Thursday, April 9, 2015

Wandern rund um Paris // Wandering Around Paris | France, Pt. 1



March 27, 2015

Spring break is here! Mannheim students get the two weeks bordering Easter off from classes and I spent my time travelling to a few nearby countries with a couple friends. First stop - France.


We began our trip with three days in Paris. I didn't fully know how excited I was to visit Paris until I arrived at Gare de l'Est early Friday morning and realised I'm in PARIS! Even though I've always had it on my list of places to see, I subconsciously thought that dream would never come true, and when I stood in front of monuments I'd only seen in pictures and film I couldn't believe my eyes. That was THE Eiffel Tower and THE Mona Lisa within arms length in front of me. It was utterly surreal.



Despite knowing all the famous sites and looking at a map of the city a few times before arriving, I quickly realised that my mental idea of Paris and reality were not at all the same. Paris is far bigger and far more, well, ordinary than I'd expected. My romantic ideals were lessened a bit when I realised the Avenue des Champs-Élysées wasn't as pretty as I'd imagined nor was the Eiffel Tower as close to the main stretch as I thought it would.

Our "waiting in line" faces
Despite a few minor differences from my expectations, I still fell in love with the city. I adore huge cities with millions of things to see and do, and Paris does not disappoint. We walked over 13 miles our first day, exploring the more known areas before wandering off the main path for a while and finding some neighbourhoods behind the National Assembly.





Most of the areas we travelled through were crawling with tourists but we still caught a glimpse of local life in some of the smaller corners of the city. Parisians are just as beautiful as all of the stereotypes and the arts are just as appreciated as I'd expected from such a culturally rich city. It was almost intimidating at times being surrounded by so much beauty; I was keenly aware of my in-elegant Americanness when surrounded by well-dressed Parisians on the Metro or beside the art on the streets.



Paris is the perfect city to wander around in and get lost, and I could easily have spent hours and hours walking around without seeing everything. I see why so many people fall in love with it - it's as equally welcoming as it is foreign, and I wish we could have spent more than a few days there.





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