Besides study abroad, this trip was one of the most memorable and rewarding trips I have been on. I had no clue what to expect when going to Paris. I was excited to see the different places James Baldwin had visited during his time there. At the same time, I was nervous. I didn’t really have a reason to be nervous because I had been abroad and traveled to 2 different countries while being there. However, the only things I really knew about Paris were the cafes, macaroons, the Eiffel Tower, and baguettes. I had re-watched Ratatouille, but an animated movie can only do so much good.
When we first arrived, it reminded me nothing of Spain or Italy. There wasn’t as much nature like the mountains of Spain or the volcanoes in Italy. Nonetheless, I was excited. As we traveled on unfamiliar cobblestone roads, I understood why so many writers came to France. It became very clear as the days went by. Paris transports you into a fantasy, and for a while, you almost forget about any problems that you have. Walking around in the beautiful Luxembourg Gardens and sitting in a café people-watching is what makes you forget. You don’t think about the heat or the fact that people are smoking all around you. You just let it take you in and it’s wonderful. All the different smells and the different people is what makes Paris so captivating. It still takes me a while to actually grasp the fact that I went to Paris. But, I always have my pictures and my Eiffel Tower charm as a memory.
My first day began with the Luxembourg Gardens. When we started the day, we were unaware that it would be 108 degrees. According to my dad, Paris was actually on the news for having a newly recorded heatwave. If we had known this before, we probably wouldn't have done so much walking around. However, that didn’t stop us from having a day that was packed with great things. When we found the garden, it didn’t even seem real. It looks like something that you would only see in pictures. We walked around for at least 10 minutes just captivated by everything that we could see. The Luxembourg museum, the bright flowers that are protected by a gate, the green metal chairs sitting around the pond in front, and even palm trees lingering in pots. I immediately was transported to a scene out of the Great Gatsby. I wondered if Hemingway had gotten inspiration from the Luxembourg Gardens for Gatsby’s extravagant house.
After the Luxembourg Gardens and sitting out in the heat for hours, I wanted to start my James Baldwin experience. One of the cafés he used to frequent was Le Turnon, a few minutes away from the gardens. This became a bit confusing because of the name provided on the website. The website provided us with the name Café Turnon, not Le Turnon. When I arrived, I was instantly confused. I was looking at my phone directions, which had said we had arrived. However, I was still led to believe it was Café Turnon. After speaking with the owners of the place, it was the right place. My cousin and I were finally able to get out of the 108 heat and relax for a while in the café. Even though we were sitting down, we still felt transported to the gardens by the hot breeze from outside and the mural of the gardens that covered the wall.
After having a lovely salad and taking advantage of the free water refills, we made a hike to the Pantheon (side note: there are going to be a lot of salad pictures.. the majority of them are the same salad just from different places but they were all still bomb....now back to learning about the Pantheon) The Pantheon is known for holding historical French figures such as Voltaire and other political figures. Having the opportunity to view the historical figures of French history gave me a greater appreciation for France and the beauty that it holds. It was refreshing to get more than what I view in the history books about World War I and World War II. I could view the real history of the people and how these figures were instrumental in contributing to their country.
Hopefully, you enjoyed this first part! Part II will be coming soon. You'll learn about how we went to see different places James Baldwin went to, my Louis Vuitton experience, and our first time at a jazz club....