Tonight is my last night in Paris, and I have seen an impressive amount of the city in the last four days. We visited everything from the Eiffel Tower to the Catacombs and hit every cafe in between. You’re bound to stumble upon an iconic piece of history no matter what metro stop you get off at, and the Paris pass makes it easy to explore each one. The city is full of people and bursting with a culture that is completely different from the one I left in Columbus, Ohio.
The city itself is gorgeous, and I especially loved the little bakeries filled with macarons and giant cookies that sit nearly at every corner. The food has been the same as we experienced in Bayeux, and I have to say that I’m looking forward to a little more protein and starches in our meals in Germany. The metro station comes to mind first when thinking about smell, and I have to conclude that Parisians love their dogs but don’t always love cleaning up after them. On the topic of Parisians, I have to say that they were the most disappointing part of my trip to Paris. I loved the city itself and the history that is visible everywhere, but the people tended to be unwelcoming at best and actively rude at worst. The cultural fracture was very evident in our day-to-day operations. We did our best to conform to French norms by speaking their language and respecting their way of life, but we definitely missed a few key cues.
My favorite site in Paris is definitely the Eiffel Tower. We sat on the lawn in front of it and relaxed on our first and last night in the city. The sparkles that take place on the hour at night make the experience seem surreal. It seemed as though there were people from all over the world who came to sit and drink champagne and enjoy a cigar by the national monument. The cultural divide seemed far less pronounced there, and everyone was in such a good mood. I especially enjoyed viewing the tower from the Seine and sticking my feet in the water.
Overall I enjoyed my time in Paris, and I loved the beauty of a city so rich with history. The people were different from the Midwesterners I have grown up around, but the charm and serenity of a walk down the Champs Élysées at sunset overshadowed any feelings of unease. Paris is a unique city that has seen sieges, occupations, and full-scale revolutions, but it has come out beautifully all things considered.