“A walk about Paris will provide lessons in history, beauty, and in the point of life.” -Thomas Jefferson
Standing beneath the Eiffel Tower in the midst of a calm, winter night, I could feel my heart pounding. We had trekked for miles along the city’s realm; over the waters of the Seine and through winding medieval roads, underneath the bustling crowds and between famous museum hallways. But in the silence of the evening, below the monument I had seen dozens of photos of, I felt free and exhilarated. This is Paris.
We just headed out of Paris, one of the most well-known and cherished cities throughout the entire world. Paris has a sort of nice chaos to it. Cars drive quickly through massive roundabouts, getting inches away from bikers and buses. Trains are typically overflowing during the busy commute times and the weekends. Travelers and locals alike stop to notice all of the stunning sights that have stood for generations. The city is fast-paced but serene at the same time. The historical sights remain nearly unscathed after all of these years.
As we walked down the street just before the sun had greeted the city for another day, the smell of fresh pastries and bread floated out of small neighborhood bakeries. The squeaking of metro trains echoed in the silence of the morning, and a farmers market was being set up along the road. This is the purity of Paris, the calm before the storm.
The storm is the hundreds of thousands of travelers that flock from all corners of the world to visit this incredible city. Those who come for miles to see the sparkling of the grand Eiffel Tower at night or the antique towers of Notre Dame looming over the Seine River. Those who walk through rooms and rooms of artwork in the multitude of museums to find the famous Mona Lisa or Waterlilies paintings. Those who dream of waltzing through palaces with ornate, golden detail, or those who long to stand underneath the monumental Arc de Triomphe.
Paris is a memorable city. Each street has its own personal touches, from delicious creperies to souvenir kiosks and tiny bookstores. No matter what the weather is, the city can compliment it. Snow laid in patches along the streets and parks, some more slushy and slick than others. Footprints grace the paths of people going through their days within the borders of the famous area. The sunshine peeks through passageways and around tall spires lining the horizon. Blue skies contrast with gray and beige buildings and churches.
The food is definitely impeccable. We had something delicious every night for dinner; whether it was eating full pizzas on our own or splurging on crepes, we were satisfied. I had some amazing desserts, like a chocolate crossiant with caramel and ice cream, and an authentic Parisian macaron and muffin. All of the walking (over 9 miles a day) we do pays off when we get to indulge in some French delicacies.
We were able to be hosted in Paris by one of Brooke’s friends, Ansley, and her roommates. Ansley goes to the American University here in Paris, so it was great to hear about her local ways of life. They were so kind to us by letting us stay, and I’m so glad I had the chance to meet them! How awesome is it that they get to go to school in one of the most historical and influential cities in the world?
One of my favorite places on this entire trip so far has been Sainte-Chapelle. A magnificent church with glorious stained glass windows towering high over our heads was one of those sights that made me stop in my tracks. When we first entered the church, we were in the lower chamber, which was less bold. However, when we climbed the spiral staircase up to the upper chapel, the view was breathtaking. The entire color spectrum made an appearance right in front of our eyes with specific details in each panel. I could’ve stayed for hours, just staring and admiring the technicolor windows.
Paris was absolutely beautiful. There is so much history and stories to be told in each area of the city. It was a perfect way to start our trip through France and the mainlands of Europe. Places like this make me so grateful for this opportunity I have to see the world. It makes all of the long days and late nights of travel worth it.