La Ville des Rêves: The City of Dreams

With clouds hanging overhead, Kendall and I bounded off the train in Paris. We were swiftly reminded of a major benefit that Airbnb stays offer - We discovered a neighborhood just outside the city that we would not have otherwise explored. After checking in, our host, Faustine, shared some tea with us as we all got to know one another. She was a kind, unique world traveler who studied Environmental Science at a local university. The next morning, Kendall and I eagerly awoke and took the metro to the Eiffel Tower. As we crossed the bridge that led us to the base of the tower, I reveled over the myriad of moments in which I’d dreamt of standing at this heart-stirring monument and how surreal it felt to merge fantasy with reality.

We trekked along the Seine, up the Avenue des Champs-Élyséesto the Arc de Triomphe, and wandered about the Louvre. Simply being in these spaces was breathtaking and gazing at the centuries of art was dizzying. Outside the museum, we sat on a bench awhile and admired a woman feeding a flock of birds across the promenade.

We returned to our temporary home with Faustine, exhausted from all the stairs’ and streets’ twists and turns. We laughed throughout dinner and drinks (Faustine’s latest project: mason jars with homemade concoctions of vodka and fruits). Rising from a deep sleep the following day, we gravitated towards Sacré-Cœur, which was astonishing both for its details inside and sweeping views outside of the city below. We followed a winding path down to the metro and explored a string of thrift shops. Next, we were off to the Moulin Rouge and ate leftovers for lunch on a bench across from this historic theater.

A former royal palace was the next destination: the Palais de la Cité, specifically, the Conciergerie. I received free admission as a student, so I ventured inside while Kendall drank a cup of coffee at a cafe nearby. In this palace, you could feel the presence of past kings and queens. We later ambled towards the gorgeous Notre Dame Cathedral and then, the Eiffel Tower again to marvel at the gradual twinkling of lights during sunset.

Our last full day in Paris, I met an old friend from college, Christa. We strolled around a quiet, little park near our apartment, eventually met up with Kendall, and all moseyed to Montmartre. This artists’ quarter dazzled us as we soaked up all the variety of craftsmanship around every corner. We aimed for the Shakespeare and Company bookstore, where I bought A Moveable Feast by Earnest Hemmingway, a book that promptly became a favorite, especially for lengthy train rides throughout the French countryside and beyond.