Visiting Old Friends: Paris

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Bonjour à tous!

Now, I'm really glad that i can write the article i have been waiting for ever since i came to Nice.

Normally, i explain why i visited the city i am writing about in the second paragraph but frankly, it is not necessary to have a reason to go to Paris. However, i had two reasons which i can gather in just one: -as i have already said on the title- visiting old friends. But who are them? First one is my sister's friend who is like a brother to me and whom i had not seen for ages (i have already mentioned him in this article). Second one, Paris itself.

My first visit to Paris was 10 years ago. I was a child and my father and i had gone for a window manufacturing fair. Our levels of English was close (in other words, terrible) and although we did not have much time to walk around, i barely remember that we went to the Eiffel Tower and Disneyland. Before then, i was so afraid of height that i could only make it till the first floor of the Eiffel Tower. No matter how my dad insisted on me to go up till the third floor, i was stubborn and freaked out.

- "I can go upstairs next time..."

+ "What if you do not come to Paris again?"

- "Of course i will!"

Then, we got out to eat pancake with Nutella and banana. And then, i got on the carousel. I still can not believe how could i be so sure. If this conversation happened today, i definitely would not be this sure because the more you age, the more suspicious you get and the more luxurious it gets to fail.

 When the person i spent most of my time with in Prague saw this photo, she texted me: "So jealous!". Because she has been dreaming of living in Paris since she was 5 years old. And said that i would sent her a postcard. Actually, i was kidding but she took it serious and in the end, she will receive a surprise ;)

When the person i spent most of my time with in Prague saw this photo, she texted me: "So jealous!". Because she has been dreaming of living in Paris since she was 5 years old. And said that i would sent her a postcard. Actually, i was kidding but she took it serious and in the end, she will receive a surprise ;)

I had already been fascinated by the brightness of the city while i was looking through the window of the plane. It was the brightest city i had ever seen and i was sure it would remain. Suddenly, i smiled and said: "Hello old friend, it has been a while...". When you go somewhere, recall a memory, eat, hear or smell something from your infancy, you also recall how you felt at that moment, you act like you are still the same person and you get childish. That's why i "ran" off the plane when they opened the door.

Seeing the two things you have not seen for ages at the same is just amazing. On one side, a city in which you could not spend a lot of time and on the other side, a friend you are extremely glad to know but you haven't seen for 4-5 years... Probably for this reason that it was one of the several times that i really felt home when we hugged each other.

Afterwards, we went to pick up her wife's nephew and then, her (who is French with Turkish descent) from her office. While she was introducing me to her colleague, she also asked me some questions in Turkish to be sure. And i said: "Je te comprends. Pas de problème..." (I get you. No problem...). Probably they thought that my French was not good enough but it is okay because they are much older than me and as they were my hosts, they were willing to help me as much as they could. On the other hand, we all spoke French and because of that, we were extremely relax when it came to the lingua franca. Anyway, they found out my French level the first time i responded in French: "Non, parce que la plupart des Niçois, ils sont nuls. Parce que quand je parle...".

Okay, at this point, i will intervene myself. To be honest, i think Nice is one of the nicest cities on earth but i hate the Niçois because probably Nice is the only city in France when you speak French, they respond you in English at one point no matter how good your French or your accent is. They might try to help or be welcoming but actually, this attitude from the people who says À Revoir instead of Au Revoir, véleu instead of vélo, "La trente-ceinq!" instead of "La Trente-cinq!" is so offending, annoying and ridiculous. Just because they cannot admit that their accent is silly and harder to understand (and they talk like their tongues are stupefied), they treat you like you can only say bonjour, merci and au revoir. This is why i had lost my self confidence as the time went by. This is why i yell at them like: "JE COMPRENDS!" (I UNDERSTAND!), "JE PARLE FRANÇAIS!" (I SPEAK FRENCH!) or "ON EST EN FRANCE, ON DOIT PARLER FRANÇAIS!" (WE ARE IN FRANCE, WE HAVE TO SPEAK FRENCH!) as a reflex when they suddenly switch to English for no reason. -I know that the concept of French language nationalism by a non-French sounds odd but when you treated like this for five months, you eventually freak out- And this was the third reason that i needed this trip. I had to let it all hang out and regain my self confidence.

