— Paris, France
“Bonjour à tous, Bienvenue à Paris!”
One of the most important all-campus excursions that was included in our SCAD Lacoste program this Summer was a 4 nights, 5 days long stay in Paris. There have been countless number of times where I have been told how lucky I am to have the opportunity to travel and especially be able to visit Paris – the ultimate European destination that is every child’s dream, the international centre of arts, culture and fashion, and the city that is a beautiful stir of romance and fantasy. It is one of the most influential cities of the world alongside New York, London, Milan, Tokyo, Hong Kong, etc and therefore the hype of going/being there is as real as any of these other cities. However, prior to my trip I had heard mixed opinions about Paris; mostly concerning the cleanliness of the city, the state of poverty and the occasional hostility of French locals – which is why my expectations for Paris were not sky-high. Don’t get me wrong, I was as excited as any of the other students in my program but that was mostly due to the fact that I would be in an actual city like environment after quite a while (I miss home)!
So we left Lacoste early on Sunday the 16th (just two weekends ago) to catch a train from the Avignon TGV train station to Paris. We arrived our hotel in Paris at about 2:30pm which was located in a pleasant neighbourhood of the Latin Quarter, the student-friendly intellectual centre of Paris known for its hip restaurants, bistros and bohemian vibe. Our hotel was just a 1o-min walk to the Notre Dame and the St Michel metro station, allowing for efficient navigation around Paris.
After dropping our bags off at the hotel, we walked through the Luxembourg Gardens next to the Notre Dame and hurried to Musee du Bourdelle to see the Balenciaga exhibit since it was the last day. Thankfully, we arrived at a decent time and didn’t have to wait in line for too long. After the exhibition, we walked around the neighbourhood for quite some while until we found a place with fresh juices to quench our thirst in the scorching heat. We headed back to the hotel since it was already evening by then and after resting for a while and freshening up, we left again and started our 40 min walk to the Le Marais district – a posh, sophisticated area with plenty of branded French boutiques, vintage shops, restaurants and bars.
On day two, Monday, we started the morning with a visit to the infamous three-dimensional triangle made of glass, also known as the Louvre museum for lots of art gazing and appreciation. We left at 2pm and walked to the Saint Chapelle – the royal, gothic-style chapel that is popular for its enchanting stained glass art that touches the ceilings. Afterwards, when a friend of mine told me there was a mosque nearby – particularly the Grand Mosque of Paris – I knew i had to pay a visit! It wasn’t too long of a walk from the Saint Chapelle and was definitely worth the visit. Entering the mosque reminded me of my visit to the Ben Youssef Madrasa in Marrakesh, since it was inspired by and greatly followed a similar aesthetic to the prior. We also paid a visit to Champ Elysees, the major shopping district of Paris that is home to all the high-end fashion luxury brand’s flagship stores.
The next three days consisted of more art, fashion and food. We went to Musee de Orsay where we had the opportunity to admire works of art from famous painters such as Van Gogh, Matisse, Cezanne, Monet and more! We were in awe. Wednesday was the longest and most tiresome day of the trip as we started the day early with the infamous Eiffel Tower (finally), the Pigalle neighbourhood, an excursion to Musee de Arts and Decoratifs for the Christian Dior exhibit, followed by a French cuisine for lunch and then a trip to the Jean Paul Gaultier showroom and atelier!! On our last day – Thursday – I went to the Pompidou Museum by myself and devoured delicious caramel pancakes for lunch right before we had to pick our bags up from the hotel and make our way back to the train station.
I have to say, Paris did not disappoint. I had no strange encounters with anyone, always felt safe and at ease and definitely fell in love with the Parisian street style along the way! It’s amazing to see that residents of Paris live and breathe all the fashion and art that people fly across continents to witness. All the conceptions about French people not being friendly proved to be entirely wrong (from my experience in France so far), as they were always genuine, kind and helpful. Happy & blessed as always.
Merci Beaucoup, Paris! Au Revoir. Until next time. X