paris

my last time in paris, i did everything a girl should do with exactly one week in paris. i sipped cafe cremes on outdoor patios, drank wine straight out of the bottle along the seine with a crowd of friends, picnicked beneath the eiffel, watched the anonymous pianists in shakespeare and co., marched through the louvre, put a love lock on a bridge, danced on the most romantic rooftops, and fell a little bit in love every single day.

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paris, you are enchanting. until next time. 

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paris, mon amour

i flew to paris by myself last june, on a total whim. 

a dear friend of mine invited me to visit her home in belgium, so that was reason enough for my last transatlanticism... but then another sweet girl from my hometown (who's been writing me for some time about her impending romp through europe) urged me to meet up with her somewhere along her route.

so time and space came together just right, and then there i was sitting cross-legged on a west-bound metro train into the city---my two travel bags propped up on the seat next to me like a lumpy companion, dewy sunshine glowing on the blurry terraces speeding by my window, and the somber early-morning chaos of chatelet / les halles straight ahead. 

it was a sunday morning, and the station was filled with all the young parisians who were just finishing their saturday night, stilled covered in glitter and paint, sleepy-eyed and soft-spoken and even more beautiful than i remembered. 

i was invited to stay with my french friend chloe, in her studio just down the steps from sacre coeur. but my plane arrived too early for a weekend and i didn't want to wake my sweet host. so i waited at one of my favorite cafes for a few hours---on the busiest street in montmarte, with the most beautiful view of the church above.

i never mind sitting at a parisian cafe alone, but this morning was particularly extraordinary. the sky was gorgeous and the tourists shuffled by quietly and my waiter began an innocent flirtation by bringing me a single, free pink macaroon. 

but soon the innocence of a tiny pastry turned into passing smiles and winks. and then, before my caffeine even set in, my waiter began whispering to every customer in the cafe, "hey, do you see that girl over there? ::pointing at me:: we are engaged to be married! go and tell her congratulations."

so one by one, visitors of every nationality (french, english, german, spanish, australian...) approached me with a unique accent and an outreached hand and said, "hello, stefanie? congratulations on your engagement!"

i blushed so long and so hard that by the end of the hour, i felt absolutely dizzy. but hey---i got free coffee and a pretty little macaroon and made some of the sweetest early-morning friends. aside from giggling bashfully by myself, i talked for about an hour with an artistic new yorker with french ancestry, who was in paris studying for the summer. by the end of our conversation we were already great friends, making plans to see each other again soon. 

she snapped this funny shot of my waiter drawing a heart with his name in it on my hand...

later on, i reunited with my chloe and met up with megan and her travel buddies.

^^^megan and i :) it was a fantastic visit, filled with long afternoon walks, wine picnics beneath the eiffel, and (as always) one too many crepes. 

more pictures of beautiful paris coming up next!

and click here for earlier posts on paris :)

a love locked on the seine forever

before and after my stay in normandy, i was in paris (again) with a dear friend named kate. we met in the virgin islands months back---only once---right before i left the island. but after about four quick foreign days together, we loved and appreciated each other like long-time best friends.

together, kate and i navigated french heartbreak along the crowded, yet lonely streets of paris. it was mid-august and tourists were crawling EVERYWHERE---even more so than earlier in the summer. and something about being there with her, among the blurry masses, each with our own dissimilar but connected issues, bonded us like you wouldn't believe. 

we spent hours in my favorite starbucks in paris---partly for the free wifi, and partly for the overpriced caffeine, but mostly for the comfy seats that overlooked the bustling boulevard saint-michel. we gave each other overviews of everything. controlling love, foreign flings, outside perceptions. her present, my past, our first-draft futures.

we walked all over, half the time with my heavy bags in tow, because there were a couple more nights where i had nowhere to stay until the last minute. i brushed my teeth in a cafe bathroom. she changed shoes on rue de l'odean. we stayed with a friend of a friend from pakistan. we walked along the seine, through the luxembourg gardens, and the entirety of the latin quarter.

we sat at cafes in front of notre dame, sipping cafe cremes and reminiscing about the caribbean. we calmed our minds with post-impressionism in musee d'orsay. and we stood on rooftops discussing the course of love, and when to know when you've had enough. 

and when night came, and we couldn't handle anymore introspection, we talked with strangers on the river bank. we had a final picnic on the seine, surrounded by musical strangers. we passed around bottles of wine until we couldn't be more honest. and we mused about the meaning of life beneath a full moon.

