Upon landing in Paris, I was immediately whisked away to moonlit Avenue des Champs-Élysées by my Parisian host. Coming from Tbilisi rather than New York, I was shocked by the grandeur, the wealth, the diversity, and the sheer number of people packing the sidewalks. It was dazzling.
We chose a random restaurant with outdoor seating and ordered an icy-cold bottle of rosé. Thus began a week of culinary indulgence. Sadly, I didn’t take any food photos, because I tend to consider myself too cool for such things (in public, anyway), but the memories of those meals shall live on for many months… in my mind and on my hips.
I spent my first full day in Versailles, exploring the palace and gardens. I drank fresh-squeezed orange juice and ate a sandwich lying on the grass by a pond, watching the rowboats lazily pass by (and occasionally bump into one another). There’s not much I can say about Versailles that hasn’t been said. It’s bigger than I expected, and extravagantly beautiful. Extravagant enough for beheading? Possibly.
One of the unexpected highlights was finding the strange and beautiful artwork of Giuseppe Penone featured in the gardens. Most of his work is made from trees that he alters in some way, either with gilding or carvings or precariously placed boulders. I don’t know much about art, but I’ve always liked structures that seem to defy physics, that appear to be unstable. I am moved by art that makes me slightly uncomfortable.