Sophia Monica: Paris 2022

Sophia is a junior at Florida International University majoring in Secondary English education. Some of her hobbies include reading classic novels such as Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice. She lives in Cutler Bay with her husband and two dogs. Her topics of interest include women’s rights, equitable education, and human rights. She enjoys spending time on her boat out in the Florida Bay, exploring new restaurants in Miami, and watching the occasional netflix show. 

Over Under Paris 2022

  1. Etienne Marcel 

An old church, eclectic shops, and a cultural mix. Etienne Marcel is much like many other Parisian metro stops. Many metro stops have old churches, Paris has some of the oldest churches to date. Once part of the Roman Empire and ruled by many catholic monarchs Paris is known for its renaissance and Gothic style churches. The church at Etienne Marcel named Saint-Leu is a beautiful Gothic style church built in 1235. When we tried to go into the church we found it was closed to visitors. 

Nestled in the neighborhood Saint-Lue is an iconic representation of Paris. It has been rebuilt and added on to many times. The city is never satisfied with it. Just like many of the surrounding streets, this area in particular is always growing and changing; being rebuilt and reshaped by each generation that inhabits it. 

  1. Les Halles

Home to the shopping mall the Forum les Halles is the stop to go to if you want a typical mall outing. This mall houses stores like Nike, Levis, Sephora, H&M and Zara. These worldwide companies all have a home at this gigantic shopping mall. In addition to the mall Les Halles is known for being a connecting metro stop. Here you can get on the RER trains which are regional trains and other metro lines.

This stop is also near one of the amazing restaurants I went to in Paris, Le Escargot. It has amazing Parisian cuisine and houses a huge snail on the sign outfront. I personally felt indifferent about this stop. I am not a huge fan of malls so I did not think this stop was anything special. It was a bunch of tourists and people wanting to get a more westernized experience from Paris. The real experience from this stop happens a few blocks over where you get to see old churches, classic Parisian buildings and good restaurants. 

  1. Chatelet

Chatelet is one of the biggest metro stops in paris. It connects many different metro lines and regional trains. It is also right next to Cite which you can get underground from Chatelet. There are so many exit doors on this stop that will lead you blocks away or steps away. The biggest draw to this stop above ground is the Center Pompidou, a famous museum of modern art. It conveniently hosts a fabulous restaurant on top of the museum called Le Georges. With a fabulous view of the city it is an iconic spot to grab a luxurious meal. 

While this stop is next to Cite it hosts its own personality. It mixes all types of people. Each on their own adventure whether it be shopping at the forum nearby, exploring the Pompidou or grabbing a bite to eat. It is an important stop in Paris tourism and has an eccentric crowd. Young and old alike can be found walking the streets here 

Photo by Sophia Monica cc by 4.0
  1. Cite

This is the stop where Paris connects, built on an island between the 2 rivers of Paris the Seine and the Marne Cite stop is home to one of the most iconic Paris sites. Notre Dame. Unfortunately following a horrific fire in 2019 the church has been closed to visitors. None-the-less Notre Dame is the epitome of French churches. Built in the 13th century in a gothic style, it is known for its representation in statue form of the 28 kings of Judea and mischievous gargoyles on the outside fissade. It is scheduled to reopen in 2024 for visitors. The Cite stop itself is a beautiful mix of socioeconomics coming together. It connects the right and left banks of Paris for a brief moment. The left bank is known for the latin quarter and homing artistic individuals whereas the right bank is known for being expensive and more business professional. Both banks have much to offer.

This stop is quite unique, when you exit the metro for the first time here it is hard to realize you’re on an island. Surrounded by beautiful typical Parisian stone buildings it is only when you see the two rivers that you are met with the comprehension of the space being an island. I love this stop because of the history it surrounds. Notre Dame is a beautiful church, when you see it you’re filled with a sense of awe for the people who built it. It is no easy feat and they did an excellent job preserving it over the centuries. 

  1. Saint- Michel

Saint-Michel is a crowd favorite stop because it is home to the Latin quarter. The Latin quarter gets it’s name from the middle ages when there were many schools in the area that would teach Latin to their students. It is home to Kebab joints, Gyro restaurants, much nightlife, great shopping, and my personal favorite is a piano bar. Throughout our time in Paris we frequented this neighborhood of Paris quite a bit. It is one of the few places you can get a mouth watering five euro meal. Here you will see people from all walks of life. From poor individuals looking for a few coins to buy a meal to wealthier tourists it is a relaxed stop with much to offer.

Personally I found this stop intimidating, the stop itself has sheet metal walls and twisting staircases. Deep below ground it is dark, cold and wet. My first time exiting this stop at night, there was a pile of human feces on the stairwell. Once I moved past that though and ascended to the street above I was met with a sensation I will remember fondly. People walking, drinking, eating and shopping. I felt at ease, safe and comforted in the arms of laid back paris. 

  1. Saint- Germain-des-prés

This is one of the prettier stops on line four in my opinion. The Parisian government did a lot to try and make the interior of the stop more pleasing to the eye. The exterior entrance of the stop is in the art nouveau style with a green metal design encompassing the stop name; it is an ode to a style that is not used much anymore. This stop is home to many wonderful cafes that were once frequented by writers and artists such as Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Boris Vian, Guillaume Apollinaire, Albert Camus and even Pablo Picasso. It is also home to the iconic Cafe De Flore which is alluded to as the place that gave birth to surrealism. 

