The One en français
...except not, because I don't speak French, and what little French I do speak is so bad that I once prompted an elderly Parisian to stop me mid-sentence and inform me that his "leeetal doggie spoke bettah French zen" me. The experience scarred me enough me that I went two days without eating in Paris because I was too intimidated to go into a restaurant and try to order. (And on the third day, a friendly Spanish family helped me by pointing out a McDonald's by the Louvre, which I stumbled into hungry, desperate, and without shame.) I was in Paris for a weekend--the one free weekend I had while studying in Cambridge the summer between my sophomore and junior year at W&M. That summer ranks up there as my all time favorite, not because it was my first trip to Europe (it wasn't), but because it was my first trip to Paris. I know I always get on the case of people who romanticize New York, but that's because it's an dirty, joyless concrete wasteland that more often than not smells like human waste and has good weather for approximately two weeks out of the entire year. Meanwhile, Paris? Oh my God. This is a city filled with everything I love--history, beautiful architecture, gardens, parks, small cobblestone streets, light-filled museums, fashion, old bookstores and cemeteries, young men in sharp suits.
Obviously I only spent a weekend there, so it's not like I can claim to be intimately familiar with the city or its people. And, let's be honest, all of the hard work was done for me from my mom's desk. Originally I was supposed to go to Paris with two girls, but they both backed out feeling that it would be too expensive to go for the weekend. I was going to back out, too, but my parents (who had visited the previous fall) felt that it was important for me to go and helped set up my hotel room and this nifty bus service that allowed me to get around the city without having to deal with the metro. My grandmother also gave me enough Euros to visit three or four museums while I was there.
It's impossible to see everything in Paris in a weekend, but I did get to see everything I wanted to. I thought I would be lonely and sad while I was there by myself, but... uh... I'm pretty sure I experienced what can only be described as pure, blissful happiness. I was skipping around in the sunlight (I left a very rainy and cold England!), getting hit on and invited to dinner by strange men (remind me to tell you all my strategy for not getting abducted/mugged/attacked some other time), and seeing all of these wonderful, beautiful places at my own pace.
I think my favorite day was the one in which I started at Notre Dame and ended up walking over to the Latin Quarter. I bummed around the Jardin du Luxembourg for a good two hours, eating the world's greatest ice cream and getting sunburned. It was pretty much the very definition of a gorgeous day:
Anyway, I've had Paris (and the Jardin du Luxembourg) in my thoughts recently, thanks in no small part to this fantastic book:
Anna lent me a galley of this along with the warning, "Brack Attack, you're going to be obsessed." Obsessed? Hah! Try O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D. I was reduced to a state of Stalker Fan Girl on Twitter this past weekend (poor Stephanie Perkins, run for your life!!) and I basically threw the galley at my roommate and told her to read it as fast as she could so I could have someone else to talk to about it. You come away from the book feeling so swoony and happy--it's like eating an eclair on a night tour of the Seine while the Eiffel Tower sparkles and lights up in the background. I wanted to be BFFs with Anna & co and am still crushing like a preteen Bieber fan on St. Clair. :) There's a scene in the above gardens that'll make you hug the book to your chest with a dreamy sigh.
It comes out in December of this year (which, by the way, is when you release books you feel would be perfect for Valentine's Day promotions and this certainly is). Definitely one of my favorites this year!
I'm also getting other weird Paris signals from the universe. I had a French woman plead with me for directions on the subway, Random House sent me a galley of Jennifer Donnelly's Revolution*, and this old J Crew catalog picture of the Eiffel Tour I posted on Tumblr got reblogged up the wazoo (including the girl who played Hazel on Gossip Girl ooo la la~). Maybe this is the universe's way of trying to cheer me up and keep me going? In any case, it prompted my mom to remind me that we're going to Europe together as a family (for the first time!) for their 30th anniversary in 2012. Paris is definitely on the list of places we'll be visiting.
* I am still trying to figure out how I ended up with this! Right before I left work yesterday, I read the review for it in SLJ and thought, "I can't wait until it's out!" and what do I find waiting for me when I get home? No note, no name on the mailing label, no nothing! Did I sign up for Random House's Teen Buzzers program, maybe? Did anyone else get a copy recently?