En route a Paris
Getting to Paris was a long journey. We had a flight connection in Montreal, leaving us an hour to get to our next flight. Everything that could have delayed the first flight delayed it. So we were running through the Montreal airport and arrived at our gate just at they were announcing final call. The plane to Paris was huge, and full of babies (luckily I brought earplugs). Even with a sleeping mask, a pillow, a blanket, and three doses of melatonin, I could not sleep comfortably on the plane. I’m guessing on two hours of sleep that night. We arrived at Paris around nine in the morning local time (3am back home). Cassie, who is also going to Grenoble, and I waited in the airport for an hour until our friend Brodie and the two other girls going to Paris on exchange arrived. Then the five of us grabbed a cab into the city, which was only 15€ after splitting it five ways. We arrived at their residence and sat around for a few hours until they finally got service to check-in. Luckily in-between all the checking-in work, we got a chance to stop by the pizzeria next door for lunch. We weren’t free to explore until around 3pm.
After Brodie had his room checked, we grabbed our coats and headed out for an adventure. I had some caffeine so I was good to go! The school in Paris is located in La Défense, the business district I believe, so we walked to the Metro station by la Grand Arche. This area of the city has really cool modern architecture, including la Grand Arche and an odd giant thumb, which Brodie posed with. There are numerous tall buildings and from a distance it’s like a piece of New York City.
I was even in awe of the Metro station, it was clean and had a bunch of nice shops (pretty much a mall). We waited in line and the man in front of us gave a few tips after overhearing our questions to each other, it was quite nice of him. We got our tickets and got on the Line 1, to take us to Champs-Élysées. We kept waiting for the stop with the name on it, counting down how many stops left. By the time it was the stop, the four of us were deep into conversation and we missed it. We got off at the next one, which was the stop for the Louvre, so we could backtrack. Thankfully, I took a look at the map to realize that we were heading to the wrong stop in the first place. In order to get off at the Arc de Triomphe, we needed to get to the Charles de Gaulle-Étoile stop, not Champs–Élysées. These weren’t the only two flukes. The station we were at was crowded, so getting on the Metro was a struggle. Brodie and I made it on and then the doors shut on our arms. It’s not like in New York when the doors open back up when a person is in the way. We looked at each other with wide eyes and then looked through the window at Cassie and Ellie who didn’t make it onto the train. We pulled our arms into the car, though it hurt, and signalled at the girls that we’d meet them at the next stop (thank God we discussed it before getting on). That was one of my biggest fears when travelling in a big city with my parents, have the door close on me and not know where to meet them. But at this age and with friends, it was actually pretty hilarious, like did that really just happen??
We arrived at the proper stop and walked out to the street with an immediate view of the Arc de Triomphe. You can bet my smile was as big as can be. The Champs–Élysées was still lit up with some holidays lights, which was gorgeous. I was hoping they wouldn’t take them down. In the distance you could see a lit up Ferris wheel at the other end (I really wish we got to ride it). Along the street, I was in awe. It still didn’t kick in that I was in Paris, it just felt like I was dreaming about it and making plans for what to see. The only issue with the area is that its crowded with tourists, like the Times Square of Paris. I just looked up at all the buildings … only ran into a few people … and they don’t say sorry like in Canada.
At some point walking down the Champs–Élysées we decided to head to the Eiffel Tower. We didn’t even realize how nice the side street we chose was going to be. Walking down Avenue Montaigne, we found ourselves passing stores like Chanel, Dior, Yves Saint Laurent; all the major designers. The architecture was gorgeous, the trees were lit up, and in the distant sun-setting sky you could see the outline of the Eiffel Tower.
My phone background is a photo over looking the Seine River and the Eiffel Tower with a pink sky. We were joking about recreating it earlier that day and oddly enough we arrived at the same spot the photo was taken when the sky was purple and pink. We each took a bunch of photos, it was incredible how beautiful the view was. I felt like I was in heaven … can’t avoid sounding cheesy when it comes to Paris.
Once we were done taking pictures at the Eiffel Tower, we started asking locals if they knew where to buy wine. The plan was to find wine and sit in front of the sparkling Eiffel Tower, but by the time we found a place we were closer to the Arc de Triomphe. We went into a little grocery shop and happened upon the mythical 2€ bottles of wine. Not only did we find that, we actually picked up a bottle of 1,48€ wine. None of us were truly hungry for a meal so we each grabbed some snacks (fruit, bagels … I happened to find a cheap quinoa salad), and then headed for a bench to sit on. We kept walking until we found the perfect spot; a bench overlooking the lit up Arc de Triomphe. We got 2 bottles of alcohol, so as we sat on the bench, Brodie popped the cork off a champagne-like bottle of grapefruit flavoured cider and we kept passing it around between the four of us. Sipping cider and eating bananas and bagels. It was an unreal moment, yet so simple. The perfect way to end our adventure roaming the streets. We got back to their residence and hung out in Brodie’s room for a while, sitting on our computers and passing around the red wine, until the jet lag kicked in and we went to bed (a.k.a. the concrete floor of Brodie’s residence room).
The next morning Cassie and I woke up at 5:30am to catch a taxi to the train station. Then the Grenoble adventure began … so stay tuned :)