We were staying in Paris… to get away from your parents (Except I was trying to spend more time with my parents, not get away with them, sorry Chainsmokers).
This Monday after an amazing weekend in London, my family and I boarded the train and rode through the Chunnel to France. This trip was my family’s first time in Europe, and I had not been to France yet this semester! I was super excited to be able to discover a new country all together. Here were my favorite parts…
Arc de Triomphe
Our first full day here we spent our morning walking down the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, which is one of the main shopping roads in Paris. They had pretty much any store you could need, including the biggest Sephora I’ve ever seen. At the end of the road, you are welcomed by the beautiful sight of the Arc de Triomphe.
Pro Tip: if you’re trying to get across the street to the Arc, there is a set of stairs you have to go down that will lead you underground and to the other side of the road. This took my family and I a bit to figure out, and involved ten minutes of walking in circles, two failed conversations with French people, and an encounter with a scary clown.
The Arc was beautiful, but the view from the top was even better. My mom and littlest sister and I decided to venture up together. The tickets to the top cost 5 if you’re a student, 8 for adults, and it’s free if you’re under 17!
As soon as we made it to the top, it unfortunately got really muggy and started raining. You couldn’t see the Eiffel Tower too well, and our hair was drenched in a matter of minutes. This being said, this was one of my favorite things I did in Paris. The view of the city was still amazing, and this was one of the first good views I got of the Eiffel Tower. Plus, my mom and I were able to laugh at ourselves and we realized the trip was worth it.
The Eiffel Tower
On our second day in Paris, we had an amazing tour of the Eiffel Tower. It was so crazy seeing it in person and up close. This was a place I’ve been seeing all of my life in pictures and only dreaming about seeing in person, and I was standing right in front of it. It was just as beautiful as I’d expected.
Not only was it gorgeous, but the tour was so interesting! We went on a tour of bunkers underneath the tower that were used during World War II and are still functioning as offices and kitchens today. I also learned that apparently nothing can be built directly underneath the Eiffel Tower, because it is so heavy and they don’t want to weaken the ground it stands on. We also went underneath one of the legs of the tower to see how the elevators were powered. The machinery down there was absolutely massive!
After exploring the ground level, we took a ride up. The first floor of the Tower is a restaurant, and the second level is a viewing area with some indoor souvnenir shopping and a few cafes. The view was just as you’d expect, absolutely incredible. Everything we’d seen the day before we were able to see in person, like the ferris wheel, the Arc de Triomphe, and even our hotel! It was a completely different view of the city. I also learned that apparently no skyscrapers can be built within the city, every tall building in Paris is located on the edges of the city to preserve the beauty of the city. I love that.
After the Eiffel Tower and a lovely little bistro lunch, my family and I headed for the Louvre. With an average of over 7 million visitors a year and over 650,000 square feet, I wasn’t surprised that this is the world’s largest and most visited museum. The place is seriously massive. I’m pretty sure I could walk around the museum for a week and still not see everything.
We did not have a ton of time to spend there, so we went and saw the most obviously famous pieces. We saw the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo statue, Nike of Samothrace, and several paintings by Jacques-Louis David. I learned that the museum owns over 400,000 pieces, but only one-tenth of their collection is displayed at one time. The Louvre really is massive.
Quick Visit to Reims
While in Paris, we were only about an hour away from Champagne country, Reims. My mother, being the wine and champagne lover that she is, was so excited to visit her favorite champagne house. The whole family took a quick train ride and toured the caves of Taittinger one afternoon, and it was so fascinating. We learned how much time and effort goes into just one bottle of champagne. They had bottles that took anywhere from 4 to 11 years to make! The location we visited held over 3 million bottles underground. We also learned that France is the only place in the world that can legally make a sparkling wine and call it champagne. So crazy and so interesting! (The tasting wasn’t too bad either ☺)
The culture in France was a lot different than I expected. This was probably the one place this semester that I’ve had the most trouble with a language barrier and experienced a lot of very different things culturally, like food and communicating with others. Even though things were so different, I LOVED the meals we ate. Which wasn’t surprising, as Paris is known for it’s culinary arts and Michelin Star restaurants.
Among my favorite’s were Laduree, which a beautiful and delicious pastry shop and a MUST if you’re planning to get macaroons. We also visited Eric Kayser several times for breakfast during our stay, which had amazing croissants and baked items. Then Angleina’s was home to the BEST hot chocolate I’ve ever had in my life. Tasted like melted fudge. It was to die for.
And last but not least, was our 14 course dinner. My parents surprised and blessed us with the opportunity to visit a 3-Michelin Star restaurant, where we were treated like royalty and served 14 small & delicious courses ranging from wine to soup to lobster to mini chocolate cakes. It was an amazing, once in a lifetime experience that fit our “foodie family” quite well. I also couldn’t eat for about a week afterwards because I was so full and no other foods could compare.
France was such a fun country to experience. There is so much to do, see, and eat! I also loved immersing myself in a culture that was so different than anywhere I’d visited this semester. Next stop, Nice!
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