I do not claim that i rock when it comes to French but surely i spoke better than they had expected. Which felt really good...

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Later that night, we went to a fish restaurant which was next to the Seine river. We took a walk around the river and in the end, we went to Place de la Republique (Republic Square) to see the monument, Opera building and to drink some hot chocolate in a café called Le Bastille which is an attribution to the neighborhood and also to the prison which has a great importance in French history. The café was one of their favorite places to go out because they love drinking hot chocolate during the winter. So according to them, it is one of the rare places in Paris in which they make hot chocolate of real chocolate.

 Pont des Arts

Pont des Arts

 

My wish was clear. When he asked me where i wanted to go, i said: "First of all, the Eiffel Tower. Then, the rest will arrive.". We took his wife to meet with her friend who was also there for touristic purpose. Then, we left them and we took metro 1 (which is built under most of the touristic places of Paris) to go to Tulieries stop. We crossed Jardin des Tulieries but later, we crossed which bridge by accident?

There was also the same concept next to the Charles Bridge but my unluckiness... In both of them, i had neither a lock nor a pen.

 

 

 

 

We walked along Seine and we stopped next to Pont Alexandre III.

 

 

 

 

 

 

And this is the famous... Wait, i do not have to mention what it is! Anyway, we waited in the queue for one and a half hour but unfortunately, the guide said that the third floor had been closed due to the strong wind. When we asked whether it would be open the next day: "Probably." he said. So, we decided to come back the next day.

 

 

 

 

 

Really, we waited so long in the queue. While we were leaving, an American couple asked us to take their picture. At first, they looked at the tower. In the second one, they looked each other in the eye. And in the third one, they kissed each other. They reminded me the time i spent in front of John Lennon Wall in Prague and how i missed that fairytale.

 

 

Aux Champs-Elysées... Champs-Elysées avenue is surely the most beautiful avenue in the world. Sidewalks are wide like the road. It offers you to take a look at the shop windows of Gucci, Dolce Gabbana, Peugeot, Mercedes etc., numerous cafés, cinemas and so on... As the song says: There is everything you need. Every year, they install lights on trees for the Christmas which look like chandelier . Also, they set up a Christmas market all the way but this year, they did not due to "security" issues. This was my second misfortune in Paris among all my three tiny and not so important misfortunes.

If you are interested in France, this song comes to your mind when you visit Champs-Elysées. Shame is not on you. It's so catchy. But alongside that song, one other song came to my mind too. Normally, i hate rap but as the French find it extremely silly, it got my attention and it got catchier. I cannot blame them. Of course it seems silly when you are straight out of Harlem and just saying: "I love taking a walk on Champs-Elysées! I love taking a walk on Champs-Elysées! I say i love taking a walk on Champs-Elysées!" for 4 minutes. :)

 

I was surprised when the lights of Arc de Triomphe were off. Even, i asked why all the time. But later that night, my brother's wife told us that the New Year celebration usually takes place around the Eiffel Tower but this year, they decided to move it to Arc de Triomphe.

 

The Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.
— Wikipedia

After we left there, we went to Place de la Concorde (Concorde Square). But, while we were walking down the road, we found out how hungry we were and we bought two pancakes. Mine was the same with i ate ten years ago, pancake with Nutella and banana... Of course it was not the same place but when i took a bite, my dad and that carousel swam before my eyes. In  fact, when you recall a childhood memory, two things happen. Either you get childish or you feel really old no matter how young you are. And that moment, i felt the second one.

After we finished our pancakes, we went to Grande Roue de Paris (in Concorde square). Hopefully, when we got there, the queue was short. According to my friend, it is run by Romanians. The entrance fee is 12€ and you can pay it either cash or by credit card. As it is Paris, it is a bit less cheap but it is worth to pay that amount because it offers you a magnificent panoramic view of Paris with Eiffel Tower and Seine river.

Our last destination that day was Louvre museum. But before that, when we took off the metro, a tall and brunette guy ran by me. After him, two Asian girls... When the security blew his whistle, -bizarrely- all of them stopped and one of the girls yelled: "This guy stole her purse!". Meanwhile, the other girl was crying. But the security was so lazy that he started to run again... The rest of the story is not something i would like to tell (Do not worry. We are not robbed.)... And this was my third and last unlucky moment during my trip.

