Bonjour à tous! Aside from the weekly manifestations involving tens of thousands of gilet jaunes across the country, life in France has been pretty uneventful since my last upload. My classes have yet to start up again, and I have been spending most of my time relaxing and preparing myself for next semester. While lying around in ma chambre (my room) for the third consecutive day in a row, I made the rash decision to buy two bus tickets for Paris, prompted by a one euro sale that a bus company was offering. I had previously read on countless travel blogs that solo travel is the best way to explore a city, so I was excited to see how this solo day trip was going to compare to my other travel experiences. Then the next morning, I was up and ready for a four hour bus ride directly from Dijon to Paris. Although I had already seen so much of the city during my visit last semester, I knew that I did not even scratch the surface of what Paris has to offer, and was extremely excited to see what new parts I would explore.
The first stop of my trip was le Cimetière du Père Lachaise, Paris’s famous giant cemetery, where legends such as Edith Piaf and Jim Morrison are buried. Being in the cemetery alone was honestly the perfect way to explore (as weird as that sounds). I was able to move at my own speed and see des tombes (the tombs) that only I wanted to see, which I loved. Père Lachaise is special to me because it was the one place in Paris that I promised myself I would visit this year, after researching the cemetery for dozens of hours as part of my final assignment in my French 306 class. Visiting a place where I had done so much painstaking research and knew the extensive history behind it really made me appreciate the gloomy cemetery a whole lot more than a regular visitor.
After Père Lachaise, I headed to Sacre Coeur, the famous basilica on top of Monmartre which overlooks the entire city. The view of the city from on top of la colline (hill) was breathtaking, I could stare at the maze of thousands of beige buildings with their purple roofs for hours. I couldn’t help but just to sit on a step and stare at the sprawling city in amazement for a few minutes. After visitting inside the church, I walked down to Moulin Rouge and le Palais Garnier opera house, both of which I was content with looking at for a minute or two and then just kept moving. Once back at the Seine, I visited le musée d’Orsay, a museum of impressionist/post-impressionist art inside a renovated train station. At this point of mon voyage (my trip), I was utterly exhausted from walking almost 20 miles around the city and my feet were killing me because of it. I then chose to just sit down on a bench in the museum’s main hall and enjoy my surroundings until the museum closed an hour later, right before my bus’s departure time.
While traveling back to Dijon, I reflected on whether or not the idea of solo travel was all it had been hyped up to be. By the end of my ride home, I came to the conclusion that traveling alone has its pros and cons: I enjoyed being able to make all the decisions of what I saw and what I did without compromising with other people, but I also hated the fact that I did not have anyone to share my experiences with. For my second trip to Paris, I think that traveling solo was the right choice, because I was able to do exactly what I wanted to, but I definitely prefer traveling with friends when it comes to discovering entirely new places and experiences foreign cultures .
Leçon du jour: L’homme qui y voyage seul peut commencer aujourd’hui; mais celui qui voyage avec un autre doit attendre que cet autre soit prêt.- Henry Thoreau
The man who travels alone can start today; but he who travels with another must wait till that other is ready.
One Reply to “Solo Travel”
Hi Sean , You hit all my favorite haunts in Paris and I too did it both solo and with a significant other. I have to say , like you ,both had it’s pros and cons. But there’s nothing like using those famous lines in the end of the movie Casablanca when Humphrey Bogart says to Ingrid Bergman “We’ll always have Paris”… now you and I can say that even though we did it separately . Because once you know Paris she will never let you go. love Maria💕