My friends and I were fortunate enough to visit Paris before the recent attacks, and after the attacks occurred I was not sure whether I would make a post about the visit. But I am making one now, as a way of expressing the deep love I have for the city.
We spent the night in the Madrid airport before our early morning flight to Paris. It should be known that the chairs in the Madrid-Barajas Airport are by no means comfortable. They are hard and plastic with armrests dividing every two seats–making it impossible to extend your legs without much discomfort. There is also an announcement throughout the airport every 30 minutes reminding us to watch our bags, and the LED lights remain on at all times. Needless to say, we may have spent the night at the airport, but we did not sleep there. The next morning, we learned that our flight was delayed. I was beginning to wonder whether flight delays were just normal for Jess and I.
When we first got off the plane in Paris, we had to take a long metro ride to get into the city. The view from the metro was grim. It was of the rougher part of the city, and it showed distressing signs of poverty and homelessness. All my life I had held Paris on a pedestal, and I worried that perhaps it might not live up to my dreams.
When we exited the beautiful Gare du Nord Train Station and made our way to the hostel. Our room was small with two bunk beds and a bathroom. The shower was so narrow that you could barely move your limbs while inside. I swear if I was any wider, I would not even fit inside!
We decided to make the most of our first day and we walked to the closest monument to our hostel–The Sacré-Cœur Basilica, or the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Making our way through the streets, I was beginning to see the Paris I had always heard about. It was beautiful. When the Basilica came into view we gasped. We began to giggle excitedly as we climbed up the stairs and made our way to the top.
“We’re in Paris,” I kept saying, mostly trying to convince myself. “We are in PARIS.”
When we reached the top, we turned around. No one spoke. We were silenced by the city. It was vast and beautiful. We were in awe.
“We’re in Paris,” I whispered.
This was the moment. We had made it. I had yet to see the Eiffel Tower or Notre Dame. I had yet to take a boat ride down the Seine. But it was in that moment that I fell in love.
We walked some more and made our way to Moulin Rouge and the Palais Garnier. I remember as we walked we would catch glimpses of the Eiffel Tower in the distance and freak out. It seemed almost surreal to see it, and yet there it was.
The next day we woke up early and met up with a tour group that showed us some of the big landmarks. Notre Dame, Sainte-Chapelle, the Louvre, as well as the Avenue des Champs-Élysées. I think the best part about the tour was all the history we learned about the city. Our tour guide gave us a full lesson on every building we went to. I learned a lot that really helped me appreciate each place so much more.
After the tour we visited the Louvre, using our student visas to gain free admission. It was awesome to see the Mona Lisa and Liberty Leading The People in person. Although, I do think that we had seen the paintings online and in books so many times before, that seeing them in person felt a bit anti-climatic. I think that we were a bit too well-acquainted with them. Nevertheless it was an exciting experience–and a beautiful museum!
Afterwards we bought some macarons and ate them on the grassy area in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was a beautiful day, and we were all very content. We climbed to the second level of the Eiffel Tower and saw yet another breathtaking view of Paris.
On our way home that night we made sure to see the Arc de Triumph. They never tell you how hard it is to get a good picture of the Arc without standing in the middle of the street!
The next day we visited Versailles. The line to get into the Palace was quite possibly the longest line I have ever stood in. I think it took about 3 hours. Once we entered Versailles, our first stop was the restrooms, which also had an insanely long line. The palace itself was very extravagant. I had never seen such a lavishly decorated home. Although I hate to admit this, I thought it was a bit too gaudy for my taste. I mean…too much was going on! But that might have been because it was also extremely crowded with people. After a while, we realized that we were not in the best mood because we were hungry, so we left the palace and found food. We slept the whole train ride back to Paris.
It was our last day in Paris, so we spent the afternoon walking along the Seine and enjoying the sites. That night we took a boat tour along the Seine, and just as we arrived back at the dock, the Eiffel Tower began to sparkle. It was the perfect end to a magical trip. I was sad to leave Paris, but I promised myself I would return.
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<p>My name is Micky Ferguson and I am a rising junior at Claremont McKenna College studying Government and Philosophy. I am from Pasadena, California, which, in 2014, was named the Snobbiest City in America. But I will be the first to say that the people who conducted the survey were probably just jealous because they know that we are better than them. I have a passion for photography, video production, and puns. I love taking portrait photography, but I like taking candid photos more - I think that photos tell more of a story when they aren't posed.</p>