Next day, we woke up late because we wanted to enjoy a sunday lunch with French-Turkish meal. On one side, there is croissant, chocolat au pain, honey, nutella etc. whereas on the other side, there is fresh tomato, cucumber, red pepper filled with curd cheese... Long story short, sweet vs. salty. However, it was an interesting experience.

As we had already planned the day before, we went back to the Eiffel Tower but this time, we took of at Bir-Hakeim station. He was totally prepared this time (and i just could wow): a thermos full of brewed tea, plastic cups, professional camera, small cakes and biscuits. He really wanted to smoke while we are looking at the view of the third floor. But, it was closed again. "What do we do now?" he asked and: "There is nothing we can do... We have been waiting on the line for so long and it will be so sad unless we go up...". We waited 40 minutes more and finally, we could take the lift. As the top floor was closed, the elevators were taking you directly to the second floor.

 But seriously, look at the strength of the wind. All i had to to was just dying my hair to yellow to say: "Backstreest's back alright!" :D

But seriously, look at the strength of the wind. All i had to to was just dying my hair to yellow to say: "Backstreest's back alright!" :D

 

 

The wind on the second floor was so strong that we were really thankful that the top floor was closed. Because, i could even fly if i lifted my arms! But no matter how strong the wind was, we had a great time. We drank our teas, ate the cakes and biscuits while we were watching the view. It was really peaceful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After we spent there two hours, we crossed the bridge to see the tower as a whole. As it was the last day of 2017, those famous stairs which see the Eiffel Tower directly was full of people. Tourists and dancers. Some of them were watching their show whereas some of them were posing with the tower in the background.

 

 

Frankly, i was used to go to Christmas market almost everyday when i was in Nice but i could not feel like the new year had been approaching even though i heard All I Want For Christmas Is You all the time (and i am really sick and tired of it). Until when i saw a sapin in front of Notre-Dame de Paris... I was smoking my cigar while we were waiting in the queue. That moment, i realized this was the first time i have ever spent the New Year's Eve in abroad and i was not in just a random city. I was in a city which meant a lot to me and i was with somebody whom i fully respect. That moment... It was my renaissance.

Notre-Dame de Paris (Our Lady of Paris) is known as one of the best examples of the French Gothic Architecture. Also, It is one of the biggest cathedrals in France. As many churches do, it offers you exclusive sculptures and paintings you can observe, the biggest organ i have ever seen, donation boxes and candles to light and make a wish. On the other hand, it was the second religious place i saw which has a security.

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Our next stop that day was Shakespeare and Company bookshop (which is right across the river). As i adore bookshops and as it was this close, i did not care how cold it was and how tired we were. As a matter of fact, i did not want to go in because the shop seemed so small and it was so crowded (as you see, mostly by the adolescents).

Get ready for a surprising fact: It is not the original one. The original one was opened by an American lady after the 1st World War and between the two world wars, it was the center of the British-American culture visited by many famous authors such as Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Scott Fitzgerald. However, it closed in 1941 as the German occupied France. In 1951, an American gentleman George Whitman opened a new bookshop under the name of Le Mistral. It started to carry the flag this time. When the founder of the initial Shakespeare and Company passed away in 1962, he decided to change the name as Shakespeare and Company as a dedication to her.

Now, i will leave just two tips about the last night of 2017. ;)

And on our last day, we went to Montmartre. We had a new member this time, my friend's wife's nephew. Our first stop was Sacré-Coeur (Sacred Heart).  The basilic is located on top of Montmartre hill and you get there in three ways: stairs, funicular or by car (which i do not recommend at all). We preferred stairs and i am really glad we did. Because each floor of the stairs offers you a panoramic view of Paris (without Eiffel Tower) and surely it is the second most beautiful view of Paris. It was so crowded in front of the basilic. Probably as crowded as the Eiffel Tower. That is why we had to wait. No, no, no... We did not wait, we sneaked (by the way, there is also security but they did not realize us).

The whole history of the structure is a little bit complicated so, i will explain it briefly. The construction began in 1875 and was finished in 1914. It is dedicated to 58.000 people who lost their lives during 1870 Franco-Prussian War because France lost it and the public believed that the loss was a "divine punishment". Anyway, later that year, the Third Republic was proclaimed. However, the sculpture on the left side represents Louis IX of France whereas the one on the right side represents Jeanne d'Arc.

