A Tour De France in Two Weeks

I majored in French and Francophone Studies, so it was almost a rite of passage to set foot in the birthplace of the French language I had become so familiar with over the past three years. Since the trip was a graduation gift, I was able to plan all of the places we were to visit, but after having learned so much about the country, I couldn’t choose just a few places- I had to see everything! It was a non-stop trip, flying into London, taking a flight to Paris, and then city hopping all the way to the south of France. Little did I know what all would be in store for me…

Let me begin by saying- never, ever, travel with your mother. It’s not that we don’t get along, but my mother is not very calm in stressful situations, and dealing with her while trying to maintain my sanity when I have no idea where I am was ‘difficult’, to put it nicely. Tip two: Don’t leave your significant other behind and bring your mother instead. This tip is only slightly interrelated with the first, as you can tell. I left the person I wanted to be with in Massachusetts, for economical reasons, and instead I got Momma.

To avoid stepping into rant territory, I will channel my best Positive Patricia and move on to the highlights of the trip. So Paris, our first stop in France. We spent only two days here, but we ran circles around the city of lights on foot, by boat, and by Metro. We took a boat ride down the Seine at night (which even in September was a bit more chilly than expected), stepped foot inside Notre Dame, walked through the halls of time at the Louvre museum, climbed the Arc de Triomphe, scaled the Parthenon, cultured ourselves at the Centre Pompidou, and all while doing our best to remain aloof and Frenchy. My mother failed completely, of course, but I like to think I may have succeeded, considering the increasing accuracy with which I was able to order a myriad of French foods and drinks at local cafés without the strange ‘I have no idea what you’re saying’ look.

We spent the next few days frequenting châteaux, and rubbing elbows with portraits of French monarchs. That is, when we weren’t catching our breath from running to catch the last museum tour, or holding it as we wandered speechless through the many cathedrals. The cathedrals themselves are worth another 400 words. I’ll leave you this sentence to contemplate their grandeur. And now a few recommendations: climb to the top of Chartres, visit St. Denis, see Leonardo de Vinci’s remains in the chapel at the top of chateau d’Amboise, bathe in the light of the Sainte Chapelle.

This little blurb is but the first bite of the croissant, a taste of the trip. There is so much to express… France felt so incredibly different to me, so many emotions imploded into two weeks, leaving me with memories which are still filled with wonder. My last words: Go and share it with someone you love, and take your time. You’ll be glad you did.

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