In case you you guys missed it, I went to Paris this past weekend. After 3 days, my heart just about burst. I'm going to try and keep this post Bookish, but there might be some eats, art and nerdiness involved, so don't hate me too much, okay?
I started my trip on the Eurostar. I hopped aboard with my passport, guidebook and copy of Just One Day by Gayle Forman. Judith and I thought it would be INCREDIBLY appropriate and we were RIGHT. My whole everything was just like WHOA and if only I could match up every book I read to events in my life, I can't even tell you how brilliant the world would be. Granted, I haven't finished the book yet (I did have PARIS to see and all that), but I still think I make some pretty brilliant life choices, going to Paris included.
So, I get to Paris and I'm like EUROPE. EUROPEEUROPEEUROPE. London does not feel nearly enough like Europe. But Paris. PARIS. I mean, the whole time I was there the song from Anastasia was running through my head on a loop. I was all Paris holds the key to your heart and spinning and dancing and giggling and eating all the delicious things like pain au chocolat and macaroons (as recommended by the lovely Judith, who was pretty much my long-distance guide on this trip).
After I found my friends, we went out to Versailles and OH MY GOD. We were walking down the street to get there, my friend points at a big building and says, "Is that it?" And I'm like: "I think it's a BIT bigger than that." So we round the corner and sure enough there was this giant monstrosity just sitting there for me to see. And then we went inside my mind was like WHERE ARE WE? IS THIS REAL LIFE? HOW CAN THIS BE A REAL PLACE? And it wasn't even Spring so the gardens were un-pretty but I was still all over myself about it.
Anyway, then we went back to Paris and found another friend. We went to dinner and passed out because that's when you do when you're freaking exhausted.
The next day we went straight to the Eiffel Tower. We rode all the way to the top and dear God it was stunning. The structure was stunning, the view was stunning, the height was stunning. We went back later that night to see it all lit up and it was even MORE STUNNING. I'm not even sure how metal can be so gorgeous, but it IS and you guys all need to see it to believe it.
But guys, THAT'S NOT EVEN CLOSE TO ALL OF IT. After going to the Eiffel tower in the morning on Saturday, we walked EVERYWHERE. My feet hurt so much. We saw the Arc du Triomphe, a couple of gardens, walked down the Champs Elysees, stopped by the Musee de l'Armee to say a quick hello to Napoleon and then finally made our way to Notre Dame. After Notre Dame we were like FOOD NOW PLEASE, but as we were starting our search for nourishment, I SPOTTED IT.
Shakespeare & Co. is this tiny English bookstore pretty much across the street from Notre Dame. Judith told me about it and I was kind of hoping to get to it, but myfriends aren't quite so bookish so I wasn't going to make a fuss about it. But then, as our journey towards food began, I SAW IT ACROSS THE STREET AND IT WAS LIKE THE WORLD WOULDN'T LET ME LEAVE PARIS WITHOUT IT. So I incoherently told my friends to stop, more or less bolted across the street, no care to traffic, and entered the cutest most amazing little bookstore I have ever seen.
I walked around for a bit. They have all different kinds of books: Fiction, crime, children's books, old books, travel guides and even a couple of shelves of YA. I was fairly impressed. They even have these little areas you can graffiti, which is where I saw this:
|DFTBA, you guys. DFTBA.|
After drawing that little heart under DFTBA (there are no words to describe the state of my insides when I spotted that particular gem) and writing my name elsewhere, I figured it was time to find my friends and get moving. We were hungry. So I grabbed a copy of The Little Prince (because yeah, I would) and walked towards checkout.
But as I was walking to the counter, I found one more thing I needed to have.
As some of you already know, I'm Jewish. I would say a solid percentage of my friends are also Jewish, but for the ones who aren't, I'm the token Jew. I'm the Jewish mother who will force food on you. Oy vey is a turn of phrase. Hebrew/Yiddish words often find their way out of my mouth without me even realizing what I'm doing or that whoever I'm with might not understand me. And those are just my habits, not the crazy religious things I do.