Our next stop was Le Mur des Je T'aime (The wall of I Love You's) -which i was really wondering to see-. It is just 7-8 minutes away on foot from Sacré-Coeur. I found the ones in English, French, Italian, Serbian, Polish, Macedonian, Bulgarian, Finnish, Czech, even in Azerbaijani. But i could not find the one in Turkish. When i could not find it, i was really sad and angry. I screwed him about his racism all the time. But today, i found it (it is at 10 o'clock). Sorry dude...

In 1992, Frédéric Baron dreamed of a world tour consecrated to the lovers. But he did this voyage during the meetings on the streets of Paris. At first, he asked his brother and then, to his foreign neighbours to write these words of love in their languages. In the end, he collects 1000 written “I love you”s in more than 300 languages and dialects of the entire world.
With the contest of the calligraphe Claire Kitto, he assembles all those writings and imagines reproducing them on a wall. He then entrusted the realization of the work to an artist specializing in painted walls. Paris, the city of lovers by excellence, could not dream better than Montmartre for such a place to meet!
— Official Tourism Office of Montmartre

At last, i will recommend you a Chocolatier which my brother recommended me. It offers you various types of chocolates, cookies, biscuits, macarons and frankly, they are delicious! Also, you can find some icons of Paris made of chocolate such as Notre-Dame de Paris, Arc de Triomphe and La Tour Eiffel.

Conclusion

As i said at the beginning, i had three purposes to go to Paris: i had missed my brother a lot, i had also missed Paris and lack of confidence on language, Besides, it would be my last trip before i get back to Turkey and i wanted to make a grand final.

  1. Missing my brother: First of all, he is one of the nicest people i have ever met. He and her wife was so welcoming, helpful and great hosts. They did anything they could, we went everywhere we could in 3 days and we had amazing time. There is nothing i regret about this trip thanks to them and i hope i did not do them anything wrong.
  2. Missing Paris: Checked. Because when i left Paris 10 years ago, i was dreaming of me coming back to Paris when i am much older, speaking perfect English and French and going on top of that tower. Well, i could not do the last one but i do not know how, deep inside i feel like our paths will cross again. Third floor in the third trip... Sounds like a nice story, doesn't it? :) Maybe i can move there. Either alone or with my wife or my future wife will be living in Paris or she will move to Paris like i will have done. Who knows?
  3. Lack of confidence on language: Proudly checked. As i have been living in a city where people speak an "extraordinary" (and vulgar) French, Parisian French sounded me as clear as my mother tongue. I had been getting positive feedbacks on my French in Nice either but the percentage of it in Paris was much higher. And it seems like i had to go to Paris to realize how different l'accent du sud is. Now, i still don't like the way the Niçois talk but i became more rude when they switch to English for no reason instead of talking more clearly. Because now, i know that it is definitely not my fault.

Repose en paix...

Who should go to Erasmus and who should not?

 Credits: Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Credits: Universidade Nova de Lisboa

Who should go? 

  1. Those who are curious about abroad, new people and new cultures.
  2. Those who can adapt to a new country and a new system.
  3. Those who are competitive. 
  4. Those who are extroverted, who are party people, who likes to go out. 
  5. Those who like to travel.
  6. Those who can handle complexity management. 
  7. Those who are already speaking very good English. (for those who wants to go to France or Germany, the official language if the program is in the official language of the country)
  8. Those who can financially adapt to the living conditions of the country they are planning to go.

Who should not go?

  1. Those who want to go to Erasmus just to say that they did it.
  2. Those who will complain about the system of the country that they moved to all the time.
  3. Those who are lazy.
  4. Those who are introverted, who hate discovering everything about the city or the country on their own, who never go out except going to school.
  5. Those who cannot handle complexity management, who does nothing but crying when a problem occurs.
  6. Those whose English (depending on the program, or French or German) is terrible. For those whose grammar is okay, those whose accent is not understandable. For example, A majority of my Turkish friends are in this category and all of my other friends make fun of their accents behind them and i cannot even say it to them not to offend.
  7. Those who judges people and different cultures.
  8. Those who are not brave enough to handle something on their own.