Les Meilleurs Malheurs

March 16th, 17th, 18th

Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect. — J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

The weather in Paris is becoming very cold again and it started snowing this weekend. While it’s exciting to see some snow at Paris, it is nonetheless a bit of a bad news for a traveler in foreign city who relies on the public transport and on her own feet. Thus, these past few days I’ve deliberately chosen to remain inside and visit some more museums. Despite the freezing cold weather, I’ve made some very heart-warming discoveries.

This past Friday, I spent an entire afternoon at the Louvre Museum (yeah, I went again). Instead of browsing through the entire museum looking for must-see masterpieces, I decided to slow down and take the time to look at the collections I’m interested in more closely. Thus, the entire afternoon, I remained in the French/European sculpture and Etruscan, Greek, and Roman antiquity departments. Aside from being amazed the numerous priceless masterpieces in these departments, I was most pleased to find part of the medieval collections from the Musée du Cluny (Musée national du Moyen Âge). Musée du Cluny, a museum constructed on the remains of a Roman bathhouse and dedicated to medieval history, is the museum I wanted to visit the most on this trip to Paris. Yet, unfortunately, this museum has been closed for renovation until mid-July and I was not able to pay a visit during this trip (I did get to see the remains of the caldarium and the tepidarium outside the museum). Fortunately for me, I can still see part of this museum’s collection thanks to its cooperation with the Louvre to transfer part of its collection to the Louvre for temporary storage. As I wandered around and marveled at the medieval works of art, I remembered J.K. Rowling’s famous quote from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end, if not always in the way we expect.” Sometimes, what I deemed as bad luck might bring pleasant surprises at the end of the day. 

I was soon to discover that the same is true for my visit to Versailles on a snowy Saturday. I was a little bit disappointed that I wasn’t able to walk around the gardens at Versailles because of the heavy snow. Yet, at the same time, if it weren’t for such a cold day, I wouldn’t have enjoyed the best chocolat chaud at Angelina’s nearly as much!

IMG_8063.JPG

Sunday, I decided to give myself a break from traveling non-stop and only went out near noon to visit Musée Marmottan Monet, which turned out to be one of my favorite smaller museums at Paris (which is a huge compliment considering it’s Paris, a city filled with museums). I really enjoyed the works of Monet and other impressionist artists, especially temporary exhibit on Corot.

Summer

 

À Paris, Tout Sera Mieux

March 4th, 2018

IMG_6336.JPG“A walk in Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of Life”–Thomas Jefferson

To be honest, today might not be the best day to travel to Paris. Philadelphia has just seen its largest snow storm of the year, and in Paris, it started raining. So, I started my 42 hr day by worrying about whether my flight would be cancelled like those of my fellow classmates were the day before. When I finally boarded the 7-hour flight, I worried my French skills wouldn’t be able to hold up enough for me to survive in Paris, whether my horrible navigation skills would get me lost in the meandering streets of Paris, and whether I would get along with my host family and my classmates. Yet, when my plane landed at the Charles de Gaulle airport, a strange, warm force began to calm my racing heart down a little by little. A really small yet comforting voice whispered, “Tout sera mieux.”

Truly, everything did become better. My host family came to the airport to pick me up and we road back to the central city on RER (my first time on a French metro train, check). We conversed casually during the ride and during lunch. My French is holding up to the test so much better than I expected and my host family is more kind and welcoming than I could describe with words. They would teach me new vocabulary, phrases, and slang, correct my little grammatical and pronunciation mistakes, repeat and paraphrase when I don’t understand, and they even gave me a thick stack of tourist guides, pamphlets, and maps to help me plan my stay in Paris.

After an extremely delicious and relaxing lunch, I decided to scout out the classroom where I will take class for the next three weeks and to take advantage of the free admission at the Louvre Museum the first Sunday of every month from November to March. My host family lived in the Quartier Latin (the best district to live in for culture lovers) on the left bank of the Seine, right around the famous Sorbonne, the oldest university in France (the Quartier gets its name from the language of instruction, Latin, of the prestigious university in the Middle Ages). Because of my convenient location, I decided to take a walk in the rain instead of taking a bus and a métro again. After all, Paris is rated the best city for a promenade.

IMG_6305.JPGRain dripping from the parapluie, feet tapping on the cobble road, eyes wandering, nose taking in the fresh air washed by the rain, heart filled with indescribable bliss, I started to find my pace among the Parisian streets. I loved how nobody seems to be in a great rush, nor trying to procrastinate. I loved how any unintentional picture of a random corner of the road gives off an unaffected elegance and beauty. At Paris, no one is trying to imitate someone or to be someone they are not. Yet, everyone and everything strives to become their best selves, and thus, the city is collectively striking, irreplaceable, and free. A promenade along Paris’ streets lets me see the history and beauty of the Latin Quarter and the Seine, gets me to my destination, the Louvre Museum, but most importantly, moves me to find my own rhythm and my true self.

IMG_6331.JPG