Monday, August 26, 2019 | Written by Karsten Messer
Though this was the first weekend abroad and I hadn’t really explored downtown Metz much, I wanted to go elsewhere. I flew into Paris, as did most people on this study abroad, but I had never been there before. I didn’t think many people would be interested in going out of town in the first weekend, so I expected to go by myself or with one of the only guys I knew coming into Georgia Tech Lorraine, Jake Tjards (a fellow member of Cru). However, when I mentioned in passing that I wanted to go to Paris this weekend, others also seemed interested, so we began planning. Everyone that went had a couple of things that they especially wanted to do, and because there were eight of us, we had a pretty good list of things to do. My two bucket list events were seeing the Eiffel Tower and going to my first European football match. On Thursday night, we bought our tickets for the train and the game, and we booked our Airbnb.
Once we got to the train station and got all of our Eurail passes activated, we waited for the track to be listed, which doesn’t happen until twenty minutes before the train arrives. Once it was listed, we went to the tracks and it seemed like it wasn’t there. However, about one minute before it left, we realized that it wasn’t pulled all the way into the station, but it was there, so we bolted to the doors and somehow all made it. We arrived in Paris and began getting to our itinerary – with the first stop being a bakery.
After we had some of the best pastries of our lives, we walked to the Louvre (more on that later) and then into the Sainte-Chapelle—and immediately back out because we’re all on a budget. Next, we walked by the sad sight that is the Cathedral Notre Dame, as we were able to see the severe damage caused by the fire earlier this year. The last thing that we had scheduled was the Pantheon. We made a spur-of-the-moment decision (heavily influenced by me for photography purposes) to go to the Montparnasse Tower to watch the sun set over the cityscape. It was an absolutely incredible sight. Once the sun had gone down, we made the three-mile walk back to our Airbnb, which put us at fifteen miles for the day.
On day two, we woke up, went and got more pastries, and went back to the Louvre. Honestly, I was not very excited to go as I am not a museum person at all. However, this was one of the best museums I had been in (at least recently), and I definitely enjoyed it. My favorite part, though cliché, was seeing the Mona Lisa. After, we went and got crepes for lunch and then went to see the Arc de Triomphe. I very much enjoyed walking through the insanely wealthy Champs-Élysées on the way, which was filled with stores I’ll never buy from and half a million-dollar cars. From there, we headed to see the Eiffel Tower up close and then on to the Parc des Princes for the PSG vs Toulouse game. We managed to get tickets in the third row of a first level section for less than fifty euros. After getting my biggest lens confiscated (taken to the bag check), it was a very fun and unforgettable experience. I thought Atlanta United games were loud and hype, but honestly, I’ve never been to a game that compares to the Parisian Ultras at this game. To top off the experience, PSG beat Toulouse 4-0, with all four goals being scored in the side we were sitting on.
Overall, I’m very glad to have gotten to go to one of the biggest cities with a rich history in the world as a way to ease in to travelling around Europe via the train system. It was extremely cool, and I hope to go back and see what I missed before I leave (though we walked thirty miles in two days, we couldn’t have missed too much).