My first time in Paris (and certainly not my last)
My absolute favourite experience so far has to be my trip to Paris. Liz and I spent a weekend in Lille and Paris, from February 3rd-6th, just as the “Big Freeze” hit France. I’ve been keeping a travel journal throughout my time here, so I have decided to copy up my thoughts on the City of Light and share it with everyone at thirdyearabroad.com.On the night that we left Lille to travel to Paris, we were both so incredibly excited! It was a bitterly cold weekend, the type where you have to wear several pairs of socks and layers just to feel slightly warm, but even this failed to dampen our spirits (though our socks were pretty wet).
We stayed with my University friends, Hannah and Scarlet, who are currently spending their Year Abroad studying in Versailles. On the Sunday morning, we woke up to thick snow, but we traipsed through Paris regardless, tackling delayed or stuck RER trains and losing the ability to feel our frozen toes in the process. However, only having one day to see Paris made it totally worthwhile!
Naturally, we visited all the main tourist spots – Champs Elysée, Arc de Triomphe, Place de la Concorde, Sorbonne (where we threw our fists in the air and posed, Mai 68 style), Le Louvre, Pont des Arts, Moulin Rouge, Le Café de 2 moulins, THE Notre Dame and, OF COURSE, the Eiffel Tower. I was in awe at absolutely everything. Despite its position right in the centre of the red-light district (as expected), I could just imagine how filthily glamorous the Moulin Rouge was, and I had to fight a very strong urge not to start singing “Come What May”, or kick my legs about as though I can can-can.
The Pont des Arts gave me goosebumps and made me feel girly and romantic. For those that don’t know, the Pont des Arts is a bridge in Paris where people come with a loved one and attach a padlock with a message engraved, then throw the key into the Seine. One lock read “Jon and Erica, our love is locked”, which summed it up for me. You can see all the photos that ever existed of that bridge, and still not feel the romance it exudes until you’re there.
I really wanted to visit the Notre Dame because it was the inspiration for Victor Hugo’s ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’, I loved the Disney adaptation as a child, and I am so glad that I went there. It is breathtaking. The detail in the building and the stained glass… Wow. I like to look up when I visit cathedrals because the ceilings are often just as beautiful as everything else. I think most tourists miss that though, it’s sad.
We finally reached the Eiffel Tower at 7pm, just as the lights came on. It is without a doubt one of the most beautiful sights I have ever seen. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to climb up the tower, but seeing it in the dark certainly made up for it. I doubt I’d have liked it at the top anyway, I’ve never been a fan of heights.
I was worried that, because Paris is so talked-up, I’d be disappointed when I finally made it there, but that’s certainly not the case. There truly is something magical about that city; I was, and still am, under its spell.