Bonjour à tous! After living in France for the past five months, this weekend I finally made mon premier voyage (my first trip) to Paris! Although it was not the most ideal time to visit the City of Lights, (I’ll touch upon that later), it was a very cliché French weekend that allowed me to put my many years of studying the French language/history/and culture to good use. I saw this trip, not only as another fun adventure with my friends, but as a chance to see all that I have read and heard about Parisian culture come to life in this one city.
I arrived in Paris on Friday evening and met up with my friends Carley and Jason(yet again) to start our busy weekend filled with sightseeing and food tasting. After catching up with one another, we decided to have a little goût (taste) of home at a restaurant that was located only a short seven minute walk from our hotel, Chipotle. The burrito that I had made me very excited to be back in the States eating Mexican food and sipping iced coffee during the rapidly approaching Christmas break. After notre repas (our meal) we made the decision to actually start enjoying actaul Parisian life by visiting la tour Eiffel (the Eiffel Tower). I had yet to see the Tower at this point of our trip and was anxiously awaiting the first moment that I would lay eyes on it. Then, while walking towards the 7th arrondissement (part of Paris where the Tower is), I saw a glimpse of the lit up wrought-iron figure and was instantly flooded with emotions. I found myself on the verge of tears just from seeing the symbol of the French people and their culture while simultaneously thinking about all the work that I have put into being apart of what it represents. After standing with Carley and Jason utterly stupefied at the base of the structure for about an hour, we were able to get our pictures and leave feeling extremely accomplished and proud for being where we were.
The next morning the three of us woke up bright and early to get a head start on the day. We first went to a classic boulangerie (bakery), where I forced everyone to have a typical French breakfast of pastries and coffee. Ensuite, we headed to the Louvre where we were able to see la Jaconde (Mona Lisa), Le Sacre de Napoléon (the Coronation of Napoleon) , and Les Noces de Cana (the Wedding of Cana). After that, the three of us visited Sainte-Chapelle and Notre Dame on île-de-la-Cité, where I was able to forcibly relay dozens of boring history lessons about Paris to Carley and Jason. After visiting the churches, we met up with some other Holy Cross kids who were also in Paris at the same time we were. It seems like whenever you’re traveling while abroad, you will always be in the same city as other friends who you did not plan to see.
We decided as a group to make our way from the Louvre to go see the Eiffel Tower while there was still some sun out. Unfortunately, the weekend that we visited was also the weekend of some of the most violent manifestations (protests) that Paris has seen in a decade. The protesters, also known as the gilet jaunes (yellow vests), were protesting throughout Paris about taxes on gas. From the Louvre, we were able to see clouds of black smoke coming from the Champs-Élysées, which is more than two miles away. On our route to the Eiffel Tower, dozens of rues (roads) were closed as well as some crucial ponts (bridges), adding at least 30 minutes to our walk. Even though this scared the non-french Holy Cross kids, it was funny how normal it seemed to me due to the fact that the chants of various riots have been a constant background noise throughout my stay in France. My time in Dijon has taught me how much la manifestation is a part of authentic French culture.
Once back at the Eiffel Tower, we were still starstruck. I have seen my fair share of monuments and large buildings, but the Eiffel Tower is incredibly special. And when it twinkles during the first five minutes of every hour, the only word that to describe it is “magical”. After seeing what we could see on account of the massive protests, Jason, Carley and I split off from the rest of the HC kids and went back to our hotel to eat some wine and cheese, which we hyped up almost as much as the Chipotle we ate the night before.
Although it was a short weekend and we only saw fraction of what Paris has to offer, I was incredibly happy with my first time in France’s capital. Being able to show Carley and Jason around the city and giving them history lessons, without ever having been to the city myself, was truly a great feeling. It really confirmed all the work that I had done up to this point in my French studies. I know that I will be back to Paris very soon (
Hi Carol and Caroline), and I am exited to explore different parts of the city during my next visit.
Leçon du jour: « Ajoutez deux lettres à Paris : c’est le paradis »- Jules Renard
Add two (three) letters to Paris, and its Paradise