At the end of the first week in Montpellier, the entire program departed for a weekend in Paris. Despite the 6 am wake up call, we were extremely excited to experience Paris, some of us for the first time. To get there, we took the TGV. The TGV is France’s high speed rail system. This was an experience in and of itself. The train ran through the French countryside, where there were many small towns and farms to be seen.
Our accommodation had been arranged by the program before our arrival. Conveniently, it was located directly adjacent from the train station. We stopped there first, to drop off our bags. Next, the entire group made its way to Notre Dame Cathedral. The cathedral was breathtaking and unbelievably detailed. After seeing the cathedral, we were able to break off into smaller groups and make our way to lunch. We walked a bit farther away from the cathedral in order to avoid overpriced restaurants that were geared towards tourists. However, a few restaurant employees tried to lure us in by offering a free drink or snack. Eventually we found a promising Italian restaurant. Most of us ordered pizza which turned out to be some of the best we had ever had.
After lunch, we had more free time and decided to head towards the Eiffel tower. It took us some time to find the best view of the tower. Once we were able to walk around the park, we got an amazing view and were able to appreciate its magnificence. After spending some time there, we rejoined the entire group for a boat tour on La Seine, the major river that runs through Paris. On this river tour we were able to take beautiful photos and get an even clearer view of the Eiffel tower. Being on the river gave us a much-needed break from the heat. People sitting along the river cheered us on as we passed them. It was the perfect ending to a very busy day.
The next day we visited the Louvre. This was my favorite part of Paris. The architecture of the building itself was breathtaking, and much of the artwork inside was as well. It would have been possible to spend days touring this museum, but we only had a few hours. I was able to see the Mona Lisa, of course. As well as some other very interesting pieces.
After the Louvre, a group of us headed to Palais de Tokyo, a modern and contemporary art museum in Paris. This museum was a perfect contrast to the Louvre because it showcased art that was extremely abstract and shocking, much unlike the classical styles that are displayed in the Louvre.
On the last day in Paris, I was able to see Luxembourg Gardens. These gardens were beautiful and very well manicured. The hedges at the end of the garden were shaped into perfect squares. Many people, including me, sat in the garden enjoying a leisurely Sunday. It was a great place to watch Paris go by and end the weekend.