Paris is so beautiful that my heart hurts. I can honestly say it has exceeded expectations in most ways. There is so much I want to do and see here; I know I will have to visit again, often. Here is basically what I have done for the past two days: Mardi Tuesday was my first full day of exploring on my own. I started by taking a bus to the Eiffel Tower. I have mastered the Paris bus system and find I prefer it to the metro because I can watch the city pass me by. At the Eiffel Tower I roamed about, taking it in. I think it's a very interesting sculpture in its own right, a feat for its time, but honestly it's most overrated thing I've seen here. Yes, it is beautiful, also the lines are outrageously long and if you try to get a picture with it you will also capture a couple hundred other tourists. I was happy just to enjoy its presence as I move about the city.
One of the things I do love about the city is the height. Parisians have building restrictions on their buildings so that there are very few skyscrapers or tall modern buildings. This gives it a completely different feeling from any other city and allows gorgeous views at any corner. From the Eiffel Tower, I continued towards the neighborhood behind L'Hotel des Invalides, around the 7th and 15th Arr. This treated me to views of tree-lined streets, locals lounging at cafes, and small dogs and children being dragged along the sidewalk. I sat at one of these cafes and watched people and soaked in the sunlight while eating lunch. Unfortunately, I randomly chose the cafe without any research, hoping this would be one of those times where you stumble across a gem. Twas not so. I turned back in the direction I came and took a great walk along the Seine. Then I reached Le Petit Palais, which is free, excepting exhibits. Here I enjoyed the architecture of the building, intricate furniture, Greek and Roman antiquities, and many Naturalist paintings along with a handful of Impressionist. My favorite pieces were the collection of sculptures and statues that were divine. Also I was entranced by a painting by Felix Ziem. I finished off my day with a stroll down the Champs Élysées, stopping to pop in Gucci, which I almost immediately popped out of as the salespeople andprice tags are quite intimidating. Off the Champs Élysées is Avenue Montaigne with all the other stores I can't afford. Still it was fun to window shop and dream about fashion week (next week, while I'm in the south!).
Started off Wednesday by stopping in the Apple Store in the Tuileries for an iPad-SD card accessory for downloading photos before an extremely long walk to La Jardin du Luxembourg.
I have this way of looking at the map on my phone when I'm planning and thinking that two places are somewhat near each other, when they are really a forty-five minute walk away. On the way there I saw a boulangerie & patisserie that seemed pretty popular, so I stopped to grab stuff for lunch. Thus, I ate quiche in the garden, which was well-cared for and lush with many nooks and crannies.
Next I started towards the Musee Maillol. Fortunately, I was stopped in my path by a name that I recognized: Pierre Herme. I had read online that this store has some of the best macarons in Paris, so I went to see for myself. They were delicious. Slightly crisp on the outside. Generous layer of creamy ganache. Creative flavors that were balanced just right. They were also 2.10 euros for a disc that is about an inch in circumference. Luckily I won't be staying in Paris long enough to spend all my savings on these beauties, cause I totally would. (Just to note, I bought a creme brûlée, jasmine, and rose. Rose was definitely my favorite, though jasmine is a bit more delicate in flavor.) Finally I made it to the Musee Maillol. This is a little known museum and little in magnitude. I found it engaging and unique, I highly recommend it. I spent some time in the current exhibition that was centered around the Borgias and filled with medieval art. All of the signs are in French so it took me some time to work my way through. They exhibit not only had fascinating portraits and other works of art (studies by da Vinci and some Michelangelo pieces!!!) but interesting displays and manuscripts. On the second floor there are the works of Artistide Maillol, who is considered the 'first modern sculptor' in that he led in the naturalist era. If you appreciate figure studies and a simple, thoughtful sculptures you must see his work in person. Along with a multitude of his work is a few other figure and form studies by Picasso, Degas, and other well-known artists. On the upper level of the museum was an exhibit by Kakabadze who was unknown to me. He has modern, contemporary work that focuses on shape and texture. His collection was intriguing to look around, spurring me to see more emotion and deliberateness in the artwork around me. I walked home, peeking in cute bookstores and chic shops. I have to say that St. Germain-des-Pres was my favorite neighborhood yet, casual and pretty with a bit of an upscale-artsy vibe.
NB: I am having trouble uploading photos, it's taking 15 minutes for each. I will be adding more in tonight and posting about yesterday and today!