Bonjour beautiful readers and welcome back! If you guessed that France was the European country I was visiting next, you guessed correctly! Paris has always been a place on my bucket list that I knew I wanted to visit one day, and that day came a lot sooner than I ever could have expected! The entire excursion felt like an absolute dream that I have been waiting all week to share with you!
While Mount study abroad students traveled as a group to Venice, my roommate Sigrid and my friend Kelly and I agreed that we should take advantage of our long weekend and travel somewhere we had never been. Having experienced the beauty of the Floating City of Italy before and discovering that we all shared the common dream of going to France, we decided that this would be the perfect opportunity to turn that dream into a reality. After a few short hours of spontaneous planning and a brief train, plane, bus, and taxi ride, we arrived in the City of Lights where we had one of the most incredible weekends of our lives!
As we rode into the city early Friday morning, we became overcome with excitement when we turned the corner and saw one of the world’s most recognizable landmarks standing in the distance! After our friendly cab driver showed us all of his favorite spots in Paris, he dropped us off right in front of the Eiffel Tower, where we got to marvel at the industrial ingenuity of this masterpiece up close! Once we finished admiring this massive monument from the street, we ate a quick breakfast in an effort to gain energy for our trek to the top. As we climbed up the Iron Lady, the combination of the stairs and the outstanding views of the city literally took our breath away. We were so high up that it almost felt as if we were in an airplane looking out over Paris!
On the uppermost level, we spotted other acclaimed attractions around the city, which we made our way to once we were back on the ground. After walking an hour along the roads of Paris, we reached the notable medieval cathedral known as Notre Dame. Although we couldn’t go inside, the French gothic architecture on the outside of this church was just as incredibly impressive and captivating!
After a long day of sightseeing throughout the city, we ended our first evening in Paris with a relaxing cruise on the Seine River. If you are ever in France, remember that 7pm is the best time for a boat tour, as you will board in front of the Eiffel Tower, depart right when the sun is setting, and return to a tower that is entirely lit up! French music playing in the background as we glided along the water and the Eiffel Tower glowing in the night sky earned this cruise a spot on my list of top ten most unbelievable moments during my time in Europe. It was an incredibly magical experience that I can already tell I am going to be reminiscing on for the rest of my life!
Our first full day in Paris was absolutely amazing and our adventures only got better as the weekend went on. The girls and I dove into Saturday with a delicious breakfast consisting of coffee and croissants at a popular cafe and then dedicated the rest of the afternoon to the Louvre. This palace of art made the Uffizi Gallery that we visited at the beginning of the semester seem small and was so much more crowded, as it is the most visited art museum in the world and contains one of the most prominent paintings in the world: the Mona Lisa! Although France is home to this famous portrait, I found it fascinating to learn that it was actually created by Leonardo da Vinci right here in our temporary home of Florence! While I still cannot believe that I saw it in person, many other people cannot believe that it was not my favorite painting that I saw that day.
All the paintings in the Lourve Museum were extremely unique and interesting, but the one that intrigued me the most was the one that I stared at every day in class last semester, as it sat on the cover of my Western Imagine book. Liberty Leading the People is an outstanding painting that portrays the spirit of the French Revolution and holds the power to make viewers feel as if they are stepping directly into this period of social upheaval in France. Examining it in person completely changed my perspective of this painting that I previously had. It was almost as if I could see the gunshots firing through the air, feel the passionate energy embodied by the people, and hear the shouts of freedom that the citizens were demanding. Although there are many, my favorite aspect of this painting has to be the concept of liberty, which is depicted through the character of a fearless woman who is leading a group of men in their march for freedom. Between the Mona Lisa, Liberty Leading the People, and all the other famous artwork we saw that day, I can without a doubt say that my appreciation for art grew immensely that day!
On Saturday night, Sigrid, Kelly, and I went back to a boat where we concluded our weekend in Paris at a lively club on the Seine River! The combination of French citizens, drinks, music, dancing, and the Eiffel Tower in the distance made this gathering feel like a scene straight out of a movie. Kelly, Sigrid, and I all agreed that it was some of the most fun we have had so far and have been talking about going back ever since. This weekend is definitely one that is going to be hard to beat, but I invite you to join me again soon to find out what other weekend excursions I have in store for the remainder of my time in Europe! Ciao for now!