Paris. The city of love, lights and all things magical. When I first arrived in the city, I fell instantly in love. My mind was in a trance, my heart was already gone and my life was about to change. I could remember telling myself you’re not in Paris, you’re just dreaming, but for a second or two, I believed it. Was I really in Paris?
As soon as I arrived at the Paris airport around noon, I was anxious to go to see everything right away. Once the group boarded the bus, we headed towards Clergy Pontoise where our hotel was located. I dropped off my luggage, checked in and as soon as the rest of the group was done, we took an expeditious trip on the subway train to the Louvre; our first experience in France.
The Louvre is the world’s largest art museum that has dominated central Paris since the 12th century. In the early days, the Louvre was a real castle built by King Philip Augustus until 1793 where it transformed into a museum. During the French Revolution, the National Assembly decided to display the nation’s masterpieces with an exhibition of 537 paintings. Today, the museum holds approximately 70,000 pieces of artwork, displayed in the museum.
The Louvre was personally one of my favourite experiences in Paris since I am a huge Art Junkie. Whenever I get the opportunity to visit an art museum, I take advantage of the time given to me. The group was given 90 minutes to tour the entire building but as you can imagine, 90 minutes was not enough. Of course, everyone wanted to see the Mona Lisa, so most people in the group rushed each room. I was a bit irritated especially travelling eight hours on the plane, feeling jet lagged, and not being able to see the museum at my own pace.
Once we entered the room of the Mona Lisa, I was pretty disappointed. First of all, the painting was very small and second, there was a bullet proof class surrounding it which made it very dramatic. Nonetheless, I did take a selfie with the Mona Lisa just the prove that I’ve seen it.
Once we were done touring the rooms, we headed down the stairs to the old dungeon. To be honest, that was my least favourite part of the Louvre since it had an extremely eerie feeling to it. I did not want to spend more than five minutes in that room, so I quickly took a picture and left. We returned back to the main foyer of the museum, shopped at the souvenir shop for a bit and made our way up the stairs to the Pyramids. When we entered the Pyramid, I was in awe! It made me feel very tiny but I was able to see the outside of the Louvre and into the vast distance of the city.
The Louvre was a great way to start my journey in Paris and made me feel like I was really there. Once we ended our tour, we walked across the famous lock bridge where we had some picture opportunities. After millions of pictures, we started to take a lovely stroll along the Seine to the Latin Quarter, where we had our first dinner reservation at Le Marathon. Walking along the Seine River made me feel like I was apart of a movie. The old Parisian buildings that surround the Seine made it absolutely beautiful.
Once we arrived at Le Marathon, we were served bœuf bourguignon, an authentic French stew, served with potatoes on the side and drizzled with red wine. I wasn’t too fond of the dinner as I don’t eat beef as much, but to be quite honest, the only part I enjoyed was drinking water. I’m very specific when it comes to eating beef as I don’t like the tendered part as much, especially in stews where the texture is not to my liking. However, we rounded that off with a very delicious chocolate mousse and headed back to our hotel to rest for a jam-packed day, the following day.
The next day was full of Paris sights and experiences. We began the day with a complimentary Parisian buffet breakfast at the hotel. The breakfast display was adorable! This was actually the first time I’ve ever tried crepes and I must say it was quite delicious. I am also a very big fan of cheese so when I saw the cheese platter I died a little inside. The cheese platter was different than the ones here in Canada. They actually served real slices of cheese which made breakfast very authentic. I will also note that the fresh made buttery croissant topped everything off! As you can tell, I was very content with breakfast! After breakfast we boarded the bus for a tour of the entire city.
Our ears were filled with history and anecdotes as we toured along the famous landmarks of Paris. We stopped at Les Invaildes in the seventh arrondissement of Paris and toured Musee de l’Armee; the national military museum of France.
Les Invaildes is known for the final resting place of Napoleon, where he is entombed under the dome. The museum itself is one of the largest museums of military art and history, and holds a collection of some of the most prestigious military weapons and artilleries dating back to Napoleon and his marshals. Before it became a museum, it was also a hospital and retirement home for war veterans. The group and I were given an opportunity to tour around and explore the museum and Les Invalides before heading back on the bus towards La Tour Eiffel.
Once we boarded the bus, we headed towards the Eiffel Tower. We were not able to go on top, but had picture opportunities a street away that overlooked the Tower. It was surreal that I was actually seeing the Eiffel Tower in person. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always dreamt of visiting Paris one day. Never have I thought it would be at the age of eighteen, but I am very grateful I got to see one of the most famous man-made structure in the world. The Eiffel Tower is located on Champ de Mars and was constructed in 1887 as the entrance arch for the World’s Fair in 1889. Many intellectuals and leading artists have criticized the work, however, today it is one of the most visited monument in the world.
We also ordered lunch before our next destination; Versailles. Yes, I attempted to order in French, but I did manage to do pretty well as I did not get a dirty look or bad customer service. Let me just put it out there that high school French really comes in handy when you are in an all French-speaking country.
After lunch we headed out to Versailles to see what the Louis’ XIV, XV, and XVI considered normal and their outsized and gilded palace and gardens. I will be doing a separate post for Versailles to capture the whole experience, but, for now, let us head back to downtown Paris. Since this was our last day in Paris, we did some last minute souvenir shopping before dinner.
Dinner was served at an Ancient Bistro where we had roasted chicken. During the dinner, there was another group of students from Japan who filled up the Bistro so the place was very tight. Once dinner was complete, we headed back towards the Subway station, boarded the train and did one last final tour of Paris before heading out to Normandy the next day.
Adieu ville des lumières, à la prochaine fois.