January 28, 2020 – Shakespeare in Love (OOTD #604)

Wait, this isn’t a restaurant chain in Lexington, KY.

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peare and compan

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For context, there are some restaurants in my hometown called “Shakespeare and Co.” that serve cute brunch foods. Apparently, they have really good vegan options, so when my vegan friends come to town, I often go.

The real Shakespeare and Co., however, is an old bookshop in Paris. I’m not actually sure where I heard of it first — was it my freshman English class? Was it  one of the various French movies I watched for extra credit but never really understood? It’s just one of those things that I know I know, but I don’t know how I know — you know?

On Tuesday, the last day before classes began, my new friend, Hannah, and I decided to do some shopping, with the specific intent of visiting some thrift stores. We’d heard it alluded to by our Welcome Programme leader, and Hannah had actually visited it before, but I hadn’t yet made it there. It sounded like heaven to me — an entire section of town devoted to vintage and thrift shops? Sounds like my cup of tea.

Of all of the neighborhoods in Paris, I think I visited Le Marais the most frequently, after my own neighborhood and the neighborhood Sciences Po is in.  Le Marais is the proverbial *bohemianpart of town, akin to Shoreditch in London or Wicker Park in Chicago. It’s home to a thriving gay community, arts community, and of course, lots of wonderful vintage shops.

My favorite was Free’p’star. No, I don’t know why it’s called that. All I know is that it was an amazing store — I don’t like the phrase “happy place,” but that’s probably what I would call it.

There were actually two Free’p’stars right across the street from each other — again, don’t know why. They both had similar stocks — not that that means anything, when I’m pretty sure they sold just about any kind of clothing imaginable. I can’t say they had a very consistent theme, beyond “used French clothes.”

But the thing about “used French clothes” is that they’re much nicer than used American clothes — much nicer than what you’d find at a Goodwill. French people, especially Parisian French people, are a fashionable bunch. When they get rid of clothes, what they get rid of is still pretty nice.

The best part of Free’p’star was the massive 1 euro bargain bin at the back of the store. Everything in the bin was 1 euro — no lie.

You’d often have to fight a crowd just to stand at the bargain bin and sift through its treasures. As soon as someone moved in position slightly, you had to be prepared to elbow your way in — and if you were standing at the bin already, you had to be prepared for someone to sneak next to you as soon as you shifted your feet. It was competitive — people would start stacks to get clothes out of their way as they hunted, and someone else would come along behind them and start shifting through the other person’s stack of refuse, creating their own stack in the process.

But there was some really nice stuff to be found, if you were willing to do some treasure hunting. As it turns out, that’s exactly my kind of thing. My mother, on the other hand, who hates the disorganized nature of even a store like TJ Maxx, would have taken one look inside Free’p’star and turned around and walked out.

After Le Marais, Hannah and I visited the famous Shakespeare and Co. across the river. There were signs requesting that tourists not take pictures inside, which I mostly heeded. I did get plenty of pictures outside though.

To my surprise, Shakespeare and Co., sold almost exclusively English language books. I’m not sure what I expected out of a bookstore named for the most famous English writer in history, but I was hoping for a chance to check out some French books. That was why I was in Paris, after all — to learn French.

Thankfully, Gibert Jaune in the Latin Quarter was able to scratch that itch. There were several Gibert Jaune storefronts at the same intersection, so it took Hannah and I a moment to figure out which store was best for us, as each store was devoted to a different genre of books. After wandering around aimlessly in the nonfiction store and then the science fiction/fantasy store, we finally came across the discount books store.

I picked up copies of L’étranger by Albert Camus and Vol au-dessus d’un nid du coucou by Ken Kesey, a French translation of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I figured I needed something other than Harry Potter et le prisonnier d’Azkaban to read on the Metro on my way to school in order to look like an authentic Parisian.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester abroad in the Paris, France. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Jacket: A vintage shop in Budapest  (thrifted)

Dress: Francesca’s

January 27, 2020 – I’m in Louvre (OOTD #603)

Yeah, the Louvre was pretty cool. It was so cool I don’t even have any jokes to make about it, beyond the pun-based title of this blog.

