“C’est La Vie” in the City of Lights

By Tara Martinelli

With midterms underway, Tara reflects on her experience in Paris (Courtesy of Tara Martinelli).

With midterms underway, Tara reflects on her experience in Paris (Courtesy of Tara Martinelli).

Where in the world is Tara? Well, recently, my answer to this question hasn’t been all too thrilling. Midterms are rapidly approaching and, for some reason, the universe thought I deserved to have four papers due over the span of two days.

Fair.

My days have been spent in libraries and cafes, my eyes filled with tears. However, two weeks ago, I took a trip to a place that I’ve wanted to visit since I saw the Rugrats tear it up back in 2000. That’s right, I embraced my inner Chuckie Finster and headed to Paris, France.

Some would say that Paris has not had the easiest time for the past couple of years. The city has seen a lot of tragedy and hardship. Obviously it could really use a nice dose of Tara. If I had to pick one word to describe my time as a whole in Paris, I wouldn’t be able to. My face would kind of scrunch up and look very confused but also excited. The whole experience left me with a bunch of emotions that I couldn’t really make sense of. But here goes nothing!

The trip started off super well. We missed the bus to take us to the airport, which forced us to Uber over an hour to Gatwick Airport. I can say this calmly now, but in the moment, I was a little less composed and much sweatier after running around in circles for about 40 minutes. But, we made it!

While checking in, I noticed two men wearing Christmas-themed tuxedos without anything in their hands. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see what they were up to and make some new friends. Update: we now follow each other on Instagram, no biggie. But, anyway, I asked the men to explain what their outfits were all about and they proceeded to tell me that they were in the process of making their way from Dublin to Rome without spending any money. Huh? The two men were students at a university in Dublin and, in order to raise money for prostate cancer, they were told to travel from school to Rome while making mandatory stops along the way (Tower Bridge was one of them) without opening their wallets. They were to rely on the funds of friendly strangers to help them make their journey. I made my contribution, wished them luck and continued on to Paris.

Our first day in Paris was a little more exciting than I would have hoped. We started off the day by going to the Eiffel Tour and taking an elevator ride up to the top. Confession: I cried. I don’t know why I cried. I’m not really that kind of person, but the moment I saw it, I was overcome with emotions.

After pulling myself together, riding to the top was absolutely amazing. Getting to look out at the entire city at once was nothing less than breath-taking. I was shocked by the number of little shops and businesses that are in the actual tower. I could never imagine going to work in the Eiffel Tower every day. It would be like working in front of Bubba Gump Shrimp in Times Square. (I don’t know why I picked Bubba Gump Shrimp—it’s always the first place I see in Times Square).

After the Eiffel Tower, we had trouble deciding where to go next. Paris is a pretty big city, and there’s just so much to see. We didn’t want to waste any time. So, naturally, our next stop was to get some croissants and hot chocolate. Before you judge, let me just say that this croissant saved us from being at the Louvre during the time of the attack. Oh yeah, I forgot to mentioned that I was in Paris the weekend of the Louvre incident. My phone was flooded with text messages all day from people checking in and also wanting to hear what it was like being there during the tragedy. Truthfully, the first person to tell me about the incident was a friend who was back in London; I didn’t realize anything was going on. Paris kept running, people kept sipping on their champagne and no one was ready to let this act of terrorism keep them from enjoying their lives. This is obviously not the first attack on Paris, and citizens don’t expect it to be the last. However, they are taking things day by day and enjoying the beautiful city that they have the privilege of calling home.

Our last day in France was spent in Versailles. Oh my, Versailles. The palace was probably the most extraordinary thing that I have ever laid eyes on. I could not fathom that amount of gold existing on earth, let alone in one location. Versailles is free to enter for students and you are also provided with a free audio tour. It made an already amazing experience all that much more amazing. The coolest thing about the palace was how perfectly preserved it is. I was able to look at the King’s bed with the original sheets. Now I have a talking point when I inevitably have tea with Prince Harry—I’ve been in the King’s boudoir, how steamy.

My only real complaint about Paris is that I wish I had more time there. Because it is pretty spread out, it’s hard to see a lot in a short amount of time. But now, I can say that I’ve seen London, I’ve seen France and I’ve basically seen King Louis XVI’s underpants.

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