The "Must-See" List

Gwen Lee
May 7, 2016



One week before departure...


It was overwhelming to see the number of “must-sees” I still had left on my list.The closer we got to our departure date, the more places I had planned and crammed into my day. It is so expensive to travel from the states and although I'm sure I’ll come back to Paris again after this semester, it would be a while till I would be able to return. I didn’t want to leave without having visited something you could only experience in Paris. And for such a small city, Paris is jam-packed with things to see.

View of Paris from Montmartre

My must-see list somehow grew as I checked things of. For instance, there is an area I love dans le 18ème called Montmartre, a definite must-see on my list. I first visited early in February. Montmartre, a hill, is famous for the spot where you can look out over Paris. I spent so much time taking pictures there that I didn’t get a chance to go inside the church. Thus, I went back to see la Basilique du Sacré Coeur. When I went back for the Sacré Coeur, I found a wonderful square located nearby where artists would sit out and paint.

Watercolor from local artist named Julian

I returned another time to find myself a painting I hoped would remind me of Paris when I was back in the states. Then, on the day I spent in the square, I walked past a Dali museum as I was headed home. Unfortunately the museum was closed by the time I found it. And thus I got to go to Montmartre again! At this rate, I never stood a chance at finishing my list. It’s one of the great things about studying in a central city like Paris, you can never run out of new adventures. The con was that, at the one week mark, there were too many things I had yet to see and time was running out. It looked like I hadn’t seen much at all during my time here, but I have! Time flies when you’re having fun and these four months have passed in the blink of an eye.


View of the garden from inside Musée Rodin

My list was stressing me out. But instead of cramming in the rest of my must-sees in this one week, Laurie, our program’s activities director advised us to revisit a place that we really loved. How genius! I would remember and appreciate going back to a place I liked a lot rather than hurrying my way through an itinerary. One of my favorite places in Paris is Musée Rodin. It hosts pieces by Rodin in beautiful classical mansion and in a gorgeous garden outside (this is where you can find The Thinker!). Going back here was definitely more worthwhile than having a cram day.


The Thinker with the Musée de l'Armée (and top of the Eiffel if you look really closely) in the background

Looking back, another reason it took me so long to get through my list was because I spent way too much time planning and waiting to go places with my friends. A great way to solve this problem is by having some “me-time” (an awesome term devised by Hellena). I often tried to coordinate schedules with my group of friends. It was great and we will always share our “the time when this happened” stories. So many moments would not have been memorable without the wonderful people I was surrounded by. However, it was important to learn how to appreciate exploring Paris by myself. Me-time allowed me to see what I wanted to see without having to worry about the planning and timing of it all. One of my top five moments in Paris was actually having some me-time at at a bookstore called Shakespeare and Co. I sat upstairs with a view of the the Notre Dame through the window and flipped through a book while listening to street guitarists.

View of the Notre Dame from the upstairs window of Shakespeare & Co


I made my “must-see” list by googling “must-sees in Paris” like any other tourist, but studying abroad in Paris and getting to spend months here is so different from visiting for a weekend. All this extra time allows room for adding places and activities to your list that aren’t as touristy or Insta-worthy. It allows you to explore areas like Montmartre fully. It lets you spend hours in a café like the locals do. You can even get lost and have enough time to get even more lost trying to find your way back without a map. I learned that there is no right way to explore the city. Having me-time and/or revisiting your favorite places are sometimes the greatest adventures.


The best thing I heard this week: You’ll just have to come back to see the things you missed.





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Gwen Lee

<p>Salut! Je m&#39;appelle Gwen. I am a sophomore at Babson College and currently about 11% fluent in French. I hope to remedy that while wining and dining in the beautiful city of Paris. I am majoring in Business with a focus in Marketing. Follow along my stories to experience the ups and downs of studying abroad à Paris!</p>

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