Spring Break Part 1: Paris!

Since virtually everyone on campus is out drinking for St. Patrick’s Day and pretty much everything besides bars is closed for Italy’s 150th anniversary of unification, I thought I’d sit down and pen my first of three spring break posts. Basically, I will be writing a post for each city that I spent my time in over the course of my 10 (1o!) day vacation.

So, I started in Paris. Now, as many of you know, I have been to Paris before. I went on a three week trip abroad the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. We toured Italy, France and England over the course of three days. I guess you could say that I’m no stranger to the beautiful city that is Paris.

We (my friend Emily and I) arrived in Paris at around 10 A.M. We thought we would brave the Metro to get to our hotel after taking a shuttle from the airport to Paris city proper, but it proved to be a long wait and we decided to catch a cab and keep our fingers crossed that it wouldn’t be a ridiculous fare. As it happened, our cab ride took about fifteen minutes and only cost about €10. Not a bad deal, if you ask me.

Unfortunately, check-in time for our hotel was 1:30 P.M., so Emily and I decided to walk over to the Eiffel Tower, take some photos and then check in. The Tower was less than a 10 minute walk from our hotel, which was really nice. It was a little chilly, but the sun was out so it wasn’t completely terrible.

The Eiffel Tower!!!

Emily and I decided that I would be a good idea to walk up the steps instead of taking the elevator…

The number of steps it took us to get to the second deck.

Now, we didn’t go to the tippy top because the line was super long (and we liked the view from the second deck just fine).

The view of Paris!

Then we proceeded down all 669 steps and headed back to our hotel to check in. After getting everything in order, we decided to take on the Louvre. It was a bit of a walk, but it was sunny out, so we carried on anyway. It probably would have been easier to take the Metro, but why not enjoy the city?

The Louvre!

We didn’t spend much time in the Louvre, as it was near closing time and there were tons of people there. I had been there already and Emily was okay with speeding through it.

Not to worry, we made sure to stop to see the tourists flocking around the Mona Lisa.

We stumbled upon some fashion week events on our way to the ChampsÉlysées. There were people everywhere with cameras (I blended in, minus my jeans and vibrant, red shoes…) and it was fun to see people dressed up walk past us to the event tents.

On our way from the Louvre to ChampsÉlysées, we stopped to grab a crêpe from a stand in the park. We each got one with bananas, Nutella and cinnamon. It was sooo good. (I would post a picture, but Emily was the one who took them and has yet to upload pictures.)

We made our way down the famous shopping street and stopped in a store every so often. They had the biggest Swatch store that I’ve ever seen, among other things. at the end of the ChampsÉlysées is the Arc de Triomphe. It was cool to see everything lined up.

The Arc!

After shopping for a while, we decided to head back to our hotel to get some rest. We had done a lot of walking and were exhausted.

We mustered the energy to stop and take a few photos on a bridge overlooking the Eiffel Tower.

The next morning we woke up and decided to start our day by heading to Sacré Cour Cathedral.

On our way to the ATM we saw the BIGGEST DOG EVER!

We decided to take the Metro to the church. As you may or may not know, I have been doing my own personal analysis (not on paper, but in my head) about public transit in each city that I’ve been to. In addition, I have saved every fare card that I have needed. Paris’s fare cards were small strips of paper. They were cool.

The Metro system in Paris is similar to that in Barcelona and London (though London’s is arguably better…) in that different lines intersect at a number of points, creating a sort of web that makes it simple to transfer lines quickly and efficiently. This is much different than the CTA, whose lines intersect in the Loop and branch outward from there. I won’t even talk about the inefficiency of Rome’s two Metro lines.

Anyway, we took the Metro. For those of you that don’t know, Sacré Cour is at the top of the highest hill in Paris.

The Metro cautioned us, but this was no match for the 669 steps that it took to reach the second deck of the Eiffel Tower!

The area leading up to the church itself was quiet and peaceful. It was a good way to start the morning. Upon arrival, we found a different ambience.

Hundreds of people had the same idea we did that morning, I guess. Oh, and there's the church!

We decided to go into the church and take a look, but found that we were intruding on mass, so we left.

One thing that Sacré Cour is famous for is the beautiful view that is has of the entire city. It was kind of foggy/hazy the day that we went, unfortunately.

It was a beautiful sight nonetheless!

After grabbing a crêpe for breakfast and taking a look at some original artwork, we decided to make our way to Notre Dame.  While we were making our way back to the Metro station, we happened upon a brass band! It easily made my day. The members seemed around our age and were playing a number of classics, including Besame Mucho, one of my favorite songs to play on my trumpet. It made me miss my band friends.

They even painted the Sousaphone!

Notre Dame!

We made it to Notre Dame. It was at this point that I really felt like I was reliving my previous trip to paris, but with weather that was nearer to 40 degrees than 80. I didn’t go in last time, so I was interested to see what I missed.

I guess the high, Gothic ceilings were a sight to see.

We also ran into some of our friends from school INSIDE THE CHURCH. It’s funny how small the world is sometimes, isn’t it?

After spending some time in the church, we walked for a bit with Megan and Matt and then parted ways. We were in search of the Longchamp store. After finding the store, we decided to stop by a French bakery.

I just HAD to buy a French baguette!

After eating some of our baguettes, we went to Musée d’Orsay, one of Paris’s other highly regarded museums. They had a large collection of Degas and Monet, which I absolutely loved. They also had a temporary Van Gogh exhibit. Did I mention that we got into both museums we visited for free with our Italian visa? Fine with me!

We decided to eat a quick dinner at a restaurant on our way back to our hotel. We each got a cheeseburger (how American). They served it with this weird sauce on it. It was still good, though, especially because I haven’t had one since… probably December.

Our last order of business in Paris was to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle. Every night, the Eiffel Tower sparkles (i.e. flashes lights) on the hour. Unfortunately, my lens on my camera didn’t allow me to capture it sparkling. I did catch it lit up, however.

It was so bright!

I even decided to get my picture taken in front of it.

Yes, that is a beret. Yes, it looks terrible on me. No, I do not care, as it is a souvenir and I took it off after this picture was taken.

Well, that concludes part 1 of my spring break posts! Be on the lookout in the coming days for my next post on London!

About Austin Sears

I'm a junior at Loyola University Chicago majoring in sociology and minoring in urban studies and photography. The purpose of this blog is to document my semester abroad in Rome!
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