This is My Paris

This is My Paris

I fly into Charles de Gaulle early on a Wednesday morning and take the RER B into Gare Du Nord station. Stowing my luggage in a locker since I won’t be able to get into my apartment till evening, I set out to have my first experiences as a stranger in a foreign land. Immediately, Paris strikes me as being everything I thought it would be and so much more. At the same time, my Paris is nothing like I expected. I discover first and foremost, that contrary to what most Americans tell you – not everyone speaks English. Yet I’m glad for it, nothing convinces me I am in Paris more than the fact that all around me music flows from the mouth of every French citizen and studied traveler. undefinedundefined

I get many chances to flex my language muscle and find that though they appreciate my trying and what little knowledge I do have, it’s an uphill battle for me to partake in a full conversation. I’m grateful I know enough to get around.

Making my way to Chatelet Les Halles, I decide to try and memorize the neighborhood that will be mine for the duration of my stay. I walk and walk – seeing every side of L’église Saint-Eustache, watching the children play in Place René-Cassin, discovering the parts of the market still untouched by progress and enjoying my very first crepe … with nutella of course.undefinedundefined
Les Halles was one of the original outdoor markets in Paris and the entire area is now under construction, pending a sort of modernization and re-imagining. I find out this is the second time, following a large remodel in the 70s that created what is now Forum des Halles – a shopping mall, food court and several cinemas. The construction has its own charm and over the course of my trip I find a certain affection developing for the signs of change in shades of green, yellow and gray. Better than the orange we use in America, no? It seems just like the French to use colors which aren’t garish and instead, almost calming.undefinedundefinedundefinedundefined

My apartment is just a few hundred feet off Rue Montorgueil, in a bustling area mostly frequented by residents but popular with tourists in the know. In fact, Rue Montorgueil was featured in a book I read before going to Paris, one I highly recommend for those seeking an authentic experience in France’s capital city. Everything one really needs can be found on the Rue or one of its side streets, even in the outdoor market that sets up next door Thursdays and Sundays on Rue Montmartre, between Rue Rambuteau and Rue du Jour.undefinedundefined

After settling myself in my little apartment nearly 48 hours after I began my journey back in Charlotte, North Carolina I wake up in search of the best croissants in Paris. I try more than a dozen boulangeries and pâtisseries during my two weeks, but settle on Eric Kayser as being the best. At EK, no matter the time of day – the croissants and pain au chocolat always taste fresh out of the oven, they melt in my mouth, they make me grateful for my taste buds as I have never been before in my life!undefined

Notre Dame de Paris becomes my church because a decade before my best friend became engaged to her now-husband when he proposed on the roof there and a statue of Sainte Jeanne d’Arc inside reminds me of my god-mother. Joan is her idol, in the same way some teenagers worship Justin Bieber, minus the haircut copying. When I sit in Notre Dame, staring at the rose window, or listening to an A cappella recital, I feel close to my family even though I am alone.undefinedundefined

I cross Pont Neuf, the oldest bridge in Paris, at least once a day to get to what becomes my most visited neighborhood in the city, outside Les Halles – Saint Germain. This left bank area full of art galleries, boutiques and bistros is home to me for so many reasons and I’m happy to share that love with other travelers who give me tips and advice via twitter even as I am here wandering the streets. Jen tells me the best macaron can be found at Ladurée and I’m happy to discover she isn’t exaggerating. When I pass the Ralph Lauren store on the actual Boulevard Saint-Germain, I feel the presence of ma mère who passed her RL obsession on to me at a very young age.undefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefinedundefined

The simple act of sitting on the banks of the River Seine, soaking up what little sun breaks through the clouds which constantly seem to suffocate the city, that is the activity I most indulge in during my stay. From the curve of the river by Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis, to further down on the right bank where the trees are carved with lover’s initials – sitting on the banks of the Seine and writing, croissant and café avec crème next to me, this is the thing I love most. This is my Paris.undefinedundefinedundefined

  • March 17, 2011

    Great pictures! You almost make Les Halles look pretty 😉 Also impressed at the LaDuree pics. I know they hate it when people snap photos.

