Tuesday, August 27, 2013

30 days in Paris {4/4}

It's our last day in the city of love and lights. The weather has been turning to fall; leaves rustle on the ground as the wind blows outside our flat. My mind is at rest, content with an adventurous month and ready for what is ahead back in sea-side St Andrews. We board the train to Leuchars tomorrow, and the vast green that awaits my eyes will be a welcome change from the sights of the city. Rachel and I enjoyed one more pain au chocolate this morning, and I'm tackling a day of laundry and packing. This experience has truly been incredibly unique. We got paid to live in Paris for a month. So, as one last tribute to this place, here's the last of the photos from behind the lens of my Canon Rebel.

Champs Elysees
This 1.8 mile street is one of the most famous in Paris. It begins at the Place de la Concorde and ends at the Arc de Triomphe. We walked it twice, and enjoyed beautiful view of the sunset.

Arc de Triomphe
This arch stands in the middle of Place Charles de Gaulle and honours French soldiers who have fought and died. Underneath the arch is The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WWI. It's centred in a massive roundabout and the views are amazing.

Catholic University of Paris
This is where Garrick has spent every morning since we've arrived. It's a beautiful campus in the Latin Quarter near the Luxembourg Gardens. He tested into the Elementary 3 level and will get his certificate tomorrow!
Luxembourg Gardens
Easily one of our favourite places to relax in the city. Everywhere you look, gorgeous green grass and well manicured flowers are in view. Just think, this used to be a private garden reserved for royalty! After class, Garrick and I devoured baguettes and worked on our tans (sunburns).

We've been delighted to meet other PhD students and their families from the University of Aberdeen and the University of Edinburgh. The graduate life can feel unique at times, and it's great to meet other people on similar adventures. Trips are already in the works to keep in touch! That's all from the Allens in Paris. St Andrews, here we come!

Monday, August 19, 2013

30 days in Paris {3/4}

Travelling helps you learn about yourself, good and bad. Over the past three weeks, I've realised that I'm more introverted than I thought, I enjoy being a tourist once I'm home and can unpack the highlights from the day, I hate being alone in big cities, and finally, I could eat a croissant every day (or three).

Upon our arrival, we made a Paris 'wish list' with all of the things we wanted to see. About a week in, we realised our pace was a sprint and that we could slow down a bit. This has made the second half of the trip more enjoyable, as we can see favourite things again and enjoy days spent at  less-touristy attractions including markets, smaller museums, and parks.

Here's the highlight reel:

Tuileries Garden
This garden is a wonderful entryway to the Louvre. Centred around a large fountain, statues and manicured gardens welcome thousands of Parisians and tourists.
Date Night!
Heels and lipstick are two things I normally go without, but not in Paris! Garrick even dressed up. We enjoyed a traditional French meal at La Caveau de l'isle on Ile Saint-Louis, an island in the middle of Paris. The restaurant is in a cave, with the ceiling painted red and candlelit tables. We ordered French onion soup, foie gras, rump steaks, and my husband's all time favourite, crème brulee. To conclude the evening, we took a lovely stroll by the Seine and enjoyed street musicians and stunning views of Notre Dame.

L'as Du Fallafel
It's cheap, amazing, and a must-eat while in Paris.

The Metro
It's a love/hate relationship. Fast, convenient, sweaty, jerky, and uncomfortable, this amazing system has taken us everywhere we've wanted to go in Paris!

The Palais Garnier
We visited the opera house which served as the setting for "The Phantom of the Opera." It's probably one of the most beautiful places I've seen. Everything says elegance, from the red velvet seating to the gold chandeliers, to the beautiful paintings.

Palais Royal
We stumbled upon this square outside the Louvre and were pleasantly surprised by this string ensemble. This is also where some of the most high-end shopping can be found. I also stopped in a bookstore and picked up a "Doodle Paris" book to work on my French and drawing skills. So far, it's...going. :)
Marche Bastille
Sunday is market day in Paris. We headed out early to explore one of the largest markets in Paris and were not disappointed. It reminded us Seattle folk of Pike Place Market. It didn't take long for us to order pan au chocolats to have in hand while we wandered through the crowded stalls. I think we'll be back next week as I spotted some jewellery I loved!

I'm very thankful for the opportunities we've been given to see the world, and I'm also thankful that St Andrews is just a week and a half away!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

30 days in Paris {2/4}

It's decided. Big cities are not love at first sight for me. I tend to find peace reading at the apartment, sitting at a café, or shopping in a non-touristy area. This is not to say that I don't enjoy major landmarks, or the inspiration that Paris provides; I just have to take a deep breath every once in a while. (I should note that my husband is the opposite, and his French is decent enough to navigate basic conversations about postage stamps and croissants. And, when it comes to the metro, he's a boss.)

So, without further adieu, the past week in massive, sometimes touristy, beautiful Paris:

Shakespeare and Company
This place has beautiful books. And, you pay for it. Each book you buy gets a Shakespeare and Company stamp on the inside, making them meaningful 'friends' (the way they view books) to add to your shelf. They purchase books that are not only pleasing to the eye, but that also feel good in your hands while you read.

Notre Dame
With a central metro station located right outside, we see this 850-year-old church often. This week, we looked more closely; once during the day, and once during a free evening organ concert. If this wasn't on my bucket list before, it was quickly added and checked off as I sat, eyes closed, listening to the majestic chords.

Tour d'Eiffel
Garrick and I enjoyed the above-ground metro ride to this major landmark. We waited in a short line and began climbing the 674 stairs up the tower. After each flight of stairs, there are informational boards that allow you to catch your breath and also learn a bit while doing it. We walked around the first and second levels taking in the city as far as our eyes could see. Our time was cut a bit short due to a bomb threat causing an evacuation. Whistles, yelling, and sirens serenaded us down the stairs, and I talked to God the whole way down! Apparently these threats are not uncommon, but only evacuate the tower a few times a year. Joys.

Montmartre and Sacre Coeur
Montmartre was touristy. And slightly quaint, sans tourists. Still, I dodged the men grabbing at my arms to make a bracelet and made it inside the Sacre Coeur just in time for mass. Most noteworthy was the domed mosaic of Christ, pictured with a heart of gold burning for mankind.

We explored a few of Paris' markets today, beginning with a book market 20-minutes south of our apartment. I sat and read while Garrick browsed. Next, we stopped at the flower and bird markets near Notre Dame.

Our last stop today was this 800-year-old church that was built in two years. The construction of Notre Dame took 200. Quite impressive for the time. Originally built to house the Crown of Thorns, the cathedral now boasts some of the most beautiful stained glass in the world. I agree.

So, here begins another week in Paris, and Garrick currently sits doing his French homework for class tomorrow morning.