Today you can find many tourists lining the streets hoping to catch a glimpse of where these wonderful artists once got their inspiration. It is not what it once was though, it is more of a tourist trap then a place for starving artists. It is an ode to the past rather than a muse of the future. Regardless, this stop and the legacy it leaves behind is unchallenged. It is a vital stop on the Metro line and is a beautiful ode to surrealism 

  1. Montparnasse-Bienvenüe

Sometimes people make decisions that make absolutely no sense at all… This metro stop is a representation of that. A huge black USB shaped building sits above this stop. It is ugly, nonsensical, and unwanted. It ruins the Parisian skyline and takes away from the city’s history in my opinion. The stop itself is a never ending labyrinth, there are so many corridors and connecting metro stops that it can be hard to tell where you are going. 6 different lines connect here. There is a legend that students from the Latin quarter got together above where the stop is in the 17th century to declaim poems there and they decided one day to call the space “mount Parnassus” which in greek mythology means “residence of the muses” 

The streets of this stop are lined with shopping restaurants and a beautiful intermingling of people. The legend of the name and the inspiration that led to the neighborhood is uncanny. Yet why did they decide to build an ugly skyscraper? There is no logical explanation to this question, the only answer I can give is human progress. Sometimes we think modern ingenuity is better than the ways of the past and we get ahead of ourselves. This is one of those instances. I am thankful they only built one skyscraper in this neighborhood. Even though it is an eyesore, let it be a reminder that modernality is not always better. 

  1. Denfert-Rochereau

In the 1800s a major health problem arose with the cemeteries in Paris. The dead were interred and moved outside the city to a place they called the catacombs. The bodies were moved at night so the general public would not become hostile towards the project. Over six million people are “buried” in the catacombs today. It is a creepy place to visit, walls made purely out of bodies and skulls. It is also a very concerning place to visit. It makes you wonder about the people those bones once belonged to. Would they have wanted to be stacked on top of six million other people? Taken from their original resting place?

This metro stop is an example of how problematic human decisions can be. From the choice to bury people inside the city walls of paris. To the choice to move six million bodies and then stack them on top of each other. Every choice in these situations was problematic. This was my least favorite stop to visit. It made me uneasy and honestly a little nauseous. I hated seeing the skull walls of the catacombs, it was almost unreal. 

  1. Alesia

Right before Porte d’orleans, Alesia was a commonly frequented stop during my time in Paris. From the movie theater to my favorite grocery store Monoprix Alesia has it all. Including as you might imagine an old church. Saint Pierre de Montrouge was built by the great architect Vaudremer who built it between 1860 and 1870 it sits on a triangular plot of land. Hosts a bell tower and is quite quaint compared to the other churches of Paris. It has beautiful stained glass windows and something quite unique about it is that the church’s ceiling is lined in varnished wood. Instead of a mural or mozaic piece, Saint Pierre Montrouge has beams lining the ceiling.

This metro stop hosts a variety of people from every race and religion. It is more of a suburban stop with many families and small children. On the outskirts of Paris it is home to many Kebab shops and Halal restaurants. My favorite thing at this metro stop is definitely the movie theater. It shows every new major film in both English and French. It also has an amazing drink and popcorn counter. 

  1. Porte d’orleans 

Porte d’orleans is the metro stop I called home for the month, it greeted me at the end of every long day and welcomed me at the start of each adventure. For me it was ground zero for discovering Paris. A short nine minute walk from Cite Universitaire Paris, Porte d’orleans is one of the more suburban metro stops in my opinion. There may not be as many restaurants or places to shop as other stops on line 4 but it has its own beauty and relativity. Since the stop is home to a university one would assume the demographic would be mostly 20 somethings. That is not the case, actually the 20 something crowd at least during our visit was the least accounted for. Mainly I witnessed families with small children and elderly individuals at this stop.

I noticed through my many visits at this stop there are many poorer individuals here, lots of people standing on the sidewalk asking for money. It is very common for someone to be sitting on the ground next to the ATM near the metro hoping for a few bucks when people withdraw their cash. It puts into perspective just how diverse in financial means Paris is.

Sources:

Paris’ Right Bank, Left Bank & Arrondissements Explained

https://www.centrepompidou.fr/en/

https://en.parisinfo.com/discovering-paris/walks-in-paris/A-walk-in-Saint-Germain-des-Pr%C3%A9s

https://www.catacombes.paris.fr/en/history/site-history#

https://parispass.com/en-us/blog/visiting-cafe-de-flore-paris

Author: sophianmonica

Sophia is a junior at Florida International University majoring in Secondary English education. Some of her hobbies include reading classic novels such as Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice. She lives in Cutler Bay with her husband and two dogs. Her topics of interest include women's rights, equitable education, and human rights. She enjoys spending time on her boat out in the Florida Bay, exploring new restaurants in Miami, and watching the occasional netflix show. "My hope is through my blog you will get a picture of who I am and my view on the world, hope you enjoy!" -Sophia

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