A seriously secure final weekend touring Paris

As the minutes flew by, my roommate Willie Wright and I frantically ran down the deserted streets of Angers, France, hoping to make our train to Paris on time.

It was 7:30 a.m., and we had tickets for a 7:45 a.m. train. The rest of our study abroad group was waiting at the station. Because it was such a long distance, we didn’t run the whole way, but when one of us would begin to slow down, the other would just run faster. Eventually, the train station was in sight and as we ran onto the platform area we found the rest of our friends waiting, asking us where we had been. Wright later said, "Eli, I don’t think we’d have arrived on time if it wasn’t for you running when I slowed down."

The train arrived a few minutes later, and everyone was off to Paris. I tried to get some sleep to make up for the fact that, after a long night out in Angers, I had gone to bed at 5:30 that morning, but I couldn’t sleep for long.

Upon arriving in The City of Light, associate professor of French Claudine Giacchetti took everyone to the MIJE, the hostel where we were staying during our weekend in Paris. After a small, funny struggle with the large, ancient door to the hostel, we entered, dropped off our luggage and began to tour the historic city.

First on the schedule was a boat tour on the Seine River. The tour featured a host who spoke both French and English, so she was able to explain to us Americans what we were seeing. Every bridge we passed under held some statue with historical significance, and to the left and right of the expansive Seine we saw things such as an imitation Statue of Liberty and the City Hall, to name a few. During this boat tour, my friends and I were narcoleptics: after staying up late that morning, most of us had "the dropsy’s" (when you’re sleepy and your head drops and you jerk up awake, then repeat).

After this tour, which lasted around two hours, we stopped at a park to have a picnic. After quickly eating the lunch my host-mom gave me (which surprisingly didn’t include tuna), I tried to take a nap and sat on a bench away from the grass area where a lot of my friends sat. Seeing the other students on the grass eating their lunches reminded me of elementary school field trips, except this was one on a much larger scale – in a country on a different continent.

After lunch, we visited the Louvre, the historic museum that houses some of the world’s most well known pieces of art. While waiting to start our tour, my friends and I noticed that the museum’s policy against potential art thieves was no joke: several security guards patrolled with large guns.

The Louvre is a very large museum, and viewing all of the art inside of it would take days. The outside also features tall structures with countless statues, and the infamous large glass pyramid accompanied by smaller pyramids. It was here that I saw the Mona Lisa through a large crowd of people and managed to take a permanent visual souvenir.

When another student, Aaron D’Souza, touched a painting, moving it a few feet, and an elderly French woman working security launched into an angry tirade in French. We noticed that several gun-toting guards followed us around the remainder of our tour that day. Another highlight from the Louvre was when James Cox and Jason "Cousteau" (a nickname inspired by French explorer Jacques Cousteau) Godfrey engaged in a heated debate about Egyptian history after reading a detailed timeline.

After visiting the Louvre, everyone headed to the MIJE to settle down into his or her rooms before going out later. While the daytime tours were definitely fun, our first night in Paris was unforgettable. Read all about it in the next part of the series.

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