Paris, the most enchanting city I have ever encountered. I am excited to give you a glimpse into how beautiful and captivating Paris can be. Before our group made our way to Paris we had heard lots of negative things like, “Parisians are rude.” or “It’s a really dirty city.” and we began to form preconceived notions about what Paris would be like. Therefore, a lot of us had really low expectations for Paris. But, let me just say that Paris’ dazzling charm comes out at every turn, the city is incredible.
Our first night, we made our way to our hotel and then quickly gathered our things to head off to a free organ concert at the Notre Dame (Not to be confused with the school in Indiana), below is a picture of what we saw as we approached the church… It was breathtaking. In Intercultural Communications, one of the classes we are taking while abroad we learned about the phases of culture shock, one of them being fascination, you can move between the many phases and for many of us, we shifted right back into that fascination phase in Paris. We were awestruck by all that we saw and how could we not be? The city glows, it draws you in and makes you never want to leave. One look at the Eiffel Tower and you’re hooked.
The next morning the majority of our group went to Artist’s Square, which is exactly what you would imagina, a square with artists in it, painting and selling their art. It was a really cool atmosphere to witness, artists everywhere painting other people, creating and selling. Below was a photo of one of the canvas’ being done in the square.
Then, for most of the day it was off to sight see. I went with a group to all of the major tourist sights and kept running into other Bethel students from our group all day. Here’s the Arc de Triomphe.
The original Lady Liberty… France gave the United States the Statue of Liberty that resides on Liberty Island in the New York Harbor. The statue is of Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom. She bears a torch and a tablet evoking the law. The tablet on the statue in the United States bears the date of the Declaration of Independence. The French version, the original, is much smaller than the one they gave the U.S. but still impressive and beautiful.
At the Statue of Liberty (They two statues indeed have the same name, I was able to talk to some Parisians about it which was cool.) my group ran into another group of Bethel students from our group and we all headed off in search of the Eiffel Tower and we sure found it… I can’t explain the feeling or the inspiration this tall tower inspires but it is pretty incredible.
After everyone had dinner, a bunch of Bethel students met up to go ice skating on the Champs-Élysées at the “Christmas Festival” is what we all called it. This was such a blast! Some groups kept going back to go skating for nights after.
The next day our whole group went to the Louvre, the largest museum in the world. It was a very overwhelming and stimulating experience. Some of the art you are seeing is 4,000 years old and there’s just no way to conceptualize or rap your mind around that time frame… It is a really surreal experience.
But, at night some of us decided to find out what there was to do in Paris and so about 8 of us got ready and headed off to a jazz club! One of the most popular places to visit at night in Paris. The building dates to the 16th century, but became a jazz club in 1946. It was allegedly once used by Rosicrucians and by those linked to Freemasonry. Also, it claims to be the place the Templar’s met and hung out.
This was the Jazz club:
So our four days in Paris were almost up and we had one group activity left, a trip up to the top of the Eiffel Tower… I think we all fell in love with Paris all over again.
But, with all of that said, I learned a lot in Paris. I remembered what it was like to see things through child-like eyes, to absorb without judgement but with an open heart and open eyes and to accept a city for all that it is and appreciate it fully. It has been 3 long months well spent here in Europe but it can leave you very weary and homesick. The fact that all of us can still snap back into that fascination phase is so impressive to me. I love that all of us have not given up our senses of adventure and our seeking for meaningful experiences. To find the beauty in God’s creation everywhere, because it is always there. I couldn’t help but walk around the enormity of Paris and think of this verse, Isaiah 66: 2 “”For My hand made all these things, Thus all these things came into being,” declares the Lord.” Paris may be beautiful, the mountains in Zermatt might take my breath away but the Lord is infinitely more beautiful than all of that because He created those places. He didn’t have to bless us with all that He did but because He loves us, he did. I can’t help but stand in awe of God’s creation everywhere I go in Europe.
So, Parisians aren’t rude, the city isn’t dirty and the Eiffel Tower is actually all it’s cracked up to be.
“The chief danger about Paris is that it is such a strong stimulant.” -T.S. Eliot
Sadly, T.S. Eliot might be right, Paris is a hard act to follow but the United Nations tours in Geneva and the skiing in Zermatt hasn’t disappointed any of us yet!
I’ll leave you with this view of the Eiffel Tower, not a common way of seeing it but the best way in my opinion.