it was my 5th and 6th time in paris, but i somehow still surprised myself with how well i knew my way around the city---a city that once seemed like a distant dream world, painted in my mind by novels, half-materialized by romantic movie scenes.

i've now either walked through, been hosted in, or partied throughout almost every quadrant of it. i'm pretty confident i could find my way around with closed eyes---not that i'd want to. because i perceive paris in an entirely new light every time i visit. 

adventures in normandy

before i left europe, i took one last trip to see a boy i knew in a ritzy little beach town, nestled in the northwest corner of france. we spent a week lounging on the colorful beaches of deauville, cooking the most delicious food i never knew i loved, dancing with new friends who only spoke french, and exploring some surrounding views of normandy. 

we spent a day at les falaises d'etretat. and it was one of the most beautiful days of my whole summer.

^^ note: the tiny black hole at the top of this cliff? we sat on the edge of it. see: 4 photos down.

we drove over big bridges and through small villages, past fields of cows and down dirt roads, until we reached the cliffs on the coast. our first glimpse of them from a hidden spot at the end of a narrow road we weren't supposed to go down. i stepped toward the edge and lost my breath. 

we drove a little further, until we reached the trail. we walked along winding coastline covered in the softest grass. when we reached a spot with a view we couldn't pass up, we laid down and soaked it all in. we smoked a cigarette and talked about the connectedness of everyone, while seagulls circled overhead and laughed at our theories. the sun wasn't too high and the temperature in the breeze was just right, so we fell in and out of sleep on the side of the cliff. 

we kept walking along the procession of strangely shaped cliffs that jutted out of the shoulder of france. we found a hole near the top of one and filled it with our cautious bodies. the exhilaration of sitting on the edge of that space, after having just seen the immensity of it from afar...

i giggled with anxiety, at the ironic realization that beneath all of the hard-carved passions and aggressions and self-involved emotions of our day-to-day, WE ARE SO FRAGILE. and so very small.  

he and i went down to the town and perched ourselves on its smooth pebble beach. people all around us watched the sunset. and i watched the people watching the sunset. and he skipped the stones across the curling waves, over my head. 

he treated me to dinner at a cafe on the beach. the sun went down and the cold set in. we drove back down pitch black roads all the way to deauville. i was reminded of georgia. i envisioned the starry pastures of florida. i missed long road trips to the north. i longed for those seamless in-betweens.

and just like that, i was ready to go home. 

partying like a parisian

i'm interrupting this blog's regularly scheduled broadcasting AGAIN to share pictures from paris! i finally got these sent to me by emily, after weeks of her roughing it through europe without internet! 

these are from an "electronic dance party/barbecue" in a skatepark in paris... not many tourists can say they've seen something like this, amirite?  

i'm so incredibly grateful that my two weeks in paris were spent staying with the locals and living like they do -- and that they took me along to all of these mind blowing parties that i never would have been able to experience otherwise.

this particular party felt like a real-life music video. there was colorful graffiti covering every square inch of this park where parisian punks were skating back and forth, weaving between people passing in and out of the party. in the corner of the skatepark there was a dj stand set up, with the most eccentric, awesome looking artists spinning and jamming out. there were tons of people dancing in between the dj stand and the skaters. and on the other side of them were a couple of grills smoking and filling the air with the smell of meat.

i walked into this epic, unusual environment and just stood there, looking up with my mouth open in awe... and then i walked over and kissed my french boy -- who was standing there smiling at me with his gray hoody on -- as a sort of thank-you-for-letting-me-be-a-part-of-this kiss. an i-love-your-culture-and-this-is-awesome kiss. a this-moment-is-so-unique-and-i-never-wanna-forget-it kiss. 

a status from the 1st of july: giving thanks to paris

"it's strange to be in a completely different world today after 3 weeks of hearing nothing but french! PARIS, YOU WERE SO GOOD TO ME. I FEEL SO SPOILED. i arrived alone and lost, without a place to stay. i walked up to a big beautiful group of parisian strangers partying on the seine and they immediately accepted me. i spent a week and a half with the most giving and awesome host imaginable. i partied on the river and on the metro and in a skate park and in underground bars and in the streets with bands of music from around the world. i was introduced to the coolest, well-traveled, multilingual people. i was cooked for and catered to and cuddled. i felt the culture through and through... MERCI, MES AMIS. and now i'm in amsterdam, about to shower (with conditioner!!) and do laundry(!!!), and drink fancy coffee while i upload pictures of these dreamlike experiences... my cup runneth over."