To escape the heat and the stress of my new job in Southern France, I hopped on a train and five hours later, I was back in the hustling bustling charming city I called home for the past year. Even though I hadn’t been gone long, it felt like so much time had passed since I last stepped foot on those cobblestone streets and grand boulevards. Traveling, working at summer camp, moving, and starting my first full-time job made end of the summer/rentrée period pass by like a whirlwind. But in-between lesson planning and apartment furnishing, I found some spare time to recharge in my favorite metropolis, Paris.
When I arrived, I was anxious with anticipation. After getting off the train, I speed-walked past all of the other passengers with suitcases, feeling light on my feet with only a backpack. My stomach was twisting and my eyes were getting teary. I was greeted by my love and felt a release of all the stress and longing I had been feeling while alone in the South. Since my train arrived around 8pm, we quickly decided on a place for dinner. I was craving Momos, Tibetan dumplings I tried for the first time while in Paris. Luckily there was a place, Bar à Momos, only a few metro stops away from the gare de Lyon. We shared soup, dumplings, bread, and a bottle of wine. I was feeling giddy and full from the food, drink, and the laughter that comes with catching up after not seeing one another for a while.
I didn’t come to Paris with an itinerary, just a few ideas and an open mind. That’s the cool thing about Paris, even after you do all of the touristy stuff, there are still plenty of places to discover. My boyfriend mentioned looking at some of the recommendations in some books about Paris he had been given. One of the books was a restaurant guide and the other was a book of secret walks with historical facts and points of interest. We decided to go to an area neither of us hadn’t really explored before, the 9th arrondissement.
The path we chose was in the neighborhood nouvelle Athènes, no doubt because of the antiquity inspired cathedrals. As we were making our way to grab some lunch at Hank Burger, an all vegan burger joint, we stopped by the Mairie du 9e because it was open to the public as part of the Journées du Patrimoine, cultural heritage days that only happen once a year and offer free visits to sites not usually open to the public. We began at Notre-Dame-de-Lorette (yes there is more than one Notre-Dame! In fact, the main cathedral in many French cities is called Notre-Dame). For a sunny beautiful Saturday, we were quite lucky to be in a less well known quartier. On our walk we saw so many beautiful buildings in many different styles. One of the reasons I love Paris is so much is the architecture. You could spend hours just walking around appreciating it all.
After our walk, we went to see a play at the International Visual Theatre, which specializes in productions in Sign Language. My polyglot partner met a Sign Language interpreter who taught him some basics and invited us to a free performance. We saw a piece called Parlez Plus Fort ! (Speak louder!) about two colleagues, one deaf and one hearing, who start working together overcome stereotypes and communication difficulties. The show was funny, but also important because it broke down some of the stigma and shared an experience of being deaf. I love theatre because the empathetical connection it creates between the storytellers on stage and the audience absorbing their performance. Plus, I was able to interact with a community I knew very little about, even though I technically couldn’t communicate directly because I don’t know any sign language. I did learn a few words by the end though!
After the performance, we made a stop at the Musée de la vie romantique, a quaint little museum in an old house that used to host salons that Chopin, Georges Sand, Eugène Delacroix, Lamartine, and Dickens went to. This museum was also free during the journées du patrimoine and we got to hear a lovely little concert by a trio of cellists.
I also stopped by a consignment boutique where I picked up a classic French style raincoat called a ciré, but in a fun tangerine color. When it was time for dinner, we caught up with my friend Helen and had some crepes and cider, followed by meeting another friend in the 11th and having a couple of drinks.
The next day, we decided to do another secret walk, this time through the covered passageways in the city. These passageways around the 2nd , 8th and 9th were built in the 19th century, have glass ceilings, intricate tiled floors, and endless charm. Most of them hold shops and restaurants. I stopped to get a tasty pastry on the way. These passageways were perfect on a rainy day, we stayed dry, but didn’t feel cooped up inside because we could walk around.
We didn’t stay dry for long though. Once we left the passageways we had trouble finding an open metro station because where we ended up near the Madeline, there was some kind of manifestation going on so some roads and metros were blocked off. We eventually warmed up in an Italian restaurant and recharged after all that walking in the rain. After our late lunch, it was already time for me to go back and pack so I could get back on the train. That weekend went by too quickly, but I’m glad I got to spend some time with people and in places I love.
Thanks for reading about my adventures!