On 25th April, I embarked on my final trip while studying abroad to the beautiful city of Paris—land of romance, lights, crepes, and snails!
A friend and I booked this trip through a tour company, because Eurostar tickets alone can get pretty pricey. This self-guided tour gave us a round trip on the Eurostar to and from London’s St. Pancras International Station, a day pass for the Paris Metro system (very useful while in the city!), and a free canal cruise on the lovely Seine!
For all of those unfamiliar with the Eurostar, it is an international train line that takes only a half an hour to run under the English Channel, and travels quite fast. But don’t worry—it was a comfortable ride! It’s also the fastest way to get to other countries other than flying, but make sure to have your passport handy!
Paris is a beautiful city; with amazing architecture, great food (and wine!), and an incredibly lovely arrangement of shops, this is one city that I was incredibly grateful to have seen. Yet upon arriving, I was greeting by a bout of culture shock when I realized that many Parisians do not use any English. Luckily, my friend had a nice French Language background, so we were able to find our way around easily.
Because the Gare du Nord train station was far North, we had to take the Metro system in order to get to the Champs-Élysées and, effectively, the Arc de Triomphe—one of the major landmarks of the city. The ride wasn’t bad at all, and we disembarked at the Charles de Gaulle – Étoile station, which brought us right up to the Arc.
The Arc de Triomphe was bigger than I had thought, but still as lovely as I had pictured. Built in 1806, the monument honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. What struck me about the roundabout that encircled it, however, were the road markers—or lack thereof. How do people in Paris drive without road markers? They must certainly be skilled! It was fascinating to watch them expertly encircle the landmark.
We then began our journey down the Champs-Élysées, where we saw all of the lovely outdoor cafes that make the road identifiable, and the clipped horse-chestnut trees made the street stunning (regardless of the rain!). I simply couldn’t believe that I was walking down one of the world’s most famous streets—full of some of the most expensive strips of real estate! Je ne pouvais pas en croire mes yeux!
By the time we finally turned off of the street, we were famished. But no need to worry, as Paris has some of the most delicious and eclectic food in the world ! We stopped into a little restaraunt called Cafe Gustave, which was right near the Eiffel Tower, and had some absolutely delicious white wine and Escargot !
For all you foodies out there, Escargot, or better known as Burgundy Snails, is an incredibly delicious delicacy . Usually coming as an appetizer, my dish was offered in the small size of 6 or the large of 12. Doused in olive oil, pesto, and spices, you have to use a special instrument to hold the extremely hot snail shell, and then you use a small fork to dig out the insides. I thought that the snails had a similar texture to clams, but they were a bit chewier. I highly recommend this dish to anyone who has an adventurous spirit ! Régalez-vous!
OFFICIAL WEBSITE of the Eiffel Tower
After our small break, we walked down to the Eiffel Tower. One of the most recognizable structures in the world, I was stunned with how large it really is ! It’s 10 € to climb to the top (they do offer student discounts, as most places in Europe do), and prepare to have your bag checked. Then you must begin the climb—which was arguably one of the most challenging things I have ever had to do.
There are three levels to the Eiffel Tower as you climb, and there are also lookout posts, small souvenir shops, and snack stands to help you on your arduous journey. An elevator takes you to the tippity-top, where you can indulge in an unrailed, 360° view of Paris. It was lovely, crowded, and one of if not the most fulfilling things I have ever done in my life. If you ever get to climb the Eiffel Tower, definitely do it!
We spent two hours alone on top of the Eiffel Tower, so when we descended, we decided to take it easy and cruise down the Seine. The canal cruises in Paris have two levels—inside, and on top. They give you an audio tour with several languages to choose from that picks out the monuments along the way, like the Louvre, Lock Bridge, and Notre Dame. It was so very relaxing. Yet we just did a sightseeing tour. For all of those romantics looking to head to the most romantic city in the world, I recommend one of the dinner cruises. They are stunning, offer nighttime cruises, candle-lit dinners, and (of course) amazing food ! The sightseeing cruise lasted about an hour, and we saw a lot of the city from inside the cozy boat!
The next stop on our list after the Eiffel Tower and Canal Cruise was to the Louvre Museum. The Louvre is one of the world’s largest museums and houses some of the most iconic artwork ever made, like The Seated Scribe c. 2600 BC, The Nike of Samothrace c. 190 BC (and a personal favorite of mine), and of course, the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci, c. 1503-91.
CLICK HERE to visit the official website for The Louvre!
We were running a bit short on time, but we were able to see the Mona Lisa. And let me assure you, it was worth the hype. Encased in a special glass case to preserve it, the painting looked like it was created yesterday, and it is certainly more mystical, fascinating, and lovely in person. And of course, we had to fight the crowds that gather there every day, but it was worth it to see the painting up close!
Our final stop was to the Lock Bridge. With its reputation as the most romantic city in the world, ‘love locks’ are found everywhere in the city—placed on fences, railings, and light posts by lover pledging their feeling to each other and tossing the keys into the Seine—but these Locks are mostly found on one particular bridge, the Pont des Arts. Thousands of locks are forever snapped onto the railings, and it was a touching and lovely sight to see. It is certainly an amazing sight to see that much love in one place. I only wonder how many keys lay on the bottom of the Seine…
It was sad to have to leave Paris, and even sadder because it was my last trip out of London while studying abroad, but I know that someday I will return to the world’s most romantic city, and see it again with even brighter eyes.
Pour Paris est belle, peu importe combien de fois vous le voyez! Au revoir!