Paris, France by Madeline Davis

I really enjoyed my study abroad, despite the crowded trains and lack of AC. One of my favorite days was when we went to Montmartre. Montmartre is a region of Paris that’s on a hill, overlooking the city. Montmartre actually was its own city until 1860, so it’s unique and very quaint. At the very top of the hill was a church called Sacre Couer (which means sacred heart) We started off our day in this region with a guided tour, taking historical cobblestone streets all the way to the top. We passed famous painters’ apartments and got to see the actual buildings that inspired them. This guided tour is also when I learned about Parisian street art. Our guide started pointing out different tilled patterns or pictures and little sculptures plastered to the wall. Ever since then, I have noticed street art everywhere in Paris. Besides our day in Montmartre, I have seen more gilded castles, churches, and chapels than in my whole life before this trip. It feels like every religious or royal building we go into is covered in vibrant paint and gold leaf. I think this trip has taught me how to appreciate art and culture. I feel like in the U.S. it’s hard to involve yourself in historical or cultural events. But in the past weeks, I’ve been in complete and constant awe of the beauty around me, and as my time here comes to a close, I think this appreciation will stay with me. Paris feels like a whole other world compared to my Mt. Pleasant bubble childhood. There is culture and diversity everywhere in Paris. We found ourselves spending a lot of time in the neighborhood called “Le Marais”. It is filled with unique corner shops, beautiful parks, and every type of food you could ever want. It ranged from French cafes to hole-in-the-wall falafel stands. We learned later from our program provider that it’s actually the Jewish and LGBTQ district. Also, “Le Marais” literally means the swamp. This is because the region used to be filled with bourgeois, but during the revolution (I think) they were chased out, and then the region was abandoned for long enough to gain the nickname swamp. And now it’s one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Paris!

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