Saturday, March 26, 2016

Normandy Scholars - Day 8: Steps Around Paris

(Today's post is brought to you by Jessica Edwards '17 and Bit Brown '16.  Wifi issues have persisted into Paris, so here is the entry.  The photos will be posted when we get back!)

After a lengthy walk from Bayeux to Paris, we finally arrived to last night to enjoy a full day in Paris before returning home tomorrow....Just kidding! We didn't walk 160 miles, but it felt like we did! Due to the very unfortunate events in Belgium, we adjusted the trip agenda; no longer could we take the metro around the city, so it took three times as long for us to get where we needed to be. While painful and intense, perhaps walking everywhere worked out for the best. There were plenty of photo opportunities, a lack of errors through the public transportation system, and buildings that we visited that we may have not had we taken the metro.

We began our sightseeing adventure with what now seems like a short walk to the Notre-Dame Cathedral. To commemorate Good Friday, there was a large mass featuring some of the most beautiful, operatic singers I've ever heard live. Also, the fact that the cathedral's visitors showed so much respect for the service that the Notre-Dame allowed people to enter in the middle of a mass was awe inspiring, so much so that Bit and I accidentally left the group waiting outside the cathedral for us in the rain to give us more time to take in its rich history and beauty.

The cathedral wasn't the only picture-worthy architecture that we saw today; from the golden streaks that complemented the main performance area artwork in the Opera House of Paris to the intricate designs of the Arc d'Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, there's so much to see and not enough time.

This is my third Saints abroad trip, and I can happily say that while I would love to revisit Pro Vita in Valea Screzii and St. Paul's in Montrouis, Bayeux and Paris are also some of my top future travel destinations. I don't know how or when I will return, but I'd like to think that this exchange doesn't have to end after les élèves français leave Alexandria. Ce n'est pas 'au revoir,' mais c'est 'à toute à l'heure.'

- Jessica Edwards

37,615 steps. It took 16.43 miles to reach dinner today. 44 staircases (thanks Louvre), and 3,030 calories burned later, I can finally sit down and enjoy an overflow of bread, cheese, and hopefully tons of chocolate, without any remorse at all. And yet, even though my feet still hurt and hands ache from clicking a small silver button all day, I find it was completely worth it.

One of the things I was worried about when we came to Paris was the lack of the use of the metro. We wouldn't be able to see all the sights - but we kind of did. Yes, it took longer, and I will have a blissful dinner here being as sedentary as possible, but it was also beautiful. We walked, something I don't think I'm very accustomed to, what with having a car - and I saw so much more than I would've had I been in a four walled steel rectangle rushing to each and every site. It made the view of the Eiffel Tower more magnificent, and the sculptures in the Arc du Triomphe more special.

Then, finally, we reached the Louvre - and my tiny group of Eric, Sarah, and me spent it rushing our tired feet across as many floors as possible - Roman, Greek, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian. With Eric acting as our resident leader and map-holder, we managed to "kind of" see everything in the Louvre. The Mona Lisa, naturally, the Code of Hammurabi (the glyphs were easily legible, which was amazing if you know the language, but personally, I prefer French), Venus of Milo, the Sphinx's tomb, and Napoleon's apartments were all amazing, and so many other works of art that we didn't immediately recognize but still caught our eyes. On the other hand, the place was massive. And I'll have to go back, undoubtedly. Or just return to France ASAP, because there's so much more to see.

France has been amazing, and I loved Paris and the newfound ability to make others believe I'm truly French. It's been great, and I'm sad to leave. Good thing the teachers totally had this all planned so we'd be too tired tomorrow to do anything but sleepwalk all the way on to the plane. Au revoir, Paris, et tu me manques.

- Bit Brown

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