Study abroad in London part 8: Easter in Paris

by Robert Creenan

Lifestyle Contributor

Bonjour! I’m still on my Spring Break, which lasts for two weeks here, the ones before and after Easter. It may seem excessive, but I’m not complaining. Though I have taken day trips which lead me to Stratford-upon-Avon, Oxford, the Cotswolds, the Cliffs of Dover, Canterbury, and Leeds Castle, none of those really compared to going through the streets of Paris.

My tour group and I took a two and a half hour train ride through the Chunnel underneath the English Channel. It is really just 20 minutes of blackness that takes you to another world. There are very noticeable differences between the English and French countrysides, mostly the lack of hills of France. I had movies to occupy my time, but my seat on the train was across the one family that brought their toddler daughter along.

Before checking into our hotel, our coach bus took us around to see the Eiffel Tower (from a distance), the Arc de Triomphe, and The Lourve. Thankfully our hotel in Bercy was next to a Paris Metro stop, home to the world’s most unforgiving subway system, where you have to buy tickets for each individual journey with doors you have to open yourself. The line that goes to the hotel runs straight to the Eiffel Tower and river cruises along the Seine River. Getting to the top of the tower by way of stairs was as tiring as you’d expect. You have to take an elevator to reach the top and buy tickets for every single level. We didn’t get the best view since it was cloudy that day.

The second day took us to the Basilica of Sacre Coeur, the Moulin Rouge, and Notre Dame. These places broke away from the noticeable pattern of Paris buildings all made of yellow limestone and having blue roofs. Pretty much every major building in Paris looked straight out of late 1800s, compared to London, which is made up of a hodgepodge in varying architectural styles. The second half of the day was spent at Versailles, the opulent palace of French monarchy that was much too big for it’s own good. Everything about it was larger than life, especially the palace gardens. For some reason involving a mix-up between the stagecoach company and our tour group, we had to take a train back to Paris.

Easter Sunday was spent at Disneyland Paris, the one Disney theme park that has a bad reputation due to its financial history. But being a dedicated Disney enthusiast, I couldn’t resist. If you’ve ever been to a Disney park, the crowds there were the same, but the two theme parks they have there were considerably smaller. Walt Disney studios has Ratatouille and Finding Nemo rides, but is mostly the same as the studio park in Florida. Disneyland itself had more things to do in comparison, but was still small and some of their rides, Space Mountain and the Haunted Mansion, were closed to rehabilitation work. When we tried to ride Pirates of the Caribbean, a guy on the boat ahead of us walked out before the chain lift started, and the ride had to close while staff tried to find him. Obviously, getting through two parks in one day means you’re going to miss out on some stuff, so I’d like to go back one day to get through all the rides I missed. The firework show at the end of the day centered mainly on the European Disney characters, and the mad rush to the train station after it was over resulted in a very crowded train at 11:30 p.m.. I’m sure it’s typical for that train line.

Our last day in Paris was spent at The Louvre, and our guide did know of an entrance other than the glass pyramid. Despite it’s large size, it was still filled with thousands people looking at historical art from all over the world. The one piece everyone wanted to see was the Mona Lisa, one of the few artworks there that needed Plexiglas and security around it. The other famous works there included the statue of Venus with no arms, the Code of Hammurabi, the album artwork from Coldplay’s “Viva la Vida,” and The Pogues “Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash,” The Coronation of Napoleon, and some Egyptian sculptures. You can also be rest assured that The Louvre has it’s own Apple store in the gift shop area.

The train ride back to London through the Chunnel wasn’t any different than the way to Paris, but there was definite adjustments needed when I came back, since it seemed not everything in this city was built or done for the sake of “art.” It was definitely the highlight of my break, mostly because it was the only time I left the country. Soon, I can say, not for next issue, but after that, I’ll be in the heart of Bavaria.

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Comments

  1. Anne Creenan says:

    Thanks Robert. Enjoyed your article. Love Granny

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