Hey everyone! I am back from my trip to France! Although I was so sad to leave, I was also happy to see my family again. To be in my own space again. I finally got to go on my dream trip, and I am so extremely grateful that I was given this opportunity. I am very excited to share my trip with you all today! I took a break from blogging while on my trip, but if you would like to see some more photos from France, check out my Instagram: @sacchere14.
The week before I left, I felt a mix of emotions. With every day that passed, my nerves intensified. What’s funny is that leading up to the trip, I was more nervous than I was when I was actually on the trip! I also thought I would be crying and missing my family every night, and while I did miss them, I was enjoying myself and having fun. I spoke to them every day.
I’ve wanted to go to Paris my whole life, and I felt like I was waiting forever to get there. Then the opportunity came up and I said yes. Everything happened so quickly after that. Before I knew it, I was in Paris.
Our first day was honestly a bit of a blur. After traveling and barely sleeping on the flights to France, we were exhausted to say the least. As soon as we got to Paris, we had to hit the ground running, and let me tell you, this was not easy. It was hard to enjoy that first day because of the jet lag, but we got to the airport, and we took a coach bus to our hotel. On the bus, we had a tour guide show us around Paris. We saw pretty much all of the big monuments/attractions from the bus that day. The Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Arc de Triomphe. We walked down the Champs Élysées, and did a bit of shopping. On the night of the first day, we had a group dinner at a restaurant near our hotel.
We had to learn how to use the metro system, which was a bit difficult. My friend and I got lost a couple of times, but we ultimately got to where we needed to be. We walked so much on this trip though, which in Europe, is kind of expected. One day, we walked 13 miles! We decided that it was easier than trying to figure out the metro, but we still tried to take the metro when we could!
The second day, we walked to Sacre Coeur, which was absolutely beautiful. It is a giant cathedral sitting on top of a tall hill. On the way up, a few of the girls and I stopped at a couple souvenir shops. I know it’s cliché, but I decided to buy a couple berets. One in black, and one in red. I also bought an adorable key chain of the Eiffel Tower with some macaroons. Typical tourist, I know. Then we made our way up the hill to see Sacre Coeur. On top of the hill we had a beautiful view of Paris. After, a few of us decided to get hot dogs, and they were AMAZING. I’ve never had a hot dog with melted cheese on top. I don’t know what kind of cheese it was, but it was SO good.
After lunch, we decided to check out the historic Shakespeare & Co. bookstore. Apparently, the owner of the store, George Whitman, would allow writers to sleep in the shop so long as they wrote something during their stay. And me, being a writer, loved hearing this. We then walked around the Latin Quarter and stopped by a couple of boutiques. While looking for nothing in particular, I found a beautiful green and gold dress that I decided I needed to have.
In the evening, we all went on a Seine river cruise. The walk from our hotel to the port was amazing because we got so close to the Eiffel Tower. It was so beautiful, and we got some great pictures! A few of us went outside of the boat to get the best pictures and videos. The Eiffel Tower was lit up and standing tall right in front of us. A couple of the girls and I went out to dinner by the Eiffel Tower and had a really great meal together. We did it the French way, and stayed longer than we normally would. It’s funny, in the United States, everything feels so rushed. We are always on the go and we don’t always prioritize some time for ourselves or the people we love. In France, they have that time. They make that time. And it made me wish I could live the way that the French do. It just seems like a healthier lifestyle overall.
The next day, we walked to the Musée d’Orsay. We were able to stay for a while, and I got to see the self portrait of Vincent Van Gogh, as well as a few paintings by Monet. After this, my friend and I were on the hunt for the Moulin Rouge. We decided to walk from the museum which was a very long walk, and Apple/Google maps were not all that helpful. We got a bit lost, and even though our feet were killing us, it was kind of fun getting lost in Paris. Trying to find our way around and exploring the city.
On the way, we saw Ladurée, and that is THE place to go if you want macaroons. I was so excited, so we made a quick stop! It was not the one on the Champs Élysées, but the little shop was adorable, and we decided to try some macaroons. I got chocolate, rose, pistachio, and vanilla. We continued our search for the Moulin Rouge, and after so much walking, we decided to stop for lunch.
We finally found the Moulin Rouge, and we took some photos in front of it. We then made our way back to Sacre Coeur because it was a stunning area. We ate our macaroons on top of the hill, looking down on Paris. The macaroons were absolutely delicious! They were so flavorful, and I was so glad we got to try them.
We then explored more of Montmartre. We were able to see a ton of artists drawing and painting, and we walked around the small, quiet village. Before dinner, our professors invited us to the Montparnasse Tower on the 56th floor, where the restaurant was. We had an amazing view, and we got to see the sunset go down over my new favorite city. My friend and I went to dinner afterward, and had what we both believe was the BEST pasta we’d ever had in our lives. It was a small restaurant near the Eiffel Tower. The food on this trip was so, so good. Almost all of my meals were delicious, but this one took the cake!
