We arrived in Paris on Sunday afternoon (July 2) on a train and then we took the metro to the hostel and got all checked in and everything. Then Madison, Patrick, Caleb, and I went to find some dinner. We stopped pretty close to the hostel and had croque monsieurs and croque madames, which are basically toasted ham and cheese sandwiches with or without a fried egg on top. Then we walked to Montmartre, the hill with Sacre Coeur on top.
We explored the shops and things up there for a little while. I had no idea that there was so much on top of the hill that I never saw last time. During our wandering we found a spot where we could see the Eiffel Tower, and we remembered it for later. We bought a few gifts and things and then Caleb wanted to have his portrait done, so we sat down at the restaurant right there to have crepes while we waited on him. We ended up at the table directly behind him, and then we made jokes about him because he couldn’t move to make us stop. Madison and I justified spending money on crepes now by saying that we never had lunch. During our travels from Barcelona, we kind of just forgot.
Then when Caleb was done, we went back to the spot to see the Eiffel Tower, and it was shimmering! We’d heard that it did this every hour on the hour, and I guess mom and I just never knew about it to look for it. But it looked like hundreds of people were taking flash photos from all over the tower. It was very cool. After it stopped we went down the hill and back to the hostel to get to bed and get ready for the next day.
Monday was Patrick’s birthday, and I told him “Happy Birthday” literally every time I saw him, and since we were together most of the day, that added up to a lot of “Happy Birthday”s. The first thing we did was the Arc de Triomphe. Mom and I had walked by and seen it, but we didn’t get up close like we did this time. There was a tunnel that went under the road so that people could safely get up close to look at it. Apparently it’s the biggest arch in the world or something like that. It was pretty neat.
Then we made our way through the city and across the river to get to the Eiffel Tower.
Got through security and everything, and we’d decided to take the stairs because it was slightly cheaper and some of us felt like that was part of the experience… (I did not share those feelings but I wasn’t gonna take the elevator alone). So we were able to stop on the first level and take a break and I bought a slushy, and then we continued to the second level.
The ticket booth to go to the third level was closed for a few hours, so we weren’t able to do that, but most everyone was alright with that. Patrick was just very excited to be on the Eiffel Tower on his birthday.
After we were done there we climbed back down and walked across the river to meet most everyone else for a picnic lunch. We just bought crepes or sandwiches from the stands there and then two people had brought blankets and we sat on the grass by the big fountain there and ate. It was a good time.
After that we split up again and some of us went to check out the Luxembourg Gardens. I hadn’t been there before with mom, so that was cool. We found this cool tree to climb, and we fit all of us on it. You can’t see me because I’m up on a branch taking the picture. After we got off and started walking away a security guard caught up to us and told us not to walk on the grass. The tree was definitely in the grass, and I have a feeling that he was on his way to tell us to get out of the tree, but we were already out by the time he got to us.
The gardens were cool and pretty big. They had this big area in the middle with like a fountain/pool where kids were playing with little sailboats. It reminded me of Stuart Little.
Then we walked towards Notre Dame and saw the Pantheon on the way. Paris and Rome have quite a few similarities: their rivers, their arches, their Pantheons…
We saw Notre Dame and went inside, and then we exited the church and realized that one of us was missing. Caleb Simpson was still inside, and we waited for him for like fifteen minutes before I went and asked the security guard at the exit if I could go inside and look for him. He let me, and I found Caleb, and then we were able to leave and check out the back side of Notre Dame.
You literally can’t see anything from the church in this picture, but we had fun taking it.
Then we took the metro to get to Montmartre again, and we went up inside the dome of Sacre Coeur. I was proud of myself being able to show this to them, since none of them had found anything on it online.
Then we walked a little further to have dinner and see Moulin Rouge. We had to walk down a very adult street to get to it, and we kind of left as quickly as possible haha.
We all pitched in and bought Patrick five scoops of ice cream for his birthday. It was mostly to see if he could handle eating all that before it melted.
Then we turned in for the night. Some of us did some laundry before bed, and I made sure not to stain my white clothes red again like I did in Albi.
Tuesday was July 4th and the day that Galyna had planned our group excursion to Versailles. I didn’t go there with mom either, so it was something new. We took the metro to get there, because it’s actually kind of far out of Paris. Took us like forty-five minutes. Galyna said that last year, the metro wasn’t working or something and they were almost late, so she made sure to get us there like an hour and a half early this time. So we had a lot of time to kill in the McDonalds there. Eventually we got to the palace and inside.
It was pretty much just a museum of like art pieces and portraits and then the paintings that were all over the ceilings and walls. Not as impressive as I expected honestly.
This is the famous Hall of Mirrors.
I ended up losing the rest of my friends in one of the halls filled with about 12 by 12 foot paintings. I was sitting there taking a break and looking at a painting, and when I looked up my group was gone. So I kept sitting there and eventually Frank came by and he said he was like the last one in the museum. We went out to the gardens which is the next place we were supposed to visit, and we were looking for anyone else from our group, and we found Jaycie and Caitlyn. It was cool getting to hang out with new people, and not just the same three all the time haha. We walked around most of the gardens, and that was pretty cool. Better than the palace I think.
This is one of the gates that I took a picture of on my way out.
Then after we left the palace we went back to the McDonalds and met most everyone else there. A lot of people were tired from walking around in the sun all morning, but a few of us decided to go check out the Rodin museum. Rodin made a lot of sculptures out of like bronze or whatever this is, including The Thinker, and a lot of his stuff was in this museum.
