“I guess it goes to show that you just never know where life will take you. You search for answers. You wonder what it all means. You stumble, and you soar. And, if you’re lucky, you make it to Paris for a while.” – Amy Thomas, Paris, My Sweet: A Year in the City of Light
Bienvenue les amies, c’est Joella. Today marks the end of my time in Paris *sheds tear*. If you told me a year ago that I would be sitting in a Café in Paris, writing this blog I probably would have laughed in your face. But as Amy Thomas said, you never know where life will take you. I searched, I stumbled but most importantly I soared…I soared and made it to Paris for a while and I am thankful for that.
Before I bid farewell to Paris I had a few things to take care of…and by a few things I mean seeing Les Murs Peints, visiting Musée d’Orsay, and finals. This last week was also finals week, every student’s “favorite” time of year. I had two final exams and two oral presentations and I feel like they all went well but just in case…pray for me (again 😭).
For my last culture class outing *sheds tear again* we went to see Les Murs Peints (The Painted Walls) in the 13th arrondissement of Paris. The 13th arrondissement is the street art welcoming district in Paris. It exhibits 28 murals by 21 street artists of 10 different nationalities. The origin of the art presented in this arrondissement begins with the mayor of the 13th, Jérôme Coumet, who wanted to make the artistic character of the 13th more visible to the public because many artists had their workshops set up there. The major teamed up with two gallery owners and together, they transformed the 13th. Later, an organization called Lézarts de la Bièvre came into the picture to even further extend street art. This association brings together more than 100 visual artists from the 5th and 13th arrondissements of Paris. Usually, when I think of street art, I think of the graffiti sprayed onto the walls of the random buildings or in train stations and fun fact that is how the idea of street art was created. My professor told us that graffiti started because this boy (whose name I forget…sorry) wanted to get the attention of a girl he liked #romantic. He sprayed his name onto the walls in the train station so that she would notice him…I hope it worked. The point is, the art that I saw with my class wasn’t just graffiti or random street art, they had meaning and the artists had talent. Because the art is spread out across the arrondissement, it isn’t as big of a tourist attraction as the Eiffel Tower so I had time to delve deeper into the French culture as I walked the streets of Paris looking at the art on the walls of tall buildings.
To continue the theme of art, on my last night in Paris *sobs*, I visited Musée d’Orsay and I loved every minute of it (plus it was free with my student ID). Fun fact, the museum building was originally a railway station, Gare d’Orsay. The museum holds mainly French art, including paintings, sculptures, furniture, and photography. It houses the largest collection of impressionist and post-Impressionist masterpieces in the world and is one of the largest art museums in Europe. Literally, it was huge and there was so much art to see but I was on a mission and after hours a few hours, I saw about 98.99% of all the permeant artworks there as well as an exhibition, Portraits by Cézanne. I don’t even know which piece of art to name my favorite but I must say that I had a fangirl moment when I saw Vincent van Gogh’s work, especially Starry Night Over the Rhône. I remember seeing this painting as a little girl and then there it was in front of me, absolutely beautiful.
I don’t have words to fully describe all my experience in France, all I can say is that dreams really do come true.