The end of August always brings a mix of emotions. At this time of year most people are left with the melancholy taste of summers’ end on their tongue. Meanwhile, in Paris it’s orientation week, and it feels like our summer has just started, and the only taste we have left on our tongue is that of a fine array of cheeses (or should I say, Fromage).
Having been a tourist before a resident in both New York City and Paris, I can say firsthand that living in a city is completely different than just visiting for a short period of time. Being a tourist means that you MUST see everything in a condensed number of days– while living here sets a different kind of pace. Living here means that the city is sharing with us a piece of itself, and we, in-turn, become a part of that culture. For the next semester, year, two years, or even four years for some of us– Paris is home, so we must live like the Parisians do.
That being said– orientation week was our week to play the tourist game, while learning about the do’s and don’t-s of french culture. For example — French people really DO walk around with baguette in hand, while they definitely DON’T all wear berets 24/7. We were also introduced to a bit of history and helpful tips to not just survive–but thrive in pairs, which i’m sure i’ll share on the blog throughout the year.
Monday we all met up around the corner from school — just a short promenade from the “Jardin des Tuileries,” to be introduced to the Professors and professionals that have made Parsons Paris possible. Shortly after was the grand opening of the 45 Rue Saint-Roch, Parsons Paris building which was followed by a tour of the beautiful, brand-new facilities.
As the week went on a series of events were planned, the highlights being a evening boat tour leaving from the Pont Neuf bridge circling around the Seine which is the river that separates the left and right bank of Paris. A little bit of history followed by a beautiful sunset, what more could you ask for?
The next evening we adventured up the Eiffel Tower where we had the option to go up as far as we wanted to– while some were only brave enough to make it to the 2nd floor, most of us Parsons students went to the tippy top !
One of my favorite discoveries of the week was the Porte de Vanves open air flea markets, aka “Porte de Vanves Marché aux Puces”. For those not prepared to spend a good part of the afternoon, the marché could be very overwhelming, but for those ready to dive in to rue after rue of antiques, it is the perfect saturday morning treat. There are also lots of food markets on the weekends as well throughout Paris, there is a large fresh food market in Vanves as well!
Finally, the week came to a close with a royal visit to the Palace at Versailles. Since sundays are a high traffic day at Versailles we visited one of the smaller chateau’s on the premises called “Le petit trianon,” which was made for Marie Antoinette as her escape from the grandiose, and stressful palace life. We spent the afternoon exploring the grounds and walking along the grand canal. Though we didn’t visit inside the grand palace, I did snap a couple photos from outside the gates, luckily its free to visit as fine arts students so I’ll definitely be back again!
Those are just some of the highlights of the first week. But really some of my favorite moments from my first week as a Parisian were those where there wasn’t really a plan. I find walking around, getting lost, and finding your way again is the best way to explore a city– my only advice in doing so is just be sure to always bring a buddy and a map !