But I know that Judaism, while a major Western Religion, isn't such a popular religion these days and France isn't the best place to be most kinds of religions. So when I walked into Shakespeare & Co. I never in a million years thought I would find a book with Hebrew letters all over it. Nor did I think it would turn out to be a Haggadah (the ritual prayer book used on Passover to retell the Exodus of the Jews from Egypt - a whole long drawn out event that we're commanded to do once a year while not eating bread) edited by Jonathan Safran Foer, with a new translation by Nathan Englander and commentary by Lemony Snicket (among other people).
Now, this Haggadah has been in print for a year, but it somehow escaped my attention. I think that was for the best, because I found it in PARIS, of all the not-so-religion-friendly places, in this tiny English bookstore that I almost didn't find and now it has this stamp you can have them put in the books you buy.
And maybe that doesn't sound like mega majorness to you guys, but I'm not even exaggerating when I tell you this Haggadah is now the most meaningful book I own. I grew up doing these retellings every year, most years falling asleep during them (they really go on until like 1-2am and you can't eat until around 10pm after not eating all day and there's so much wine and... zzzzz). They are part of my religion and, therefore, are very much a part of who I am. But sometimes I feel like I'm two different people: one half nice Jewish girl, on half everything else (the secular, the bookish, the museum-centric, the traveller, the I don't even know what else).
Both halves are so important to me and really do make up who I am, but sometimes I feel like they're two different pieces that just don't belong to the same puzzle box. Only, every now and again, if I'm really lucky, I'll find those connections. This Haggadah, found in a place I never thought I would find even a hint of Judaism, was the perfect representation of this luck. And honestly, every time I think about this purchase, my insides expand to try and wrap themselves around all the joy in me.
And now, enough religion and more PARIS.
On my last day (SADNESS), I went to the Louvre (WHICH WAS FREE BECAUSE IT'S ALWAYS FREE ON THE FIRST SUNDAY OF THE MONTH. YOU GUYS). I could have lived there forever. Among all of the amazingness I saw, there was The Death of Marat and Oath of Horatii by David and The Mona Lisa (she's a fairly popular lady, I guess). I've studied all of them and seeing them in real life was just like O_O. My heart was missing, my eyes were leaking and the feels were out in full force. The art nerd in me was completely stunned.
But it's not like my day got any less emotional after that. My friends and I parted ways at the Louvre. They wanted to see a Cathedral and a graveyard. I wanted MORE ART. So post-Louvre, I passed through the Tuleries, walked cross one of the bridges with the locks on it (apparently there are more than one?) and headed over to Musee d'Orsay (also free because of the whole first Sunday of the month thing). Fact: I AM ALWAYS UP FOR MORE ART. Especially Impressionism. Once more I almost cried. I honestly can't remember a time I've been so weepy over THINGS. Things, you guys. Who needs a cute boy when I can have pretty things to stare at all day? (I say this because I don't have a cute boy, so we'll see how I feel as my life progresses.)
With throbbing feet, I got off the Metro at the Opera stop to get souvenirs for the fam and then met up with my friends to say goodbye to the girls who were going back to Spain. Then I dragged my remaining travel buddy out to the Moulin Rouge. Because. Well. Y'know.
After that there were a couple hiccups in getting back to London. Paris clearly didn't want me to leave. To be fair, I didn't want to go either. I mean, London's great, but I truly adore Paris. It's seeped in amazingness and I just want to roll around in said amazingness everyday for the rest of my life. I don't even speak French, but I'll definitely have to learn at least a little before heading back there. BECAUSE I WILL BE GOING BACK AND YOU ALL SHOULD GO TOO. But seriously, if you are going, email me because I have a bunch of more specific recommendations and comments about how to do stuff. I'm no expert, to be sure, but I guess I know a little.
My trip was filled with many bookish delights, much beautiful art, locks of love and architecture to die for. Have you guys been anywhere that made you jump for joy both inside and out? PLEASE TELL ME ALL ABOUT IT IN THE COMMENTS BECAUSE I WANT TO KNOW.