Paris: 5/18-5/22 by Ava Woods

On May 18th, we finally arrived in Paris after a long and delayed flight. Although extremely jet lagged, we decided to make the most of what was left of our day and visit a nearby cafe. Prior to coming on this trip, I had learned about what foods each city was known for, to ensure I order cuisine locals enjoy most. For my first dinner, I went with a “Croque Madame”, which is essentially a grilled ham and cheese topped with a fried egg. Normally, I do not ever eat ham or an egg, but this was one of my favorite meals I have had thus far. We followed dinner with a stroll around a nearby area and headed off to bed due to extreme exhaustion.

On May 19th, we started off with a tour of “Palais Garnier”, more commonly known as the Paris Opera House. It has been a dream of mine to visit this theater for as long as I could remember. Although my expectations were set extremely high, I was even more astonished than I could have imagined. The architecture and decor are mind blowing, and stepping inside this building was something I will never forget. During our tour, I learned so much about its history, which is something I normally do not take interest in, but I was fully captivated the entire time.

After our tour, we then made our way to yet another cafe in the heart of Paris. This time, I ordered an insanely good pasta dish with pesto, tomatoes, and burrata cheese. We then walked around the city some more, stopping briefly at the Louvre, and following along the seine, to reach the Eiffel Tower. After taking many pictures, we took a river cruise down the seine to see even more sights, like the Notre Dame Cathedral.

Lastly, we took the subway to Montmartre, a quaint town with scenic views of the city, as well as the beautiful Sacre Coeur. Although the walk up to the top of the hill was gorgeous, the 300+ stairs nearly killed my legs. However, the treacherous journey was well worth it. We all ate dinner together at Au Cadet de Gascogne restaurant, where I had some mussels and “frites”.

On May 20th, we visited the Palace of Versailles, which was one of the most extravagant places I have ever been. After doing a complete tour of the inside of the palace, along with a quick pit stop at the Laduree within, we worked our way to the gardens. This area was gorgeous, housing so many different species of plants and artistically landscaped grass. The palace was a highlight of the trip in my opinion, and I am so glad we added this to our itinerary.

We then made our way to the first performance of the trip, Akram Khan’s The Jungle Book. We finished out the day with yet another trip to the Eiffel Tower and sat at a local restaurant to watch it sparkle throughout the night. It was one of the most beautiful and peaceful evenings on this trip thus far.

On May 21st, which was our last full day in Paris, we decided to walk around another gorgeous downtown area filled with historic, beautiful buildings and great shopping. We visited a small bakery and got some handmade croissants and eclairs and hit several good local (and chain) stores. My personal favorite was vintage shop called Happy Hippy, where I bought a cute hair scarf. Almost every person on our trip found some great deals there! We ate lunch at another good cafe, where we all tried escargot. I also had onion soup that was topped with melty cheese and croutons, which was very good. After more shopping and a VERY speedy 45-minute walk back to the Hostel (that we managed to complete in 17 minutes), we ventured out again to the Paris Opera House. This time, we were able to watch a performance by Mats Ek Ballet, which I thoroughly enjoyed. We even got to sit in what was known as the “Emperors Box”, which is where the emperor used to watch Ballets and Operas at the Opera House.

Overall, Paris fully lived up to my expectations, through the arts scene, architecture, and even food. I would love to return sometime with the rest of my family, to show them around and to see the sights we did not get a chance to see.

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