It seems like we’ve been in Paris for a lifetime now, even though we’ve only been here 4 days. I suppose then, if we’ve been in Paris for a lifetime we’ve been overseas since Napoleon was running around.
I’ve been trying to upload as much as I can, but in the last few days, everything has been so crazy busy and we’ve all come home so dead on our feet, that really, tonight has been the only night I could manage a post. So, with that in mind, I apologise for the length of this post in advance; feel free to just skim through the pictures if you want, but here’s what’s been happening since Thursday.
After an early, early get up at the Kyriad Hotel, we all lugged our suitcases (our ridiculously stuffed, heavy-as-an-elephant suitcases) over to the bus. Three and a half hours, two Harry Potter movies and a pitstop later, we arrived in Paris.
One of the best things about taking the bus, one which maybe you wouldn’t experience taking the Eurostar, was watching the city of Paris rise out of nothingness as you emerge through a road tunnel.
As a result of the bus trip a new game has been invented: “Spot The Monument”.
We got off the bus straight onto the busiest street in Paris: Champs Élysées. Lined with ridiculously expensive designer boutiques and trees threaded with fairy lights, Champs Élysées was a dream come true for everyone. A bit further down from the hustle and bustle of stores like Chanel and Prada were the white stalls of the Paris Christmas markets.
It was then most of us came to realise that everything you read or hear or watch about Paris is true. It’s exactly what you think, it’s actually as amazing as everyone is lead to believe. Never mind the gypsies, (with whom we’ve had a run in or two) or the cold wind, or the sense that one mispronounced French word could have you shouted out of a store, Paris is all it’s cracked up to be, more even.
After the Christmas Markets we took a short walk through to the Seine River on which we boarded a river boat. The boat took us right through the heart of Paris, past the likes of the Notre Dame, the Musee du Louvre and – of course – the Eiffel Tower. It was freezing on top of the boat, but no one minded much. Another game was then created: “See-How-Many-People-You-Can-Get-To-Wave-To-The-Aussie-Kids-On-The-Boat”.
It was there on the river boat that we got our first real look at the Eiffel Tower, which most of us could not actually believe was real. It was so strange, standing there infront of it, watching the locals pass by it without a second glance like it wasn’t the most ridiculously awesome thing in the entire world.
It was the day after the river cruise, our second day in Paris, that we went to Disneyland. This also happened to be the day that we decided it was okay to revert back to a five year old and skip through a crowded area in Mickey Mouse ears. I for one, took full advantage of such a day.
Disneyland, like Paris, makes good on all it’s promises. It really is the happiest place on earth. From the second we ran through the gates, to the moment we all dragged our weary bodies onto the bus with our bags full of stuffed toys and the doors shut, we all had a blast. It was so much fun and we all feel a little more in tune with our childhoods after it.
(Just a warning to any parents reading this: a lot of money was spent at Disneyland. ALOT.)
Above is just a quick snap of a group of us on the Tower of Terror. The order is, from top left across: Grace (Me), Maddy, Rose, Paddy, (Bottom) Emma, Rhiana, Abbey and Corey.
Our third day in France, yesterday, was by far the busiest we’ve had in Paris, maybe even the whole trip. It started off with an early breakfast and a run down of the crazy-busy Metro system. We then made our way to Notre Dame. I could probably talk and talk and talk for hours just about Notre Dame and how beautiful it was, how peaceful it felt and how our visit was so perfectly timed that we missed the crowds, but we’d be here for hours.
This post is already long, and I’m only about halfway done. I’ll keep the Notre Dame talk down to a minimum.
Did I mention how beautiful it is?
The second stop of day three was the Conciergerie. It was a beautiful old building which was first a palace, but was then turned into a prison during the French Revolution. It was in the Conciergerie that Marie Antoinette was held before she was guillotined. Low and behold there was a mannequin model of the lady herself in her cell which had been decorated to imitate what it would have been like all those years ago.
The third stop, just a few doors down from the Conciergerie was Saint Chapelle. Definitely one of the most breathtaking places of the entire trip, Saint Chapelle boasted an upper floor with walls totally lined with stained glass windows. They were tall and grand and being repaired in some places, which called for some very ugly scaffolding. However, the effect was not lost.
Between stops our inner children were once again released when we happened across a double storey carousel and all decided to go for a spin.
The Eiffel Tower, well, what is there to say?
It is as imposing on the French skyline as you’d think. It is grand and proud and beautiful in it’s stance and curvature.
Even though we had to walk because the lifts were broken (Hahahaha!) the view was totally worth it.
The view from the top of the Eiffel Tower is uninterrupted as there are no ugly skyscrapers to interrupt the scenery.
Perhaps the only thing you feel is missing from the panorama is the Eiffel Tower itself. Then, you realise you are standing atop the great marvel and pure wonder washes over you.
At night, when the light dims, the Eiffel Tower begins to glow. A feeling of magic and awe shortly ensues.
This morning, our last full day in Paris, began with a trip to the famous Galleries Lafayette. 100x better than Myers or David Jones, Lafayette not only has the prettiest stained-glass dome ever, but it also has a balcony overlooking the entire city. The Christmas windows were also pretty spectacular, as well as some of the prices. This is probably a good thing as I know some people, including myself, needed to rein themselves in a little when it came to their spending.
After lunch in the Latin Quarter, our final stop was the Musee du Louvre. One of my personal highlights, alongside St Paul’s, Notre Dame and The Globe Theatre, the Louvre offered up a nice change of pace from our hectic schedule. Inside the Louvre which is home to greats such as the Mona Lisa and the statue of Adonis, we were allowed to wander at our own pace and just soak up all the history, time, effort and beauty around us. As the sky turned from blue to pink to grey, the glass pyramid over the dome illuminated and we made our way back to the hotel.
Tonight as a group, the students participating in the Battlefields Tour, thanked Mr Dennis and Mrs Hanson with gifts to show our appreciation for all their hard work, effort and patience. If it was not for them and their support throughout this entire adventure, as my brother put it, we’d be “floating in the river”. I would like to take this chance to thank them again as we, all, are so, so thankful for everything they have done and this wonderful opportunity they have given us.
We’re packing to leave now and will be in bed soon. Apart from some issues closing suitcase zips (and a poltergeist or two) the trip has ended very calmly. I know I don’t just speak for myself when I say that we’ve all made new friends on this trip and have all become very close. It’s sad to think we’re leaving this amazing place, getting off this whirlwind of an adventure and having to eat plane food again (insert sad face here) but we’re all hanging to come home and see our families.
If you’ve made it to the bottom of this novel, congratulations. I would like to say you’ve won a prize, but alas, there are none today. Thanks though. I really appreciate all the comments everyone has posted. I’ve read them all although I haven’t replied to any as I am not the best at remembering things. I have also really enjoyed using this website, it’s been a great way to stay in touch.
So from me, who is delusional as I should have been in bed an hour ago (sorry Abbey for keeping the light on), goodnight.