When I was five, my parents took me to Paris, to Disneyland. I have few memories of this visit and when I was 22, when I was doing Erasmus in Florence and because I had a friend in Paris, also in Erasmus, I decided it was time to go back and spend 7 days in the French capital. Little did I know that in the same year I would return to the city of light for the centennial of the AFS and that the following year I would live with two French girls in Mexico.
These 5 days in Paris were integrated into a month-long trip through Spain, Portugal and France, which I did with my French roomies and our Mexican “almost roomies”. In this trip we did not focus so much on visiting museums for two reasons: one, the Mexicans had to pay entrance fees at all, since entry is only free until the age of 26, for European citizens, two, the European ones already knew the majority of them and did not have much interest in repeating it. Yet we passed through all the important places, if only to see from the outside, as the mexicans deserved to know it!
The apartment we were staying at was near Montmartre so the first day we just walked near the house, did some supermarket shopping and visited the Sacré Coeur.
O apartamento em que estávamos ficava perto de Montmartre, então no primeiro meio dia, pois viajámos de manhã, apenas caminhámos perto da casa, fizemos algumas compras de supermercado e visitamos o Sacré Coeur. The district of Montmartre continues to be one of my favorites in Paris, not only for being on a hill and having views of the city, but also for all the life that concentrates, the bars and cafes full in the late afternoon, the light…
On the 2nd day we went straight to the center of Paris. We passed by the Pompidou Center, so that the boys could observe the work of Renzo Piano, and we then went to the Cathedral of Notre Dame, this one duly visited. Then we met our German friends, had a picnic at the rear of the cathedral and continued the walk along the Seine. We decided to take the metro to see the Eiffel Tower, from a distance, from below, but not from above. It was summer and we did not want to spend hours queuing. We walked to the Arc de Triomphe, from where we saw the Champs Elysees and decided to go back home. After dinner, and as it was right next door, we went to see the neighborhood of the Moulin Rouge at night, completely different from day, since the neons were all on and the sex shops well visible.
The third day began where we had ended the day before, at the Arc de Triomphe, to descend the Champs Elysees. It took us three hours because the boys wanted to get into all the car shops … We passed La Concorde Square and went to the L’ Orangerie Museum because Marie, one of the French, had never visited it. This time I took some photos of Monet’s Nenufares, the previous time it was forbidden, or so I thought. It started raining a lot immediately after we left the museum, and we had to take shelter in the Carousel du Louvre, a giant underground shopping center, right under the Louvre museum. The museum itself was already closed. When the rain stopped we went up to take some pictures with the famous pyramid by the architect I. M. Pei. From there we decided to walk to the Eiffel Tower, because the best way to visit a city is on foot. We went along the Seine, passing the Musée d’Orsay, where we quickly entered for the boys to see the old train station. Further on we saw Les Invalides, where the tomb of Napoleon is, and we finally reached the Eiffel Tower, already illuminated, as we wanted to see it.
In our fourth day in Paris we split in two groups. Jorge, Omar and Anaïs went to visit the football stadium of Paris Saint Germain and the tomb of Porfirio Diaz, a former president/dictator of Mexico, from Oaxaca, while Marie and I went to the Museum of Quai Branly, a museum about the arts and civilizations from the african, asian, american and oceanian continents. The design of the building is from Jean Nouvel and it is a very complete and interesting museum. We spent the whole morning there.
We all met at La Villete Park, where we had a picnic, but it was raining, so it was not fantastic. We took a walk around the park, very curious, especially for those who like art, sculpture and architecture and finished the tour in the new Paris Philharmonic, also by the architect Jean Nouvel, and with obvious inspirations in the work of Escher.
With three architects in the group, the boys were dragged to Frank Gehry’s Louis Vuitton Foundation. This was inspired by the sails of the boats and was actually built on water. The colors of the facade are only a temporary intervention by Daniel Buren, the building is usually all white.
Then we took the subway back to the center of Paris and visited the beautiful Place Vandome, which I did not know, despite being so close to the Garnier Palace, which I had already visited. We went to the Galeries Lafayette, discovering this time that there is a rooftop with free access, with a great view to the Paris Opera, right next door, and to the whole city. We walked home and prepared everything because the next day at dawn we were going to Rennes.