As I’ve mentioned in my last few blogs, I had quite a lot of time to kill in between my arrival in France and my actual first day of classes. It was around two weeks, actually. About one of those two weeks was devoted to the surprisingly not awful Welcome Programme, and the remaining days I spent exploring my new city.

By some dumb luck, I didn’t start classes until Wednesday the first week of school. My Mondays were clear anyway (though they didn’t remain clear — more on that scheduling nightmare in a later blog), and my Tuesday class got cancelled. That left me with half the week to try to keep myself distracted from the anxiety of starting new school in a whole different country.

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live laugh louvre

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Thankfully, it wasn’t too hard. Owing to the absolutely exhausting job of making as many friends as possible during the Welcome Programme, I was invited to spend the afternoon with two students from Boston University after they finished up their morning classes. I gratefully accepted — not only is it always really nice to be included in people’s plans, but it also gave me something to do so I didn’t make myself sick from nerves in anticipation of my first classes.

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who is that girl i see 🎶

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We actually didn’t even intend to go to the Louvre — in fact, we had planned on going to one of the other super famous French museums, the musée d’Orsay. We’d all gotten to visit the musée d’Orsay very briefly during the Welcome Programme, but it was just a rushed hour-long guided tour, and I think we were able eager to go back and set a more leisurely pace. In fact, I have no pictures from that first visit at all because of how fast it went by.

However, the musée d’Orsay was closed that rainy Monday afternoon, and in wracking our brains for other famous indoor Parisian sites we knew of that we could visit on a Monday, we naturally settled upon the Louvre.

I say “settled” as if it was some great disappointment to visit the Louvre over the d’Orsay. Far from it.img_3338

There are some tourist sites that don’t live up to the hype — in fact, I’d say that a lot of famous tourist sites don’t live up to the hype. The Little Mermaid statue in Copenhagen is kinda lame. Big Ben in London has never not been completely obscured my construction every time I’ve visited. The Washington Monument in DC is kind of neat from a distance when it pierces the skyline but up close it’s really just a big stick.

The Louvre is awesome. Even if you don’t like art, I think the Louvre is awesome. It was the old palace of the Bourbon family, when the king for wanted to be in Paris to be more connected to political affairs rather than hidden away in his Versailles estate. Even if you think the old paintings are dusty and dull, just wandering the old palace is entertainment enough. I’d liken it to the Vatican Museums in Rome — yeah, the art is neat if you’re into that sort of thing (and I am!) but there’s a lot more to take in as well.

But yes — everything you’ve heard about the Mona Lisa is true. It’s tiny. The room that it’s in is crowded with people (and you have to remember — I was there on a rainy Monday afternoon. In January. In the middle of a massive city-wide transportation strike. It was hardly peak season, and that room was still jam packed. I can’t imagine what it’s like in the summer). As a painting, it’s underwhelming to put it kindly.img_3341

My personal favorite work in the gallery was Eugène Delacroix’s “Liberté guidant le peuple,” or “Liberty Leading the People.” For a long time, I wanted a print of it to hang in my bathroom, owing to the fact that it was used for the cover of my favorite Coldplay Album, Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends. During that time, I also had a pretty intense Les Misérables phase — and so anything French Revolution-themed seemed col to me.

This was my one and only time I got to visit the Louvre. Like the Eiffel Tower, like Versailles, like the musée d’Orsay — I thought I’d go back. It was a given, in my mind: how on earth could I spend four months in Paris and not go back to the Louvre to explore it more thoroughly? As a student of the EU, I even got free admission! It’s the Louvre, arguably the most famous art museum in the world. Of course I’d be back.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester abroad in the Paris, France. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Sweater: Forever21

Blouse: Banana Republic

Scarf: My Aunt Denise

Trousers: Altar’d State

January 25, 2020 – Bus Tour de France (OOTD #602)

I really wouldn’t say that a tour bus is the best way to experience Paris.

