Seeing the Eiffel Tower, one of the wonders of the world, peek casually over the nearest building is truly something else. Despite this not being my first time in Paris, every time I see the ironworks looming in the distance, I regress to amateur tourist mode and snap a billion pics. By now, I have enough shots of the tower in a slew of different lights to exhibit them as a series.
The Eiffel Tower’s constant presence just reminded me that I was casually in Paris for the week– this whole “I live in France now” thing never ceases to blow my mind. In true French style, my classmates and I spent the school trip popping in and out of cafés and museums. As a mark of how we’ve progressed since our previous class excursion last fall and given that Paris is, well, Paris, we had an insane amount of freedom to wander, explore and choose which of the many fabulous exhibitions and notable landmarks we wanted to see.
Out of the many museums we visited, my favorites were the Palais de Tokyo, the Bill Viola exhibit at the Grand Palais and the Musée Rodin. When we went to the Palais de Tokyo, it was the beginning of Paris Fashion Week so, amongst the thought provoking, very modern current exhibits, there was a sort of live art aspect coming from the fashion show going on in the background with tall, “perfectly-eccentric” models mingling with the plebian crowds trying figure out (among other things) an art display where the entire objective is to steal a book. It was truly art like I’d never seen it before. At the Grand Palais, Bill Viola’s pieces were another form of art is never seen before. His edited videos and mise-en-scenes centering on the themes of self reflection and the passage of time had me mesmerized for minutes on end (not a small feat in a warm dark room, especially when I’m running on minimal sleep). Finally, the Musée de Rodin and all the sculptures were a sort of return to more traditional forms of art, although there’s nothing completely “traditional” about Rodin. My favorite part of the museum was the sculpture garden that really allowed you to soak up all the details in his work, which are incredible, especially when you consider the time period and the inflexibility of the medium.
Overall, this class trip for me was a real indication of how far we’ve come since stepping off that plane back in September. We maneuvered Paris with a sense of mind that tried its hardest to mask our foreign-ness. A couple of friends and I even remarked that we felt separated from the American tourists and closer to the harried locals. After around six months in Rennes, we had slowly adopted some French mannerisms, which became evident amidst the clash of cultures that is Paris.
Paris on your own is a magnificent thing, as I learned from getting purposefully lost multiple times, dipping in and out of the metro wen the stations looked cool. However, Paris with friends is equally amusing and Paris with Parisians is, in my mind, even more so. Once the SYA sanctioned portion of the trip was over, I had the opportunity to stay with some family and visit some family friends in and around Paris. It’s always nice to catch up and discuss politics and education (which somehow always come up, but hey, I’m not complaining :P))
This marvelous vacation, which is turning into a delicious combination of friendly reunions and forays into different cultures, continues with a little journey across Europe: direction Germany. Aufweiderzein!