Touche, Paris.

This weekend we hosted our third visitor (shout out to Sarah Andrews! We didn’t host her, but we did have the pleasure of her company last weekend). Victor came to Zurich and made the most of his week. First, he took a motorcycle and drove through the Alps. No big deal at all. Then we had a great day trip to Lucerne, where we had perfect weather in a beautiful city.

All followed up with the grand finale: Paris.

It’s really hard to properly sum up my feelings about the most famous city in the world. But three days was more than enough time to understand why it’s still number one in tourism and why it has been the subject of so many movies, books, and pieces of art. So let’s start there:

1. Paris absolutely lives up to the hype.

We saw it in the rain, in nice weather, in hot weather… Didn’t matter. Paris is immaculate. My favorite thing about the city was the intricacy of every building, every bridge, every corner. Paris thrives on history, class, and detail. Yes, it has the amazing landmarks you’ve always seen in pictures, but it also has the no-name streets and overlooked bridges and never-featured statues. It felt like every corner was a piece of history, a taste of art, a sip of something more.

2. Everything is bigger in Paris than we expected it to be.

We all had this feeling. Every time we went to a monument, we were struck by how much bigger it was than expected. The Triumphal Arch might have been the best example of this. I think Innsbruck set us up for this effect… We saw a model arch there. I thought, “Okay. That’s smaller than expected. Still, very cool architecture.” Then we stumbled off of a bus, down the street, and in front of the real one. It’s massive. Just huge. We climbed to the top and saw one of my favorite views of the city’s streets and distant landmarks. Just breathtaking.

3. Where were the angry waiters?

We had just one. And really, it wasn’t his fault. We just wound up at a French restaurant with American stomachs. I will say, we didn’t come around on French cuisine. Most of the authentically French dishes fell short of expectations. We are ashamed to admit that the touristy section of town satisfied our needs far better (bacon, egg, and cheese crepes? Yes, please!). But most of the time we were greeted with smiles. We didn’t have any Parisians sniffing at us, finding us to be classless. Upon further reflection, this might just have been because we were surrounded by tourists. Either way, we missed out on this experience.

Quick Takes

  • Accustomed as we are to the Swiss metro, we did find the Paris metro a little dirty. Fair, considering they probably have ten times as many people using them. But Swiss cleanliness is kind of amazing.
  • Midnight in Paris prepared me a little for the effect this city can have on an artist. It’s amazing. There’s just so much to feed the creative side of a person. Great bookstores, great art, great food, great everything.
  • I did love seeing Paris at night. It’s just hard to describe the dual-faces of such a beautiful city at different times, and in different weather.
  • Gelato makes everything better. We highly suggest visiting Grom. Really delicious (and a tip of the hat to my brother, Pat, who put me on the trail of Pistachio. It’s the best).
  • Versailles isn’t real. You walk through like three rooms and the French Revolution suddenly makes total sense. The fact that a select group of people enjoyed that much wealth in one place is just an absurdity.
  • It sort of knocks you back a few steps to see some of the most beautiful, famous pieces of art in the whole world. Van Gogh was captivating, but so was Monet and so were other Impressionists. Just a lot to take in really.

Here are pictures from our trip:

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Katie and I standing outside the Triumphal Arch. Again… it’s massive.

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One of thousands of beautiful sculptures inside the Louvre.

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It’s not a real Reintgen adventure if I don’t find a bookstore to take a picture in front of… I especially don’t mind when it happens to be in front of the Bard.

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Katie and I found gum gum for dumb dumb.

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This is an example of how nice everything is. This was some random throughway. Literally no one was here but us… yet, it’s beautiful and classy.

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This was the square we stayed in! Our hotel is off to the right of Victor and Katie. That building in the back drop is the University of Paris.

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We were all kind of stunned by Notre Dame. Not only is it just a staggering piece of architecture, but the inside of the church is gorgeous and overwhelming.

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In the Musee d’Orsay.

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My favorite piece of art for the week. Van Gogh’s paintings just stop you in your tracks, but this one was really stunning. I just love how the wavy brushstrokes don’t stop with the hay or the landscape. They’re present in the overalls, in the resting workers, like they’re part of everything beneath and around them.

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These two pictures don’t do justice to Versailles, really. Just imagine that every single facet of every single room looks like this. Sculptures and gold and decadence. On every wall. Every ceiling. Every floor. It was absurd.

And that’s a good way to wrap up our trip to Paris. Absurd. We sort of felt like we were floating as we walked through what was easily our favorite city visit so far. It’s hard to compare it to the natural beauty of places like Zermatt or Interlaken, but it’s hard to deny just how lovely Paris is. We had a great time and hope you get the chance to visit it sometime!

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