LAST WEEK, I returned to Paris from Istanbul to visit my girlfriend Elyse, who is studying literature at the Sorbonne for the current academic year. It was an incredible, relaxed trip, and I will try to summarize it in this post.
The flight north was pleasant and easy, and I was granted a great relief upon collecting my checked luggage and discovering that the bottle of Rakı I had packed as a gift for Elyse’s host parents had not shattered in flight.
Paris in the spring is exceptionally lush and beautiful, and it seems as if every component of the city (the gardens, the wine, the food, etc.) bends toward the pleasing of the senses:
We saw many of the indispensable sights of Paris which I had not seen during my first visit to France in April. Notre Dame was especially formidable in the spring sunlight:
Elyse and I focused especially on art and music during this trip. On Sunday, we went to a new staging of Les Miserables at the le Théâtre du Châtelet, in which the director and producers have attempted to return the piece to its original historical context, and to place more emphasis on Hugo’s intention by including vivid stage projections of Hugo’s own paintings. It was my first time seeing the musical, and after seeing it, I do intend to read the novel.
We also visited the Louvre, which was too overwhelmingly amazing to encapsulate in words. Here are a few pictures though:
The Mona Lisa is much smaller than I had anticipated, and not as breathtaking as I had imagined. But it was still impressive to see as a cathartic symbol of Western art.
As we are both great fans of the work, Elyse and I had to pose in front of Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People:
We also visited the Musée d’Orsay, which contains many of the most famous works of French impressionism. Unfortunately, the museum permits no photography inside. But of particular interest were selections by Monet, Renoir, and a room of Orientalist art, which included French portrayals of Turkey and the Middle East. Also, we saw a special exhibition in the museum called Crime and Punishment, which displayed a formerly-used guillotine, as well as depictions of the most famous crimes of humanity. A bit depressing, perhaps, but fascinating nonetheless.
After visiting the Louvre, we went to a teahouse called Mariage Frères, where I had what was by far the best tea I have ever tasted in life:
The teahouse serves over 3000 varieties of tea, and sends an assistant to your table to help you decide which to drink.
Outside, the courtyard of the Louvre leads into the Jardin des Tuileries, one of Paris’s most famous gardens:
Here is an aerial shot of the garden:
In the Paris Metro, there are always musical groups playing during the day. Here are two particularly good ones we stumbled upon. The group in the first video, as far as we could tell, was singing either Hungarian or Czech folk music, and the group in the second video is Chilean:
Paris is an incredible, dynamic, elegant, opulent, multicultural, complex, and fascinating place, and I hope to return again someday.