Last week, I was afforded the opportunity to travel to Paris, for free. Previosuly, I had never been to Europe. So to go as apart of season 3 of the Invictus Challenge, I felt truly blessed. One of my goals in 2015, was to travel to London. Luckily, getting to several countries by train from is pretty easy, so I also booked a trip to London.
First, lets talk about Paris. I think I’m in love. Maybe because its new to me and the culture is so rich in history or maybe its the way the people dress and the sense of pride they have in their country, I’m not sure but I loved Paris. I was there for roughly 5 days (in Europe for a week) and I enjoyed just about everyday there.
My first day, I just walked around Alesia in the 14th. A small neighborhood with little to no english speakers, filled with Parisian restaurants and streets that seemed to have only moderately changed over the past century or so. It had a Burger King, McDonalds and Starbucks that showed they weren’t impervious to Western influence, but even those restaurants differed from their American counterparts. Burger King had a security guard/doorman. Sophistication at its finest.
Later on, I made my way by train to Champs-Élysées in the 8th (which I pronounced horribly as I looked for directions to get there). I was so blown away to find that a lot of the architecture and layout was very similar to an area in Washington, D.C. But then I remembered that D.C. was designed by Pierre Charles L’Enfant; a Frenchman. This section of Paris is also where you can find the Luxor Obelisk, which inspired the Washington Monument. After doing a little shopping (Hey, it summer sales in Paris), I walked up to the Arc de Triomphe took a few pictures, then made my way to the most visited monument in the world; the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t go in. I was pretty tired by this point. I underestimated how much walking I would be doing. So I sat outside of the tower and ate a crepe.
Day 2, I woke up early and made my way to the Palace of Versailles. Amazing. Aaamazzzing! The gates are all gold and the palace is massive. Unfortunately, so was the queue. I waited in line for an hour and a half in 95 degrees. But it was worth it. Honestly, there is a line from Jay-Z where he says “I can walk down the hall of mirrors in Versailles, and be so satisfied when I look myself in the eye”. So, I was determined to get a pictures of me strolling the halls for Instagram. The Palace was unbelievable . Statues, marble floors, gold ceilings, and amazing art filled corridors. All I could think about was the historical people who have also walked the same stairs as I. The place was so massive, that I believe in modern times, King Louis XIV would’ve owned a segway.
My favorite part wasn’t the hall of mirrors but turned out to be the garden. I just imagined the parties, and the meetings, the decisions made on walks through those gardens. I even saw a cat and I made up this whole story that it was the King reincarnated looking over his property. The palace, plus the record temperatures in the city took a toll on me. So I grabbed some macaroons from LaDuree and made my way back to Alesia.
I eventually made my way down to the 1st. This is where the great intellectuals and artist would come. Its also where you can find the Louvre. I didn’t go in the Louvre. Im saving that for when I bring my lady with me next time. But I did walk around and just marveled at the Parisian culture. Just window sills with beautiful flowers on them. No giant trucks and traffic jams, just people walking and talking, riding mopeds. I was astonished to not find everyone with their heads down into a cellphone or kids at tables with an iPad. Everyone just seemed to be engaged with life, or at least with another person. Very refreshing.
After doing some more shopping, this time at Eleven Paris, I made my way back so I could repack. I was heading to London the next morning.