Before I visited Paris, I had always seen it portrayed as either dark and gritty like in The Bourne Identity, Taken, and The Da Vinci Code, or romanticized and sunny like in Midnight in Paris, various romantic comedies, and every movie about rats who love to cook. To determine which setting I would be experiencing, I considered whether I was visiting under the guise of an action film, or if my visit was more comical in nature. I decided to take it a day at a time and determine at the end of the trip what kind of setting I was in.
Our initial Airbnb residence cancelled on us about a week before our trip, so I scrambled to find a secondary residence still within our budget. When we arrived, I discovered that the some of the words used in the apartment description such as “cozy” and “unique” were poor synonyms for “condensed” and “weird.” The size was manageable for five people, but what got me was the dozens of frames adorned across every wall in the apartment displaying anthropomorphic animals in various stages of dress: A dog with a skinny handlebar mustache, a cow wearing a diaper, a tree frog wearing mittens. If you look hard enough, you can see the stag patronus from Harry Potter. So far, I was either in a comedy, or that part in a action film where the hero gets drugged and has some weird hallucinations.
It was late afternoon as we set out into the overcast city. After learning to navigate the vast metro network, we arrived at the Eiffel tower. Our pre-trip planning only included the most basic of needs from Maslow’s hierarchy of needs: Where to sleep, what to eat, and how to get around (we underestimated where to poop – it is extremely difficult to find public restrooms in Europe). Any activities we wanted to do, we would improvise when we got there and not worry about advance tickets. It was to our chagrin as we noticed the long line waiting to get into the Eiffel tower.
At the top of every hour, the Eiffel tower lights up and shimmers brightly for a few minutes. We had the misfortune (fortune?) to observe this event 5 times while waiting in line. Yes, it was nice the first and second time, the third time we glumly checked our watches in disbelief at the time, and by the fourth time we hardly noticed due to the freezing night and empty stomachs we had exposed ourselves to. We were in neither a comedy or action, but rather a survival film. However, when we finally made it to the top of the tower 3 ½ hours later, I reconsidered and went back to comedy at the sight of Paris at night. Simply stunning. Additionally, there was also a designated kissing corner at the top that couples took as a challenge, with little regard for public eyes.
Sunday, we had planned on attending church services in the morning, but a late start put us behind and my friend’s lost glove in the metro had us retracing our steps. Since we couldn’t find the glove, I categorized this experience as an action film since we were essentially searching for a thief in a crowd of people. The only thing missing was tense background music and someone trying to kill us. However, I would be willing to reconsider a comedy if the glove shows up at my friend’s place along with an offer of marriage from the person who tracked her down.
We spent the rest of Sunday visiting Versailles and imagining what it would be like to be an overlord over countless peasants. However, in my opinion I believe true power comes from demanding that dozens of naked little cherubs be placed in your great hall without giving an explanation why.
As we left the palace and entered the grounds, I was amazed at how vast the gardens were. We spent nearly an hour walking to the back of the grounds where there was nestled a tiny little cottage town. At this point, it started to rain, and we realized we had nearly an hour and a half walk back to the train station. During the trek back, to get out of the rain, we stepped inside the LDS Temple situated just across the street from Versailles. Having just opened 6 months prior, this holy structure may not have looked like much from the front, but enter the courtyard behind, and even in the rain, the white marble structure is beautiful.
45 minutes later, we arrived back at the train station soaked to the skin (although the lower half of my body was completely dry thanks to DWR prAna pants and waterproofed Teva boots, my Marmot coat sadly was not water repellant). Today had been an action film day, since there’s usually always a dreary scene that takes place in the rain.
To be honest, I don’t really want to talk about Monday because after a while, all these buildings and churches just started to look the same. If you’re some artsy-fartsy person or architectural savant who disagrees with that statement, I know you’re right. I’m still just a little bitter that
- Visiting St. Chapelle, “children” under 26 were free while yours truly, who just turned 27 had to pay $15 for a one-room tour.
- The Catacombs, one of the biggest draws for me, were closed Mondays
- We had an hour to see nearly 380,000 objects in the Louvre before they closed, and a Parisian taxi-bike lady wouldn’t get out of my “Tom Hanks – Da Vinci code picture” unless I paid her to move
- Fully expecting to see an open viewing for Victor Hugo, only to find out he was interred almost 150 years ago
So, if you want a more romanticized summary of Paris’ attractions, go to Trip Advisor or literally any travel blog ever written.
On a day where everything seemed to go wrong, this can only be a comedy, right? At least I managed to get my Christmas card photo with Mona Lisa.
Tuesday morning, we packed up and dropped by what was probably one of my favorite places in Paris: Sacre Coeur. I didn’t go inside, since I figured it would probably just look like most other churches (I know, I know it isn’t!), but while the rest of my friends went inside, I opted instead to climb to the top of the church to the dome. We arrived at 8:00 and the dome wasn’t set to open until 9 AM, but the gate was open, and the electronic ticket machine still gave me a ticket. This gave me the unique opportunity to spend 15 minutes alone up in the dome.
By 9 AM, the sun is mostly risen, but as I summitted nearly an hour early, I experienced a beautiful sunrise overlooking the entire city of Paris. This is meant to be a serious or sentimental blog, but that moment will forever be a special one for me. I’ll spare you my reflective thoughts about life that I had.
This was definitely a comedy, as I had just wasted what had the potential to be one of the most romantic moments in my life so far on the gargoyle perched next to me.
As I boarded the train to the airport for our next destination, I reflected on my visit. I don’t know if I could classify my trip to Paris as a strictly action or comedy film. It was a combination of many genres. But if I had to specify, I’d say it was a “dark romantic action survival comedy” film.
Was I just in a Twilight film?