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i just can’t place it

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I almost didn’t even go because even before I took the bus tour, I was pretty certain that it wasn’t the sort of thing for me. I was also absolutely exhausted from the night before — Friday had been the last day of the Welcome Programme (well, technically, the bus tour was the final event, but it was optional), and I was out late the previous evening at a club.

What ultimately convinced me to go was that I figured that, as a bus tour, I could sit there and look out the window most of the time. I love long train rides, and I thought, if nothing else, a bus tour of Paris would allow me to see some of the tourist sites without moving my feet. I just needed a big sun hat and plastic sunglasses and I could be a proper Asian tourist lady.

What I didn’t count on with this tour, though, was that the bus was mostly just a vessel for us to get from site to site — from there, there was actually quite a bit of walking. It was hardly a hike — honestly, I walked more on my first day in Paris and in Versailles — but I think when combined with how tired I was from the previous day (and the whole week in general), it ended up being a lot.

My social battery was also running out. I’m truly still shocked that I managed to be so extroverted during the whole of Welcome Weekend. I went to almost event, I accepted every invitation, I made an effort to be friendly and outgoing even after I was semi-comfortable in my established group of friends. I don’t normally subscribe to fomo — that is, the “fear of missing out” — but this time, I did.

And I’m glad I did. Though by the end of the week, that bus tour (followed by going to a café with friends later in the afternoon, and then going to a friend’s apartment after that, and then to dinner that night with even more friends) was absolutely draining, I think it was necessary. Compared to my semester in Washington DC, where I ended up regretting turning down a few early invitations because it meant it took me a bit longer to establish a group of friends, I started the semester in Paris with a pretty strong group. I mean, I’m sure there was also luck involved — sometimes, groups just don’t clique and there’s nothing you can do about it — but, given how my time in Paris was ultimately cut short, I’m so grateful that I spent as much time as I could early on with such a great group of people.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester abroad in the Paris, France. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Jacket: A vintage shop in Budapest  (thrifted)

Sweater: Forever21

Skirt: Pitaya

January 24, 2020 – Seine It All Before (OOTD #601)

I’m going to run out of French-related puns soon. It seems like the time hasn’t come quite yet though.

The Friday before the start of classes was essentially the final day of the Sciences Po Welcome Programme. The ~official~ final day was actually Saturday, in that it was the day of the very last event, but Friday felt like the true end. It was the last day when I met with my Programme group for our méthodologie class, for one, which had been a defining element of orientation. We gave presentations in groups to show how much we’d learnt about French pedagogy (spoiler alert: my group didn’t learn much), and an instructor gave us feedback (spoiler alert: our instructor wasn’t very nice).

After that somewhat harrowing experience, Friday culminated in a Seine river tour and a party at a local club, which made it feel like a true conclusion. While Saturday still held one more event (a bus tour of the city), it was mostly optional, and so not everyone I had gotten to know from my Programme group showed up — and it was really the people who defined the whole Welcome Programme experience anyway.

Like I said in my last blog, I actually really enjoyed my experience during the Sciences Po Welcome Programme. There were about two-ish weeks in between my arrival in Paris and the actual start of classes, one of which was taken up by the Welcome Programme. Though I was afraid it would just be another hokey ice breaker-filled orientation, it was actually a really fun way to get acquainted with my new city and make new friends. It allowed me to get some more tourist-y activities out of the way (taking a Seine river tour, pour exemple) while also getting to know other exchange students.

If any of you reading this blog happen to be aspiring Sciences Po students, I’d actually highly recommend coughing up the extra 200 euro or whatever it is to participate. The friends I made during the Welcome Programme ended up being the friends I stuck with for the rest of the semester (or at least however much of the semester was in-person), and I don’t know how I would’ve made friends without it.

