Last week marked the French national holiday known as Toussaint Day (or All Saint’s Day, for English speakers). Toussaint Day is November 1st which fell on a Wednesday this year, so for all of us lucky students at CIDEF, we had three days off of school.
I, being notoriously terrible for planning actual things to do during a break rather than just sleeping and watching Netflix, initially decided that I would spend the five-day weekend lounging around Angers. However, I had a last-minute change of plans and ended up buying a train ticket for Paris that Friday. It was a whirlwind trip as I only spent three days in the city and part of two of those days were spent traveling to and from Paris. I greatly enjoyed it though, especially since I had at one point thought I would be spending a semester in France without ever seeing the Eiffel Tower.
That Saturday, I arrived in Paris around 1:30 pm, checked into my hotel, and then decided to find somewhere to eat and walk around to explore the city a bit. I was fairly hungry at this point so I wanted to find a restaurant that was close and inexpensive, but as I scrolled through Google Maps looking at options, a familiar name called out to me: Chipotle. I should preface this by stating that I am from Texas and was raised on Mexican food, more specifically Tex-Mex. Tex-Mex is difficult to find outside of Texas and so after spending two years at Ole Miss, I am accustomed to this particular food struggle. However, things like burritos and tacos are more universal and help to mitigate the loss. While I’ve been in Angers, I’ve been hesitant to search for a place to eat such cuisine as it’s not particularly based on common flavors for the French palate. Upon finding a Chipotle in Paris though, I realized this was an opportunity I could not let go to waste. I could finally have some spicy, flavorful food wrapped in a tortilla – glorious. Thus, this is how I found myself eating a burrito and drinking a Dr. Pepper in the middle of Paris at 2:30 in the afternoon. Everything tasted basically the same way it would at a Chipotle stateside so it was a successful outing. Afterwards, I decided to head to the Notre-Dame and spent some time amazed by this massive cathedral that dates back to 1163. The intricacies of the architecture and the stained-glass windows are astounding.
The next day I had decided I would go to the Eiffel Tower and the Arc de Triomphe. The forecast had been projecting rain for that day, but that morning it said the chance of rain was 0% so I left my hotel without my umbrella and was looking forward to a nice walk along the Seine to the tower. About ten minutes after departing, the sky started to darken with ominous clouds approaching. I considered turning back or heading to the Louvre for the day instead. At the time I was walking through the Jardin des Tuileries and so I decided to look at the statues there and wait to see what the weather would do. When the rain arrived, it was only slightly heavier than a mist so I felt fine to continue on except I was worried about poor visibility ruining the experience at the tower. I decided to head there and if the weather stayed poor, I would adapt accordingly. The sky began to clear up around the time I finally made it there. Unfortunately, my luck didn’t last as the massive downpour began while I was waiting in line and I was partially soaked. The rain left by the time I made it into the elevator to head up though so I was still able to enjoy my time there. The Arc de Triomphe was less eventful and also provided great views of the city.
I spent my last day in Paris at the Louvre. With my student ID for my university here in France, I had benefited from reduced ticket prices at various places around Angers and Paris, but getting into the Louvre for free without having to wait in a ticket line was great. My advice for anyone who decides to visit the Louvre is simple – get a map. The museum is insanely large and can seem like a maze. I, at one point, seemed to get trapped in a loop of Egyptian artifacts and had to do a lot of backtracking to find my way back to where I wanted to be. I would also advice that you have an idea of what you want to see while you’re there and figure out where it is since it is impossible to see it all in one day. The artwork within the museum is incredible, though I’d argue that the architecture of the museum and paintings on the ceilings are just as phenomenal.
All in all it was an excellent trip, but now I’ve returned to classes and have several tests this week along with some presentations to start preparing. À bientôt !