I’m several days late posting this because we’ve had such a jam-packed time in Paris! Currently, I’m riding the Eurostar to London, leaving beautiful France behind. In an effort to get in all the wonderful details of our past two days, I will recap each day individually, beginning with Friday’s trip to the Moulin Rouge and then Saturday, June 27th.
After my last post on Friday, Alex, Jordan and I travelled to the world-famous Moulin Rouge for its “Feerie” show. I honestly didn’t have any expectations going in, as this was planned by Alex because she LOVES the movie. I was a absolutely blown away by the costume and talent that encompassed the show, as it was so much more than singing and dancing. Acrobatics, comedy and stunts compromised the evening’s entertainment, and I was mesmerized by the Moulin Rouge itself. As someone who is so invested in the performing arts, I am so grateful we got to attend such a neat show in this historic and vibrant theater.
I knew that this day was going to to be one of my favorites because of all the exciting things we had planned, so my expectations were enormously high. Our first order of business was going to the Notre Dame, one of Paris’s most famous landmarks. The weather was gorgeous at a comfortably cool temperature, with the sun shining in a picturesque blue sky. Walking along the Seine, Notre Dame looked gloriously grand, and I couldn’t wait to tour the cathedral. Unfortunately, there was a special event being held that morning, which meant we would not be able to enter. Disappointed but not disheartened, we walked to the Love Locks Bridge (which has yet to be disassembled) and were in awe of its beauty. While I am very much in favor of keeping the safety of bridge-walkers a top priority, it makes me sad that this testament to love must go. It was very powerful seeing the thousands of tiny promises of hope and optimism; I was moved by and reminded of just how precious and spectacular love itself is. Crossing the river, Alex, Jordan and I then to retreated to a park behind Notre Dame and basked in its glory, admiring Paris’s charm and loveliness and commenting on how much we adore this city.
Next on the itinerary was something I had been dreaming of doing for the last decade of my life: touring the Opera Garnier. For those of you who don’t know, I am OBSESSED with Phantom of the Opera: I saw the show on my family’s first trip to England when I was 11 years old, and immediately upon returning to the States, I read Gaston Leroux’s novel, memorized the entire soundtrack, and have watched the movie countless times since its release. (I’ve also seen the show 5 times….and counting….) Naturally, I craved to explore the place where the Angel of Music haunts Christine, and oh my goodness, was it an experience. We signed up to have a guided tour versus just exploring on our own, in hopes of learning more about the history and legend behind the opera house. Going into this tour, we knew that they were not going to talk too much about Phantom (this was not an OPASite-only tour, after all), but we were a bit let down that our guide never even mentioned it. She did, however, teach us a lot about Parisian culture and society at the turn of the century, as well as the design, architecture and history of the building. The Opera Garnier is so stunning and extravagant that I would encourage all travelers to check it out, even if you’re not a “Phanatic” like me. Despite theack of your help, I did require us to track down Box 5 AKA the Phantom’s box, whereupon arrival, I freaked out. Needless to say, this lifelong theater lover’s dreams came true that morning.
The rest of our day was scheduled to be a tasty one, as we were signed up to go on a Secret Food Tour of the Montmartre district. My roommate, Julie, recently traveled to Paris and highly recommended it, so I was eager for us to go on this culinary adventure. With only our guide and a family of 3, our small team trekked through this historic neighborhood that was once home to artists like Picasso, popping into local food shops and hearing all about what its like to eat the French way. Our guide, Frank, was phenomenal at conveying the passion and care French people put into what they eat: essentially, you only go to the supermarket once a month, but you stop into shops on your way home to gather just what you need for dinner: all fresh, all of the highest quality. My mind was blown by the sweet smell of breads in the bakery, the long expanse of meat options at the butcher and – most impressively – the beautiful, stunning, incredible spread (see what I did there) of cheeses as far as the eye can see (can you tell I love cheese?). Our troupe then wove through the masses of locals out enjoying their Saturday afternoon and ended up at a gorgeous park atop Paris’s highest hill overlooking the city. Picnic table set and wine poured, Frank took our tastebuds on the trip of a lifetime, explaining in detail the ingredients and love that went into each item of food. Countless French cheeses and meats (including several adventurous items i.e. pâté) served alongside baguettes and wine opened my eyes to what eating should be. For the French, food is life, and it saddens me to return to the United States where we do not have the passion displayed here. Mind you, I am very fortunate to live in have grown in a household that values good food, as well as in Houston where we have access to so many fantastic restaurants and culinary cultures, and I am hopeful that this monumental experience will encourage me to put more thought into what I eat and cook. Having the most pleasant time with our wonderful company, we hiked back down through Montmartre, stopping for crepes and macaroons and chocolate to finish the tour with very necessary French sweets.
Feeling much heavier than before, we trudged back to our flat and collapsed in a food coma, only to reemerge for a walk to the lighting of the Eiffel Tower. As we sat among the many obnoxious tourists and selfie-stick vendors (there’s no escaping them), all annoyances were lost as the symbol of Paris was illuminated in a sea of sparkling splendor. The invaluable experiences, unmatchable food and incomparable friends I shared it all with made this day one of the best days of not only this trip, but my whole life.