France | My Family Travels
allo2

 

The 2008/2009 school year was my fifth and final year studying the French language. As celebration (and what better celebration could I have had?), I, along with a handful of other French students and my school’s choir, traveled to Paris, France to stay for nine days. It was certainly a learning experience, and a sensational one, at that. When our group pulled up in front of the Mercure Paris Terminus Nord Hotel, we were all fairly exhausted and exhilarated. Paris was practically a whole new world from our barely-century-old, very forested Tacoma, Washington, and we drank in the differences with enthusiasm. After all, the majority of our group had never before been to Paris, and while I was not one of them, my first experience had been limited, and I was determined to make everything out of this new adventure.
My roommate and I were on the top floor, and as we discovered, we had a balcony overlooking le Gare du Nord across the street, and the gorgeous basilica Sacre Coeur off in the distance. There was never a sight so breathtaking; the streetlights below, the majestic architecture of le Gare du Nord, the elegance of Sacre Coeur, all of it has seared into my memory, and if I must request anything of my reader, it is to go somewhere and find a sight just as beautiful, for nothing can enhance your travel more than having such a sight in your mind’s eye.
We dined in the Latin Quarter which is located on ÃŽle de la Cité in a small, charming restaurant across the street from la Notre Dame. The food was exquisite, though I expected no less of a French restaurant. More importantly, however, it was during that dinner that I was first able to put my language skills to the test. Whenever the waiter came to our table, I made it a point to only use le français. By the end of our meal, I had thoroughly impressed him. Later, when in the painter’s square in Montmartre, just a few blocks away from Sacre Coeur, I had an entire conversation with a painter, and though my vocabulary outside of ordering food was narrow, he was very pleasant and willing to help me along, which brings me to another great piece of advice: If you are traveling to a country where the foreign language you have studied is spoken consistently, never pass up a chance to speak it with the locals! I can assure you that even if your skills are not impeccable, no matter where you go the fluent citizens will be more than happy to attempt a conversation with you.
The rest of our trip was pretty standard; we visited the Louvre and saw the refurbished version of Napoleon III’s rooms and, on principle, the Mona Lisa; we saw a game of football in a Stadium packed full of fervent fans; we climbed to the top of l’Arc de Triomphe; we toured the national Opera House and saw the Phantom’s balcony; we ventured through the palace Versailles; we took a day trip up to Normandy to see the American D-Day Memorial Cemetery and Mont St. Michel; we saw the bells of Notre Dame; we cruised the river Seine; we dined in la Tour Eiffel; we roamed le Cimetière du Père-Lachaise and kissed Oscar Wilde’s grave. Each moment was paramount, every memory valuable. I only hope that other teenagers will be lucky enough to spread their own wings and make tangible the life-changing experience which can only be found in travel.

Dear Reader: This page may contain affiliate links which may earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase. Our independent journalism is not influenced by any advertiser or commercial initiative unless it is clearly marked as sponsored content. As travel products change, please be sure to reconfirm all details and stay up to date with current events to ensure a safe and successful trip.

Comment on this article

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.