As a little girl, “Madeline” was one of my favorite cartoons to watch and stories to read. I was enthralled by how her adventures were told in rhymes and how the picture books and scenes were magnificently illustrated, even if they captured Madeline prancing through Paris in the rain as one of twelve little girls in two straight lines. From that time, my interests in visiting Paris were piqued, and last week that dream became reality.

I was so ecstatic to find a cheap, round-trip flight from Wroclaw to Paris that would allow me to stay for six days. Neil and Mike would be there for the first three days, and my friend Katie, who is interning/studying in London, would be joining me with a group of her London friends for the weekend! It was the perfect amount of time to see all the main attractions, some even twice, and still take our time soaking it all in!

We spent the first afternoon exploring the Palace of Versailles and its gardens. It was so amazing to see such opulence depicting how King Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette lived over-the-top affluent lives.

Patrick, Jessica, Katie, me, and Matt in front of the golden palace gates

Night out on the town with Neil and Mike and the girls 

The next day Katie and I spent four hours at the Eiffel Tower, which included climbing over 700 steps before we could climb no more and had to take an elevator to the top! The views were absolutely spectacular—we both couldn’t stop smiling! We even had a picnic and took a nap in the park below.

We made it all the way to the top!

After waking up, we made our way to Montmartre, a hilly village over looking the city. Historically, this area is known for the famous artists who would escape here to paint. After randomly meeting up with most of the London group, we headed towards the Arc De Triomphe and then walked through the quiet city to see the Eiffel Tower, which sparkles every hour on the hour, in the evening. We sat along the Seine River just mesmerized and ended the day with a delcious ice cream treat!

Simply stunning

Despite how tired we were the next morning, we made it out of bed bright and early so we could attend the 8:30am mass at Notre Dame. Although it was all in French, it as amazing to be a part of the service, especially since it took place in the stunning cathedral.

Notre Dame with Katie 

Because this day was the first Sunday of the month, we also were able to visit the Louvre Museum for free! Thanks to Katie’s detailed planning (including a highlighted, color-coded, and annotated book) we were all provided a wonderful experience in Paris.

Mona Lisa

The crowds waiting to see Mona Lisa

Come Sunday evening, I was sad to see my friends leave and was trying to figure out what I was going to do in Paris by myself for the next two days. Monday morning as I was leaving the hostel, I met a fellow American, Ben. I asked if he wanted to explore the city together since it was his last day before heading home. Ben had such an amazing story: he is an aspiring screenwriter and talented artist who had spent the past month and a half in Europe as a graduation gift. We spent the entire day walking along busy streets and through cute gardens, stopping in cafes intermittently to avoid the rain.

Buddy for the day, Ben

The last day, I knew I wanted to visit the Arts and Measures Museum where the showcased everything from how early scientists studied the universe, the making of the Statue of Liberty, and the creation of the iPod. I then meandered through the Jewish District and found the recommended restaurant, which served “Best Falafel in the World” and enjoyed my lunch in the university courtyard.

My trip to Paris wouldn’t have been complete without enjoying some Crème brûlée and spending a few hours in the Shakespeare and Company Bookstore! While nestled in a reading alcove reading all the notes on the wall left by visitors, I looked up and noticed a book in the corner, one that I recognized all too well: “Madeline.” I was overjoyed at the site, picked up the book, and read it immediately. When purchasing the colorful storybook, I was even able to get the official Shakespeare and Company stamp! Way cool!

The perfect reading nook, filled with notes from visitors from across the world. I want one of these in my future lake house : ) 

One of my favorite souvenirs

Besides a few minor mishaps (Neil and Mike missing their flight, Patrick getting his wallet stolen while we were in line for the Louvre, and the hostel having complications with all of our reservations at some point) Paris was an incredible finale to my Fulbright travels.

Midnight view of Paris from our hostel

Three words describing Paris, France: opulent, rainy, pick-pockets

Au revoir,

Lauren

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