Paris: Père Lachaise Cemetery and my last day abroad

My last day in Paris was also my last day of the trip so I wanted to do something really wonderful and embrace the sentimentality of the 11th hour of the trip of a lifetime.

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I set out with an elaborate walking tour from Rick Steves (that guy is worth his weight in gold) to explore the Père Lachaise cemetery.

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Clockwise from top left: Oscar Wilde, Edith Piaf, Moliere, Fredrick Chopin

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Memorial to the fallen Communards of the Paris Commune.

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Lunch was an absolute bounty of mussels and crisp white wine. I read a little bit but mostly people watched. Paris had taken a few days to grow on me and while it didn’t end up being a favorite of the trip, I can see why people love it. It has a unique personality: a bit snobby but seemingly rightfully so. A well dressed lady with great taste and the right pedigree. You have to bow to that kind of know-it-in-your-bones confidence.

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I spent the golden hour walking through Le Marais basking in the bountiful street art and eating macaroons. My buddy Julia had suggested a falafel place for dinner she deemed “life changing”. It was pretty damn delicious. They were also the friendliest waiters I encountered in Paris. People seem to love a solo traveler.

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Paris was a good city to end my trip. I liked exploring but I was ready to go home. Correction: I was ready to stop being on the road. I missed all my buddies in Seattle and weirdly missed America (that was a surprise!) but I could also see myself setting up shop somewhere and staying for a while. Anything to have more variety to my wardrobe and stability to my schedule.

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Paris: Musee Louvre

Giant museums like the Louvre, British Museum or the Met are more battles of wit and determination than anything. Their collections are giant, the physical display area is overwhelming and there is simply no way to get through it all. Strategizing is 100% necessary.

20130810-213045.jpgBy now you can probably guess my strategy: heavy on the 19th century painting, hit the big guys, indulge in a smattering of Renaissance, Spanish, and Dutch masters, skim the more religious themes but bask in landscapes and light experiments.

20130810-213140.jpgOh and accept that the most famous paintings you’ll never get close enough to really appreciate.

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Paris: Eating

Grocery shopping in Paris is like a museum unto itself. My second day I spent an hour wandering between the boulangerie (bakery), fromagerie (cheese shop), charcuterie (meats) and produce stand.

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I ate a few dinners at home to indulge in all my market finds. Plus, it left more money for pastries and fancy lunches.

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My world traveling buddy Julia suggested some “life changing falafel”. Word is still out on the course of my life but it was damn good.

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Paris: Musee d’Orsay

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Inside of a converted train station the Musee d’Orsay is really spectacular. A large part of their permanent collection focuses on Impressionists, Pointalists and all my other favorites experimenting with color and technique (swoon).

20130804-104721.jpgInside the old (still working) clock
I, um, got yelled at by a ultra French security guard for taking pictures. Half English/half French mutterings about my lack of respect for the museum FTW!

20130804-104958.jpgDegas’ dancers

20130804-105026.jpgRenoir

20130804-105052.jpgMonet

Paris: Centre Pompidou

The Centre Pompidou does a really fantastic job of collecting some of the most interesting contemporary art. The large scale displays, texture and interactiveness of the art really appealed to me. Here are some of my favorites.

20130804-103157.jpgThe inside of a cave installation built to mimick real topographical maps.

20130804-103308.jpgPoking fun at Mondrian

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20130804-103632.jpgAdult mobiles
The museum also (rightly) boosts one of the best views of Paris.

20130804-103733.jpgSacre Coeur in the distance