My first 48 hours in Paris have been jammed packed and have left my feet aching, but that hasn’t stopped me from enjoying it!
Only hours after our arrival, my classmates and I ventured into the Montparnasse area for the Gay Pride Parade. This took us on an almost 3-mile long walk in 100-degree weather, but the lively spirits and music were our motivation. We were also thankful for the firefighters who sprayed everyone with water from their firehouses and created a refreshing rainfall. During this trajectory, we walked near the Luxembourg Gardens, the Pantheon, and Notre Dame Cathedral. It was a crazy and fun experience and led us straight towards our program orientation.
After our orientation, we went to Le Petit Bouillon Pharamond for our first Parisian dinner as a class. In the spirit of immersing myself in the culture, I decided to try escargot and I was not disappointed. At first, I was overwhelmed by all the utensils needed to eat escargot, but after the first successful attempt, I was delighted by their creamy, buttery and flavorful taste. I recommend to anyone planning a visit — give them a try because you will be delightfully surprised. However, my favorite part of dining in a french restaurant is the quantity of bread you are provided. I probably ate a whole baguette all by myself.
Tired, full of exquisite french food, and jet lagged, we decided we couldn’t go to bed without seeing the Eiffel Tower. So we took a 9 stop metro trip from our hotel to sit under the Eiffel Tower. Even though the grassy area in front of the tower was crowded, we managed to find a spot. And it was at that moment I realized I was in Paris. The clock struck 10 and lights on the tower began to flicker. It was a beautiful ending to an amazing day.
The next day was Host Family day!
I was picked up by my host mom at the hotel that morning. From the get-go, she was teaching me how to be Parisian. She taught me that crossing the street in Paris is all about who is the strongest, and often times it’s not the cars. While we drank coffee at a little corner cafe, she explained how it isn’t customary to tip waiters unless their service is beyond exceptional. From there she took me on a tour of the area near the apartment. Along the way, she taught me some history. She pointed out how normally the 3rd floor is the one with the largest and most ornate balcony because in the past that was considered the most expensive, and the top floor with small windows was usually reserved for the workers. As we passed Les Halles, she told me how this used to be the center of all things food. It was once one of the largest markets in Paris, and now it is a modern mall with stores like H&M and Zara. From Rue Montorogueil to the edge of the Seine to Les Marais and the Pompidou Centre to back home, she explained every corner and made me feel like a local.
Within the first 48 hours, I had seen so much of Paris that I was feeling ready to maneuver around the city like an expert. So before dinner, I took a short 15-minute walk to the Louvre and sat on its steps, watching the tourists take their pictures trying to touch the tip of the pyramid. I went to bed that night amazed at how lucky I am to call the city of lights home for the next month.