Travel Essay: Paris, France - My Family Travels

When I was 14, I took a trip to Paris, France. I had been there once before, when I was 10. The first trip wasn’t as memorable, except for the fact that it had been my first time out of the country. My second trip was meaningful, thought-provoking, and of course, fun.

            We left on my birthday, when I was in freshman year. I had made up my mind that I was going to have a wonderful high school career. When I got off the plane fifteen hours later, I was hit with the fact that I was in a beautiful new city. After going through airport necessities, we caught a cab, and entered the heart of the French lifestyle. The highways were coated with fall foliage that had only been seen in magazines. Entering the city was like unlocking many levels of a jewelry box. On the topmost level, there were the apartments and tall industrial buildings. The further in we got, the more and more precious it became.
            Arriving at the hotel, we unpacked our things and slept. It had been an overwhelming two days of overstimulation. The next morning we started out on our excursions. Down two blocks from the front door of the hotel was the glorious Galeries Lafayette. Down a few more was the famous Paris Opera House. A short ride on the Metro took us to the Louvre and Tuileries Gardens in front of the Egyptian Obelisk and Place de la Concorde where the Tour de France finishes. Across the square is the Champs-Elysees, the shopping capital of the world, with the flagship stores of the French designers. A walk across the Pont de Alexander brings us to l’Hotel des Invalides, where Napoleon’s tomb lies. Shortly after that there is the Ecole  Militaire. Then, directly across the street, on a walk down the greens, stands the iconic figure of all of Paris. The Eiffel Tower standing at 1,063 ft tall, looking over the city as a mother looks over a child playing. The object of many a photograph and painting, the subject of poems and stories, it looms there like a statuesque figure on the pages of a magazine.
            The beauty of the city changed my way of thinking. The elegance and sophistication made me mature in a week. I appreciated the history of the artwork and architecture. The city freed me from my fear of individualism at home. I arrived back in San Diego wanting to be a Parisian. I came back with a love of haute couture and impressionism. But perhaps the most important change that occurred within me was the one of self esteem. I came home more confident than ever before. 
            A good trip can change your life in ways never before thought possible. Everyone deserves one at least once in their lifetime.

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