To begin my spring break, I decided to spend the first weekend in Paris. My dad and youngest brother came to visit Lyon that week. They left very early on the Thursday before break, but I had to stay until my classes were finished. I dropped them off at the train station when I knew they were settled with their correct platform. I then went to my morning class, Sociologie historique de l’Etat (Historical sociology of the State), and then got sandwiches with friends and we ate on the berges du Rhone right at the river. It was a beautiful day and I was so glad to be with great friends just in the beginning of our week long break. My afternoon course was cancelled, so I had some time to go home and pack for my trip and clean my room. I took a 6:05 TGV from Lyon-Gare Part-Dieu. I was so late to arrive that I had to get onto whatever car was available. I ended up in the wrong car and had to stand until we got to the next stop to find my car and correct seat. I spoke to two women about the election, because in a little over a week the results would be announced. At the next stop I got off, found my car, and then found my seat. The TGV (train a grande vitesse) is a blessing, getting me to Paris in two hours. The TGV from Lyon goes to Paris-Gare de Lyon (which gets a little confusing). From there I took two metros to meet my dad and my brother Shea at our hotel. The metros go so fast I fell with all my luggage on top of Parisian teenagers (embarrassing to say the least). When I got there, I was exhausted from my travels so we stayed for a little. We ate at the Cafe de Paris, located in the Saint-Germain quartier (the best for nightlife). There were people playing music and bands everywhere. I of course got duck, my new found favorite food. I wanted to show them more of Paris, but they had conquered a lot of it and also I was really tired. Shea was really disappointed he didn’t get to see the Arc de Triomphe, which I was really sad about, but I didn’t have any energy left. We went in for an early night.
That next morning they left very early in the morning for their flight at Aeroport Charles de Gaulle. They said goodbye while I was half asleep. I woke up a couple hours after they left and slowly got my things ready for my day. I had to check out by 11AM, but left my bags in the luggage room. I got breakfast right outside the Sorbonne in the square right in front of it. Afterwards I realized there was security near another cafe right next to the fountain at the Sorbonne for a movie shooting. I snuck in security and sat near the fountain, hoping to get in their movie shot. From there I made my way to Saint-Chapelle, but then I saw another museum on the way, the Museum of the Middle Ages. It was free for students in the EU under 26, and since I have my Universite de Lyon student card, I could get in for free. This is common for most French museums. As I was walking through the museum, I was overcome with emotion when I thought about my first trip to Paris 8 years ago in 2009 when I was just 13 years old. I imagined all the changes that happened in my life and how much better my life turned out to be. I was mostly pleased that I returned to France and was studying abroad. In the museum, I saw the ‘Woman with the unicorn’ tapestries, which I was always fascinated by. I didn’t even realize that this museum existed, let alone that this work of art was located there. I would recommend this museum to anyone going to Paris. It is less touristy, less known, and has some of the best works of arts from the Middle Ages. I continued to walk to Saint-Chapelle, as I walked past the fountain Saint-Michel in the Latin Quarter. The line for Saint-Chapelle was long, but I waited and got in for free as a student. I met a group of Canadians and a Portuguese guy who were interning in Brussels. There were two floors and on the top floor there were over 16,000 pieces of stain glass to make beautiful and fascinating blue-violet color throughout the room. I couldn’t stay long, as I had much more to see for the day. I walked through Ile de la Cite (the island in the center of Paris where Notre-Dame-de-Paris is located) and then along the Seine to le Musee d’Orsay. The line was surprisingly not too long. When I got in, I went straight to the top floor to see the Impressionist paintings and I also saw the original work of ‘The Thinker’ by Rodin on my way out. After this, I wanted to see an area of Paris I never really visited before. I went to Le Marais, an artsy area popular with young people. I ate outside the Centre Georges Pompidou, which I thought was kind of ugly, but nonetheless finally got to see it. After that I took the metro to our hostel and met up with Anna. We walked to Sacre-Coeur and down to a restaurant. We talked to a group of French and Americans in their late 20s and it got me thinking about how much I want to be an Expat in France. As the evening turned to night, we went back to our hostel because that next day we would travel to Versailles.
That next morning we took a morning train to Versailles. After seeing if we should go into the Chateau right away, we decided the line was too long so we went straight to the gardens. I finally got to see the gardens, in all its beauty with fountains and music playing. We had a snack near a water channel in the gardens and then went into the chateau during the mid-afternoon. We had dinner in the town and had to miss the night fountain show which I was really disappointed about. We took the last train to Paris, and beforehand we worried that we missed the last one to Paris. After that we went right to bed after a long day in Louis XIV’s paradise.
Sunday, our last day in Paris, we decided to split up since I’ve been to Paris before and Anna did not see all the major attractions yet. I went to mass at Sacre-Coeur. There was a long line to get in and then a separate entrance if you wanted to stay for mass. The music and the ceremony of Easter mass was a beautiful experience and it was something I will treasure. After mass I went to the top of the basilica to get a stunning view of Paris. I went back and took a nap at the hostel, and then in the afternoon I spent mostly in the 1st arrondissement near the Louvre. I went by the Opera Garnier, le Grand Palais which the exterior is entirely made of glass, and I saw the Galleries Lafayette along the way. Le Grand Palais was having an exhibition of Rodin’s sculptures, but after waiting in line for a half hour I realized that I would have to wait another half hour. I decided it wasn’t worth it, so I went next door to le Petit Palais to see a free exhibition. I was only there for half an hour and then took my time getting back, buying some clothes at the Galleries Lafayette (because of course its from the best place in France!) and having some pizza at a restaurant. I came home late and decided to pack, because the next day it was time to leave ‘the Continent’ to go to Scotland.