This is just a church or something that we saw walking around and decided to take a picture with. According to Google Maps it’s called the Eglise Saint-Vincent de Paul.
After we finished with the museum we went back to the hostel to take a little break, and then we went out to dinner at this really good cheap French restaurant. My friends tried the escargot, but it came in either a plate of six or twelve, and since I’d already tried it and there were seven of us, I didn’t get one. Once we got back to the hostel after that we made our plans for Wednesday and Thursday, because some people were going to Normandy on Wednesday, and we needed to make sure not to go to the places they really wanted to go to while they were gone. Eventually we got to bed.
On Wednesday it was just Caleb, Patrick, Madison, and me most of the day. We kind of did a bunch of little stuff so that the Normandy group wouldn’t miss anything. First we went to the Trocadero area to see that view of the Eiffel Tower I guess. I had a cheese panini from one of the stands there.
Then we walked along that side of the river to see the Pont Alexandre III, which is just kind of a very decorative bridge.
Then we walked through the Tuileries Gardens a little bit. Caleb saw this big machine thing over the treetops and we wandered towards it and found a carnival. He and I rode the big machine thing that was sort of like a very large arm that spun around, and then the little pod of seats on the end spun too. So we saw a very unique view of the Eiffel Tower: from upside down high in the sky. After that we got slushies from the carnival, and then we were looking for the Apple Store that our maps said was like right under the big arch by the Louvre. We found a staircase that led down to this huge area underground that I didn’t know existed. It was basically a mall, and that’s where we found the Apple Store. We had lunch there, and then we went to this modern art museum at the Pompidou Center. It looks like theres a hamster tube on the outside of it, but thats the escalator.
Saw some very interesting things in there. Notice how the chair is nailed to the floor. That’s an actual exhibit.
Then there was this, a black circle.
This one was cool; there were a bunch of colored stripes and specs and things on the inside of the room and then there were these colorful glass panels instead of a doorway, and then there was this metal statue thing in the middle. It looked different from every angle.
Here’s another mind-boggling piece of creative genius:
After that it was late afternoon, and we were kinda tired, so we went back to the hostel to rest before dinner. For dinner we wound up at this very American-fifties diner. It was pretty cool, had a jukebox and everything. They also sold American candy that we hadn’t found anywhere else in Europe there. Patrick loved it; he’d been craving Reece’s since he left. Then when we got back to the hostel I’d mentioned that I hadn’t seen Napoleon Dynamite, so we watched it all together in my and Caleb’s room.
The Normandy group didn’t get back until extremely late on Wednesday night (like 4 AM), so it was just us again for the morning. We’d decided to do the Louvre, and on the thirty-ish minute walk there I saw a few things I deemed picture-worthy. We took some shortcuts through these marketplaces that were like inside buildings, but it was also like a public sidewalk that went through. It was pretty cool. We also cut through this garden area with a cool walkway.
Then there was this area on the other side of the garden. Don’t really know what it is, but there were art students (I think) there sketching the place.
It’d started to rain a little bit before we actually got to the museum.
We went in through the back entrance that we’d discovered in the mall because 1) it was underground so out of the rain and 2) the line was much shorter. We felt like professional travelers knowing all these secrets haha.
Madison bought a 3DS tour guide thing, but it was hard to figure out again, and I just led us to the main things. Like the Venus de Milo:
And the Mona Lisa:
Then we wandered into this like Native American and Islander exhibit that had things from like a lot of different places. Like this Moai Head:
Actually the rest of the time in the Louvre after we’d seen the essentials, we wandered around exhibits that I hadn’t seen last time. And we were there for like two more hours. The museum is literally so big. When we finished there we walked across the river to get to the Musee D’Orsay area, where we ate lunch. Then we met up with one of the French students from Albi named Roxanne. She lives in Paris, and she wanted to meet up with us to do something while we were all there together. So we did the museum. Saw some of Monet’s water lilies:
And this famous thing:
And one of Van Gogh’s self portraits. It’s not the famous one; the famous one is the one without the beard.
Then Roxanne took us to a few places, like the Luxembourg Gardens, and then the Pantheon. She showed us where she went to high school, in this big fancy building near the Pantheon. Then we sat and had snacks at a restaurant and talked a bit. She took us back to the metro station, and we left her to go back to the hostel. Madison, Patrick, and Caleb were gonna kind of just grab whatever they wanted from the supermarket for dinner, but Kathleen and I hadn’t jumped in a fountain in Paris yet, and it was our last night, so we had to. She messaged me that they were up in the Eiffel Tower, and she told me to meet them at the carousel near there. So we got together and we had crepes from a stand for dinner. Because it was so hot (I assume) whoever’s in charge of this sort of thing put up fences around the fountain area, and it seemed like it was set for people to swim in it. It had like a sprayer going that was cooling the water off, and we’d seen snapchats of people getting in it all day. Actually some of our group had gotten in it earlier. So we just hopped in. It was very cold, but a fun time.
Then the four of us decided to do a boat tour. I was hesitant, because I’d already done this with my mom, but I ended up going, and I’m so glad I did. Paris was amazing to see at night by boat. You really can’t tell with the pictures. It was warm enough that I wasn’t freezing being wet, and we saw everything starting to light up. It was fantastic.
Then we just went back to the hostel to pack up and get ready to leave for London in the morning. My first impressions of Paris were very wrong. I thought it was just dirty and hot and smelly, but I really came to love the place.