The following post is by blogger Kia Guarino
This week I have thoroughly enjoyed walking the line between tourist and Parisian! I have finally developed a routine for my school and volunteer work, which I has been fun and fulfilling. However, this week has been especially fun, as I have met some incredible people and was able to do some touristy things in the very enjoyable company of others.
We spent Sunday touring the gardens and the chateau in Versailles. Despite being very cold, it was a perfect way to spend the day. I was informed about the detailed perspective that can be seen throughout the grounds that were all carefully crafted to emphasize the power of Louis XIV after he moved the court from Paris to Versailles. It was also developed in three stages, beginning as a relatively small brick hunting house and eventually transforming into one of the most beautiful places I have ever visited.
Since it was a Sunday and it was Valentine’s Day, it was very crowded and the gardens were still dormant. But despite all of this, I was thoroughly impressed. I would like to go back in the late spring/early summer when the gardens are in their full glory,
Monday we visited both the highest and the lowest (at least almost the lowest) tourist hotspots in Paris. The sewer system (les égouts – une vision souterraine de Paris!) was developed after a massive flood covered Paris 100 years ago this year. It was smelly and cold and the tour was in French, but I still had a great time! There are a number of old machines that were developed to clear the dirt and to deal with the noxious gasses and they also told stories of finding an alligator and other creatures down there. You definitely need to go with people you can laugh about the dripping ceilings with.
Afterwards, we wanted to visit some of the many museums in the Trocadéro area, but unfortunately it was Monday so they were closed. Instead, we had un café and waited until about 6hr to begin our trek to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Since it was a cold Monday, the lines were shorter than normal, but they still were not short.
We waited for about a half hour at the bottom to get our tickets then rode to the 2nd floor. There we walked around and enjoyed the sunset over Paris, which was breathtaking. It was very cold there and we waited in line to ride to the top. At the end of our 30-minute ride, we could not feel our extremities, but it was worth it! We actually rode up the middle of the Eiffel Tower as the lights were sparkling to show the hour. While it is more magnificent from the outside, it was still a lovely experience!
On top, the view was amazingly beautiful, but we did not spend too much time up there as we were certain we were going to lose our fingers to frostbite.
One thing about Paris that I have really enjoyed is the diversity and the constant exposure to different cultures. In my French course alone we have people representing about 8 different nationalities and I have met people outside of school from at least 5 different countries. I really enjoy the proximity to the rest of Europe and even the relative accessibility to Asia and Africa.
Despite the unusually cold weather, Paris has continued to dazzle me!