At last I’m all settled in the apartment. I’m living in the 15th arrondissement (Paris is divided into 20 large districts), which is to the southwest of the city, on the rive gauche of the Seine. The neighborhood is left out of a lot of tourist guidebooks because there aren’t a whole lot of attractions here. It’s a mostly residential area, which has turned out to be nice, because the street isn’t loud at night and we’re away from the masses of tourists that clog the sidewalks in other areas. However, all that is just a short metro ride away…or a simple 20 minute walk in the case of the Eiffel Tower. Our street is packed with grocery stores, which is very convenient, and so far we’ve gone through one baguette per day…and counting.
after dinner drinks on the balcony
I’m sharing the apartment with Clara, my friend from Germany, who I first met during senior year of high school when she spent a year abroad in the US. We’ve made it a point to meet up somewhere in the world every year since then, and our time here has already been lots of fun. We have a routine going, which is good as my internship is very unstructured. I’m writing for Bonjour Paris, which is an online resource about the city, and its surroundings, for travelers or those interested in the Parisian lifestyle.
cooling off in the Pompidou fountain after shopping
Each morning, I work for a few hours on my articles for the week in the sunny living room of the apartment, while listening to a rotation of the three non-kids’ CDs that I found here and like (James Taylor, The Beatles, and Mika). When Clara is done with her French class at 1, we meet for lunch and then some sort of afternoon excursion. We’ve both been to Paris before, but there’s a lifetime’s worth of small things to discover here, and I can base my articles on the places we go.
Today we started our exploration in the Marais neighborhood, an area with old artistocratic apartments, a beautiful park, great shopping, and a big Jewish neighborhood, where we got lunch at a falafel shop that I had read was supposed to be “the best in the world” (well, according to my guidebook, and Lenny Kravitz, though the shopkeepers of the many nearby competing falafel shops begged to differ as we walked by eating ours). It was indeed quite good, but I don’t have much to compare it to.
In the evening we visited les Invalides, the old military hospital and museum, which was free after 5:30 for those under 26. Technically the discount was only for EU citizens (as many student discounts are here, which is very annoying) but I tried not to talk a lot and pretended to be Clara’s relative from Germany. The man in the ticket booth either believed me or felt bad for me, so we both got in free. Napoleon is buried under the dome church, which is covered in gold (apparently it’s one of the only monuments in Paris that actually is still gilded in real gold), so now I’ve managed to see his birthplace and resting spot in one trip, coincidentally. We also visited the WWI and WWII museum on the property, and it was amazing to consider that in the last century it was possible for the countries of Europe to be at war with one another. Now, with the European Union, they seem so peaceful and unified, both politically, and in many ways, culturally, and traveling today its somewhat hard to imagine a different reality.