Notre-Dame Cathedral, Seine River, & Pont des Arts

“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.”

-Confucius

A couple years ago I was invited to go on a trip to Paris, a few other cities in France, and London with a friend and her mom. It was my first flight across the ocean; the only other country I had been to besides my own was Jamaica, so obviously I was super stoked and couldn’t have been happier. We took a taxi to the airport, then ate at TGI Fridays right next to our gate. Soon, we would be taking off from DFW to CDG. Once we boarded the plane, I was fascinated by how big it was. I had never been on a plane with three rows before (this picture doesn’t do it justice).

Paris 1

That was a very long flight for me; I could not get comfortable because I was anticipating the journey ahead of me. Longest ten hours of my life. If you travel abroad often, ten hours is not that bad. But I didn’t know that back then, so I didn’t know what to expect. I spent pretty much the whole flight watching the little tv in front of me, where it showed a map of exactly where our plane was at the moment. The dot was in the Atlantic Ocean 90% of the time, which didn’t soothe me.

Once we arrived, we took a taxi to Place du Châtelet, where our apartment was located. We would be staying here for five days, then renting a car to drive through the French countryside. Our apartment was cute and girly and everything I imagined a place in Paris would be.

As soon as we got there, we crashed. We should’ve gone out and explored because it was only noon, but we were still on Dallas time and we had barely slept on the flight. It was the middle of the night for us; we needed it.

We woke up rejuvenated and were ready to see the city (after food, of course). We walked along the Seine until we found a small restaurant where we could grab a quick bite and be on our way. My first meal in Paris? Drumroll please…

Pizza! It’s so pathetic, I know. I wish I wasn’t picky, but I lived off pizza the whole two weeks of this trip.

Paris 3

On we went to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris. From the outside, it’s actually pretty intimidating. I don’t know a lot about the history of the cathedral, but I do know it’s a Gothic structure that was built in the 12th century. I had just learned about this in Art Appreciation the semester before, so it was cool to see it in person. The pictures of it don’t even compare to the real thing. I was nervous about walking in, but was immediately calmed as soon as I stepped foot inside. The structure, the windows, the mass going on, everything was beautiful. There were tables around the inside perimeter that held candles. You could light one for a small donation. What I didn’t know at the time was that you can actually visit the Towers of Notre-Dame (basically, you can go up to its roof and see the view from there). If I could do it all over again, I’d make sure to do that.

Seine River is a wonder to behold. The water is actually pretty, unlike most rivers. If you’re presented with the opportunity to go on a boat tour on the river, take it! You’ll get to see many sights of Paris from the boat. It gave us a chance to see the Eiffel Tower at night, too.

There used to be a ‘Love Lock Bridge’ in Paris going across the Seine. It was called the Pont des Arts. If you haven’t heard of it before, it was basically a bridge that sweethearts attached locks to with their names engraved on them. They would then throw the key into the Seine as a symbol of their unbreakable, eternal love. (You could do this with your friends or family members, too. It was just commonly known for lovers.) It was something you must participate in if you were a tourist. Unfortunately, the city removed the locks and the wire mesh panels of the bridge, replacing them with plexiglass. The Pont des Arts is now a part of history. Guess when this happened? Literally two days before I arrived in Paris. Luckily, the locals and other tourists started the same tradition on other bridges. I don’t know how long it will be until those are replaced with plexiglass, too, but at least my lock is there currently. (The owner of the shop where I bought my lock let me engrave my own. How cool!)

I’d love to hear about your vacation to Paris if you’ve visited or what you’d like to see when you do go there. Tell me about your experiences if you’ve been to any of these sights!

This is just the start of my trip to Paris. There’s more to come!

-Aly

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