Recently, I spent a weekend in Paris: a weekend of sight-seeing, champagne tasting, and, of course, reunions. So many reunions. My close friend Lily from Richmond is studying abroad at Sciences Po in Paris this semester. Meanwhile, my friends from home, Sara, Emma, and Katherine, are studying abroad in Paris through their different programs affiliated with UMass Amherst, Boston University, and Skidmore College, respectively. Plot twist: Sara, Emma, Katherine, and I have friends from high school studying abroad in Florence this semester as well, and as luck would have it, we all decided to reunite this weekend.
I have been fortunate enough to visit Paris once before through UR’s Summer Study Abroad program. This time, I wanted to put an emphasis on what I haven’t seen before!
My first tourist attraction on the list: the Paris Catacombs. I have desperately wanted to visit the Catacombs ever since a certain horror movie came out. It certainly was not my favorite, but I loved the setting.
The Catacombs are the unfortunate consequence of the king’s order to essentially uproot a cemetery. There are so many bones–so many former bodies that make up the catacombs–, but you are almost immediately desensitized to death upon entering. The walls even have funny quotes on the wall, such as “Sometimes death is more advantageous than living.”
I may have already seen the Eiffel Tower, but that wouldn’t discourage me from seeing it in a different light…nighttime to be exact. My friends and I went to an event on a boat organized by the local Erasmus student exchange network that included a tour of the Seine.
The next day, I went to Reims, the capital of the Champagne region, with Lily and her friend Holly. We were able to tour a cave in Reims and even participate in a tasting. Reims is also home to another famous Cathédrale de Notre Dame.
This Notre Dame is built in the French Gothic style much like the one in Paris, and it was by far my favorite cathedral to study in art history. I sometimes forget that these monuments still hold ceremonies in them. Lily, Holly, and I were able to catch the tail end of a Palm Sunday service in the cathedral and watch the mystifying procession.
I’m always drawn to the statue of Charlemagne in front of the Notre Dame in Paris. I ended my visit with one last photo of the monument.
As my friend Katherine explained, “Paris is, at once, overwhelmingly big and familiar.” She’s a natural poet, and her words resonated with me at the end of my second stay in the city. I had so much fun reconnecting with another Richmond student and my friends from Cape Cod. I can’t wait until my next visit.