You ever have your classes cancelled because of a massive strike taking place outside your school’s main classroom building?
I hadn’t either, until this year. In truth, I don’t even know what the strike was about — as much as I could gather, it wasn’t actually connected to the transport strike that was going on when I first arrived in Paris. I think it may have had something to do with Sciences Po’s student government?
At any rate, when I woke up on March 5, I found an email in my inbox from Sciences Po announcing that classes had been cancelled for the day. I hadn’t been planning on doing anything that day (other than school), so I was pleasantly surprised to have a day to myself.
At this point, I’d been in Paris for going on two months, but I still didn’t feel as though I’d really had time to explore the city, at least since January. Most of February was spent trying to get accustomed to life as a Sciences Po student and the rest of my time was spent backpacking through Central Europe, so I hadn’t had a chance to simply hang out in Paris.
I texted my friends to see if they wanted to hang out, since we hadn’t really had a chance to see each other since our winter break trip. We had become so close during our travels, but we mostly didn’t really have classes together, so this day off was exactly what we needed in order to catch up.
We decided to visit the Musée de l’Orangerie, one of Paris’s many famous art museums. It’s not the Louvre, and it’s not the Musée d’Orsay, so if you only have a few days in Paris, I can understand why you’d skip it. In terms of famous, well-known pieces, it really only has a few of Monet’s “Water Lilies.” In fact, while we were there, it was free admission for everyone because they were doing construction on half of the building, and “Water Lilies” was literally the only exhibit that was open.
After the museum, we stopped into the Angelina pâtisserie, one of the famous pastry shops of Paris. I’ll admit — I hadn’t really made any effort to try out very many pastry or bakery shops while I was in Paris, even though I knew that’s one of the most famous elements of French cuisine and culture. For one, I’m just not really much of a fan of bakery goods, like cakes or breads. And secondly, I thought — like I thought about many things I hadn’t seen in Paris in early March — that I had two months still in Paris. If I hadn’t yet tried every famous pastry shop according to TripAdvisor, I figured I had time.
Perhaps ironically, one of the main subjects of discussion among my friends and I while we were enjoying our cakes at the Angelina was COVID-19. At this point, the first outbreaks in Italy had made their way into the news. We all remarked on how lucky we were to have visited Venice during Carnevale, where the first outbreak in Europe had occurred, and that none of us had gotten sick. We shared theories that perhaps the bad cold that a few of us had come down with after we got home was really coronavirus, before laughing it off and agreeing that it was probably just exhaustion.
I didn’t know it at the time, but this was actually the second-to-last time I went out in Paris and took pictures for my blog. That’s right — there’s only one more Paris post to go (and a few posts about a short weekend trip) to Luxembourg. A little over a week later from this little outing with my friends to the Musée de l’Orangerie and the Angelina, I received the email from my university president that I was being evacuated and sent home — but that’s another story.
That’s about it for today. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the next one with more updates on my life during my semester abroad in the Paris, France. Don’t forget to check me out on Pinterest,Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin, Twitter, and Tumblr! For business inquiries, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Dress: Thrifted (A Buffalo Exchange in Washington DC)