Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Passport to Paris: Une Nuit à Paris (... or maybe two?)

Mercredi, 9 octobre.

Paris is amazing at any time of day, but "La Ville-Lumière" is truly magnificent at night. There seem to be fewer tourists and those that remain tend to blend into the background much easier. We spent our first night in Paris exploring -- what else -- the l'Avenue des Champs-Elysees.

We took the metro from the apartment we were staying in (located in the 14th Arrondissement) to a stop on the far end of the Champs-Elysees and just started walking. We passed so many fancy stores and beautiful window displays! It was amazing. 




Of course, no visit to Paris' most favorite street is complete without a visit to one of its most famous monuments -- l'Arc de Triomphe de l'Etoile. The 19th century masterpiece (the largest triumphal arch in the world at the time it was created, although the title now belongs to North Korea) was commissioned by Emperor Napoleon after his victory at the Battle of Austerlitz. I don't want to bore you with facts and figures, but you can brush up on your history of the monument here!




Friday night ended in Place de la Concorde ... an eerily fitting end to our trip to Versailles. (It's the spot where Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were executed during the French Revolution.) Now there's a giant Egyptian obelisk that looks suspiciously like a fancier (and much smaller) version of the Washington Monument. Apparently the obelisk has received mixed reviews throughout history, but I liked it! It felt like home.


Saturday night found us back out in the streets of Paris, but this time for a different reason -- Nuit Blanche! "Nuit blanche" is a French expression that means a night without sleep, or an all-nighter. But in this case, the name refers to an annual festival in cities around the world where people stay out all night at museums and art galleries and gallavant in the streets and do who knows what. We had heard about Nuit Blanche while planning our trip to Paris and decided we absolutely had to check it out!


Our evening began, as all good evenings do, with a picnic at le Tour Eiffel. We met up with some other American study abroad friends who happened to be spending the weekend in Paris for Nuit Blanche and watched the sun slowly set behind the Eiffel Tower. (Did you know that every hour on the hour it lights up and sparkles? Because I didn't, and let me tell you, I squealed like a little baby! SO MAGICAL.)



Instagram or it didn't happen.
 

We even walked a little bit across the Seine to Place du Trocadero -- a little square with the best uninterrupted views of the Eiffel Tower! My favorite shot was the one with a beautiful Parisian carousel in the foreground. It's hard to tell, but all the little paintings on the carousel are of famous Parisian landmarks! Too perfect for words.


It's all a little bit of a blur from that point in the night on. We were already VERY exhausting from a long day of exploring museums and monuments (stay tuned for more on that later), and we did a LOT more walking in search of fun sights and cool artistic events. We even got a chance to visit a lot of our favorite sites for the first time at night! Although we were absolutely exhausted by the time we climbed into our beds, I think it was definitely worth it.

The Pyramids at the Louvre ... so impressive at night!


Having a blast!

We even found Saint-Etienne-du-Mont ... better known (to me, at least) as the church whose steps Owen Wilson sits on every night in Midnight in Paris.

 

La Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris


The night ended with a fireworks show -- part of Nuit Blanche. They shot off fireworks from boats in the Seine for HOURS ... hence the crazy amounts of smoke.


I would have taken a video, but from our point of view, the whole thing looked and sounded a lot more like the Battle of Gettysburg than the Fourth of July! (You can watch an official video of the highlights here!) Still, it was really cool. There were hundreds of people lining the bridges and banks of the Seine to watch; once those filled up, they just started standing in the streets. Traffic was stopped until the smoke cleared and the spectators cleared out.

 

All in all? Two incredible nights in world's most beautiful city! Stay tuned for upcoming posts about our daytime Parisian adventures. (:

2 comments:

  1. Oh my gosh! Wonderful! I'm so happy for you!
    Love,
    Mommy

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  2. C'est officiel, je suis verte d'envie. Je suis heureuse pour toi. Je ne suis jamais allee a Versailles...Merci de me le faire connaitre avec tous tes details.
    Bisous, Nanny

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