Our last couple days we spent in the heart of Paris. As I had stated previously, it was always my dream to see the Eiffel Tower. As I stood right in front of it, I just stared in awe. It’s amazing how a tall, piece of steel was one of the most visited places in the world. When it was built, it was seen as this disgusting piece of work in the center of the city, however it has grown to a beautiful piece of artwork that a lot of people dream of seeing.
After the hustle and bustle of the big city, we headed to Southern France for a less, stress-free adventure. As soon as we hopped on the train to the South of France, the scenery was gorgeous and very serene. There were mountains and beautiful, blue lakes surrounding the small towns. The small towns that were scattered around reminded me of Little House on the Prairie. They were tiny houses in the middle of mountains with goats grazing everywhere and hand-built houses. My first step off the train felt like a breath of fresh air. The air felt so much more clear and the weather was gorgeous. We were blessed with great weather our whole trip. If you were to look up Southern France, a lot of the images would be the vast fields of Lavender. I don’t think I have ever seen as much lavender as I did when I stepped off the bus. Southern France was by far one of my favorite places, despite always thinking I would love the big city.
Paris is an extremely crowded city, as I am sure everyone could imagine. Many people crowd the streets getting to their destinations and one of my favorite things was seeing the people sit outside at restaurants. It is very common in European countries to have seating outside and not as much in the actual restaurant. So, as you walked the streets, there would be people in every restaurant sitting outside smoking a cigarette. I also think that smoking is an extremely common act in France. Everyone had a cigarette in there mouth, which I found very interesting. Another thing I found interesting was that the people there are all in very good shape. My whole trip, I never saw one obese person. That does not include however, the American tourists there… not a shocker. One of my favorite things was learning about the culture and the huge history that occurred centuries ago.
I think of my favorite parts was just learning about the history. As we walked over a particular bridge, our tour guide said that this was the exact place Marie Antoinette was beheaded. I just thought it was amazing that I stood in the exact place it happened. Another place I loved was Les Invalides. This was the historic site where Napoleon studied and was later buried.
To be able to say that the first place I have ever been outside of the country, was France feels amazing. Ever since I was ten, I had pictures and large portraits of the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame hanging everywhere in my room. So, when the chance came up to be able to go, I immediately jumped on the chance. The day before my flight was extremely hectic. It hadn’t sunk in yet that I was going to be leaving to the place I had dreamed about for years. As many people do, I did not start packing until the night before. The day of my flight was very stressful. As I sat in the packed airport waiting to board my flight, I knew that this was all becoming real. This was my first flight EVER. A nine hour flight across an ocean, was not what I intended to be my first flight. Let’s just say that the flight was very long and I did not get a wink of sleep.
When we landed in Paris, I was extremely tired. The terrible thing was, we were not allowed to sleep when we got there so we would get used to the time change. So here I am going twenty-four hours without sleep. It all made up for it however, when we got off the bus at our first stop: Notre Dame. It was such a culture shock to see hundreds of people coming into the gigantic cathedral that has been standing for over 800 years. It was the sight of Napoleon’s coronation as Emperor of France and so many other historical events. In light of the recent, devastating fire, I look back on the great memories I had there. It is the center of the city that so many people go to pray and learn. I am so glad I had the chance to see it before this tragedy.