Wow, what a busy couple of weeks! Time flies… I can’t believe I’ll have been in France for a month in a few days. Weirdly enough, at the same time it feels like I’ve been here a lot longer. I think I’m finally settling into some sort of routine, even though parts of that routine consist of not having a routine, lol. I’ve been able to do a bit of exploring, managed to get lost twice in one day, tried one of the foods I most wanted to try while in Paris, and been to the one shop I HAD to see while in France already! 🙂
Here’s a list of things that I’ve done in the past couple of weeks:
- Went shopping during des soldes at Marques Avenue outlets and Val d’Europe. Des soldes happen only twice a year, during January-February and June-July, and are the only times when stores are allowed to have big discounted sales. Yep, you read that right… ALLOWED. I did a little research and apparently there are quite stringent laws regarding des soldes. No, I didn’t buy anything… “Plus size” in Europe is a joke. :p Val d’Europe is the biggest mall in Europe, so I’m told… We were there for a few hours and only explored one “small” wing!
- Ladurée macarons and shopping at Orly Airport. Apparently it’s a ~thing~ to go shopping at Orly Airport… there are quite a few shops and restaurants, a lot of which are high-end. I thought my host mom was just being strange but we saw so many other people who were just there to shop, exiting the airport with shopping bags but no luggage. So strange to me… We saw a caviar bar, where you quite literally can only buy caviar and alcohol. We also stopped at Ladurée, which is the most famous and supposedly “the absolute best” place in the world to buy macarons. Now, if you haven’t ever had a macaron before, let me just tell you right now, don’t waste your time, lol. My host mom bought me a box of eight and I got to choose the flavors (by the way, ridiculously over-priced at €18 for 8) and I was just not that impressed! I’m guessing, since my first macarons were “the best in the world”, I just don’t particularly like macarons…
- Exploring Paris with friends. On Tuesdays and Fridays, I make it a point to stay in Paris after/between classes and do some exploring, to make the most of my days off. I have a couple of really nice friends from class, and we always wind up on some adventure or another. We’ve walked from class to the Eiffel Tower, done plenty of window shopping, and managed to get ourselves into some trouble once or twice :p I learned the hard way that I really need to get myself a Navigo pass, so that I can travel freely through the five districts in Paris. On visiting La Défense last Friday, I wasn’t allowed to pass through the gates to leave, even though I’d purchased my ticket only a stop or two before. Turns out we’d traveled into Zone 3, and my ticket was only good for Zones 1 & 2. The guard at the gates pulled me aside and in rapid-fire French told me to pay, immediately, a €33 fine for traveling with the wrong ticket. Thankfully, when I told him I didn’t speak French (seriously, I only understood the part about a fine, I had no idea at the time what was going on), he let me go with ‘just a warning’. So, from now on, until my Navigo pass comes in, I’m buying the more expensive ticket :p
- Cité des Sciences et de L’Industrie. Yesterday (1/25), after sitting in Starbucks for two hours with a book and then getting myself lost in a new district, my friend and I met up at the Cité des Sciences et de L’Industrie, a science museum in the outskirts of Paris. It was absolutely incredible! They have artifacts out in the open and you’re allowed to touch them, so I have now run my hands over 300 million year old rocks. Though we did debate whether they were real specimens or not, after doing a bit of research I’m almost sure they are! We also saw a showing in the planetarium, and had to get those little translator devices so we could understand the show. It’s such a weird thing to have to ask for a translation… Being an English speaker, I’m so used to everything being in my language. I think I sort of understand what it feels like to be a foreigner in America now. I’m so grateful that English is one of the top languages, though… I’m able to find translations in most public places. I can’t imagine what it must be like for someone moving to the US who doesn’t speak English, Spanish or French, though, as it seems those are generally the translations you’ll find. One thing I did notice in this museum, though, was that they also had a lot of Braille and sign language, which I just think is so awesome! Very inclusive… Anyways, back to adventures 😉 We ate lunch at one of the cafes inside the museum, and then headed into Paris. We saw lots of street performers near Notre Dame (we didn’t go in though, far too many people in the queue), including a man making giant bubbles with string and sticks. We wandered towards the Latin Quarter, and stumbled upon Shakespeare & Co., a bookstore specializing in English books. I’ve seen photos and heard so many cool stories, it had become one of my goals to visit in Paris… and we totally just wandered past it! It was so interesting… tiny, cramped, full of people and books stacked to the ceiling. I found a book by (my favorite writer) Ray Bradbury called “We’ll Always Have Paris” and c’mon… how could I not buy it?! After buying some crepes with nutella in the street, my friend and I parted ways and I promptly got myself lost on the wrong metro. Lost twice in one day! I’d been doing so well not getting lost, too… seems I’ve broken my streak :p
Needless to say, I’ve been on quite a few adventures and seen some really amazing things. 🙂 I’m very much looking forward to doing more exploring with friends, and have some travel plans in the works (Switzerland in February, probably!).