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. 

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."

apero metro party

i almost left paris for amsterdam earlier in the week, when my original host had to go out of town to visit family. but luckily! my new french couchsurfing friends INSISTED that i stay one last weekend for this "apero metro party" that Welly had planned. and when a self-proclaimed "party-maker" in paris personally invites you to an event that hundreds of other people are going to, you really HAVE to go.

and thanks to this metro party keeping me in paris a couple extra days, i was able to  meet up with noelle and secure a place to stay in amsterdam! and she was able to come to this epic party with me! so it was a win, win, win, win situation. ;)

so the "apero" part of the party title meant that we were starting the night with a sort of appetizer picnic. it was the perfect start to the event because it allowed time for everyone to meet up, get to know each other, and pass around countless bottles of cheap red wine. 

at about 9 pm, everyone at this picnic in the park made their way to the bercy metro station, where more party people were waiting to meet up with us.  then, this huge group of at least 100 people, made their way down into the station. everyone started getting giddy as the halls narrowed and our sound amplified. by the time we spilled out into the previously empty bercy metro stop, the rowdiness was infectious. and then came our train... then came the victims, the people traveling home from work in a half-stupor, who were soon to be bombarded by a mass of thumping drunk partiers.

we all rushed onto the train and filled two whole compartments of it. so full that there was hardly room to move. hardly room for the doors to shut. it reminded me of rush hour in the london underground, but this time everyone was interacting. there was nobody nervously avoiding eye contact. no shoulders bent inward. nobody reading or dozing off...

and then the music started. chloe and noelle and i stood on the seats and held onto the roof. i looked over a sea of bobbing heads and gripping hands and tipped up bottles. we swayed with the music and with the movements of the train, and somehow we didn't fall. every time we reached a new spot and the doors opened, more people would join us and we would all cheer. and when we reached the end of the line, we simply all got off together, went out, turned around, and went right back in the other way.

complete madness.

i couldn't have asked for a better last night in paris. 

shifting plans at sacre coeur

my last weekend in paris, i stayed with a sweet french girl named chloe in her adorable little studio apartment in montmarte, just down the steps from sacre coeur.

that same weekend, another member of my creative writing gypsy tribe showed up in paris! noelle traveled to paris from barcelona with a couple of friends from california. i was able to steal noelle away for a day to catch up on our travel happenings. we met at the cafe across the street from sacre coeur and talked for hours before climbing up the steps and visiting that beautiful view of the city.

that day, we learned that BOTH of us had plans to travel to amsterdam that weekend. so we figured why not go together?! she planned on leaving paris a day earlier than me, but i convinced her to stay one more night so we could go to one last party with my french friends--a party on the metro.

i was extra lucky to now be traveling with noelle because i hadn't made any plans on my own yet (naturally). i hadn't even planned out a place to stay when i got to amsterdam... i guess i figured i could always show up at a couchsurfing event, since it worked so well last time. when i told noelle this, she asked her friend scarlett (the girl she planned to stay with) if i could stay with her, too. scarlett agreed, and that was a huge relief. ahhh, the luxury of knowing you'll have a roof over your head in a foreign country :)

so we set up a cheap carpool ride from paris to amsterdam for 8 am the next morning. we had a secure plan and a place to stay. all we had to worry about was making sure we stopped partying in time to get to our carpool ride.

orrr so we thought.