A Blog by International Students at Leiden University
“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” – Ernest Hemingway
In Paris, I find myself extremely honest about being a romantic even to the perfect strangers I’ve just met. “You know there’s one thing I like about Paris. You can always feel the ghosts of those famous artists and writers scattered around the city.” As I said to the Indian girl I bumped into on the train to Eiffel Tower, she burst into laughter. (But not long after that, she admitted that she’d watched all three of the “Before Sunrise” trilogy.)
“Yes, I am in Paris.” When this thought first appeared on my mind, I was walking out of the Versailles-Chantiers station to transfer to another train. A lady sat before the piano in the station, playing one of Yann Tiersen’s famous pieces from the movie “Amelie”.
I started my trip with Montparnasse Cemetery. Why not? This sounds much more exciting than visiting Eiffel Tower or Arc de triomphe to me. After a very short walk out of the metro station of Paris Montparnasse, you will see the side entrance of the cemetery. I was going to visit the tomb of one of my favorite writers, Susan Sontag, but I couldn’t find her name on the guide board in the cemetery. But don’t worry. Walk straight ahead to the main entrance and you can ask for a latest version of the map.
The cemetery will take you about one to two hours. You can not only admire the tombs of famous people like Marguerite Duras and Samuel Beckett, but also all the beautiful family tombs and wonder about the backstories of every grave – how sad it is to lose a loved one, and how happy they would be when they were buried under the one same stone.
If you are not easily pissed off by those tourists who take photos in museums, then go to Louvre Museum. Or if you are like me, then go to Musee d’Orsay. Taking photos of artworks here is officially forbidden. Also you will have the chance to admire van Gogh’s paintings here (of course, you can do this at Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam).
Walking out of the museum, you must walk along the left bank of the Seine, enjoying the second-hand book stands and the amazing royal palace on the right bank. The right bank in the sunshine is so glorious that none of the pictures I’ve seen of it have ever done it justice.
To be continued…