There seemed to be so much happening at the start of the semester, new people to meet, new things to explore, classes to attend… so much to do in Saint Etienne that I wondered when I would find the time to travel. But how could I not? Being in the eastern-central part of France, I’m less than a couple hours by train from Switzerland, Italy, and the French coast. So after the first month and a half, the traveling adventures commenced!
My best friend Abbey came to visit me for two weeks at the beginning of November, so of course we had to include a trip to Paris and London!
We started off bright and early, leaving Saint Etienne at 6am, taking a direct TGV to Paris, arriving at 9am. I had found a wonderful little AirBNB apartment for us, and we went there first to drop off our bags.
Since we only had two and a half days in Paris, I wanted to make the most of our time and show Abbey as much as possible! I had been to Paris a couple times before, but never as an “adult”, where I was the one deciding the itinerary. Being the organized, planning person I am, most of the places we wanted to go, and the general outline for our time was mapped out before hand. So after finding our lovely apartment, we marched on towards Sacre Cœur in Montmartre. There were musicians and artists along the roads, filling the scene with the oh-so Paris feel, where a smile floats across your face and you feel light and happy.
After lunch, we undertook the magnificent Louvre. We spent hours strolling its halls (taking a little time to rest our feet, it is so huge). The grandeur of not only the paintings, but the golden frames and details of the painted ceilings is something I will never be able to not be amazed by. A lot of walking was done, Moulin Rouge to the Grand Palais, making our way to the beautiful Notre Dome, the Pantheon, the Luxembourg Gardens, and finally ending our night at the Eiffel Tower.
One of my favorites things about trips is how they have such a different atmosphere depending on who you’re with. Being with my best friend, who I hadn’t seen in 3 months, it was so special to share the exploration of such a wonderful city like Paris. We didn’t take the Gossip Girl, Serena and Blair fountain pictures, as the chilly French air wouldn’t allow for that, but we did finish our time in Paris with a sunrise in front of the Eiffel Tower, sipping coffee and eating crepes.
After a couple days in Paris, we took the Eurorail to London! I love the convenience of the train systems in Europe, it makes it so easy to travel, and most of the time you can find extremely reasonable prices. Although after this trip, and taking train after train, it was nice to take a break.
Leaving sunny Paris, we entered cloudy and rainy London. Despite the rain, the city sparkled, already decorated with lights for Christmas in early November. I love the unique differences of both of these cities. While Paris has that timeless appearance of soft colored buildings and cafes, London’s beauty is just as amazing with its grandeur! Many buildings are constructed with huge bricks, and everything seeps with well-kept age.
Instead of walking the entire city, we decided to take the double decker bus! Our legs appreciated the little bit of sitting. Everything was seen, London Tower, the Bridge, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Piccadilly Circus! And of course, our first night in London we ate the famous chips and fish!
Bottom line, travel as much as you can! Discovering new cities and being able to appreciate the differences from the norm is amazing! Plus food is wonderful everywhere.