I travelled 4,130 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to find myself in a capital rich with culture and historical architecture: Paris, France.
Everything from the way locals were dressed to the way they got around the city–and obviously the way they communicated with each other–was unlike anything I had ever experienced.
Within the compact city stood buildings hundreds of years old. Museums showcased detailed images that most would need a camera to portray today. Foods whose names I couldn’t even begin to pronounce were the common street snacks in the hands of local Parisians. I journeyed a few thousand miles and found myself among a culture completely foreign to that of my own.
The first things I noticed when I arrived in the heart of the city were the iconic structures–The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Arc de Triomphe–but the architecture in general is in a league of its own in comparison to what I’m used to seeing in Mason, Ohio. The amount of detail seen in every building always had me wondering: Who has this much time on their hands? From all of the individual structures carved into Notre Dame, or each of the heads along the bridge stretching across the Seine River, each of the buildings, bridges, and even roads didn’t lack any detail.
A day trip to the city of Versailles brought all the knowledge I crammed into my brain during the French Revolution unit right before my eyes. A tour through the Palace of Versailles allowed me to see where famous monarchs such as King Louis XIV, King Louis XVI, and Marie Antoinette spent their days as they ruled over France.
The local food and restaurants aren’t the same major restaurant chains we have here in the States. The only restaurant I saw that was also in the United States was McDonalds. Most of the time you’ll find small cafes–probably family owned–that specialize in just a few items. When you think of the French you probably think of berets, mimes, and baguettes, strangely enough the latter isn’t entirely false. It wasn’t very odd to see people walking in the streets with an approximately 2′ long baguette in their hands or smaller ones shoved in their bags and purses. The small cafes and bakeries added to the already close feel of the city, something I don’t see everyday.
In Mason most people get around the city by car, in Paris public transportation and walking are key. Like New York City, Paris has a metro (subway) system. The metro runs through the entire city and is probably the fastest way to get from place to place, otherwise walking and riding a bike or motorcycle are options as well. Considering driving in Paris is quite the headache and terrifying experience (it’s more like a big game of survival of the fittest) we stuck to the metro and our feet to get us around.
Being someone who’s only ever lived in the same house and attended the same school, seeing a city like Paris was like walking into a new world. A world where you can’t understand what people around you are saying. A world where you gasp every time you walk another block. People all around the world journey thousands of miles to see the incredible sight that is Paris, France, and I’m thankful that I was one of them.