Caitlin Campbell 
University de Savoie
For my program, we were given a handout that listed the trips that were open to us. A while back, I "starred" the most important trips to me and visiting Paris was number one. When we walked off the train and I took my first few steps, I just couldn't believe I was finally in Paris. Paris - the place where Roland Garros tennis champions played, where the Mona Lisa is located, and where the most gorgeous building in the world was built.
    The first thing our group did was visit Pere Lachaise Cemetery. Instead of graves, this cemetery had what  seemed like tiny houses with one single room. In the single room there was usually one window made in the shape of a cross. Some rooms had chairs, branches, or other seemingly random things. But the more I thought about it, I came to realize that these little rooms are probably prayer rooms. The architecture of each grave was so different and each had a unique door. The size of this graveyard amazed me. It was so beautiful and creepy at the same time. It actually inspired me to image stories or photoshoots that would capture that certain beauty. This graveyard was also the place where I glimpsed the Eiffel Tower for the first time.
    In the morning, our group went to Roland Garros. This was my second place to see in Paris because my brother is a huge tennis fan/player. I pleaded with the guard to let me in, but he said that the facilities were being cleaned. I still can't believe that I was near the place where Roger Federer, Steffi Graff, Bjorn Borg, and so many other tennis players have been. I wish I could have traded places with my brother so he could have seen it with his own eyes.
    Next we went to the Champs-Elysées. I have to be honest - I didn't really know what was the big deal (haha). Yes, it was beautiful and there were plenty of beautiful, expensive stores, but that's pretty much it. In fact, the friends I was with at the time decided to go off onto one of the side streets to eat. There, we found this little pizza place called Flam's. I was rather shocked at Flam's because they gave us English menus and our server willingly spoke English to us. I had always heard that Parisians were not fond of tourists - let alone Americans. I guess generalizations aren't accurate anywhere.Of course, the only monumental thing on that street is the Arc de Triomphe. It was such an experience to see it with my real eyes. So much detail came in sight and I was able to appreciate the grand size of it. This was also the place of the greatest roundabout I have ever seen. Cars were driving and swerving all over the place while honking and slamming on breaks. 
    THE EIFFEL TOWER. The Eiffel Tower is where I went next, and my mind was blown. Pictures, movies, and postcards do it no justice at all. Upon walking under the Eiffel Tower, I started to cry. It's hard to explain how I felt at that time. It was like a big, seemingly-impossible dream finally came true. After having so many little replicas in my room, pictures plastered in lockers and walls, and necklaces with it, I was finally under the real tower. I am a little embarrassed to admit that over half of my pictures taken that day were of the Eiffel Tower. It seemed to look different from every angle and under different weather conditions. I might sound like a dork, but it seemed like a structure from out of this world. It's size is unbelievable. It creates shadows over everything else in the city around mid-day. Luckily, Ivana (my Canadian friend) and I went back the next day and actually went up to the second floor. If anyone has seen Disney's Pixar movie Ratatouille, they know was I'm talking about when I say that the view was spectacular. I have finally been on the most beautiful building in the world. Now, when I look at my little replicas, I'll be able to imagine me on the second level looking around.
   Next, our group went to Notre Dame where I tried to imagine Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame take place (I love Disney movies, by the way). The gargoyles were actually real! I wanted to go into the building and explore, but the line was too long and my friends wanted to move on. Again, actually seeing the real life building took my breath away. I decided to actually run up and touch it to see if it was real. Paris most definitely has the most beautiful buildings I have ever seen.
    The Moulin Rouge was next on our list. After leaving Sacre Coeur, the walk to Moulin Rouge turned from relaxing and beautiful to scary and strange rather quickly. We were warned ahead of time about the district that the Moulin Rouge was in, but that still didn't prepare me (haha). Let's just say that I'm not ever going there when it's dark. But the Moulin rouge itself made me smile. It had the red tower and the sign that I saw in the movie. It's hard to believe that one city contains all these monuments. 
   Now, my three friends and I literally saw everything that was on our list: Roland Garros, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Louvre, Notre Dame, Sacre Couer, Moulin Rouge, and the Eiffel Tower at night. But to do this, we had to descend into the depths of Mordor (at least it seemed that way to me) and travel on the Metro. Oh, the metro. At first, I was lost beyond all comprehension and  followed the others. But throughout the day, I became more comfortable. There were a few instances when musicians would hop on the metro and ask for money. There was one guy in particular who had an amp and was singing. That was actually really fun (haha). By day two, Ivana and I had mastered the metro and were able to spend time at the Eiffel Tower and eat our last Parisian crepe by the Seine before heading back to the hostel.


Leave a Reply.