I'm currently studying for my final year of art at sixth form (before doing an art foundation next year, hopefully) and one of the perks that comes with taking the subject is the art trip to Paris that our teachers organise for the year 13 classes. I adore art and anything vaguely arty so obviously I was crazy excited anyway, but the fact that we were going to Paris made the event a complete dream as I have never actually spent time in the city (driving through it every year or so doesn't count!) and have been wanting to visit for as long as I can remember. I also love an organised trip - I love knowing that I will come home having seen and done as much as could possibly have been seen and done whilst I was away.
We left from King's Cross on Wednesday morning, and caught a nice early train over to France (thank you Eurostar for satisfying all my green tea needs), before taking the metro to our hostel and then venturing out to see Notre Dame. The hostel was lovely, with 12 of us sharing a room. I like living with people so for me it was pretty perfect.
Notre Dame was really beautiful - the exterior is so detailed and decorative, and once inside the stained glass, paintings, shrines and candles really do take your breath away. We left all feeling quite overwhelmed, resulting in us just having to have our first nutella crepes of the trip from a sweet little stall. We wandered through the gardens, saw the bridge with the locks and headed towards a restaurant our teachers had booked for dinner, only for my friend and me to both gasp in shock at the same time as we turned a corner and came face to face with Shakespeare and Company! We had separately read about it years ago in Rookie and both wanted to find it, but hadn't actually spoken about it or remembered until we literally walked straight into it. We had a tight schedule so had to get dinner first, but in our 20 minutes of free time afterwards we ran straight back, and spent every last second we had soaking up the shop's rich atmosphere and coming close to tears at the beautiful notes left by visitors from all over the world, with the sound of a girl playing piano and singing floating in from the book-lined room next door. It was everything I could have dreamed of and I 100% recommend a visit - it's one of the biggest highlights of Paris, for me at least.
On the second day, our first full day, we woke up early for breakfast in the hostel (which was actualy really good) before visiting the Gallerie Perrotin, which was beautiful and bright and had some really amazing conceptual and film works on display.
Paris has some really beautiful street art / my shoes are Monki, socks Primark & jacket from Blitz / The gallery had an amazing room with film on all sides, one of the most immersive experiences ever and so beautiful.
One of my favourite works was the series by JR, who looked at the Paris riots and the lives that had been affected by them, and the memories that were lost with the demolition of people's homes. He transferred photograph portraits of people who had lived in the area onto a block of flats set for demolition, then documented the process of the building being pulled down. It was a really moving piece of art with an incredibly poignant concept.
We then took the Metro to the Pompidou gallery, where we found some lunch (baguettes are a necessity in France, and hot chocolate is always a good option) before exploring the crazily large amount of art on display. I found a lot of pieces and artists I really liked.
I adored seeing so many beautiful pieces by Matisse, Sonia Delaunay and Robert Delaunay. I love the colours and style and spent a very long time committing my favourites to memory. We also saw Duchamp's urinal, works by Magritte and many more.
I don't usually plan outfits but for Paris I had packed only one backpack with an outfit for each day, simply as that meant I could pack only what I needed. I wore a gold lurex shirt from Beyond Retro with a corset I cut down from a Beyond Retro dress - when in Paris, right?
After the Pompidou we visited a small gallery nearby, before a quick stop at a pasta restaurant and a visit to the Eiffel Tower. It is so beautiful at night - I think it looks even more impressive when lit up. We also then went on a boat ride down La Seine, which was beautiful and very surreal as we were all slightly delirious from the sheer amount of art we had seen that day.
On Friday we went to the modern art gallery and saw an Andy Warhol exhibition, as well as having a group nap in one of the rooms as we were so tired after getting home late the night before. The gallery was beautiful and it was fascinating to see more of Warhol's less famous pieces - it's easy to know him as the 'one with the soup cans' but it's much more interesting once you learn more about his life, inspirations and intentions. In short, there is always more to pop art than meets the eye!
After a quick lunch (and the best hot chocolate I've ever had in my entire life) we went to our next gallery of the day; The Picasso Museum. It was one of the most beautiful and one of my favourites from the trip. I adore Picasso, even more so now I have been able to see such a vast array of his works. He explained once that it took him only a few years to learn to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child - this could not be more clearly observed than in this gallery, where his highly skilled sculptures, sketches and fine paintings contrast crazily with the bright, flat bold colours and think lines of his abstract works. You really begin to appreciate his work more after seeing the time and skill it has taken him to create them.
I wore a jacket from Depop, a top from Beyond Retro, belt from Blitz and jeans from Topshop.
After the Picasso museum, we went to the Champs-Elysees and had a bit of free time to go shopping, try on expensive eyeshadows and hang around in the cold before finding our teachers and having a buffet dinner which was really good (after Indonesia, all food is good - anything that has more flavour that plain rice is delicious in my eyes!)
(I bought these Monki shoes just before I left for Paris, and genuinely they have not left my feet since. I adore comfortable shoes and the added height is such a bonus for someone as tiny as me! Also, they got me through A LOT of walking, so durability wise they are pretty damn good).
After dinner we went to the Louvre, one of the most famous art galleries in the world and one of the biggest I have ever known. I think it would be impossible to see everything in less than at least an entire day, so we only got to briefly explore a few rooms before it closed. It was so overwhelming to be surrounded by such huge and grand pieces, especially as so many were famous pieces you could recognise. We managed to sneak into the sculpture rooms quickly too before being ushered out (everything was closing as we got there quite late!).
On Saturday, we ran late (my friend made us breakfast as we were too late to eat at the hostel!) but somehow made it to the flea market in time. On arrival we were met with street upon street of fairly superficial, outskirts of camden market sorts of stalls with overly interactive stallholders, however once you wind your way in and find the centre all that fades out and you are instead surrounded by a maze of cluttered antique shops and stalls, selling amazing clothes, jewellery, art, ephemera and furniture. I was completely in heaven; I could have spent the entire weekend just at that market.
It was very difficult leaving as I wanted to stay and explore for the whole day, but finally I managed to tear myself away in time to walk up to the Sacre Coeur. It was just as breathtaking as expected, and surrounded by portrait artists who ask to draw you. We stopped in a cafe and had pizza for lunch, before meeting everyone again and travelling to the Musee d'Orsay.
The Musee d'Orsay is arguably one of the most amazing galleries in the world; a huge train-station like building, it houses almost every piece of famous artwork you know from every artist, all displayed beautifully and with the most ornate rococo rooms I have ever seen. We saw the Manet painting that Picasso had used as inspiration for some of his own work (below) as well as Monet, Degas, Van Gogh and more.
I wore a gold lurex shirt and patterned shorts from Beyond Retro, with Monki shoes and socks from Topshop.
We stumbled across the reception room, a gorgeous decorative, rose-tinted masterpiece of a room that literally took our breath away and near brought me to tears with it's sheer elaborate beauty. We spent a very very long time in that room, as I feel was almost obligatory.
We briefly visited the Rodin museum, which I adored as I really love sketching from sculptures, before going out for an authentic Parisian dinner in a restaurant. There were bag rails, like a train, for you to put your belongings on, and the room was packed full to bursting with people. The food was delicious, however I ate it before I could take any photographs! Such is life.
Our teachers were then really nice and let us go out for the evening, so we found ourselves in a quaint little karaoke bar on a little side road, singing along to David Bowie in their basement lined with paintings and sofas draped in blankets. It was a really nice way to end our last night.
Apologies for the ridiculously long post!