March 4, 2013

Paris Holds the Key To My Heart

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.

20 comments:

  1. So, when I saw the title of your post, I started humming the song from Anastasia. This totally makes our friendship legitimate now, bonding over Anastasia songs.

    ANYWAY.

    Your trip to Paris looks amazing and beautiful and wonderful and delicious and so cool. I'm totally jealous of all these fabulous places you got to visit and can only hope that one day, I will be able to do the same!

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    1. Anastasia is the beeeeeeeeeeest.

      And I hope you do get to go!!! I will tell you how to do things. Paris is truly wonderful and really not that hard to navigate.

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  2. I'm singing the music from Anastasia now...

    Your trip sounds AMAZING. That's fantastic that you found that book. My own religion would probably not be... Popular. If I found a book there I'd probably completely flip. Plus that bookstore itself. I'd probably just head right to it without even speaking to whoever I was traveling with.

    As for all the amazing PLACES you saw??? Wow. It's making me all Wanderlusty.

    Oh, and btw, love the use of the Moulin Rouge gif. :)

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    1. Everyone should be singing Anastasia songs right now. EVERYONE.

      And who knows what religion is popular or can be found anywhere these days. The world is so very full of surprises and you can never REALLY know.

      As for the bookstore: YES everyone should JUST GO THERE.

      I'm glad I could make you all Wanderlusty. I feel like sometimes people get complacent and just want to stay at home but we all need that reminder/kick in the pants that getting up and GOING PLACE and DOING THINGS is a worthwhile activity, y'know?

      <3<3 Moulin Rouge. I know all the word to all the songs and every time I listen to el Tango de Roxanne I lose it big time.

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  3. It sounds like you had a really awesome time! So jealous!
    I think it's interesting that you said London isn't European enough. I suppose when you live somewhere it becomes the norm and can seem a little boring but when you go somewhere new it's exotic and fresh.
    It's so cool that you got to go Shakespeare & Co. It was featured in Anna and the French Kiss so it's somewhere that I would love to visit one day. Lovely pictures! :)

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    1. Well I'm also a touring in London. I don't know. I guess I feel like when I go abroad, there SHOULD be a language barrier. Which, I suppose, you wouldn't want in order to get what you want a feel comfortable, but still, it's all part of the experience.

      I haven't read Anna and the French Kiss yet but I'm going to when I get home, so I'm excited to match it all up in my head!

      Glad you liked the post and the pictures :)

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  4. THOSE CROISSANTS ARE HEAVEN. When I was in Paris I think I ate them nearly every day. We have a french bakery near my house that makes these and I love to get one every once in a while. So much of this post reminds me of my time there. I'm glad you had fun!

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    1. I ate so many pain au chocolat that I really can't eat another for a little while. So much. Too much. But so good.

      And I'm glad I could remind you of your trip! :)

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  5. So, so incredibly cool! Desperately jealous of your trip to Shakespeare & Co - and that's perfect finding the Haggadah there :-) Also, I love the enthusiasm of your writing. It's so much fun to read.
    I've lived in Tanzania and Uganda - and I have amazing memories from my times there, but I really want to travel through Europe. I think it'll be a different kind of awesome to Africa. I want to go up north and see the Northern Lights. And see the palaces and castles scattered across the continent - all these places I've read about since I was tiny.

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    1. I've actually never been to Africa. I wanted to go to Egypt once, but it didn't work out. Although that's not REALLY Africa, is it? I mean, it is, but it's not. >.<

      And I want to see the Northern Lights BIG TIME also. It's been a goal of mine ever since I read the His Dark Materials series. I think if you go REALLY far north in Canada you can see them, but I'm not sure.

      Also: YES TO THE PALACES AND CASTLES :)

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  6. Oh! And as for places that make me jump for joy? (Aside from Disneyland, of course). NYC. I spent a week there last summer and I fell head over heels in love with it. I won't babble about it too much and spam your comments, but I basically spent the week living in a dream, randomly spinning in circles with joy that I was actually THERE.

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    1. NYC!!!!!!!!!!!!! COME BACK COME BACK! But in May. When I'm home. There will be more circles for spinning.

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  7. I loved being your faraway tour guide :D Plus, I am just incredibly happy that you loved Paris because IT'S PARIS! It's, as you are well aware by now haha, my favorite place in the entire world. You got to see so many amazing things and I'm a bit jealous haha.

    Also, I need to get my butt to Paris already to actually go INSIDE Shakespeare & Company because I want to experience the Harry Potter magic for myself.

    Your story about the Haggadah is still beautiful :) This line made me want to hug you: "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."

    I am so happy you went to the Musée d'Orsay! It's my favorite museum MOSTLY because of the impressionism (my mom's obsessed with art and sort of made me obsessed too), but also because I just want to be in that building.

    Next time you're visiting, make sure to visit the Sacré-Coeur (more beautiful than Notre-Dame!) and Montmartre (LOVE) but make sure the weather is good :) I have nothing more to say haha.

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    1. I feel like part of me loved Paris because your enthusiasm was SO INFECTIOUS. :)

      And YESYES go to Shakespeare & Co. Really. So wonderful inside. And you can look for where I wrote my name (slash everyone who goes should do that. Because it's be cool!)

      Uhm, other things I should say: Religion really is the worst and the best, Impressionism=LOVE ALWAYS, and YES to going to Sacre-Coeur. I feel like going to a ton of Cathedrals in a short trip is a bad idea for me because I miss the religious significance, but I hear Sacre-Coeur is where it's at for next time. There and Galeries Lafayette. ^_^

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  8. Beautiful! Thanks for sharing. :) I'm not sure if I'll ever get to Paris, so I'll have to live vicariously through you!

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    1. OH NO! I hope you get to go to Paris!!! But until then, you could definitely do worse than living through me!! =D

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  9. Wow, girl, I love the part where you talked about finding the Haggadah. Talk about some meaningful words - and what a great story to have attached to that book! I loved all the pictures from your trip, but I'm especially glad you shared that part of your story. I feel like I know you even better now :)

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    1. That was kind of the point. I feel like sometimes I don't share enough of me on this blog. But I want to because I want you guys to know me beyond Twitter. Which is HARD, y'know?! But thanks for the kind words! ^_^ <3

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