“Paris Holds the Key to Your Heart”

I’ve been to Paris once before, but only for three days for a mini vacation with my family before heading to Russia. I’ve been obsessed with everything Parisian, thanks to the theatrical release of The Phantom of the Opera in 2005. I even took French after school that year! The only thing I remember from that class is, “je voudrais un gâteau de chocolat, s’il vous plaît!” I was excited to return to the country that produced a lot of the music I listened to growing up — including Mylene Farmer, Paul Mariat, and of course, Joe Dassin.

This particular weekend, we had three whole days to explore the best of Paris — our plans were a little ambitious, but I think we pulled it off and saw more than anyone could have hoped to see. We took EasyJet from Barajas to Charles de Gaulle and arrived to our hostel at around 10PM on Friday. A couple of us were hungry, so we went to a small Chinese restaurant nearby, and were a little taken aback when the waiters asked for our orders in French! That was when it hit us that, yes, we were now in a different country where we actually had no grasp of the language at all! At least we knew some Spanish in Spain! ☺


DAY 1: VERSAILLES, CHAMPS ELYSEES, & EIFFEL TOWER

I just want to start off by saying that we walked a total of 17 miles this day. How we did it, I have no idea. We started off our day waking up early and heading out to the city of Versailles to see the famous palace. I’ve been here before, but I’ve been wanting to go back (and I dragged everyone along with me…sorry guys!). We walked through the entirety of the whole palace and gardens, I swear. We even visited the Petit Trianon — Marie Antoinette’s personal mini-palace. The 2006 movie just added to my eagerness to explore every corner of the châteaus…much to the dismay of my study abroad friends! But you know what, I don’t regret it — when’s the next time that I’ll get to be here?

After Versailles, we took the train back to the city center and walked down Champs Elysées. We stopped by the Paris Christmas market to get some hot wine since it was pretty chilly — it’s nighttime by now, and at the opposite end of the Arc de Triomphe was a huge ferris wheel. After a glass of liquid courage, Stephanie, Brady and I (the Sangria Familia!) decided to take a ride, despite fear of heights. We got into the gondola, and up we went!

The Place de la Concorde from the ferris wheel; I have a photo on Facebook of me pretending to throw a phone in the fountain, a la Devils Wears Prada!

It was well worth the €10. The views were nothing short of spectacular. As soon as we noticed the Eiffel Tower in the distance, it seemed so small, until it started sparkling. It was the top of the hour, and the three of us were not expecting to see such brilliance. It was the moment I realized that this dreamlike moment was actually reality.


DAY 2: CITY WALK, CHAMPS ELYSEES 2.0, & NIGHTLIFE

Waking up early once more, the group and I went on to explore the city — we saw the Notre Dame façade, walked along the embankments, and down the Champs Elysées once more — I took all of the typical tourist pictures…no regrets (don’t hate the player, hate the game).

These little vendors reminded me of the movie “An Education,” and its obvious romanticization of a weekend in Paris — such good marketing!

One of the places I was dying to see was Ladurée, arguably the world’s most famous bakery. We waited in line to choose our macarons, and for the 6 or 7 that I got was worth the €18. After lunch, we rested before a big night out.

We had dinner by the Bastille metro stop, and of course, we had to have escargot. It didn’t have to be of good quality — all that matters is that you get to say that you had escargot in Paris.

I’ve had escargot about a dozen times before, but this time it was a little more special, as you probably know☺

There was a small carnival/fair type thing nearby, so after dinner, Kelsey, Brady and I decided to go on this rollercoaster/ride that sent us spinning up and down — it is difficult to describe the motion, but seeing the Eiffel Tower and the Sacré-Cœur upside down from high above was breathtaking!

We explored the nightlife, and you’ll just have to take my word for it when I say that it was beyond fun — for the sake of decency, I won’t post pictures ☺


DAY 3: THE LOUVRE, FEATURING ODDS & ENDS

I will admit, we woke up not feeling all that great — but what got us out of bed was the fact that the first Sunday of the month, the Louvre was free to get into. We hurried on over, and stood in an endless line, but it went surprisingly fast, so it took about forty five minutes (might have been the fact that we were there by 9!). Since we didn’t have a lot of time to explore, we saw only the basics — the most popular being the Mona Lisa and the Code of Hammurabi, both of which were intensely interesting.

According to a Buzzfeed article, you haven’t studied abroad in Europe unless you take a selfie with Mona Lisa. #picsoritdidnthappen

We then had lunch at Les Deux Palais, across the street from the Sainte Chapelle, spending the rest of the rainy day taking pictures with the Eiffel Tower and the Moulin Rouge. It was a tiring weekend; we racked up a lot of miles walking everywhere, but the amount we saw in these days is quite impressive. This last trip was the perfect test of our endurance, both mentally and physically, that we’ve accumulated over the two months. It goes without saying that Paris is beautiful, and visiting this time around left me content that I appreciated the city more than ever before. As per the Anastasia movie, “Paris holds the key to [my] heart.”

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