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That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester abroad in the Paris, France. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Sweater: Thrifted (Goodwill)

Trousers: Express

Jacket: Thrifted (Goodwill)

January 23, 2020 – L’Assemblée du jour (OOTD #600)

(Unrelated to the rest of this post: this is my 600th OOTD blog! I can’t even believe that. Thanks to everyone who’s read my stories over the last four years — it really means a lot).

I’m really proud of this blog title: L’Assemblée du jour. Because…I’m standing in front of l’Assemblée nationale. And because…my blog is called L’ensemble du jour. I thought I was clever.

I mentioned this briefly in my last blog, but before the start of classes at Sciences Po, I participated in a Welcome Programme for international exchange students. I was initially hesitant about the idea — I remembered how awkward and horrible Welcome Weekend before the start of my freshman year at Notre Dame was, and I was not eager to go through that again.

But the one upside of Notre Dame’s Welcome Weekend — and it’s a major, important upside — was that it helped me make friends. I met some of my best friends during Welcome Weekend. It was a harrowing, exhausting experience, but I think the trauma of nonstop manufactured socialization brings people together.

Sciences Po’s Welcome Programme also helped me make friends. But it did so in a way that was not…traumatic? Is that even possible?

Sciences Po’s Welcome Programme was, dare I say, legitimately fun. Yeah, the first day was pretty stressful getting to know people and navigate my way around the buildings. But after that, the events and activities they put together for us were things I actually wanted to do — it wasn’t a chore to convince myself to go to the wine and cheese tasting or the Seine river tour or happy hour drinks at Montmartre. Making friends came naturally because they put together a schedule of programming where socializing didn’t feel forced. No offense to Welcome Weekend 2017 at Notre Dame, but “go stand there in an open field with 500 other kids while we blast loud music at you and 18 year-old boys have all been tasked by their Welcome Weekend leaders with getting you and other girls’ numbers — also you can’t have alcohol” really wasn’t an event that made making friends feel natural.

And I’m so grateful that I made friends so quickly and naturally at Sciences Po. It made saying goodbye to them suddenly in mid-March significantly harder, but it made the two months that I did have all the better.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester abroad in the Paris, France. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Sweater: H&M

Blouse: H&M

Trousers: Banana Republic

January 22, 2020 – Parisian Uniform (OOTD #599)

I wish I had worn this blazer more while I was in Paris.

Okay, there are a lot of things I wish I had done more of while I was in Paris. I’ll try not to harp on that too much. But after I’ve had a look through the photos on my phone, I believe this is the only set of pictures I have in which I’m wearing this beautiful yellow blazer — and that’s really quite a crime.

I also don’t think I wore this scarf much while I was in Paris either — another terrible offense. It was a Christmas gift from my Uncle Tim (yes, the one who has gotten referenced a few times before in this blog — for example, as my tour guide on my day-long layover in Philadelphia before I headed off to Rome last summer or as the giver of some of my name tag shirts), and I’m very fond of it. I also think its well-suited to France — the scarf is a depiction of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, and, while Van Gogh isn’t French and while The Starry Night is housed in the MOMA rather than the Louvre, the painting itself depicts Van Gogh’s view from his asylum room in the South of France. Plus, the painting is pretty heavily inspired by the Impressionists, a movement which began in France.

This outfit is a pretty good example of what my day-to-day uniform in Paris was like. These pictures are from pretty early on in my semester, long before I had fully masted of the “Parisian look” (if I ever really did master it) but I was beginning to get a grasp of it.

Here’s the formula: Blazer or jacket of some kind, turtleneck sweater, trousers (see, the jeans here are much too casual for a French woman — especially with the tears, which are a dead giveaway that I’m American), and round wire-frame glasses. A cigarette à la main can’t hurt your chances of being mistaken for an authentic Parisian either.

