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Paris: Etes Beau!

Bonjour from the first stop on my 20 day European adventure! I’ve just completed my Paris 2 night stay, and today I will be going to the Swiss Alps, Lauterbrunnen specifically. My Europe trip is somewhat pre-organized by Topdeck tours, similar to Contiki tours, if you’ve heard of them. However Contiki tours have a big party reputation, and Topdeck tours seem to focus more on sightseeing and creating your own experience — which is why I say ‘somewhat pre-organized.’ Yesterday was a full day for independent exploring, with the exception of breakfast in the hostel, and the sunset picnic behind the Eiffel Tower. The tour also provides optional activities, mainly for those who do not necessarily know what to do, or just want something a little extra, or touristy. I did not participate in any of the extra activities, and the people who did – for all three – said they were not particularly worth it. The choices included a Siene river cruise, a bike tour and/or a Cabaret show. The bike tour was popular but said to be a repeat of our city sightseeing tour from the night before.

Instead, I started my day at the Louvre with 5 other girls from the trip. The Louvre, as well as many other museums in Paris, is free to 18-26 year olds with EU passports, visas or university IDs. Rather than queuing up outside, like many, there is a somewhat secret (to tourists) entrance on the outer part of the Louvre under the arches called the Carousel de Louvre. We found the Mona Lisa before too many people arrived, and took necessary photos and then explored the rest of the museum for another 2 hours separately. We all met back up and walked from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower through the Tuileries Gardens. We each grabbed a quick crepe before queuing up for the Eiffel Tower. We walked from the base to level 2 for €4, €5 if you are over 24. There we decided the view was spectacular and we wanted to go all the way up, which was another €6. The lift to the top went slightly fast and I did not particularly enjoy my spot next to the window, despite the amazing views, my ears were popping and my stomach was dropping (it was not a great feeling).

After the tower – photos to come – the other five girls went to the bike tours, while I explored independently. I took the metro towards the Opera house to find a money exchange place, and a baguette. After success in both tasks, I came outside with my baguette to find a place to sit, and rather saw quite a sight of a parade of roller bladers through the street. All the cars stopped and cleared the way, the rollerbladers came through, took a snack break at the Opera House steps and then continued on – video to come. Next I took the metro to the Notre Dame, but ended up distracted by L’Orangerie – the museum with Monet’s water lilies, but there are two museums called Orangerie, and I went to the wrong one. Instead, I visited the Luxembourg museum and the Gardens of Luxembourg. I also picked up a croissant – to fully cover the required carbs of France. The time was approaching 7pm, which is when the picnic began under the Eiffel Tower, so I headed back there without having seen the Notre Dame. The picnic was lovely and featured macaroons and frog meat. I tried the macaroons, but I decided that trying the snail the night before was enough adventure for me. However, after the picnic, those who were not attending the cabaret went to the Notre Dame. The church is admirable architecturally for me, but that is all. Next we headed back to the hostel, grabbed a drink and showered before a well-deserved sleep.

This morning my legs are so sore, but I will have time to relax during our 9 hour bus ride to the Swiss Alps! Until my next splurge of wifi, happy Monday!

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