  • March 17, 2011

    Gorgeous photos. I’m so glad you finally got to fulfill your dream and come to Paris – I’m sure it won’t be the last time!

  • March 17, 2011

    Amazing photos and story!

    I was in Paris once, about 7 years ago now. The architecture is stunning and there is so much to see. Seeing the photos of Notre Dame, Gare du Nord, brought be back. I definitely need to make my way back there in the near future.

    Have fun on your adventure!

  • March 17, 2011

    I long for a crepe with nutella….
    great pictures!

  • March 17, 2011

    Ah! So good. I particularly like the cluster of photos with the faces in the window, the coffee, and then the desserts below. And the shots of the banks of the Seine as well. Very whimsical…love the way you choose to show us the world.

    Cheers,
    Cheri

  • March 17, 2011

    Great photos, excellent work!

  • March 17, 2011

    You always set the bar high with your pictures and yet once again, you did yourself proud with your pictures. The tone of your post is as if you’re floating around the city taking it all in. From the pictures and your words, I can sense that the entire trip consisted of your camera in one hand, a croissant in the other and a smile that can only be saved for Paris.

  • March 17, 2011

    So loving your chronicles to Paris–I went there ages ago, but I loved all your tweets and your photos. And what’s Paris without Nutella? Really?

  • March 18, 2011

    I just discovered you thanks to Lindsey/Lost in Cheeseland and wanted to thank you for showing me Paris through a newbie’s eyes. After 8 years here, it’s easy to become jaded — reading your post was like a breath of fresh air! I often miss my hometown of NYC but it’s true that there is no place in the world like Paris. Glad to hear you enjoyed your first trip and hope you get back here soon!

  • March 18, 2011

    Wow – Paris through your eyes is gorgeous! I have never seen it in such a light. I’m glad you enjoyed your stay!

  • March 18, 2011

    Oh, Kirsten. I know this is a weird thing to say but reading your post almost brought tears to my eyes. Paris is my favourite city, that’s why I love going there so much. And I’m so lucky that it’s only a hop across the channel to get to. You’ve captured my favourite city so wonderfully and your pictures are absolutely extraordinarily gorgeous. I’m so glad you’re enjoying it there. How long are you there for?

  • March 18, 2011

    Your narrative and photographs are wonderful. I can’t wait to experience this city for myself.

  • March 19, 2011

    These are stunning Kirsten! Love the combination of photos that gives the feel for the city. Beautiful!

  • March 19, 2011

    Your Paris is wonderful! I love how you’ve treated your photographs. And how you’ve shown the common next to the could-be-anywhere shots.

    Aaaaa to be in Paris… 🙂

  • March 21, 2011

    Your Paris is beautiful. I love the way you capture details and have really enjoyed reading about your exploration of such a magical city. And is it ok that I want you to travel all the time so I can live vicariously and in awe of your pictures?

  • March 22, 2011

    OMG! Your photos makes me want to return to Paris, and soon! I love the photos of the macaroons! *drool*

    I also love your combination of photos and hipstamatic pics! Great composition!! Keep it up! Looking forward to more!

  • March 24, 2011

    Beautiful. I’m not often inspired by blog posts on Europe, but the way you captured Paris definitely makes me want to go back there.

  • April 01, 2011

    Amazing photos. I can tell how much you love Paris just by the pictures you showed there. And I have to congratulate you for the Notre-Dame stained glass photo, these are hard to take.

  • April 01, 2011

    Wonderful photos! Especially the macaroon ones 🙂 Looks like the weather was quite decent for you as well, always a bonus when you want to explore the streets of the city.

  • April 22, 2011

    C’est magnifique! Beautiful pics of a beautiful city!

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