Thursday during the day.
It’s weird to think that it’s been almost three months (well, when I say that three months on the 5th of Feburary since I went to Paris (where has the time gone?!?). On Thursday 5th of November 2015 we set off from Palmer’s for what was one of the best trips I have ever gone on. We arrived in Paris around 15:30 (ish) local time and visited the Sacré-Cœur. We had stayed here for about an hour to look around the church and to look at the beautiful views of Paris.
When we finished we set off to the hotel and had about an hours free time to relax after a long day of travelling. During that day I just tagged along with two other people (mainly because I knew no one on the trip, well only about four people) then when the evening came I met this group of people (through my room-mate). I joined them for the evening and then for the rest of the trip. We had decided to go to a McDonald’s, mainly for wi-fi and to talk to people from home. Which was very nice as we could also upload photos to Facebook/Twitter/Instagram from the day.
The following Morning we had breakfast and then set off for Le Tour Eiffel (The Eiffel Tower). Through out the trip this in my opinion the best part. We had a chance to go up one of the worlds most iconic monuments. As i’m not entirely fond of going up tall buildings, which is kind of weird because i’m a skier, I, along with someone else from my small group, debated weather to go right to the top of the tower, we only managed two stages of it. Which now in a way I kind of regret not going to the top because it really is a once in a life time opportunity. We stayed around the Eiffel Tower for a couple of hours that morning until it was time to leave for our next place of interest…
The Afternoon came and our next stop was a corridor full of cars. This was called the Cité du Cinéma. This was an interesting tour… Well when I say interesting, it was quite dull. I give credit to the Tour Guide though as it was her first English Speaking Tour and she did try her best. Bearing in mind it was her first tour with English people, we all lost our nerve and kind of got a bit side tracked and basically there was lots of laughter. Especially from our teacher who lost all professionalism when the guide said “This is a stairwell” when we entered what was a spiral stair case- very funny! In all honesty, we learnt that the film Lucy was filmed there. Once we had our tour we got back on the coach and headed back to the Eiffel Tower for dinner.
Friday Night included a stunning viewing of the Eiffel Tower all lit up in its bright lights- we were very lucky to see all the lights sparkling on the hour. Once we watched this we headed out to find a restaurant. What was quite nice, the rest of the group went off to find a McDonald’s or another fast food chain place, whereas my group found an Italian Place- which also had Wifi. This meant I could call my best friend on WhatsApp and talk to her for a bit once we had finished eating. After hearing nothing from her for two days it was so nice to talk to her, it felt weird not seeing the rest of my class on the Thursday when we left.
After we left the restaurant we made our way back to the Eiffel Tower and then one of the harbours for a boat journey along the River Seine. Despite it raining it was a lovely cruise, we got to see different parts of Paris from the water. After our cruise we got to experience the Paris Mètro (it was very hot and it was very sweaty on there) to get back to Place De La République which was where our hotel was. After another busy day we turned in and went to bed.
Saturday morning came and we all headed out for another tour, this time it was around the Notre Dame area. This was a lot better organised than the previous tour and our tour guides were English, which always helps. The tour involved different film locations that have been set in Paris. An example of a film that was shot around the Notre Dame area is Midnight in Paris, which stars Owen Wilson- we were lucky enough to go to one of the cafés that was used in the film. This tour also included a small explanation of what is going to happen to the oldest tree in Paris. They are just some of the things that this tour included. After the tour we were allowed to have some free time and stay on the island which the cathedral is on, only thing is, our teacher told my group about a lovely ice cream shop, so my group decided to go look for it, it wasn’t that far off the island though which was the main thing.
After lunch we headed off to the Stad De France for our second tour of the day. During this tour we went behind the scenes (if you can call it that) of how the stadium is kept clean for each match. We also got to go to the players changing rooms where we were allowed to look around for a bit. These changing rooms included; massage beds, a state of the art bathroom area, the manager’s office and captains office, Plasma TV’s, a mini fridge with nothing in it. Oh and different Rugby Jersey’s, including the All Blacks and England one’s. After our tour we headed back into Central Paris and hit quite a lot of traffic due to it being rush hour.
Saturday Evening (until around 19:00 local time)
Before the trip started I had to get permission to go and meet a friend who lives in Paris which was agreed. Whilst the rest of the group was off getting dinner, I met up with one of my friends from Primary School who now studies at the University of London In Paris. This was a nice chance to catch up and get away from the trip for a while. During this, we went for dinner (only McDonald’s) and then to a cocktail bar- now because it was a trip I didn’t drink and then got told off for not having one cocktail. We stayed round the Centre Georges Pompidou area and headed to the fountain area just a couple of minutes walk away. This was a nice way to end the day and a brilliant trip.
Saturday night (21:20ish local time)
After our visit to the Pompidou Centre, we had to get the Mètro back to Place de la République. Because of the experience we had on the Friday night we thought it would be the same this night. It wasn’t, the Mètro was much quieter and it wasn’t packed out like it was the night before- this meant we could sit down and have a rest for what was a long day of walking. We got back to the hotel and every one decided it was time to buy 24 hours worth of wifi… Including me for the case. It was defiantly time to go home. But before this we had to pack which wasn’t too bad.
The trip was over and there was nothing we could do about it. Sunday morning came and it was time get our bags together and leave. Every one was tired and ready to go home- well back to college and then home. The coach journey home gave us the chance to reflect on what we did and cherish those memories. As it was Sunday morning nothing was open and we couldn’t go out to have a coffee or do what ever we wanted. Although I went to the Gare de Paris-Est to help find stamps for someone. After this it was time to get back on the coach and head for Calais. We managed to get an earlier ferry home and this wasn’t the best experience as the waters were choppy and everyone was feeling quite sea sick… The annoying thing was, once we entered Calais it was about 20-25 degrees celsius. To our annoyance when we got home, it was a lot colder and we wanted to go back.
One week on…. (Friday 13th November)
A week had past since our trip and it was the eve of the college awards ceremony, I had a driving lesson in the morning, then had a maths exam. In the evening was the awards ceremony, it was a lovely evening. Until I got home and got a text from one of my friends who I met on the trip (turns out she was in my tutor group last year!) saying “have you seen the news?” I said no thinking everything was alright. She then sent another message saying “Im glad we’re not in Paris this week”. I ran downstairs and told my dad to put BBC News on, what was a lovely evening turned into a very frightening one as the places that we had visited the week before were under attack. All those memories were slowly disappearing and everything seemed a blur, nothing seemed right. It felt weird to see one of the greatest cities in Europe getting attacked a week later. As the events unfolded I felt physically sick, I was shaking. The next day I was at work and had to keep my professionalism and had to stop myself from breaking down every so often. Nothing felt right anymore. On the Monday, I went into college as normal feeling ok… Then my teacher asked if my friend was alright, and then I completely broke down. It was awful.
Personal thoughts on the Attacks
It took time to get used to the fact that everywhere we went to got attacked, every time I talk about it to friends or family I find it hard to because it was so personal and so close to home. I love Paris and it’s culture because it hasn’t got all the skyscrapers like London or New York, it’s kept its oldness and hasn’t really changed since the last time I was there. After a while the memories of the trip came back, it helped making a video, and also looking at all the photos that were taken. Whats good about the world we live on is the fact that every time something this big happens- whether it was the 9/11 attacks in New York or the London Bombing’s, the world unites against terrorism and stands together during a countries time of need.
Down below are the collages I made with a some of the photos that were taken.