Paris is a city of stimulation.
The scent of fresh pastries spills from the local patisserie onto the street. Beautifully ornate moldings line the front of almost every building. The sounds of cars, bicycles, and scooters whizzing past you create a diverse urban soundscape. Easy on the eyes but tough on the calves (we walk – a lot), it seems as if everywhere you turn, there’s something new to experience.
I could write a novel on how much there is to see and do in this incredible city. But for now, here’s a day in the life.
I wake up to the sound of jackhammers. My dorm is nearly 100 years old and, while rich in history, is in need of renovation. Construction has been going on for months to maintain the cultural integrity of the building while updating it to modern standards. I can’t complain, though, because I also wake up to this view.
Today is a Wednesday, so I don’t have class until 3:30 p.m. With most of the day free, my friend Matt and I make plans to visit a bookstore for some lattes and relaxation before joining our architecture professor and peers for a site visit. I get ready leisurely and after about an hour, we’re ready to head out.
The bookstore is a 20-minute subway ride away, but I don’t mind, because one of my favorite things about Paris is the metro. It may not be the newest or cleanest train system in the world, but it’s fast and integrated well into the city. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll find yourself on Line 6, where the metro emerges from an underground tunnel to an above-ground train track. Sit back and enjoy the ride as the train weaves between buildings, giving you a picturesque view of the city. Not bad for €1,90 a ride.
Soon enough, we arrive at our stop and continue onto the bookstore, Shakespeare and Company. This particular store is famous for having an impressive selection of English-language literature, from kids’ books to graphic novels to everything in between. The interior is just as intriguing – books line the walls from floor to ceiling and rustic chandeliers give off a warm yellow light. The store is only wide enough for the heavy foot traffic to be one-way, but there’s a cozy nook upstairs where you can bury your nose in a book far from the crowds. Pictures technically aren’t allowed, but I stole a quick mirror selfie to show what it is like inside.
Matt and I make our selections for the afternoon and spend about an hour getting lost in our books. Eventually, a caffeine craving hits the both of us and we decide to hit the adjacent cafe for a quick pick-me-up. He orders a matcha latte, I get a hot chocolate, and we meet a cute dog on the benches outside the coffee shop.
After we finish our drinks, it’s time to head to class. Site visits make up two-thirds of our architecture class sessions, so today, we’re in Le Marais, a historic district in the 4th arrondissement. We start our tour at Saint Paul-Saint Louis, an Italian-style church with French Gothic verticality, before making our way to Hôtel de Sully, a private mansion situated between a courtyard and garden. Our final stop is Place des Vosges, the oldest planned square in Paris. By the time class is over, it’s golden hour in this picturesque park, so you know we had to snap some photos for the ‘gram.
By the time our mini photoshoot concludes at 6:30 p.m., my body is telling me it’s time for dinner. I bid goodbye to my friends, who have decided to stay in Le Marais for a meal, and make my way back to my dorm to fix myself a quick dinner. I browse the contents of my fridge, which contain a bell pepper, half an onion, and a packet of frozen udon. After a few minutes of contemplation, I decide to whip up a noodle stir-fry. It’s not amazing, but I’ve definitely made worse.
My day has been relatively laidback, but now it’s time to grind. Despite wanting to lay in post-meal bliss until I fall asleep, I force myself to head out and put in some work at the library. I scout an empty seat, put on my headphones, and catch up on some readings for tomorrow’s comparative politics class. It’s surprisingly riveting, and before I know it, I’ve finished the assignment.
By 11:00 p.m., I’m back in my room, rewarding myself with a moisturizing face mask before bed. I’ve only been in Paris for a month, but the time is flying by, so I take this moment to reflect on my day. I’m so grateful to be in this incredible city with some of the world’s finest food, art, and fashion at my fingertips, and I can’t wait to see what the next few months have in store for me. But for now, it’s time to get some rest. Bonne nuit!
Hannah Xue, Study Abroad Correspondent
Hannah Xue is a senior majoring in communication studies at Boston University. She’s currently studying abroad in Paris, France as part of the Paris Internship Program. When she’s not running for the metro, she enjoys watching YouTube before bed and eating pain au chocolat. Keep up with Hannah on Instagram as she savors her last semester of college – @x.ueh