I never understood what all the hype was about Paris. It always seems to be the optimal setting in media such as Gossip Girl, Midnight in Paris, Ratatouille, Moulin Rouge, The Da Vinci Code, The Devil Wears Prada, and the list goes on. Seriously, there is a Wikipedia page dedicated to movies set in Paris. When I was thinking about my next adventure following Rome, I believed Paris was a given. I imagined myself eating macaroons under the Eiffel Tower, strolling down the Seine, and wandering through the Louvre. I try not to visualize myself in any sort of travel setting because they, usually, come out completely opposite. This was not the case. My few days in Paris were extraordinary in the sense that everything was almost just like the movies.
I made my way with my roommate, a true Parisian, to Paris to stay with her family. We were greeted by a warm meal and endless chocolate and tea. I made small conversation with her parents, one of which spoke little English (but that's okay because I speak zero French), and made a list of the places I wanted to visit. The following day, a friend of mine came into town and stayed with us, as well. My roommate thought it would be best for me to have an extra friend to do the tourist sights with. Go figure, a native no longer enjoys seeing the Louvre or Versailles for the en-teenth time. I understand. That night, we visited the Louvre where we took a tour to see the highlights of the museum. It was positively overwhelming. I had never seen so many monumental works in one building. Room after room was lined up with works by Da Vinci, Rembrandt, ancient artifacts from the Greeks and Romans, and the museum was a piece of history in itself. It had originally been built on ancient ruins which you can see, today.
After a visit to the Louvre, it was nearly half past ten (I recommend going later when it is less crowded). I begged my friend to walk just a little farther to see the Eiffel Tower lit up by night. I could see the tip just over the park from the museum and it was too tempting to resist. We somehow dragged our tired feet for another forty minutes to the shimmering tower. At one point, we lost sight of it. Once we turned the last block, there it was, an iron giant who took the breath out of us. We simultaneously yelped and flustered the locals walking past. It was incredible. The tower was completely illuminated and was more than I had ever expected. It seems like it would be just like any other city landmark but this was not the case. Its sheer size and intricate framework was really a sight to see. Seeing it sparkle at night was even better. People were still out and about roaming the park and gazing up at the tower which added to the romantic ambiance.
A couple of days later, I made my way, solo, to Versailles. I will not go into too many details accept that there is never really an optimal time to visit. It is crowded all the time, from what I understand. I thought visiting on Easter would weave out some tourists but with no luck. I chose to take a tour there as well just to get some extra history. The palace was a spectacle in itself but the garden were breathtaking. It was a gorgeous day and the sun was reflected off of all the dancing fountains. I could feel the history as I was walking through the gravel. After each turn, there was a surprise that greeted us in the form of an intricately decorated fountain. I regret taking the tour, a bit, because I would have rather walked around the gardens, all day, where I could have taken more time. However, this was an amazing experience that everyone should take a day to visit, themselves. Our tour guide even hid Easter eggs in the bushes for the holiday.
I realize a weekend in Paris may seem a bit cliche. Travelers are beginning to recognize the beauty in smaller and lesser known cities such as Prague, Istanbul, and Budapest. Paris may appear to be a tourist trap where the movies falsely portray the city as a romantic and peaceful setting. I had these false perceptions at the beginning and now realize I could not have been more wrong. When you see Paris on a postcard or in the movie, it is just that, picture perfect. I never felt overwhelmed by selfie-sticks like I did in Rome and the tourists seemed to be very considerate of the history. Paris is always a good idea, according to our good friend Audrey.
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<p>Although I am a Kansas native, I can honestly say I have never witnessed a tornado, tended to the farm, or religiously watched The Wizard of Oz. I am a studious college student who enjoys going into the city and testing new ethnic restaurants or going to a symphony performance on the weekends. This explains why my phone primarily consists of photos of food porn and Kansas City architecture. I study international relations and Spanish, both of which offer me a different perspective to the world beyond the Midwest. I often find myself distracted walking to and from class because I hoard pinecones and insist on showing my friends the ones I come across. </p>