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Vacation Anticipation and Memories of Paris, France

- Justine

With practically one more month until the first day of summer, my mind is already there. I thought about last summer a whole lot today and my fabulous trip to France, and I’m going to share some of my summer enthusiasm with you guys by re-posting my second day in Paris.

I’m going to start with a tip: if you want to fit the Eiffel Tower into your Paris itinerary, you have to get an early start. Going to from the bottom to the second level to the top (insert much picture-taking here) then back down to the bottom took almost two hours total, and that doesn’t even include getting there by metro. It’s SO worth all the line-waiting, but if you have anything else planned for the rest of the day, just remember that it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.

So anyway, that particular day, all of Paris was weeping over Michael Jackson. Under the Eiffel Tower there was a big Michael Jackson mourner gathering, and the occasional outbursts of chanting and singing kept me amused whilst on line. When you get on the elevator for the second level (the first has a restaurant, if you have the time and financial means), try to get a spot near the outer edge for the best view. Once on the second level, after the preliminary ooh-ing and ah-ing, you buy tickets for the top and get in a second line, which isn’t as bad because you can look out on all of Paris while you wait.


The top of the Eiffel Tower, mes amies, is WICKED. I mean, the top of the Empire State Building was cool, but Paris is gorgeous on a sunny day and all of the streets, buildings, monuments, and museums stretch out around you and it’s pretty much indescribable; you just have to go.

With our next destination, the Louvre, closing in 1 hour, we had to take a hasty taxi (haha, try saying that five times fast) across town. If Paris is the most magnificent city I’ve ever been to (it is, hands down) the Louvre is the most magnificent building. Visitors under 18 have free admission, so after my uncle bought his ticket, we set off to see three of the Louvre’s most famous pieces of art: La Victoire de Samothrace, the Mona Lisa, and the Venus de Milo.

The Victoire de Samothrace was oddly inspiring: for those of you who don’t know what it is, it’s a marble statue of the Greek goddess Nike, and she’s missing a head. Then, though I’ve probably seen copies of the Mona Lisa thousands of times, seeing the real thing gave me the chills– I was standing just a few feet away from the most famous painting in the world that Da Vinci himself painted with his very hands. When you go to the Louvre, I highly recommend not only stopping to see La Joconde, but walking in a semi-circle around her; her eyes really do follow you.


Finally, the statue of Venus by Milo was also awe-inspiring. I only wished I had more time to look at everything. We had fifteen minutes before closing time, so I wandered up and the Grande Galerie. Many of the paintings were of biblical events or ancient people like Cleopatra. My favorites were La Mort de Cléopâtre, the double-sided Combat de David et Goliath, and a sculpture of Hercules.

On the way out, we pass a lot of Greek sculptures. Somebody please remind me to reread Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods by Edith Hamilton. Seeing all of the gods, goddesses, and heroes was also a great chance to apply what I read in The Odyssey last year. See if you can recognize the two figures below:


Another metro ride brought us to the Théâtre du Palais Royal and Jardin du Palais Royal (pictures below). From there we walked down Avenue de l’Opéra towards the Paris Opera to see Angela Denoke, a German jazz soloist. On the way, we stopped at a chocolate store called Foucher (30 Avenue de l’Opèra), where you absolutely must go if you ever find yourself in that section of Paris. A box of macarons, chocolate morsels with ground espresso, or chocolate truffles would make the perfect souvenir for a friend (or in my case, the perfect pre-dinner snack). We had dinner at the Bistro Romain on Boulevard des Italiens, where the food was pretty good, but not excellent.



Finally, the Opera. The building itself was gorgeous. It came in a close second to the Louvre. The ancient architecture made it seem like we were in a royal castle. The show was excellent, even though most of the songs were in German. Both Angela Denoke and the band were incredibly talented.



Et voila! My action-packed weekend in Paris. The only thing I didn’t get to do was go shopping. In France, there aren’t clothing sales constantly, like there are in the U.S. Clothes are on sale very rarely, but in the beginning of the summer, there are HUGE sales. Fifty percent off, seventy percent off– you get the picture. “SOLDES” (sale) decorated the windows of clothing stores throughout Paris while I was there. However, clothes are still more expensive then in the U.S., so don’t blow all your money on something you can get back at the mall in your state.

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I had such an amazing time on that trip. Where is everybody going on vacation this summer?

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