I think that there is nothing more beautiful in Paris than when the sun is just waking the city and its rays shatter the cold stone buildings that line the boulevards overlooking the sleeping trees and deserted sidewalks.

Paris gets more beautiful the longer that I am here. I am learning to appreciate the smallest things – because I know that I have time to watch, understand and comprehend how this city really ticks. Yet, each time I see the Eiffel Tower – it always brings me to the reality that I am actually living in Paris!

claire-bag.jpgI never get tired of walking up from the metro and absorbing the scent of fresh bread or the feeling of the crisp wind hitting my cheekbones. I love walking past the cafes as they open their store windows and brush off the yellow and orange leaves that fell in the night; or watching the men at the flower stands as they cart their incredible collections out to the sidewalks; or follow the old men’s eyes as they sip their espresso, read the newspaper and gaze at the city unfolding before them. It never gets old.

I love the simplicity of my walk – I have the regulars – the same shopkeeper who is always watering her trees as I walk past each morning – we have that understood friendships that two people have even though they have never met – we simply always pass with a sincere smile. Then I walk on, watching the same three, old men talking and laughing in the same fashion they probably have for 30 years. It’s the familiarities like these that make Paris seem small that make me feel like I have a reason and a purpose – if nothing else – just to be a smile to someone. It’s those three blocks from the metro to class that I love and cherish each morning.

I almost feel guilty that I get to learn in these settings. I sketched at the Louvre again this week – but this time in the middle of runways, tents and assistants running around as they set up for Fashion Week – another benefit to living in a city that has the world watching it. My architecture classes take me to the oldest churches where gothic architecture and rose windows were first established, or to the crypts below Notre Dame, even to the Chateaus surrounding the city and regularly to the most visited spots in Paris. How is it that I get credit for all this?!

I spend as much time as I can wandering around this city and intentionally getting lost – yet realizing that this city is smaller than you think! I have found my favorite cafes, bookstores, shopping boutiques and pubs this way – all by getting lost and running into familiar corners and piecing together the puzzle.

I just was able to unpack- finally!! I have a new family to live with, and I could not have imagined a more perfect home here. We live in a gorgeously simple house in Paris and I will probably have to be rolled off the airplane when I get back to the States because of their amazing cooking and our regular four-course meal. Everything they get is from the fresh markets – vegetables, fish, meats, cheeses, breads, fruits – it makes eating so much more enjoyable!!

My time here continually gets sweeter as the days go by, and I love the city that so many others do too – however, I’m realizing just how fast my time will fly by!

Our weekends of traveling are not being wasted!! Munich was unforgettable as you can imagine- I have never seen so many people in lederhosen or so much food and beer! And in the weeks to come we are visiting the South of France, hopefully Spain, Budapest and Prague for fall break and on to London for Thanksgiving. I am so richly blessed in the opportunities that are before me!!

“I could spend my whole life watching the Seine flow by – It is a poem of Paris.”
Blaise Cendrars