|be adventurous | July 2016
Adventures in Paris
by Marlee Seibold
Paris: the city of lights and of love. In my experience, both are accurate descriptions of this place. I was lucky enough to study abroad in Paris for almost three weeks, and it was an adventure of a lifetime. Because of movies and pictures, I already had an idea of what I thought Paris would be like. The Eiffel Tower, The Louvre, Notre Dame, Palace of Versailles and the food all come to mind when thinking of Paris. While these things are amazing on their own, it's the little things you come to love once you are there.
Imagine the Eiffel Tower. From afar, it looks like its pictures -- big, metal, and perhaps underwhelming to some. I can honestly say, I thought that too. It wasn't until I was there, walking along the banks of the Seine River, that I realized what a magnificent sculpture and piece of art it is. As we walked towards it, the lights came on, and at that moment, everything around it came to life. It lights up the city for blocks. The people buzz with energy as the tower sparkles, but you never realize how big it is until you are standing underneath it. You look up and it's a never-ending web of metal bars, intertwining in the most intricate fashion. All of this becomes apparent when you are climbing the 704 steps to the top. There are three levels to the tower, and it feels like a lifetime to reach, but once there, the view is amazing. You can see the city all the way around for miles.
The Louvre takes you on a whole different journey. This place is enormous. Many know of the glass pyramid in front that is a trademark of the Louvre; but let me tell you, this is a small indication of what this place really holds. You have sculptures such as the Venus de Milo or The Winged Victory of Samothrace. Paintings like The Coronation of Napoleon or The Mona Lisa. There are even the remains of walls dating back to the medieval era. It is hard to fathom such beauty and art, even when it is right in front of you. You could spends days in this museum and never see all of it. It is overwhelming to see -- and the famous Mona Lisa isn't even the most impressive thing that you will come across.
Notre Dame Cathedral is absolutely breathtaking. The architecture is unreal. Seeing the famous gargoyles, portals and sculptures, or hearing the bells ring out over Paris is a surreal experience. When you walk in, you are greeted by mind-bogglingly beautiful Gothic architecture. The famous rose windows, when hit just right by the sun, shine brighter than anything you have ever seen. From the side chapels to the altar, Notre Dame is one of the most beautiful cathedrals I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.
The Palace of Versailles is a palace of gold, art, chandeliers, and rooms that never end. It was home to King Louis XIV, and it is clear he spared no expense. You have things such as the famous hall of mirrors. This room alone is large, beautiful, and overlooks the massive garden. The Garden of Versailles is acres upon acres, filled with fountains and sculptures that go on forever. It is like a maze, except you never want to leave.
And then there's the food. Simply put, it's amazing. I tried things I never thought I would even put near my mouth, like escargot and calamari. I ate so many carbs because of the bakeries on every corner and the cafes lining the streets. People were always sitting at these cafes, reading and drinking espresso, just as I had imagined it.
I may not have fallen in love in the traditional sense, but I fell in love with the city, its places, and all of the history and culture that went with it. Paris is a remarkable place to visit, and I hope to return to it one day.