Travel Journal #8 – Adventures in Paris

Napoleon III ApartmentsWe’re back from Paris, the City of Love. It’s home to the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, Arc de Triomphe, and most famously of all — the Eiffel Tower. We spent a total of four days in Paris, and the amount of free time that we had balanced out perfectly with our group outings. We had one group meal together our first night in Paris, went to the Palace of Versailles as a group on Saturday, and then went on a cruise on the Seine River on Sunday night. Apart from those three things, we were free to discover Paris on our own. I had been to Paris once before in 2006, but I was part of a large group that rode around on big busses throughout the city. So, navigation and sightseeing was all planned out for us. And since the group I was travelling with in 2006 was mostly 16- and 17-year-olds, having our every move planned ahead of time was for the best. However, this time around we were on our own, which made it a truly wonderful adventure.Eiffel Tower
After living in London where the public transport is incredibly easy to understand, navigating Paris via their metro system can be a bit intimidating at first, especially when everything is in French. But we quickly got the hang of the Metro and found ourselves buzzing around Paris before we knew it.
On Friday, a couple of friends and I went to the Louvre Museum. This is, of course, a must-see for any visitor to Paris. And the place was absolutely packed. I saw the Mona Lisa, Winged Victory of Samothrace (the 2nd century B.C. marble sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike), the Napoleon III Apartments, and sculptures by Michelangelo, among many other things. It was humanities class all over again, but this time in person. The museum was wonderfully overwhelming. Trish, Leah, and I spent about 2 hours at the Louvre before heading back to the hostel to get ready for dinner.
Our group meal that we had on Friday night wasn’t my favorite of all of the meals that we’ve had. But the group meals that we have had during this term are one of my favorite things about studying aboard. It’s been amazing to watch how our London family dynamics have really played out so well. Though I was optimistic about our group dynamics from the start of this term, I have to admit that things have gone even more smoothly than I had expected. And I think that the group meals played a big part in maintaining and enhancing those family-like relationships. Adventures are fantastic but I think that it’s the people you’re with who transform an ordinary experience into something that words really can’t quite describe. And this group of people has definitely made this trip indescribable. Okay, thanks for sticking with me through that mushiness.
Hotel BalzacSo, what else happened in Paris? Read on.
On Saturday morning we were up bright and early, and headed out to the Palace of Versailles. It was an incredible palace, superbly decorated and absolutely gigantic in size. It really boggles me to think how folks called this place home. While I’m sure it was a lovely place to live, I don’t feel that I could have handled it. The entire place is a bit too extravagant for me. Unfortunately, I didn’t venture out into the gardens, which I heard were magnificent. Maybe next time…
Instead, I headed back to the heart of Paris with a couple of friends where we embraced the tourists within us and hopped onto a red, open-top, double-decker tour bus. While it was an incredibly touristy thing to do, it was a more efficient way to travel between different sites in Paris; we saw more of the city instead of seeing more of the Metro. We visited the Arc de Triomphe and wanted to go up into the arch but it was closed because the workers were on strike — so very French. Afterward, we headed to the Eiffel Tower which was splendid. It’s funny because in 2006, I had been disappointed by the size of the tower, expecting it to be larger than it actually is. But once I’d gotten close to it, it was just as impressive as I’d originally expected it to be. The same thing happened this time around. It looks smaller from far away, but once you’re up close it’s quite stunning.
I’m afraid that this journal entry is getting to be a bit long, and since we have finals approaching, papers due, and project deadlines, I must wrap this up soon and get busy on some schoolwork. But before going, it’s worth mentioning some of the other highlights of the trip.
Sacré CoeurWe went to see the Musée d’Orsay, an incredible museum full of works by some amazing artists such as Monet, Cézanne, Degas, Manet, and van Gogh. I had already seen some of Monet’s works in the National Gallery in London, but there were even more of them here — and it was a bit surreal. Seeing Monet’s waterlily paintings in the Musée de l’Orangerie literally gave me chills. Each of these eight painting took up an entire wall. This museum was easily my favorite. If you ever go to Paris, it’s a must-see place to visit.
The last afternoon that we had in Paris before our train ride home turned out to be one of my favorite afternoons of the whole term. A group of us went up in the Arc de Triomphe and took in the incredible view. Then, we found the hotel where my grandmother was stationed during World War II — now that was an awesome experience. I got chills as we walked into the building. After walking by Notre Dame Cathedral, Leah, Trish, and I went to a local grocery store and bought a baguette, cheeses, strawberries, and a bottle of wine between the three of us. We ventured to the Luxemburg Gardens, sat beside the pond in front of the palace, and had lunch while we people-watched for about an hour and a half. There were little kids sailing boats in the pond, couples walking through the park holding hands, and the weather was absolutely perfect. I couldn’t have asked for a more relaxing afternoon in the City of Lights.
All of that being said, it was good coming back (home?) to London. Hard to believe that we have less than two weeks left of spring term. Seems like the work has crept up on us while we’ve been here…so let the final push begin! Cheers from London!
by Anne Evans ’12, currently participating in the Centre-in-London study abroad program. Learn more about study abroad in England.
PHOTOS (top to bottom): Part of the Napoleon III Apartments in the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, me in front of the hotel that my grandma was stationed in during WWII, and the Basilique du Sacré Coeur.

By |2011-04-20T10:46:06-04:00April 20th, 2011|News, Study Abroad, Travel Journals - England|