Weekend in Paris & Giverny

Alexandra Zabalza headshot
Alexandra Zabalza
October 17, 2023
My friends and I, 4 people in total standing on a bridge in front of Monet's garden.

A few weeks ago, a few of my IES Abroad friends and I decided to go to Paris for a weekend. The trip left the group chat and this was our experience :) 

Preparing was tough, aside from my goal of only taking my backpack, there were other larger uncontrollable factors; bed bugs in Paris were being circulated in the media, and that Friday there was a country-wide strike that included transportation workers. My friends and I were in constant communication packing lavender because we read somewhere it repelled bed bugs and created backup plans to arrive in Paris if our train got canceled. 

Friday: After our classes at IES Abroad, with bus and tram lines disrupted, we walked 30 minutes to the train station that would take us to Paris. Our train was thankfully unaffected by the manifestation and we were able to arrive in Paris by 6 pm. We had decided upon an AirBnB a few weeks prior so we went straight there, verified there weren't any bed bugs, and then began our weekend in Paris!

With only an evening to explore, we went to a restaurant and had a charcuterie board, purchased 3 day passes for the Metro, and went to see the Eiffel Tower. It was cathartic after all the work and worrying we had put into planning this weekend. 

Saturday: Our main plan for the day was to go to Giverny, a city in France known for Claude Monet’s home and garden. We had breakfast at our train station in Paris, rode an hour on the train, regrouped, and began our adventure in Giverny! We were able to take a small tourist train that took us from the train station to Monet’s garden and despite a little rain arrived at his home in one piece. Seeing his home and garden was truly seeing art come to life as we walked past paths, trees, and water lilies depicted in his paintings. After our visit, we returned via train to Paris and explored the city visiting les Galeries Lafayette, Notre Dame, the small bookstore Shakespeare and Company, and ended up exploring the inside of Sacre Coeur. 

Sunday: By our final day in Paris we were all pretty exhausted from our itinerary-filled and exploratory adventures. We had bought tickets for the Louvre, but the day before it had been evacuated due to a threat, so we were concerned. We kept ourselves informed and made our way there and got to walk through the Jardin des Tuileries and arrived at the Louvre museum and went on an adventure to find the few impressionist paintings within it since Le Musee d’Orsay was not in our itinerary. We enjoyed our time there, got lunch after, checked out of our AirBnB, and headed back to the train station to do homework for a few hours before our train.

It was an eventful weekend and I am still amazed by everything I saw and experienced within the span of 3 days and could not imagine going without my IES Abroad friends Hannah, Nina, and Anna who were all flexible, adaptive, and overall some of the best people I could have gone with.

Studying abroad is truly an amazing experience and going to another city for a weekend is something I could not have fathomed in the US but being abroad and having so many accessible opportunities, I am seeing life through a new lens and I can't wait to see more <3

Editor’s Note: Our Crisis Management team are actively monitoring and providing updates to keep our students and staff in Paris safe. For more information on our health and safety policies, please visit our Health & Safety page.

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Alexandra Zabalza headshot

Alexandra Zabalza

Hi! I'm Alex and I am studying Sociology, French, and Women's & Gender Studies! I will be studying in the Nantes Immersion Program to improve my French and gain a new perspective while abroad. In my spare time, I love crafts and watching new shows :)

2023 Fall
Home University:
Santa Clara University
French Language
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