The next day, we took a train to Lyon. If I’m being honest, I had never really heard much about this city. I didn’t really know what we would be seeing or doing here. The first day we were there, we had time to ourselves so my friend and I explored Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon). We walked up a hill to get the best view of the city. We saw some amazing cathedrals and incredible statues around every corner. Seeing such old buildings and statues always fascinates me. I truly can’t believe that buildings like this are still here today, and that people actually made this at one point. I am so glad that the people in countries like this have taken such good care of these beautiful buildings, so that generations and generations could enjoy it as well.
One thing I really wanted to try was chocolate, so I found a place in Lyon, and bought a few pieces. The employees at the little shop brought out a fresh, hot batch of brioche with praline roses. We tried some, and I was in heaven. It was so good.
The next day, we had a guide give us a tour of Old Lyon. She knew so much about the city, and she was able to tell and show us some things that we didn’t know about. She told us that the best place to get the brioche with praline roses was the exact place my friend and I went to the day before! I bought some praline roses so my family could try them! It was a really cold and rainy day, but we were looking forward to our cooking class that night. We were all able to help make a meal that we enjoyed as a group.
For our last full day in Lyon, we took a tour of the newer side of the city. This side was not as interesting to me, but it was still very cool to see the new buildings. It all looked very futuristic. The buildings were built in a way that allowed sunlight to reach almost every window. They were very unique and different from anything I’d seen before. After our tour, we decided to go back to Old Lyon. My friend and I were looking forward to trying crepes and they were really good, though they reminded me of pancakes.
We then stopped by a few stores. I was on the hunt for a nice brown trench coat. We walked into a department store and saw quite a few. I found that many were a bit too pricy for me. I saw one for $900! I knew I did not have too much money to spend, but we found one at a store called Pimkie, which I believe is similar to H&M. I bought a thinner brown trench coat for $50. It is not exactly what I pictured, but I fell in love with it.
The next day we took a train back to Paris for our final day. As soon as we arrived, all of us took the metro to the Louvre Museum. I was really excited to go because lately, the museum has not been open very often. We got to see the Mona Lisa, and we were amazed by the museum as a whole. After our time at the museum, my friend and I went off and stopped by Shakespeare and Co. again. We made reservations at Ladurée on the Champs Élysées because we needed to have macaroons one last time! The next day, we were headed to the airport to go home!
Any time we heard people speaking English, my friend and I immediately wanted to talk to them. We would ask them where they were from, and what brought them to France. The locals were always very kind and helpful to my friend and I, and we never had one bad interaction with them. We found the negative stereotype that the French have of being “rude” to be very untrue. We even struck up conversations with a few of the locals and it was really interesting to learn more about their culture. I love being around people from all over the world because it truly shows you that there is an entire world out there besides your own city, state, or country, and it is incredible to see.
Something that I learned while being in France is that they have their dessert before dinner. Around 4-5, the French will go out for something sweet, and they usually start eating dinner around 7:30. It took us a while to learn this because after dinner, we would go out looking for crepes or ice cream, but most places were already closed!
While in Lyon, I realized that many of the locals did not know as much English as the locals in Paris. This made a lot of sense, seeing that so many people travel to Paris from all over the world. Lyon does not have as many tourists in comparison. It made me think about the fact that many Parisians most likely have to learn some English. The language barrier really wasn’t much of an issue, but in Lyon we did struggle to get our point across a bit more.
I was able to bond with some of the girls on the trip, and getting to experience this with them was fun. I always imagined that I would live out this dream with my family, but dreams don’t always work out the way you think they will. I think that things happen for a reason, and France taught me to say yes, to take risks, and to chase my dreams.
I feel so lucky that I was able to do this. I feel proud of myself for taking a big step, but what I’ve realized is that maybe I was more ready for this than I thought. Before leaving, I was fearful. Fearful of leaving my family, of having to take care of myself without them, and fearful that I wouldn’t enjoy my time. I didn’t know any of the girls going on the trip very well, and I thought of all of the things that could go wrong.
This trip really did allow me to get out of my comfort zone. It allowed me to gain independence and confidence, and it brought me so much joy. Deciding whether or not to do it was difficult, but in the end, I chose to chase my dream. Sometimes life is going to hand you certain opportunities, and you need to decide if it is worth taking a risk for. My trip was not perfect, but it was my dream, and I am so happy that I got to live it. Like I said, I’ve wanted to go to Paris forever. I always hoped I’d get there, I just never knew it would happen so soon.
Thank you so much for reading! I have many more dreams and goals that I can’t wait to share with you all one day. I hope you enjoyed reading about my trip, and I’m already looking forward to my next adventure. Until next time!