Our jump over to Paris was on the heels of the Charlie Hebdo attack, so nerves were a little higher, but there was now so much security in France (aka armed guards everywhere and security checks at all museums), so we still felt pretty safe.
Just getting to Paris was half the fun. It was like a switch was flipped. One minute we were standing outside on our Western Front tour, shivering and somber, listening as Carl told us about one last memorial. And then we were done and back in the van–now with coats off (for the first time in days!). Lucas switched on the radio and pretty soon he, Lauren, and I were laughing, chatting, and listening and dancing to the music. We were normal 20-somethings again. We had truly emerged from the front.
And then we arrived in Paris. And I think it was different at first than I had expected. London had been so iconic. There was so much to do and no language barrier. Maybe it was a bit of culture shock, but it took me a little bit to warm up to Paris.
I remember the exact moment I fell in love with the city, however. On our third night there, a group of 5 of us decided to go up to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Let me just tell you–there are a lot of stairs to go up that thing! There were a couple times I didn’t know if we would make it, especially on the neverending spiral staircase. But finally we emerged at the top. And the incredible view took my breath away. We were at the top of Paris with roads going out all around the Arc. In the distance we could see the majestic Eiffel Tower (I preferred it lit up at night). We probably stood up there for close to an hour, just taking it all in. And then the Eiffel Tower started sparkling. This was the magic, the city of lights.
One other major highlight of Paris was a Literary Walking Tour we did as a class. Midnight in Paris is one of my favorite movies, and I basically felt like I was reliving it as we walked around the city, seeing where Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Gertrude Stein lived and the places they frequented.
Overall, Paris was a place of moments. Whether that meant finally seeing things I’ve dreamed of seeing my whole life, late-night walks, trying nutella crepes from a street vendor, or just hanging out with the group in our hostel eating too much candy and laughing a little too loudly. Paris is memories.
-Rewriting “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” and convincing my classmates to sing it for our send-off for Anne-Britt (video here)
-Attending a service at the American Church of Paris
-Our Literary Walking Tour of Paris–an English major’s dream! :)
-Our night at the top of the Arc de Triomphe
-The Louvre! It was basically its own town and so overwhelming…but it was amazing–so much talent and art–and, of course, I had to see the Mona Lisa!
-Trying macarons for the first time (the rose ones are amazing! :D)
-Versailles: The Hall of Mirrors was absolutely stunning
-Going back to the Eiffel Tower with Molly and Elizabeth our last night. We got up to it right as it finished sparkling, so it cleared out and we could just take it all in. Incredible.