My first full day in Paris was simply magical. No other word can describe the wonderful experiences I encountered. I must warn you my day was action-packed, so brace yourself for a long post.
The day began with and early breakfast at our hotel. We departed to the city centre and went through the Jardin des Tuileries en route to Notre-Dame Cathedral. I’ve been dying to see the Notre-Dame and go up the Bell Tower. On our way to there we saw witness much more of the atmosphere and scenery.
There exists in this era, for thoughts written in stone, a privilege absolutely comparable to our current freedom of the press. It is the freedom of architecture.
—Book V, Chapter 2
When my eyes first laid upon the cathedral, my heart sunk. Notre-Dame is majestic in its beauty. The intricate details in the exterior took my breath away. Luckily, the line was incredibly short and entered the cathedral quickly. Unfortunately, the Bell Tower was close. It did not minimize my experience. Notre-Dame is stunning. There is an abundance of beauty, emotion, faith and history in that one building. My mind could not process so much emotion. I’ll be honest. I’ve never read Victor Hugo’s “Hunchback of Notre-Dame”. But after witnessing the power/momentum/feeling of Notre-Dame, I am eager to read/consume the literature that pretty much saved Notre-Dame. When I left the cathedral, I met a group of three Mexican students who were studying abroad in Valencia, Spain. I love great meeting people who are living similar experiences as I am.
Afterwards, Karrisa, Hillary and I visited a quaint nearby park. Soon after we departed to the Latin Quarter and then the Panthéon. The Latin Quarter is definitely my favorite neighborhood. We couldn’t fin the Pantheon but we did find the University of Paris I: Panthéon-Sorbonne. The building is huge I met some French students and asked for directions (in French!). We finally arrived to the Panthéon. saw the tombs of Voltaire, Rousseau, Victor Hugo, Marie Curie. Apart from a chemist’s wife, Marie Curie is the only woman buried in the Panthéon. We explored more of a the neighborhood and met a French student who recommended this great cafe with WiFi. My sandwich was delicious! While there we met two French students who were actually helping me with my French. I really wanted to learn to pronounce arrondissement (district).It was definitely a struggle but they were so eager and kind to assist me.
Our next stop was the Jardin du Luxembourg. Similar to everything else I’ve encountered in Paris, the Luxembourg Gardens is filled with history and beauty. I fully enjoyed observing the locals in such a relaxed environment. It reminded of me having lunches in Chicago’s Millennium Park during the summertime. We went back to our hotel for a little rest.
Hillary, Karissa and I departed towards the Eiffel Tower for a guided night bike tour with Fat Tire Bike Tours. I’ll be the first to admit I am not an expert on riding. It didn’t cross my mind that I was going to be riding a bike on the streets of Paris at night. Woah. Step back. Is this for real?! I could barely ride a bike. How on Earth did I think I could ride a bike with cars, taxis and busses?! Luckily, I already embodied my new”adventurous” persona, so I masked by fear with humor. We had an an awesome tour guide named Pete who was also hilarious. I asked Pete “on a scale of riding around the parking lot to Tour de France, how hard is this going to be?”. Luckily, I trusted Pete and I was very eager to see and learn more. It was definitely an adventure. Alas I survived! It was a challenge but I am so glad I overcame that fear. I had so much fun. I learned a lot. I was with my girls. I was constantly laughing. I also met two Australian students who were also in the bike tour.
We went all over Paris. I saw the Eiffel Tower, and the Wall of Peace (really regret not being able to snap a picture). We pretty much went all around Paris. We saw Notre-Dame, Saint Chapelle the Louvre, the Ille de la Cité, the Pont de Arts, Champs-Elyséese, the Arc de Triomphe, Princess Diana’s Flame and Academie Française. We bought delicious ice cream from Berthillon and ate during a quick break on the Pont St. Louis, which connects the Ile de la Cité and the Ile St. Louis. The night concluded with a boat tour on the Seine, red wine included!
October 22 was definitely one of the greatest days of my life.