a 5,000 step spiral staircase to get out of the metro. Then I proceeded to walk further up the hill to the Basilica Sacre Coeur for a view of Paris.
I always thought that Paris had a secret modern skyline that you just never seen in pictures, but I guess this is not the case. It really be like that.
I forgot to bring my Kindle out that day, so I stopped by a bookstore to purchase a paperback. Per usual, I had already read most of the English language books they had. I ended up selecting This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald (which I hated).
Side note: when I was a kid, my parents bought my sister and me two gold fish. We each got one and could name them whatever we wanted. I went the literal route and named mine “Gold”, while my sister named hers F. Scott Fish Gerald. Amazing.
Anyways, I decided to walk around some more and ended up in the Montmartre Cemetery. Call me creepy, but I love a good cemetery. This was not the famous cemetery where Jim Morrison is buried, but it was very cool nonetheless. Many of the graves had small prayer rooms that had long been abandoned. I enjoyed peaking inside to see all the dusty holy relics, wondering when someone had last come to mourn those buried there.
After having a look at the Moulin Rouge, I decided to walk in the direction of the Airbnb. Or, what I believed to be the direction of the Airbnb. I passed many adult novelty stores with dildos shaped like the Eiffel Tower in the front windows. I walked by some sort of amusement park in the canal. I stopped into a grocery store for a bottle of water, where a man talked to me for several minutes before realizing I didn’t speak any French.
Eventually I realized I was hopelessly lost, threw in the towel, and took the metro to the Opera House. It was very beautiful, but the sheer number of tourists was very overwhelming to me. I walked around the shopping area for a bit, then took the metro to the Eiffel Tower again.
I intended to dine at Le Primrose, which was very full two days before. So full, in fact, that Lindsay and I could not get a table there. Unfortunately, I fucked up and sat in the wrong place on the terrace, and they basically wouldn’t serve me food.
So, I paid for a drink and went across the street to Le Zinc, where I ate another delicious cheeseburger. I tried to eat it with a knife and fork like a real French person. The man next to me got on FaceTime and started speaking in English. Turns out he was from Ottawa, so we chatted for a little bit. He was in Paris for 9 days, which was “too long” he said and complained about how rude the French are. In defense of the French, this man just looked hopelessly Canadian, so there is that. I feel that the French really do care that you make an effort to fit in. Other countries, they don’t give a shit at all what you do or what you wear. But the French don’t want you to be an eyesore in jorts.
I thought about going to find an ex pat bar, but after I ate dinner I was so exhausted that I just went back to the Airbnb.
I learned a few things in Paris:
- If you’re by yourself, sit on the edge of the café facing the other diners. Otherwise, they won’t serve you.
- Don’t try to speak French to servers. It offends them. They probably speak better English than you do French.
- The French eat burgers with knives and forks.
- Most places don’t let you pay with a credit card if it’s less than ten euros.
- It’s easier to pay in cash at restaurants.
- You don’t need to leave a tip (and don’t let any waiter tell you otherwise, they’re just trying to scam you).
- Bring a friend so you can roll your eyes together when the French are mean to you, instead of privately crying in your Airbnb.
Anyways, I plan on going back to Paris some time in the not-too-distant future. There’s a lot of stuff I still want to see there.
Have you ever been to Paris? Let me know in the comments!