I arrived in Paris yesterday and I cannot believe that I am here in France!
The plane ride went smoothly and I arrived on time. I did manage to get about 4 hours of sleep so I do not feel too jetlagged (yet). I was treated to a wonderful view of the sun rising over France just before we landed.
There was no security check to go through after my arrival and the underground train into central Paris was inside the airport. Someone was playing the accordion on the train ride which was so stereotypically French that it really helped the truth sink in that I was actually in Paris!
Morgan and I managed to lug our bags around the station (who knew 50lbs was so heavy?!) before a French mother yelled to her two teenaged sons “Oh my goodness! Look at those girls! Go help them boys! Go! Go!”. I felt bad that my bag weighed so much but they managed to bring our luggage up the many stairs to the surface and we thanked them for their help.
We signed into the Foyer where Morgan and I are sharing a room together for the first 10 days while she is looking for a new place to stay.
The first thing we did was take the free shuttle I had found to Thiais, a suburb just outside of Paris. We went to visit the IKEA there so that we could each buy a few dishes and a towel since I didn’t bring those items with me in my luggage.
There was a little outdoor shopping “village” next to the IKEA where Morgan and I found a small café to enjoy our first Parisian meal: crêpes! A perfect introduction to the Parisian way of life if I do say so! I chose the chocolate and pear crêpes with a glass of rosé wine from Provence. Wine in France is actually cheaper than water, so I was quite pleased with that discovery.
After settling into our rooms we sat out on the rooftop terrace to enjoy the sun setting over Paris. The colours were magnificent! We split a 4€ bottle of bubbly and watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle next to the Hôtel des Invalides. It all seems unimaginably surreal that here I am, in Paris!
Today was the first day of orientation with MICEFA, the group helping us during our exchange to get us settled into la vie Parisienne. After more (never-ending!) paperwork, I went on my first shopping trip to the marché to pick up some food for the next few days and everything is very new, and fancy too. Thankfully, everything is also very cheap as well.
There are some recognizable brands here (like Yoplait or Colgate) but those will cost you a fortune. The handmade cheese, local produce and Made in France brands – the ones that would be considered luxuries at home – are the most healthy AND cost effective options. So I guess I get to bathe in French soap for a year. No complaints there!
The evening ended with a boat cruise along the Seine to see Paris from the water. The Louvre, Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower and others loomed out before us from the shoreline. I will want to visit them all again up close sometime soon.
The cruise ended at a port just at the base of the Eiffel Tower so naturally I walked past it on the way back to the Foyer. The Eiffel towers before you, much larger than you would imagine, a giant of a structure surrounded by a tree lined park. The gun-wielding police and army corp watching you from the outskirts is a little unnerving but is logical outside of the Eiffel Tower. I couldn’t go up the tower today but I have some free time tomorrow that I might use to visit it.
Wow has the jetlag hit me today! I am so exhausted, especially marching around Paris the way Morgan and I have been. I want to see so much, visit so many places, and I can’t believe that I get to spend a full year here! I am being quite spoiled now in France; hopefully it doesn’t all go to my head!