Summer in Paris

by ALEX RAGHUNANDAN Staff Writer

During the summer of 2012, my family and I decided to pack our bags and head to the city of lights, Paris, for a week.

After an eight hour plane ride from Newark, walking into Paris was like walking into another world.

After picking up our bags, my family was driven to our hotel from the airport. Along the way, we passed by the countryside that surrounded the city.

An hour of driving led us to our home for the next week, the Hotel du Louvre, centered right in front of the famous museum where the hotel gets its name. Across the street from our hotel was an area filled with small markets and restaurants.

The next week consisted of walking through the streets of Paris until my feet felt like they were going to fall off, exploring the most popular landmarks in the city.

The majority of our travels led my family to Les Champs-Elysées, which is a long strip of shops and restaurants that ends with the grand Arc de Triomphe.

Along the way to the Arc, there is a section of small markets and restaurants where they sell Parisian specialties, especially crispy baguette bread and local meats and cheeses. Even the McDonalds had its own bakery where they made homemade macaroons.

Right before we reached the Arc, we saw the luxury shopping district where numerous designers and car manufactures have outlets including Fiat, Chanel, and the famous Louis Vuitton Castle. There are floors and floors of the rarest couture in these stores with plenty of shopping to do.

After walking down the Champs-Elysées, my family finally arrived at the Arc de Triomphe. It was in the center of the road, and was lit up at night. You could run through the streets and stand up close and under the Arc to take a picture or read the inscriptions in the Arc. Hundreds of people gather at midnight or later just to observe and take pictures of the famous French landmark.

The Eiffel Tower is the signature attraction of Paris and can be seen from almost all over the city. My family was fortunate enough to be able to have dinner in the tower where you could see the entire city. Numerous other families and couples dined with us, and we were even able to see some marriage proposals. My brother and my dad walked with me up the stairs of the Eiffel Tower to the top where you can see everything in the city and beyond. The journey was tiring, but worth it.

“One of the things on my bucket list is to go up on the top of the Eiffel Tower in order to take in the skyline of Paris at night,” said freshman Erin McGrath.

Paris is also known for its vast collection of art and ancient artifacts, especially in the Louvre and the Musée d’Orsay.

The Louvre was in the vicinity of my hotel and I visited it numerous times. Every time I went to the Louvre, there was always something new to see. The museum used to be a French palace to show how large it was. The Louvre most famously holds the Mona Lisa and the Coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte. It is possible to spend hours in there and still not see everything you wanted.

“When I went to Paris over the summer I couldn’t believe that a lot of the art I studied in school I saw in real life. It was amazing,” said an anonymous student.

Although it is not a famous landmark or a piece of art, the markets and local cuisine of Paris were a memorable part of my visit. No matter where I went, there were always local vendors selling freshly made food. Most of the meat and fruit in Paris tastes different just because it is fresher and less processed.

After a week in Paris, it was time for my family to pack up and return to New Jersey. After enduring another eight hour flight, my family returned to New Jersey, wishing that we were all standing in front of the glowing Eiffel Tower once again.

If you could spend a week in any city around the world, where would you spend it?

#AlexRaghunandan #Paris #vacation

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