Twenty years ago I was with the Scouts on a trip to Copenhagen, Denmark. On the way to Copenhagen we stopped for the day in Paris.
This was my first time visiting Paris. Paris, the city of Love or that is what they call it. To me it was just The City. I was born in Wuerzburg, Germany but raised in the country barely seeing a city. I only heard of cities where the lights don’t ever go out, the traffic is noisy, the boys look good and the music never stops.
So yes going to Paris seemed exiting after I joined the Scouts leaving the Orphanage behind I was raised in. Ironically we actually planned on canoeing in Denmark that summer. Paris was just a transit point.
My nose was pressing against the window of the bus once the signs for Paris were in sight. Of course I wanted to see the Eifel tower. Man, I was exited. I heard all the oohs and coos from the other teens as we finally approached Paris, the city who doesn’t sleep.
Then we heard the last instructions of our chaperon and ran out of the buses. I hardly could contain myself. I absorbed the city through all of my senses. I didn’t want to miss a thing. So I intensely listened to the rooming sounds of the cars, the tooting horns of the tax driver, inhaled the polluted air, absorbed all the colors of the city and listened to the French language. I didn’t understand a thing but oh the French language sounded like beautiful music to me.
I’ve never understood what the point is of paying for a group to go on a fieldtrip or a trip and then rushing them through it but needless to say I was rushed in Paris too.
Of course we saw the big metal Eifel Tower. My fears of heights prevented me to go all the way through the platform but I bravely accepted the trip with the elevator to the coffee shop with this big glass ceiling. Looking over the beautiful city of Paris for the first time made me feel all powerful and that I conquered the world. All other things were forgotten. I saw the river flowing down on the bottom and people seemed like ants and cars appeared like matchbox cars. It was a magnificent feeling.
Down at the bottom I had to put up again with annoying chaperons who hustled us through the city of Paris. We did a little Scavenger hunt and questionnaire which lead us to the five important destinations. So we saw The Louvre, The Notre Dame Cathedral, the outside of the Musee D Orsay, The Sorbonne and the Latin Quarter, The Arc de Triumphe and the Champs- Elysees. But again we were rushed.
Oh how I longed to sit in one of those French Coffeeshop in the middle of the shopping promenades with a cup of coffee and just listen to the sounds and sights of the big city.
I can see now why the Notre Dame Cathedral famous for the gothic architecture but for me it was a cathedral like all the others I have seen on fieldtrips throughout Germany. But if you never seen anything like that seeing and hearing your echo in those big buildings makes the whole first time visit through Paris a breathtaking adventure.
On my second trip to Paris I went with the faster family of my brother. This time we took our time to discover the city which broadened my understanding of the French culture. For example I noticed that people in Paris doesn’t make an attempt to speak English even so all of us Germans do. So when you asked for the metro you have to make sure that you understand the answer or you might as well not ask for it.
I was of drinking age at my second visit and I sat down in a beautiful coffee in the middle of people and drank a sip of delicious wine and allowing the city to pass through my senses. We took time to walk along side of the Seine, the river in Paris and explored Paris all over again.
We also noticed the constant traffic circles when we approached the city. Driving in Paris seemed very hard for my experienced faster father and the constant tolls took a toll on us.
Being in Paris a second time and already knowing my way around made my Paris experience so much better. Again, Paris is a city you don’t want to miss. You have got to take your time to experience it all and that includes the architecture, the out of place looking Eifel Tower, the walk to the river, the scenic coffee shops, the hardy bread, the noisy city and the in part snobby French people. You gotta love them… Don’t ever make Paris a Stop Over. Make it the main destination point on your vacation.