Sights, Sounds, Smells


IÎe St. Louis

Well, I survived my first day of class. My teacher is tres gentille and the students in my class are at a variety of levels. It’s going to be hard work but I did enjoy my first class – something that is a welcome change. I think language classes are the ones I’ve ever broken down and cried in. Yep, high school Latin and college French. I cried in both. Hopefully there will be no tears here.

Anyway, I love walking to class. I have about a 30 minute commute but it’s through the Sorbonne area and around the Luxembourg gardens. We’ve been doing a lot of walking lately and I thought I’d share some of the sights, sounds, and smells we’ve encountered. In our neighborhood we’ve been treated to a three-day photo shoot. Models preening, people holding light screens, a trailer for the models to relax in. The producers would post print-outs of the proofs on the side of the van and those attracted lots of attention. Another interesting sight is the living quarters of a gentleman who has set up a sort of camp beneath the bridge outside our flat. Our flat is in a building that sits on the Seine and there is a stairway that goes down to the waterfront. Beneath the bridge you will find three mattresses, one in a frame, several chairs, a radio, clothing, a rug, a table. As far as we can tell one man lives there and has visitors that stop by for a chat and glass of wine. It’s quite curious.

On our walks we’ve been treated to some lovely street performances. One involved extremely talented fire dancers. With Notre Dame as the backdrop to their show, it was pretty mesmerizing.

I know it’s been said a million times but the light here is amazing. Our evening meanderings are lit by that famous golden glow.

Late one evening we were looking at the Seine when Scotty spotted a gorgeous wooden Chris Craft speedboat. We stopped to watch it speed by and then we noticed the driver. A single girl in a silver sequined dress that glimmered in the faint light. We both thought it was really a bizarre scene – a lone woman in a fancy dress driving an exquisite boat down the Seine at midnight. Then we noticed another boat following her. It was set up with movie cameras and it all suddenly made sense. So if anyone happens to see a movie in the next year or so that has such a scene, be sure to tell us ’cause it would be fun to see the actual movie.

And the smells. Yes, Paris often smells like a toilet. It’s true. But there are also some pretty wonderful scents wafting from the cafés and home kitchens. This morning I woke up to the smell of woodsmoke – someone in our building had built a fire and there’s nothing that quite brings Autumn to mind like that wonderful smell.

Paris is also noisy. Our apartment is in a building with lots of people and we can basically hear everything as the sounds echo in the courtyard. The gate buzzing. People cooking. Some Americans having a long conversation. The clanging of dishes being washed. A nightly serenade of opera pours out of one window.

It’s hard to believe that as of tomorrow we’ll have been here one week. It has sped by and I have a feeling that we’re going to blink and suddenly our time will be over.

About Rebecca

Hi! After five years in Europe, I'm adjusting to life back in the US. I use this blog to record my adventures, post photos, organize recipes, and post about things that interest me.
This entry was posted in International Move, Life in Paris, Paris, Thoughts, travel and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Sights, Sounds, Smells

  1. Melissa says:

    Sounds wonderful!! Glad you are there so I can do armchair travelling through your blog!

  2. Nathalie says:

    Oh I loved reading this! It reminded me of our Parisian studio where we could hear everything our neighbours were doing too. The best was the day we watched the Wimbledon men’s final and realised that someone in the block was cheering for the same player (Nadal of course). He and Graham had fun (or at least we think he was having fun…) clapping loudly in unison and yelling when Nadal made a good shot. Thank you for reminding me of that 🙂

  3. `amanda says:

    great post. i loved hearing all the noises from other people’s homes–dishes and chatter were my favorite–and i love hearing music (opera or classical) from other people’s windows. there is something very charming about this and it totally makes me think of paris.

  4. Bethy Manor says:

    Becca, thanks for sharing your experiences with Scotty as you begin your year in Paris! Your pictures with the lights adorning the bridges are outstanding and they bring back so many wonderful memories! Before you know it, your time there will draw to a close so savor every moment and please continue to document it through your blog for the rest of us.

  5. I so enjoyed reading this post! I love that you’ve told us about the lights and the smells and sounds! I feel like I’m there experiencing them too. Thanks for sharing!

  6. Becky says:

    I noticed your ‘neighbors’ in August but didn’t want to mention it. It was a bit awkward walking by three guys laying on mattresses listening to the radio – I felt like I was intruding in their living space! I was impressed by the fact that they had everything necessary for living fairly well!

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