Of course when you go to a big city, there are all the obvious sights and activities to check off your list. For Paris you have the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, eating baguettes, etc. But then there are the things that you may have never expected you would get to say you experienced, or ones that might not be as obvious. And I have to say that those usually end up being the ones you remember the most. So if you’ll allow me to look back just a bit into the past, this is my short list of adventures to have in Paris that might not be on everyone’s checklist:
1. Swim in the fountain in front of the Eiffel Tower
-While spending an amazing evening on the lawn near the Eiffel Tower one night, we noticed that on the hour, the large fountain we were sitting by shot off huge geysers of water. The water was timed with the lights of the tower so that the night sky was filled with twinkling lights and water vapor, creating a truly unique sight. I had seen a couple young kids playing in the fountain and thought it looked like fun, so without thinking, I just sort of ran down the hill and jumped in the fountain. Verdict: it was the best thing I’ve ever done.
Fountain Swimming (Photo by Andrea Raby)
2. Play guitar with a street musician on the Seine.
-We hung out on the Seine river a lot; pretty much as often as we could manage. It was the perfect place to spend evenings looking at all the lights and people. One night, a street musician that had finished for the night came over and started talking to us, and we started exchanging stories and details about our lives. After it came up that I played some music back home, he immediately shoved his guitar into my hands and insisted that I play a song. Despite being a very mediocre musician, I managed to get one song out, while my friends sang along on the riverbank beside me. It felt entirely magical and just about perfect in every way. The moral is to talk to strangers I guess, because sometimes they’re cool guys who let you play their guitar.
3. Eat a pizza with egg on it.
-Not only does it look even cooler than a normal pizza, it tastes 10 times better as well. In Europe I’ve basically learned that everything is better when you throw an egg on it. Andrea and I had a sausage and egg pizza at a small café near the Moulin Rouge on one of our last nights in the city, and it was one of the best things I’ve eaten on the whole trip. My mom had warned me that sometimes restaurants will crack a raw egg on top of the cooked pizza, but thankfully this one came a bit more well done. I think America really needs to look into this one.
This is what heaven looks like.
4. Investigate a Parisian art commune
-Within the first few hours that we were in the city, a couple of us discovered perhaps the strangest and most interesting building we visited in the week we stayed in Paris. I’m not sure if it had a name, but we found this art hub on the Rue de Rivoli thanks to the neon decorations covering the windows, and plaster hands hanging from the doorway. There were six floors to explore, filled with artists working in their studios and displaying their crafts. Each floor we wandered into was a new surprise. In one room, a painter gave me an out-of-tune ukulele to play and claimed that he knew Michigan because of John Wayne. Another room contained a wall of strange-looking, vintage, coin-operated machines that we had to walk through to get to the next artist area. When we left through the stairwell with a giant dragon mural and neon fetus sculptures glued to the walls, we concluded that Paris gets real weird real fast.