We are having a wonderful time in this amazing city! It was a little bit of a slow start because we were still jet-lagged, but we pushed through! On our first day, we took a Big Bus tour around the city to get a feel for things. Then, we went to the Arc de Triumph. It’s MASSIVE! It was built to honor those who have fought and died for France. I wish that we had something so monumental like that in America. After that, we walked down a famous boulevard called Champs Elysees, which is arguably the most famous street in the world. By the way, the McDonald’s on Champs Elysees and other locations in Paris are way better than America. They have touch screens to order your food and they have different flavors of ice-cream and sauce for their McFlurries. We were getting a little bit tired, so we went to a cafe to get some hot beverages. That’s what a lot of Parisians do. They have a nice break during the day to relax, talk with friends and get some energy. After our break, we did a little bit more walking and then decided to have dinner. We ate at a nice Italian place close to our hotel. The next day, we woke up and took the metro to Notre Dame. I would definitely recommend getting metro tickets, because it makes it really easy to get around. Notre Dame was awesome. If you don’t know about it, it is a huge gothic cathedral that was first built in 1163. Since then, there have been many modifications to keep up to the religious standards. Inside the cathedral, there are some of the most famous stained glass windows in the world. They were very beautiful. Just when we were going to leave, mass began and the pipe organ started to play, so we stayed a little longer. What a treat! It was almost time for dinner, and my parents knew the perfect place to go. We went to Julian’s, an old restaurant that has been around since the French Revolution. The artwork on the walls is very pretty, and many of the locals go there to eat. The food was really good, too. I tried foie gras for the first time and like it! Our meal ended at 11:00pm, which is typical in Europe.
One of our best days in Paris was the day that we went to Musee d’Orsay. OMG! It was so beautiful! I would say that it is the coolest museum that I have ever been to. It is built inside an old train station and it is really big. The museum is quite new, thought the structure isn’t. The train station was built in the late 1890s. The idea to turn the train station into an art museum was proposed in the late 1970s, and after a lot of work, it was finally opened in 1986. My favorite floor was the Impressionistic floor. It had paintings made by some of my favorite artists: Cezanne, Monet, Degas and Van Gough….We saw some of the most famous paintings in the world, including Dance at Le moulin de la Galette by Renoir and the bronze edition of Degas’ Little 14 year old Dancer.
We also saw some academic paintings from Gustave Courbet, and I really like how they each tell a story. Another cool room was the Van Gough room, which had many recognizable masterpieces, such as his most famous self-portrait and Starry Night over the Rhone.
I also liked the statues as well. One room had paintings that took up the entire wall because they were so big! If you ever go to Paris, you should plan to go to Musee d’Orsay.
Our last day in Paris we spent in Giverny. It is a little town about a 45 minute train ride away where Claude Monet, an Impressionist, owned a summer home. He had a huge garden, which he said was his “greatest masterpiece.” We saw the lily pond which inspired many of his paintings, as well as the curved bridge.
Also, we toured his house and saw his studio. I loved all of the flowers, and I am sure that there are many more flowers when it is warmer. We took the train back and experienced metro rush hour, when everyone is trying to get back home after work. There were floods of people going every direction, but somehow we made it out alive. When we finally got home, I was ready to relax, but then at the last-minute, I decided to go out with my mom to see all of the monuments at night when they are illuminated. If you go to the Eiffel Tower during the first five minutes of every hour when it is dark, there is an amazing light show. It’s kind of hard to explain, but if you have the chance, you need to see it! Did you know that the Eiffel Tower was built for the World’s Fair in 1889 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the French republic. Alexandre Gustave Eiffel has been given the credit for designing the tower, but he collaborate with his assistant Maurice Koechlin, who came up with the design. Many people wanted it torn down after the World’s Fair, because they thought is was an eye sore. Hitler wanted to tear it down, but he never ended up accomplishing the destruction, thank goodness, because the tower is the most visited tourist attraction in the world! Another fun fact is that Eiffel and Koechlin also helped design the structural aspects of the Statue of Liberty. After being mesmerized by the tower, tried some crepes; the sweet and savory kind. At first, I wasn’t so sure about a salmon crepe, but it grows on you! We also had a chocolate crepe, and that was delicious. We made one last stop at the Arc de Triumph, walked down the Champs Elysees and then took the metro back home. It was 12:30 pm when we got to our hotel, and we fell right to sleep. The next day we packed our bags and headed off to the train station to get a ride to our next destination, Brussels. Au revoir, Pairs!
Keep Calm and Travel On!
Your Junior World Trek Reporter