I wore this outfit out to a club after the Welcome Programme activities at Sciences Po were over for the day, and I think it held up pretty well. This was actually one of my only nights out properly clubbing — as you’ll find out later, I spend most of my subsequent weekends traveling out of the city (and sometimes out of the country) so I really didn’t to go out dancing much.

(Don’t worry — I’ll stop myself before I end that paragraph with “I wish I had”).

Still, I think this night was one of the best ones I spent in Paris. The club, a place called La Rive Gauche, was pretty small, and the only people there were other Sciences Po exchange students. The DJ played a mix of international music because of the diverse crowd — I think they even played “Party in the USA” once.

I think one of the reasons why this night stands out so much in my mind as well as that it ended up being some of my first meaningful encounters with the people who became my closest friends over the course of the semester. I’d been getting to know them a little during our Welcome Programme activities, but it’s hard to really get to know anyone until you interact with them outside of the formal classroom setting. I was hesitant about the Welcome Programme at first — I thought it was silly to show up literally 2-3 weeks earlier than the first day of classes just to go through orientation — but I’m so glad I did it. It helped me make friends beyond the few Notre Dame girls I shared an apartment with, and making friends outside of that bubble was what really made the whole “study abroad” semester special to me. Wherever I go, I want to feel as much as I can like a true local, like someone who’s at home in the city she’s in — and you can’t feel at home in a city without friends who live there too.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester abroad in the Paris, France. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Jacket: Express

Top: FreePeople

Jeans: Hollister

Scarf: My Uncle Tim

 

January 17, 2020 – Le Grand Jour (OOTD #597)

There’s um…been a lot that’s happened in the world and in my life since my last post about January 15, 2020 .

That last post, despite being about mid-January, was actually published in mid-March. As has been the case for all of my blog posts since about spring 2018, they’re all posted quite a while after the actual calendar date they correspond with. That’s not new.

What is new is the now-seven month gap in between the publication date of a blog and the date the corresponding photos were taken. This post is about January 2020. It’s now July — and the world of July 2020 is vastly different from that of January 2020.

It’s kind of hard to put myself back into the headspace of January 2020 to even write about this day in mid-January, back in Paris. When possible, I normally try to write my blogs in the present tense — as if I’m actually reliving that day. I’m afraid that’s going to be impossible with most of my study abroad semester blogs. I doubt anyone is able to fully go back to the mentality they had at the start of this year, myself included.

For a while there, blogging didn’t really seem like an appropriate thing to do, you know? There was a global pandemic going on, not to mention the widespread protests that swept the country as the health crisis brought to the surface longstanding social inequities, in particular for Black Americans. I didn’t think my fashion blog really had place in the world at the time.img_2729

Still, I love writing, and I love reflecting on my daily life via this blog. It’ll be hard work for me to get caught up again with the months-worth of photos and outfits I’ve neglected to post about over this hiatus, but I’m going to try.img_2751

I’m going to give you the spoilers right now: I didn’t make it through the whole semester in Paris. That wasn’t of my own volition — the COVID-19 pandemic, which ground the whole world to a halt in mid-March, also brought my European semester to an abrupt end. In mid-March, shortly after my most recent blog was posted, my home university announced that it would be closing down campus for the rest of the semester and flying all of its abroad students back to the United States. Needless to say, I was devastated.

But I’ve been taking the last several months to reflect on the wonderful time I got to have in Paris and the friends I got to make, and despite the fact it was cut short, I’m so glad I got to experience what I got to experience there. And in fact, that’s kind of why I want to go back to writing again: I don’t want to forget all of the wonderful times I had in Paris, and so I want to preserve the memories I do have. It’s not ideal — I probably should’ve written down those memories sooner so as to maintain the details — but it’ll do.

These photos were from my third day in Paris. I wrote about the first day in this post here. My second day was pretty boring — not blog-worthy, apparently. I went for a walk in the evening and bought some groceries.I spent most of the day getting over my horrible jet lag.

