I was fourteen years old, standing in the Detroit Metro Airport with a constant stream of adrenaline running through me.
I couldn’t stand still.
My parents kept giving me advice. My suitcase barely made it under the fifty pound weight limit. I checked my backpack a dozen times to make sure there was nothing in there that would get me kicked off the flight.
I had only ever been to Canada, and to someone from Michigan, that doesn’t count as going outside of the country.
I was about to depart on a month long trek through parts of Western Europe.
First stop: Paris, France
When I heard the booming voice over the loudspeaker that my terminal had opened, I hugged my crying parents, collected my things and headed off, never once looking back.
I had my passport, my ipod, and my beloved Nikon D40X.
I was ready to go.
I credit this one specific moment to creating my unsatisfiable and unending sense of adventure and desire to see the world.
Arriving in Paris for the first time, my stomach fell to my feet. It’s an unexplainable feeling of grandeur and awe. There is no city in the world quite like Paris. The architecture- everywhere from gothic, renaissance and baroque really shows the evolution of the city and the Parisians sitting outside enjoying life… it’s as if the people don’t have a care in the world.
I’ll squash this stereotype right now. The French were by no means rude.
Stop. Just stop. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.
I’m a lover of all things that define the French culture: Crêpes, the fashion, Molière, the language… everything that is so quintessentially French.
All of the glamor, shopping and fine dining was great, and my life felt like a fairy tale for the week that I was there. It was fantastic, but my favorite part of my stay in France was the day trip to Strasbourg in the east of France, right on the border of Germany. Just spending the day with the locals playing soccer for hours on end, practicing my French and ending the day with their interpretation of an All-American cookout warmed my heart.
Pardon my French…
Le Château de Versailles et les Jardins- located about thirteen miles outside of the heart of Paris, it’s definitely worth the trip, and I cannot stress enough to get there when it opens and make an entire day out of it, simply because there is so much to see. Don’t rush yourself; take it all in. To walk through the halls and think about the kings and queens that inhabited it, the fabulous and extravagant parties that were throw, you will feel like you’re in a dream. Don’t forget the gardens (my favorite part of Versailles!).
Le Tour de Eiffel- Certainly the most identifiable symbol of Paris- the city of love. Take a stroll around the tower and have lunch in the park. Don’t be afraid to be a bit touristy here: Take pictures, get in line and go all the way to the top. If you’re claustrophobic like myself, don’t even think about taking the elevator to the top; suck it up and take the stairs. The view that awaits you will take away any breath you have left after climbing 1,063 feet up.
Le Musée du Louvre- 652,300 Square feet of pure amazement. You could spend an entire day here, and still not see all the artwork. The Louvre started out as a fortress in Paris in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, until King Henri IV added 500 meters worth of galleries for artisans and craftworkers, and that is really what started it all. Today, it is considered one of the biggest and the best museums in the world. It is home to the Mona Lisa (don’t be disheartened when you realize how small it actually is!), not to mention thousands and thousands of other works, and one of my most favorite statues, The Winged Victory of Samothrace, otherwise known as the statue of the goddess Nike.
Montmarte et La Basillique du Sacré Coeur- Montmarte is an artist district in northern Paris and is home to the beautiful church, Sacré Coeur. It’s incredibly quaint; admire the art, stroll through the streets and browse through the shops. After admiring the church, feel free to check out the notorious Moulin Rouge just down the street…
If you are ever fortunate enough to experience Paris, really experience it. Go all out. Seize every opportunity. Lose yourself in the city and let it consume you.