Since Annie did such a lovely job regaling you all with a run-down of our day in Paris, I thought I’d just pop in to share the photos I took and my own spin on the expérience.
I’ve dreamt about going to Paris for my entire life. I started learning French as a toddler—my father would read us an alphabet book before bed. Our favorite section was “O” for “oiseau;” dad would act the book out for us and shout, “Regarde! Le oiseau!” Truly one of my fondest memories of childhood. From there I moved onto vocabulary books and translating picture books, before beginning formal study at ten. Due to this, I have great literacy and comprehension of French, but my speech is rough (due to lack of practice and general perfectionist nerves).
I’ll start this off (after two paragraphs…) by saying that I truly never thought I’d make it to Paris, and if it weren’t for the sensational BSU @ Oxford program and Annie’s exceptional ability to plan and execute, I’d never have had this experience. Bucket list item checked. And the city is stunningly beautiful—everyday apartments and hotels can be as breathtaking as the palaces and monuments. We spent most of our time in the 7eme arrondissement, but thanks to the bus tour, we got to see swaths of the city.
On a less laudatory note, Paris is a lot. We were running on 2 hours sleep, in scalding heat and sun, and wonky food and water intake. I didn’t even have a glass of wine or champagne while we were there, although of course I’m making up for it right now by drinking a glass of Vieux Papes. Even though the day was a bit physically and emotionally trying, I’m not blaming Paris itself for weather and tourists (read: ugly Americans). This experience has just made me want to go back for the full monty of Paris, as it were. Staying at a B&B, going to Versailles, coffee & croissants, shopping, the whole thing.
Some practical words of advice to close:
This is the bus tour we took. It’s a hop-on/hop-off and well worth the €30. Paris is…not small, so if you want to make sure you squeeze in every must-see sight, this tour has great routes. If you try to see everything on foot, you’ll be spent in like 2 hours.
On that note: sensible shoes! I know you want to be fashionable in Paris. I know. But your feet will nearly fall off if you don’t have decent support. Trust me.
SUNSCREEN. Us pasty white people gotta lather up.
You cannot do Paris in a day. I think it would take a week to even really feel you’ve been. It’s a massive city with so much culture, art, and things to do—even with the Metro, it’s a lot of ground to cover.
Don’t go during the summer. Tourists abound, everything has a long wait, and uh, should I mention it’s 1,000ºC? Not a ton of shade in Paris. I am Fifty Shades Darker, and not in a kinky way.
Carry as little as possible. Lugging shit around is torture. Due to our circumstances, it was necessary that we had certain items on us, but in future, I plan to pare down to the small crossbody bag possible.
You’ve got to learn some French. They’ll switch to English, mercifully, but at least make the effort. Don’t be like me and start accidentally responding in English like you did in university French class…
Annie mentioned this, but don’t sleep on the Luxembourg Palace Gardens. The little kids playing with the boats was the single cutest thing ever. It felt like I’d walked onto a movie set. Perfection.
I’m so glad I got to go to the most beautiful city in the world! #blessed
I can’t wait to go back to Paris—I haven’t gotten my fill!