PART 3: France Exchange 2015
*continues to write about trip that happened two years ago*
I blame the transition from high school to post-secondary! Regardless, this will be super fun to recall such wonderful memories, and now everyone knows that though I procrastinate, I still (eventually) get the job done!
Alas, Part 3 of the France Exchange is here! The last two parts to the trip are all based in Paris, France, where the crew of Canadian French Immersion students had some of the best experiences of their lives. I'll leave the link to Part 2 right here, and if you still haven't read the first part, there's a link to that post in the previous article!
Wednesday, March 11, 2015 - CHAMPS ELYSÉES, MUSÉE D'ORSAY, ET LA TOUR EIFFEL
At 8 AM, all of us met downstairs in the dining area next to the hotel lobby for our first breakfast in Paris. With the hotel being so clean and beautiful, they sure do provide when it comes to the first meal of the day. The selection was huge; not only did they have the typical cereal, various breads and drinks, but there were also chocolate croissants (or pain au chocolats), a hot chocolate maker (and it was some A-class hot chocolate), packets of Nutella (the Italian kind, aka the better kind), lots of fruits, yogurt, and the list goes on. We all made sure to fill our stomachs so we didn't have to cave into buying expensive food outside. The pain au chocolats were also so extraordinary that some of us even sneaked some out to eat for later (at least my friend and I did)... I mean, it saved us a few euros.
After breakfast, we walked for a few minutes to the nearest metro station and got off at Charles de Gaulle Étoile to do some shopping at Paris' world famous 1.9 kilometre long shopping boulevard, les Champs-Elysées. Near the Arc De Triomphe, which is situated at one end of the boulevard, we were separated into two groups, and made a plan for when to meet in order to head for our next destination of the day. For the most part, we just looked around since the stores were either ones you can find in Canada or they were way past what we could afford. The first store I went into with my group was this kind of French Chapters that had all sorts of random things like books, dolls, electronics, macarons, etc. The first thing I picked up was this black baby doll 'cause I'm weird and thought it was cool. I mean, how often did you ever see black dolls when you were younger? (I wrote this before 2017 -- now I see a lot more coloured baby dolls!)
On the sidewalks, there were also some street vendors selling souvenirs of Paris, but we knew not to buy anything since there was a 110% chance the exact same items would be sold for as much as half the price than the costs at Champs-Elysées. After a few hours, I only ended up with two items, I believe, from a chocolate store called Jeff de Bruges and Zara. Around lunch time, both groups reunited and we headed back to the metro for our next destination, La Musée D'Orsay.
Before heading inside the museum for a 2-hour guided tour, we all bought lunch and ate on the steps of the museum as we watched a small Parisian band play music. It was a great experience, and I actually filmed some of it, which you can watch in the video below. After lunchtime, the lot went inside the museum for a tour and like all museums, it was either you thoroughly enjoyed it or you found it boring. Personally, I found it interesting and the art showcased within d'Orsay were beautiful.
After the first museum visit in Paris, we walked back to our hotel, past the famous Seine river on the beautiful winter day. Since our restaurant this night was literally 3 blocks away, we had some time to relax in our hotel before dinner. This was probably my favourite restaurant out of all nights in Paris. The main course was roast chicken with fries and the dessert was apple pie. Since we were a large group, all of our dinners were pre-booked, including what we ate, so that when we arrived at the restaurant, it wouldn't take super long for our food to be ready.
After dinner, we walked to the Eiffel Tower and took the elevator to the top. It was absolutely stunning. I didn't take many photos, because the lighting wasn't helping my phone (it was nice to embrace the feeling of being up there though), but I'll show a photo that I took during the day time when we passed earlier this day. Following the end of this long day, we went back to our hotel, got ready for bed, and set for another night of sneaking out past curfew only to hangout in our friends' room... hehehe.
Thursday, March 12, 2015 - LES CATACOMBS ET LOUVRE
Today was more spontaneous than the other days of the trip. Instead of going to Montmartre as our itinerary stated, our supervisors/teachers decided that we go to an underground cemetery (Les Catacombs de Paris), followed by lunch, and the famous museum you've probably seen photos of called The Louvre.
As usual, breakfast was around 8AM, and we then left for the catacombs. Honestly, it wasn't my cup of tea. I didn't even know what a catacomb was until we went down many steps to see paths lined with human skeletons and passed through dripping ceilings here and there. It was still interesting, but kind of gave me the heebie-jeebies as we walked through it all, but once we got out, oh... I was so glad.
After walking with the dead, we went to Monoprix, a kind of French Walmart, to save money on our lunch. We sat at a nearby park and took in some of the sun that was shining on our happy faces, and then walked through Le Jardin de Luxembourg to get to our next museum stop. We weren't exposed to many French teenagers while we were in Paris, as most were probably in school, but I took a photo of some just hanging out at the garden, playing a game of some sort.
Words can't describe how much I loved Louvre. It's a huge museum which would probably take hours to walk through all of the exhibits, while exploring the different eras, artists, and mediums of art. We were originally put into groups for a guided tour, but about halfway through, most of my group left, and remaining was my teacher, another classmate, and myself. Like the la Musée D'Orsay, it's either you enjoy this museum or not (or maybe you prefer to wander instead of listening to a French tour guide). Nevertheless, here are some photos I curated from le Louvre.
For dinner, we walked to Bistro Romain Poccardi where we had grilled vegetables for a starter, tilapia fillet for the main course, and panna cotta for dessert, which was the best out of all the restaurants we went to in Paris, in my opinion. My phone died, so I only have photos of the starter. While we were there, two elderly women behind my friend and I asked where we were from and told us that they were also on a trip with their group. One of them also talked about how her grand-daughter was around the same age as us and they were both so sweet and adorable. After dinner, we took the metro back to our hotel and barely slept for what would be the last two days of our trip.
---> That iconic postcard that I bought from the Louvre souvenir shop has lived on my fridge ever since I came back from France. It always makes me laugh.
To be continued...
Stay tuned for next Monday, when I post the last part of the France Exchange trip!
P.S. I'm sorry if the remainder of the series won't be as detailed as Part 1 and 2 (and the first part of this post). For the most part, I'm letting the photos speak for the experience itself, but even though my memory of (probably) not as special moments is deteriorating, this trip is still super special to me. When I do explain things, that particular memory must've meant a lot to me, since I still remember it. :)
Thanks for reading and have an amazing week, lovely person! <3