I know it's blurry, but this shot perfectly captures what makes Paris at night such a magical place.
In the Parc Buddhiques, about ten minutes from my apartment.
A vinyard on one city block in Montmartre.
The Jardin du Luxembourg.
A few other friends. From left: Allison, me, Gina.
Sunsets in Paris are one of a kind.
Me (with a bit of wind in my hair, apparently) and Allison.
A man playing ball in Montmatre, the most beautiful place I've ever been to in Paris.
View from Montmartre.
If there's one easily comprehended French characteristic, it must be drinking. It is non-stop for Parisians; it begins at lunch, continues after work, levels off through dinner, and begins again apres-midi the following day. To say my friends and I have been partaking in this tradition is only half true--the alcohol is so cheap it's sick, but we are here to learn, not to be drunk Americans all the time.
That last paragraph was my disclaimer to preface this next story.
Last night was one of the most out of control, amazing evenings I can remember. A massive group of us, all well dressed in our least touristy outfits, headed down to Le Quartier Latin for un petit fete. As in, we wanted to go out. Out, out. Beginning at a small dive named Le Rive Gauche--and a larger game of "Never Have I Ever"--moving to a club off the Champs D'Elysees, and ending in an actual Parisian house party at 4:30 a.m., we achieved a great feat: we were no longer tourists.
The club and the bars were fine, but a bar is a bar. The house party is where the magic happened. My friend Thy, always one for spontaneity, pointed out a very loud apartment party along Rue de Rueilly as we were walking home around 2. (the Metro had stopped running.) As luck would have it, a group of about five youth were making their way into the apartment building, allowing us to sneak up. After being turned away at the door--in perfect English, too--the owner of the apartment, shirtless and all, appeared at the entrance and slurred a "let themmm comm eeennnn," saving us the embarassing walk down the stairs. The party was dark, filled with college students and young adults (late twenties, mostly). Lots of free drinks, amazing conversation in both French and English, and one HUGE component of the story I'll have to tell in person. Let's just say it ended with an invitation to party in the South of France next weekend. (Not going, don't worry Mom.)
SIDE NOTE: First of all, no drugs are being consumed by either I nor any of my friends or acquantances, and the safety level in Paris is very high. Not once have I felt unsure about any single situation. This city is safe, I'm being responsible, and everyone is keeping their priorities in check. We don't party every night. Well, except for Thursday, where my roommate and I hosted a mini dorm party for about 25 of our closest friends in the program. (As in, all of the students in the program.)
Before the evening, I spent a few hours in the Jardin du Luxembourg, which is by far my favorite park in Paris. Massive statues, white marble staircases, and pristine lines of square-trimmed trees all give perspective to the fountain in the center of the park, where children race toy boats and dogs take short swims. I had read that Hemingway, both my favorite author and definitely a personal hero, lived in the Luxembourg as a homeless man when he was first an expatriate. The book I'm currently reading, The Sun Also Rises, is Hemingway's love note to Paris, written about he and other American authors (like F. Scott Fitzgerald) living here in the 1920s. I had a very spiritual moment, carrying Hemingway's greatest novel to the very park he starved in, eating pidgeons for dinner, and knowing I was returning his work to the place that inspired him. I had a corny moment, as well, rubbing the book in the dirt, but I had to make the experience tangible.
My sinuses are out of control here. Something about the fickle weather.