Lauren Gane

    Lauren Gane is in France with the British Council. She is linked with Borestone Primary in Stirling.

    Entries for March 2015

    A Paris! To Paris!

    As planned, I spent this weekend in the capital, the city of lights, the city of love: Paris. Having only visited Paris when I was little and consequently not remembering much, it was a fantastic opportunity to be able to explore freely with my friend with ample coffee and croissant breaks. Not straying too far off the beaten track, we tended to stick to the must see tourist attractions with our 2 precious days.

    First on the list was of course the Eiffel Tower! Having pre-booked our tickets we didn’t have to wait too long in the gathering, but not surprising, queues as the Eiffel Tower is the most paid-for visited monument in the world. Built by Gustave Eiffel for an exhibition, it wasn’t intended to be permanent but was left standing after the permit expired and is one of the most recognised structures in the world. Wanting to experience the beautiful views, but not being brave enough for the hundreds of stairs to the top, we took the lift to the third and final floor. The view was of course spectacular, but a little obscured due to the smog that had been a problem in Paris over the week before, which was a shame, but still beautiful nonetheless. However, due to the smog, public transport was free all weekend in order to reduce the amount of traffic in the city and was definitely a stroke of luck and a bargain for us! Especially as we often went round in circles on the metro.

    Next was a wander down the impressive Champs-Élysées, starting from Place de la Concorde to Place Charles de Gaulle past the many luxury shops and tempting cafes. Place Charles de Gaulle is also the location of the Arc de Triomphe, honouring those that fought for France in the French Revolution and Napoleonic Wars and really is a sight to behold. Next, and not too far away, was the Louvre Museum, home of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. As the Louvre was one of the few things I remembered from my Paris trip some years ago and due to the fact we didn’t have much time, we didn’t go into the museum, but still managed to get a photo of the famous Louvre Pyramids in the main courtyard at the entrance to the museum.

    After much walking, we thought it was only right to treat ourselves to a hot chocolate, and where else than Angelina’s café. Although it was too busy to be able to get a table inside in the beautiful dining room with waiters dressed in traditional black and white, we spent some time choosing which cake we wanted to accompany the famous hot chocolate that we just had to try. It was very clear why this café is so famous for its hot chocolate as it was so rich and thick, just like melted dark chocolate in fact. We enjoyed the chocolate overload in the beautiful and grand park across the road: Jardin des Tuileries, a definite must-visit even on a chilly March afternoon.

    During our final day in Paris we decided to visit the Pont des Arts, or the Love Lock Bridge, aptly named as in 2008 tourists began to attach padlocks to the bridge and throw the key into the Seine to symbolise unbreakable love. Following suit, Jennifer and I attached our own padlock, not realising how much of a nuisance Parisians find this, nor the fact the bridge is also a listed bridge and part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Paris. Nevertheless, we threw our keys into the Seine with the others as is tradition and hoped for never-ending friendship, which I’m sure won’t be a problem with or without a padlock!

    Afterwards was a quick visit to the stunning Catholic Cathedral Notre Dame, before heading up the hill towards the Sacre Coeur, the Roman Catholic Church and minor basilica. The uphill walk and flights of stairs to Montmartre, the highest point in the city, and to admire the view of Paris from below in the sunshine are well worth it to see this building: beautiful both inside and out.

    Before our goodbye, and our final during our year abroad, there was still enough time to enjoy a spot of lunch, in sight of the Sacre Coeur. As we weren’t feeling brave enough for snails, this took the form of onion soup, a typically French dish, served with bread and cheese to sprinkle on the top. Although sceptical at first, it was actually really tasty!

    All in all, I really enjoyed my time in Paris and I’m definitely going to miss similar weekend trips, which are made possible on years abroad. Although a fantastic and beautiful city to visit, I find Paris has a different vibe to the rest of France, and most definitely my little village of Les Herbiers, due to the sheer size of the population and the pace of life. For me, it’s a great place to visit, but feel much more at home in other places I have had to opportunity visit, and of course Les Herbiers, which I am becoming quite fond of. Only 3 more weeks to go!

    A bientot!

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