It’s a blessing having friends doing a year abroad because it means you have an excuse to go on holiday in January. I went to visit my friend Row last week in Paris, where she’s been living for the past 6 months! It was the best way to end a gruelling exam period; eating out for brunch and dinner everyday, seeing the sights and obviously being able to spend time with Row, my philosophy buddy! I’ve been to Paris a few times when I was little, so I’d done the Eiffel Tower and Disney Land etc before, but this was a far more sophisticated and cultural trip, and it showed me a whole new side to the city.
We spent our days walking from arrondissement to arrondissement, taking in the Parisienne architecture and overwhelming number of boulangeries and restaurants. I feel like we literally saw everything! There are probably three things I took away with me that I didn’t know before this trip. 1) there is no point trying to speak french, because you will be replied to in english and far better understood. Even Row, who is doing french at uni and sounded fluent to me, couldn’t get a french word in edgeways. 2) tea is more expensive than wine everywhere, and so you might as well have a drink with brunch and carry on that way. 3) finally, and probably most importantly, I love macaroons. I’ve always been a baking girl, but I’d never had a macaroon before this trip! I’m hooked, and I’ll definitely be asking Row to bring some home with her when she next visits. I feel truly enlightened.
Most of the first day was spent wandering aimlessly around the Louvre, saying hi to Mona (Lisa) and Venus (de Milo). The weather wasn’t great, so we thought it best to stay inside and surround ourselves in beautiful art and culture!
I fell in love with the Pompidou centre on my second day. Every room was filled with thought-provoking and eye-catching modern art, but in particular the Cafe Little Boy exhibit caught my attention. Modelled after a remaining wall of a school classroom in Hiroshima, visitors were invited to express themselves on the walls, and boy did people express themselves!
Later that day the rain stopped long enough for us to go up the Notre Dame and take in the breathtaking cityscape of Paris. The architecture of the city is like no other, with the Eiffel tower being one of the only things to stand above the rest, and it was a wonderful experience to see it.
On the final day we walked across what felt like the entirety of Paris to reach the Sacré-Coeur, situated on top of the beautiful (and incredibly French) village Montmartre. There’s something about cathedrals and incredibly large religious buildings in other countries and cities that draws me to them every time! The view of the city was spectacular too.
Later that day we explored Montmartre and tasted ice cream macaroons! We tried raspberry, filled with fresh sorbet, and pistachio, and both were divine. You should hunt these down if you’re ever in Paris. If they wouldn’t have melted, I would have brought boxes back with me.
The trip was finished in what is probably the most exciting restaurant I have ever been in, the Victoria Station Restaurant, where you are literally sitting in a 1920’s train carriage to eat. I’m talking red velvet booths, chandeliers and overhead storage for your personals! Good food too.
I had a wonderful three days, not just spending time with my incredible tour guide and translator, Row, but getting to see Paris in a way I’ve never seen it before. You may have passed through it, or been on a school trip or two when you were younger, but as a 21 year old my experience of the city was completely different, and one I will definitely remember!