When in Paris... - My Family Travels

I have always dreamed of traveling outside the United States of America. This past summer, that dream came true, as I participated in a program by the American Council for International Studies. This program had students of Epinal, France, my hometown’s sister city, travel over to La Crosse, Wisconsin, and stay with a family for almost a month in the summer of 2008. Then a year later, the American students, traveled to Epinal to stay with a family for about a month in July. We then spent four days in Paris, in which I had a great time and had some once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

            I first arrived in Paris after living with my gracious hosts, Simone Barthelemy and his family, for sixteen days. After getting off the TGV express train, I got my things together and went to Hotel Mercure Suffren, a five-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower. The rest of the day our group visited the Musée D’Orsay and learned how to navigate the metro. By the end of the trip all of us could get anywhere in Paris using the metro. After learning the metro and during our break for lunch, my friend Gus and I decided to go explore to see what we could find just by ourselves. We left the group started to wander off. We found out that we had ended up in the Tuileries Garden and the Place de la Concorde.   We only had so much time to explore the gardens, so we left quickly to get back to our group that was about to leave for the hotel. 

The next morning, we got up and had a tour guide lead us on a tour of a small portion of Paris, seeing the Champs de Mars, Napoleon’s Grave, and Notre Dame Cathedral. That night we had a boat ride along the Seine River, in which we got to see the beautiful lights of Paris from the water.

            Then next day we had a morning visit to the Louvre. I saw many famous paintings, such as the Mona Lisa. When Gus and two of my other friends, Fritz and Lucas, found the statue and sculpture area, we imitated the many statue positions. I was imitating a statue of Hermes and just about to relax my position, when a couple of British tourists came by and asked me to hold the pose again, so I did. I think it is fun to meet strangers like that.

             When we finished the Louvre, I really wanted to go see Notre Dame Cathedral again, since the first time we were only able to go inside, but not to the top. Gus, Fritz, and Lucas came along with, and we waited for over an hour to get into the cathedral. We walked up to the first level and looked down upon the square below. Then we realized that today the Tour de France finished in Paris down the Champs-Élysées which we could see from the top of Notre Dame! We then rushed to the top to get a better view. Most people stay about five minutes up on top, but we stayed up there for over an hour to watch the Tour de France pass by.

             The rest of the trip was magnificent: going up on top of the Eiffel Tower, the Sacre Coeur church, and seeing more of Paris. I loved the city and how it was shown to us, but some of the greatest things that happened were those little unexpected surprises that I will always remember.


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