On Tuesday I switched apartments in Paris. The first apartment I was in was not available for the entire 15 nights I'm here, which actually worked out well considering it gave me the opportunity to stay in two different districts. In Paris, the districts, or arrondissements, are each numbered. The first apartment I stayed in for eight nights was in the 6th arrondissement, and the second apartment that I will be in for seven nights is in the 7th, the same as the Eiffel Tower. I haven't necessarily preferred one arrondissement over the other, though the second apartment itself is much nicer than the first. The first apartment was closer to the metro. The second apartment is closer to better shopping and restaurants. The first apartment had the Pont Neuf and Pont des Arts bridges with their amazing views practically at its doorstep. But the second apartment has the Eiffel Tower!
Switching apartments aside, I have a better reason for not having blogged in a week than simply moving around. I've been waiting for a theme to develop. As I have looked over my past couple of blogs, they have each had a theme or central event that stood out among the rest - the French Open, the bullfight. So as I asked myself what the theme for my time in Paris would be, it came to me. Except it's not so much a theme for Paris as it has become a theme on my trip in general. Before I left Knoxville several people asked me what I wanted to do on this trip. Are you wanting to see historical sites or view art or go to museums? Yes, yes and yes, though at the time I couldn't put my finger on exactly what I wanted to do while I was here. As I have progressed from city to city and done the pay-10-Euros-to-see-yet-another-historical-artistic-something-or-other, I've realized that that is not when I'm happiest. Don't get me wrong, I've seen some amazing things while I've been here, but it's the days when I don't necessarily have an agenda and allow myself to just be anyone else living in the city that are the best.
Of course I've been to see the big things in Paris like Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, Place de Trocadero, Jardin des Tuileries, Place de la Concorde, Sacre Coeur, Place des Vosges and Maison de Victor Hugo. The Arc de Triomphe is on my list before I leave. Tomorrow is free museum day in Paris (the first Sunday of the month), so I'm going to hit three museums in one day - the Louvre (which I know could take the entire day if I let it, but I've already been there before), Musee d'Orsay and Pompidou Centre where I am excited to see the Kandinsky exhibit.
My favorite tourist attraction in Paris has been Pere Lachaise cemetery where Jim Morrison, Frederic Chopin and Oscar Wilde are buried. Each have a tribute to them of some sort at their gravesite. Morrison's is graffitied with messages and fans have left behind flowers, letters, beers and packs of cigarettes; Chopin's has flowers and Wilde's is covered in lipstick kisses. More than seeing the most famous graves in the cemetery, though, I just loved walking around looking at the tombs and gravesites, which are each unique works of art in themselves.
But like I said above, for me, my time here is not best spent being a tourist. So the major tourist attractions aside, what have I been doing with my time over the past week?
-browsed the flower, fruit and vegetable, cheese and charcuterie markets along Rue Cler
-sampled croissants from different patisseries to decide which one is my favorite (Jean Millet on Rue Saint Dauphine)
-stood in line to buy mini macarons from what is said to be the best macaron shop in Paris, Laduree (I'm a believer)
-inhaled the delicious fragrance coming from inside a restaurant where every menu item includes truffles
-lusted outside the windows of the designer boutiques along the Rue du Fauborg Saint-Honore
-ate breakfast outside at a cafe while watching Paris go by from behind my sunglasses
-marveled at David LaChapelle's insane genuis at an exhibition at the Monnaie de Paris
-sat on the edge of a sidewalk and ate a crepe while listening to a bluegrass band (bluegrass or not, I definitely wasn't in east Tennessee!)
-watched the Eiffel Tower at night from the Pont des Arts bridge (where Big and Carrie kissed at the end of the last SATC episode for those who keep track of such things)
My happiest moment in Paris, though, has been my simplest one. Last Saturday afternoon. 75 degrees and sunny. Eating a cup of mango sorbet. Sitting by the Seine with a book. Perfection... almost.