Hey everyone! So sorry it’s taken me a little bit to get another travel post up. The third destination I’m writing about is France! Specifically, Paris. I took so many photos in Paris, it’s unbelievable! Picking out the best ones to use and editing them took a lot of time. But finally, I have completed that task and I’m coming at you with my French experience! We took the Eurail from Germany to France, and those travel days on the train were always super long and very tiring. Our first impression of Paris was interesting. I always imagined Paris specifically as very romantic and elegant. However the street to our hotel was quite the opposite. It was a bit seedy I’ll admit, but I was so tired from the train ride I just wanted to make it to the hotel regardless of the road to get there. Although it was a little sketchy, I still felt safe in my large group of friends and my amazing professors who guided us the entire trip.
Another impression I had was of the amount of smoke in the air. Every single place we went, including our walk to the hotel, everyone was smoking. Even when I went to bed every night, I could smell smoke coming into our hotel room. It definitely was a negative about Paris, but it’s a part of the culture so I’m glad I got to experience it. The hotel room ended up being breathtaking with a large bathroom and lots of space for my roommate and I. The beds were comfortable and it was probably the cleanest place we stayed during our whole adventure abroad. I missed that hotel throughout the rest of the trip to say the least. When we finally dropped off our luggage at the hotel, we all went out to find some food and see a very special place: Notre Dame! Notre Dame ended up being right across the river from our hotel and is insanely gorgeous in person. I regret that I didn’t get a chance to go inside, but grateful I got to see such a beautiful piece of history and art from the outside.
Endless Art: Pompidou Center, Musee d’Orsay, and Musee du Louvre
The museums we visited in Paris were some places I will never forget. I have so much to say about each of them but I’ll try to shorten it down for the good of all my readers. Pompidou Center was a very industrial looking building with an escalator going from top to bottom at the very front and visible to the people. David Hockney was having a show there and after seeing it, I am so incredibly in love with his work. I bought one of his books before I left the museum and I will treasure it forever. That was probably the show that had the biggest impact on my from Pompidou and the fact that you could see all of Paris as you ascended to the top floor.
Musee d’Orsay was probably one of my favorite museums on the entire trip! It was originally an old train station and now it is a breathtaking museum! Exploring that museum with beautiful views and pieces from the masters themselves, it was quite the unforgettable experience. Simply the architecture itself had me stunned and I would love to revisit it some day. Looking at some of Monet’s most famous paintings were some of my favorite moments from this particular venue. Although I have seen a lot of Monets at the MFA in Boston, seeing his work is still so inspiring for me.
The Louvre of course was another beautiful excursion. The classic giant glass triangle is iconic to the Louvre and something I loved seeing (and taking cheesy tourist pictures with). This museum is absolutely huge and there’s no way you could go through it in one day, or maybe even in one year! Napoleon’s apartment is located inside the Louvre, so we got to take a tour of that. I have never seen such a lavish place filled with gold from top to bottom. Not to mention, seeing amazing paintings like Liberty Leading the People (and of course I freaked out at this because COLDPLAY), Winged Victory, and yes of course, even the Mona Lisa (which was more like a sea of excited people with selfie sticks plus the Mona Lisa). All the marble inside of the Louvre was absolutely gorgeous and it’s another place I will have to go back and explore more!
The Eiffel Tower, Old Paris, Versailles, and the Arc de Triomphe
The Eiffel Tower is one of the most lovely things I have ever seen in my life, and I’ve seen a lot of beautiful artwork and places. We went to the tower at night and ended up missing it sparkle by a few seconds. So we ended up waiting about an hour for it to shimmer again and boy, was it worth it! It was bright and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It was a moment I wish everyone could experience. Old Paris was way up on a hill with a beautiful building at the very top. This was the area where all the impressionist painters hung out, which completely and utterly brought out the art nerd in me. We visited Picasso’s old studio here, so of course I had to touch the doorknob in hopes that some of his artistic genius would rub off on me. The light coming through the trees on the cobblestone pathways of Old Paris were some of the most calming and breathtaking sights I’ve ever seen. Here we also had a super fun group dinner where I tried the dreaded escargot; I was actually shocked I got myself to try it since I was eating vegetarian the whole trip, but it actually wasn’t bad! Next, Versaille is a mile long palace which housed monarchs such as Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI of France. They lived in the extreme luxury of the Palace of Versailles while the citizens of France were starving, thus leading to the French Revolution. I must say though, the palace is indescribable on the inside: so many rooms filled with art and endless gold. Bright colors surrounded these monarchs always; I couldn’t imagine living in a place so extravagant. The land behind Versaille is extensive with forests, paths, large ponds, and perfectly manicured shrubs. After the walk through the palace and its land, I got some delicious macarons which came in adorable packaging. The last little location I’d like to share is the Arc de Triomphe. We didn’t spend much time here, but it is another iconic monument in Paris, and was lovely to see in person! I didn’t know you could stand on top of it, but apparently that is a thing! *Also I apologize for any blurry photos. Most of the time I did not take my Nikon because it weighed on my shoulders after walking around for hours.
Extra Photos & Final Thoughts
The food in Paris was definitely not the worst on the whole trip. I tried an egg and cheese crepe, which I am regretting not getting a banana and Nutella crepe now that I’m home, but that particular day I needed something a little more substantial. I had some great pasta at a group lunch as well and even an ice cream cone made in the shape of a rose! How flippin’ cute is that! Some even came with a little macaron on top!
One of my favorite things about France was the language. I felt very comfortable trying to speak whatever French I knew (which is very, very little) and it made the experience even better to try and participate in an entirely new culture. When it comes to art, not only did we see classic pieces of art here, but also contemporary pieces which were just as stunning!
Overall, I very much enjoyed my time in Paris. From little moments like crazy thunderstorms and heavy rain during class lectures in our small hotel room to the extravagance of Versailles and the Louvre, I loved it all. Although, I believe Paris is a bit over romanticized; I say this because it is still a hustling and bustling city with lots of dirt, smoke, and people just like any other large city in the world. But that doesn’t mean I enjoyed it any less! I no doubt will be back to France one day and I would recommend every single place I visited if you are going there yourself! Thank you France for all you taught and showed me; taking part in your history brought so many joyous moments to me and I won’t ever forget it. Here’s to you Paris with your escargot, appreciation of art, and a little bit of my heart xx