I’m finally getting the chance to update y’all about our trip last week to the beautiful city of Paris! I can definitely understand why people refer to romantic Paris as the “City of Love.” All the different places we could have visited and gotten tours of were endless, exploring the city at night, with the Eiffel Tower illuminated in the backdrop, and the amount of history embedded within the streets of Paris all came together to make the trip unforgettable. We also had our own personal tour guide! One of my best friends Jen, who runs track with me back at Lafayette, is studying this semester in Paris and she took us around to all the “hot spots” in the city and gave us litle history lessons as we went along! Although, I did find that Paris was a lot more dirty than most of the other cities I have traveled to so far, and the underground, what they call the Metro, was always overcrowded and smelled like…..urine. And this was the first place I have travelled to where I really felt like there was language barrier. Thankfully Jen and Kelly both knew conversational French so we were able to get by. Without them, I don’t know how we would have managed!
Our trip began on Thursday morning when we took the Eurostar, which is a high sped train, from St. Pancras International train station in London via an underground tunnel that travels under the English channel to Gare St. Nord in central Paris. After dropping off our things at our (slightly shady) hotel in Montemarte, we immediately started sightseeing! We went to the Arc de Triomphe and after admiring Napoleon’s creation, took a stroll down the Avenue des Champs Élysées. This street, as well as the avenue that lies perpendicular to it, are known as being home to the most expensive shops, restaurants, and cafes in all of Paris! We saw major store like Louis Vuitton and Abercrombie and Fitch that had lines of tourist just waiting to go inside! It was pretty crazy. At the end of the Avenue des Champs Élysées stands the Louvre! We of course took a walk around inside! (It was free! I was surprised at how much students in Paris save! Students can get into a lot of tourist places for free, where in London, students only receive a minor discount) Once in the Louvre, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. The museum is gigantic, and with o many famous pieces of art and sculpture it’s hard to know where to start! We wandered around, making sure we hit the major pieces (like the Mona Lisa!) for about 2 hours.
We soon realized that we were are starving, and Jen took us to an area of Paris that is near the Notre Dame, called San Micheal. San Micheal reminded me of the Barri Gottic district in Barcelona with it’s winding streets that one could easily got lost in. The San Michael district has a bunch of little restaurants lining the winding avenues that all offer a 3 course meal for 10 euros! I was so surprised that we were getting such a deal on food. (Especially because I had heard before coming to Paris that it was more expensive than London!) We ate in this district every night for dinner and never had a bad experience.
We had plans to go see the Eiffel Tower on Friday morning, but the crappy weather (that seemed a lot like the weather we should have in London!) put an end to that plan. We instead went to see the Musee d’Orsay, which I actually liked 100 times better than the Louvre! This museum located across the river Seine from the Louvre, was smaller and much more manageable, and is home to a lot of Impressionist, and Post-Impressionist painters like Monet, Manet, Van Gough, Cezanne, Sisley…and countless others. Let’s just say I could have walked around there all day! After taking a little break to sit down and get some coffee, we made our way over to the Notre Dame Cathedral! This cathedral was amazing, and although I have a soft spot in my heart for Westminster Abbey, is sure came close as being one of the most beautiful churches I’ve seen.
That night, Jen was able to somehow snag us tickets for 10 euros to go see the France vs. USA soccer match in the Stad France stadium. We had great seats that were high up in the stands, parallel to the 16 yd. line. We could see everything! The atmosphere was amazing, and since it was a national game, everyone was on their feet and cheering the entire time. I was surprised at how much like the Premier League games this soccer match was. I had a great time, even though the USA ended up losing.
Saturday morning we woke up to a gorgeous sunny day, and headed to the Eiffel Tower. We decided to talk the stairs (up 43 stories!!) in order to save time and money waiting for the lift. We were actually pretty exhausted once we finally made our way to the top. I got to learn more about the Eiffel Tower than what I had known before and we were able to take a bunch of great pictures of the city of Paris with the bright blue sky in the background. After we finally made our way down the 43 stories of stairs, we headed over to the Pantheon, where we were able to see the famous pendulum clock that hangs in the center of the Pantheon as well as a bunch of tombs dedicated to people like Joan of Arc, Rousseau, and Voltaire just to name a few.We then went to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, or “Sacred Heart.” This church is located on the top of the hill in the Montemarte district of Paris, and we were able to sit on the steps in front of the church as watch the sunset over the city of Paris. It was very romantic and beautiful, and made me glad that I had my three best friends there!
On Sunday, our final day in Paris, we went to Louis IV’s Palace of Versailles. Walking around this magnificent building with my audioguide I could (understand why France went into debt after building this!) draw a resemblance from this Palace to our own Buckingham Palace back in London. However, we were able to see much more of the Palace of Versailles because it is no longer lived in. The Hall of Mirrors, where the Treaty of Versailles was signed, was breathtaking. The wall of mirrors balanced with the arcade of windows with the sun pouring in from the gardens was beautiful. It was easy to tell that Louis IV really thought he was the Sun God. The gardens were just as intricate and breathtaking as the palace was, and we aimlessly wandered around admiring the gardens for about an hour. After we left the Palace of Versailles, Jen, Kelly, Julissa and I got lunch in the town of Versailles and sat in a Starbucks sipping our special Christmas drinks for two hours, just talking, until it was time for us to catch our train. It almost felt liek we were back at Lafayette spending just another lazy Sunday together. It was a great way to end the trip!
After our long week of traveling around Europe (not that I’m complaining!) I was able to appreciate living in London, and I’m glad to be back home! :) Next on the agenda is that the Piazza’s are once again taking over London for Thanksgiving! My parents are actually coming this afternoon, and Matthew is coming Wednesday morning. I’m really excited to have them here for Thanksgiving, and to be able to show them more of London from a “Londoners” perspective. As of now we’re planning on going to the Arsenal/Fulham footy match, seeing a show, and going to Winder Wonderland in Hyde Park. It’d hard to believe that I only have 4 more weeks left until I’m coming home for Christmas?! As the famous Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone! :)