As twenty bleary eyed pupils took our first steps out of the plane, the crisp morning air of Paris awakened us like a new beginning, an adventure.
Our first stop on our travels was the ‘Stade de France’. You could feel the electricity, the excitement felt by those who had once played there. With its high roof and multitude of seats, it was an exciting start to our trip as we saw the preparations underway for the Olympics.
As night approached, we embarked on a boat tour of the Seine. Although tired, we were soon awakened by the breath-taking views. Speechlessly we stood, taking it all in. ‘Paris, the city of light’: it all was making sense now. The yellow lights reflected against the water, like a whole new city; the moonlight casting a warm glow. The colours of the buildings were remarkable, the cool earthy tones of the stone, the rain splattering across the pavement, like paint to a canvas.
As we reluctantly made our way back to our hostel we were interrupted, the Eiffel tower, in all its glory, stood just at our feet. The sheer scale was unfathomable, its orange and yellow light brightened our pathway home, inviting us in and then, to our surprise, the lights began to twinkle. This occurs every hour, on the hour. The light reflected in the smiles on each of our faces. This was such a special way to begin our trip.
As the morning light seeped its way through our hostel window, we began our second day in Paris. One after another, like ants in a line, we explored the streets of Montmartre. Walking on the steep, winding cobblestoned streets, our legs were beginning to tire. However, the bright, white church of Sacré-Coeur could be seen in the horizon and kept us going. The view of Paris, once we reached the top, was like no other and worth the walk.
After a bite to eat, we began a once in the lifetime opportunity to view beautiful Paris from the top of the Eiffel tower. We stood expectantly, waiting in line for our turn to go. As the lift began to take off our stomachs drops, and nerves began to set in. As the lift doors opened, we were hit with a strong gush of cold wind. We stood one foot then the next and began to make our way to the edge. Peering cautiously over the railing, the view was incredible. The buildings which had seemed huge were now just small parts of the big picture. The cars looked like toy cars, and the people who we once were just a day ago, gazing up at the Eiffel tower, were tiny.
The following day we visited the historic Catacombs. Here lie the skeletons of nearly six million people. The dark long tunnel made the hairs on the back of our necks stand on end.
Shortly afterwards, we visited Musée d’Orsay. This experience was particularly fascinating for those of us who study Leaving Certificate Art. The beautiful gallery with its high ceilings and bright natural lighting was remarkable, to finally seeing the paintings we had spent so long studying in class, in front of our eyes. The details of the brush work and the effect the museum lighting had on each piece was like no other. This experience really stood out to me and others alike.
After the art gallery we skipped the long queues at Angelina’s and went for delicious, thick, hot chocolates at a nearby café instead. It was a great opportunity to practice our French when ordering. C’est magnifique!
For our last evening, our teachers warned us to be prepared for a long walk to get to the restaurant for our final dinner. We were happy to discover that they were joking, and it was in the restaurant next door. This meal was the best dinner of the trip! We were then treated to Parisian crepes to celebrate pancake Tuesday.
On the morning of our last day there was a feeling of sadness hanging above us all, like a raincloud warning of a storm. We visited the beautiful palace of Versailles. Its gold details and painted ceilings brightened our spirits.
As we returned to Ireland, we were sad. However, we knew we had made memories to last a lifetime. A big thank you to our amazing teachers who organised the visit. À bientôt!