But day 3 was a lot of fun! I went out with my roommate into the city to do some exploring. We went to le 1er arrondissement, the tourist section of town. I’m not kidding — we literally saw just about every single stereotypically Parisian site in that single day. The Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Seine, the Champs-Élysées, Place de la Concorde, the Notre Dame (the real one!), the Louvre — you name it, we probably passed it. It was also my first time on the Paris Métro, as up until that point, I’d taken busses due to the Métro running an altered schedule thanks to the transport strike.

That’s about it though — we passed them all. It was mostly a survey day of the 1er. We didn’t stop to go into the Louvre (we tried — it was closed due to a strike), we didn’t go up the Eiffel Tower, we didn’t go into any of the shops on the Champs-Élysées. We both thought we had four more months in Paris with which to do all of those things — so no need to rush on day 3, right?img_2778

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester abroad in the Paris, France. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Jacket: A vintage shop in Budapest  (thrifted)

Sweater: Forever21

Skirt: Abercrombie

January 15, 2020 – Bienvenue à Paris (OOTD #596)

Finalement, je suis ici à Paris! 

It’s hard to believe that I finally made it here to Paris. It’s been a whole year since I first committed to study abroad at Sciences Po Paris for a semester, and it’s been over a year since I first submitted my application. My arrival in Paris has been a long time coming.

It almost didn’t happen either. My last blog post, I wrote about going to the Chicago visa office to submit the last of my paperwork. I thought that was going to be the end of it — I’d hand it my papers at the office, and then they would issue me my visa right there. I was deeply wrong. As it turns out, after I handed in my papers, I had to hand in my passport as well, leave it with in Chicago so they could send it all the way to Washington DC, and then, finally, they would send it back.

You can imagine how anxious I was as my flight departure date grew nearer and I still didn’t have my passport back from the DC visa office. I braced myself to have to reschedule my flight, potentially missing the Sciences Po Welcome Programme in the fallout.

I got lucky though — my passport, with my visa attached inside, arrived literally one day before my departure. A word of advice, though, if you’re going to be studying abroad in France and don’t want to deal with the stress of waiting for you passport to be returned to you via snail mail — do your visa appointment early! Don’t wait until the last second like I did.

Believe it or not, this is actually my first time in Paris. I feel like almost everyone (at least, those of my friends who had to go on international family vacations when they were kids) has been to Paris. It isn’t the number one tourist destination in the world for nothing.

My first few days in Paris were relatively uneventful. The grève, or strike, against the retirement pension reforms was still going on, so the RER and several métro lines were down, making getting from CDG Aéroport to my apartment in the 14e arrondissement more difficult that I had anticipated it being. In the end, rather than braving a taxi or a bus, I called a car service to pick me up and drive me to my apartment. It was perhaps the less “authentic” choice, but it got me where I needed to be.

After arriving at my apartment, I spent a good chunk of the day asleep. I was hardly able to sleep on the plane, despite my attempts, and so I was exhausted when I arrived. Unfortunately, since I arrived in the morning (7am to be exact), I still had a full day ahead of me to try to stay awake — a task that I admittedly didn’t do amazingly at.

When I was finally able to stay awake for more than five minutes at a time, I decided to take the bus into the city to walk around a little, as well as to get some paperwork from my landlord’s office. Completely unintentionally, as I was wandering around, I ended up bumping into the Eiffel Tower.

I still think la tour Eiffel looks a little like an overhyped telephone pole, but don’t tell the French I said that about their most iconic architectural structure. I’m sure it’s gorgeous at night when it’s all sparkling and lit up, and I’m sure it offers a beautiful view of the city if you go to the top. During the day, though, when viewed as a spectator from the ground, I think the romanticized idea of the Eiffel Tower is cooler than the reality.

That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life this semester abroad in the Paris, France. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, BloglovinTwitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at lensembledujour@gmail.com!


Jacket: Thrift (Goodwill)

Turtleneck: Express

Jeans: Hollister