Fall has officially started.
Okay, I know it’s October and, yes, I have worn a pullover sweater almost every day since I’ve been here, but what I really mean is that summer is officially over. This past week saw the official farewell to summer.
I think I experienced more of the Paris sun and sky this week than I had the whole month I’ve been here combined. I actually left the house most days without a coat which felt like a God-send.
My host family was out of town Thursday so after my language class, I invited a few friends over to the house for lunch. With the nice weather, we were able to enjoy lunch with the window open and the sun shining. That afternoon I bought some flowers for my host family and a few succulents for me. They’ve added a little bit of life to my room here which was welcomed.
Friday was the nicest day in Paris thus-far and the only day I haven’t worn jeans. With a high of 76 (!) and wearing a skirt (!!), I ventured out to explore the 1st and 7th arrondissements. My friend, Rachel Sevcik, studied abroad in Paris this summer and gave me her itinerary for her “ideal Parisian day” so I sought to recreate it as best as I could and it did not disappoint. I started my day in the Jardin des Tuileries. I mentioned this garden in my last post and have spent a lot of days there in my time in Paris. It’s a beautiful park with a few great spots for reading, which I’ve taken advantage of. Most of all, I love to wander the park and people-watch. It’s always filled with a diverse crowd of couples in love, teenagers running wild, old men walking alone, tour groups on bicycle, and so much more. From the park I wandered across the Seine to Rue du Bac. This is where I spent most of “Rachel’s ideal Parisian day.” The street is about 1.5 kilometers long and the perfect place to walk a little slower and take your time. I strolled down, going in any store that spoke to me. The street is scattered with old bookstores, next to cafes, next to high end shopping malls. I finished the street with a macaroon from Le Bon Marché, per Rachel’s suggestion, and it lived up to its hype! At the end of the street, I turned around and walked back up, this time on the other side walk. Rue du Bac is just one of the many examples of the great dichotomies Paris holds- old vs. new, high-end vs. inexpensive, local vs. global- and the synergy that happens when the two meet. That night I went to a concert by myself and saw a singer-songwriter I’ve loved since high school, Lewis Watson. I got to meet him afterwards which was so fun! The concert was intimate and special and a magical way to end a great day.
Saturday was summer’s ultimate finale. I met some friends along the Seine, each with our own bottles of wine and snacks, and we basked in the warmth of the sun, discussing how this would surely be the last of it for the year. The leaves around us were fallen and brown, an obvious reminder of the impending season, and it was understood that this was summer’s last kiss goodbye.
A nice surprise this week came on Monday with some familiar faces. I met the Luttrell’s at their hotel in the afternoon for a glass of wine (or 2), a cheese plate, and great conversation. I caught them on the tail end of their vacation and it was such a treat to spend the afternoon with friends from home. It also made me so much more excited for all of the visitors I’ll have within the next month!
I spent Tuesday exploring The Marais, and cultural hub of Paris in the 3rd and 4th arrondissements. It honestly was so cool it deserves it’s own future post so you’ll hear more on that later.
While this week has been great, I’ve been left with a heavy heart the last few days. On Monday morning, I got the news of the mass shooting in Las Vegas. My heart aches for our country. With all of the craziness of our world recently, I’ve been trying to actively practice not becoming desensitized to it all. I want to feel weight of what’s happening. When we become too numb to events like this, it becomes too easy to brush it off without doing anything about it. I don’t want this to happen to me. The stakes are becoming too high to not do anything. With that being said, it can be hard to feel the weight of everything all the time. I have recently taken up the personal motto, “This is not normal.” It has helped me to cope with things beyond my control that can be overwhelming, maybe it can help you too. When another mass shooting happens- and it will happen until we have some sort of reasonable gun-safety regulations!- remind yourself: this is not normal. We are better than this. We can do better than this. In the wake of events like Las Vegas, I encourage everyone to hug their loved ones a little bit tighter- even if that’s a virtual hug via FaceTime like I’m doing these days.