After a month in Paris there are many things I have learned that I thought would be helpful to anyone planning to visit the city.
The best croissants are the ones you wake up at 6:30 for to wait outside your local bakery.
Pack pants, you will wish you had packed more than one pair when you realize Parisians wear them everyday.
Everyones in a relationship, so if you’re going through a breakup Paris is probably not the best place to get over it.
Bring a reusable bag wherever you go! Paris is super environmentally friendly and many places make you pay for plastic bags. So save our planet and your pocket change by bringing your own bag.
Food is super fresh and locally sourced so indulge!
But with indulgence walk to your next destination, which means pack comfortable walking shoes that will be durable to last your whole stay.
Or take public transportation! It’s super clean, easy to navigate, and relatively safe.
For the ladies bring a crossbody bag that you can keep close to you. Separate the money and credit cards you bring over into two separate wallets in case you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being pick pocketed. This includes moving your backpacks to your front when on public transportation or popular tourist areas.
Don’t buy anything from the one euro guys.
Use your french no matter how minimal or bad it may be. Parisians are more than happy to help you when you address them in french with a simple bonjour and a smile. Most people speak english, but it is also a good idea to ask if they speak english in french and then go on from there.
Get ready to relax while you eat. Meals are generally much longer than in the United States and it may take some time to adjust. The french do not carry their food or coffee on the go, but rather sit at a cafe and enjoy it there. Dinners are generally two to three hours long and it is the most relaxing feeling to enjoy your meal in the company of friends, family, or just the view.
Don’t forget your raincoat and umbrella. It rains much more often than you would expect and sometimes for only a short period of time during the day so don’t forget to grab an umbrella on your way out.
Before sitting at a cafe read any recent reviews online so that you know what to expect and how much to pay, (Molly Grant was our go to for this).
Tip is included in the price of all of your meals so don’t feel the need to leave extra. If a waiter or waitress tells you its not included, check your menu to confirm, otherwise they’re most likely lying since they know you’re a tourist and may not know better.
Go on a river boat tour! It’s a great way to see how the river divides the city and see many of the iconic sites like the Louvre and the Eiffel tower before you have the chance to visit them in person.
Keep your voices down in public. Americans speak extremely loudly and generally are not aware of it. Public transportation is normally silent and Parisians do not raise their voices louder than a whisper. It is very easy to spot a tourist on the streets because you can normally hear them.
On the first Sunday of every month museums are free to the public, so take advantage!
Parisians smoke a lot.
Coca Cola is soooo much better in France.
A croque monsieur is probably one of the best things you’ll ever eat.
Week two has completely flown by! I can not believe we are half way through with this incredible experience. This week we have covered Baroque and Romanesque architecture and visited two examples on our trip to the Palace of Luxembourg and Palace of Versailles. We observed the architecture, garden plans, and sculpture work in relation to one another and had some time to explore on our own. I finally visited the Eiffel Tower and am hoping to watch the light show one night before I depart. A trip to the top of the Arc of Triomphe provided the most amazing view of the city, after climbing roughly 200 stairs. This was nothing compared to the massive flights of stairs Holy Cross has in store for us, so the climb up was a breeze. This weekend we attended the French Open or Roland Garros, and watched the Women’s doubles, Women’s singles, and Men’s singles matches in one of the many annex courts. I had never attended a professional tennis match before and was extremely excited for the event. The hot weather required lots of water and sunscreen and I slipped out with no (new) sunburn! Sunday brought the heat, but luckily for us the first Sunday of every month is free admission to all museums in the city. We visited both the Pompidou, a contemporary art museum, and the Musee de L’Orangerie, famous for its collection of Monet water lilies. Monet is my absolute favorite artists and my inner second grade self was screaming at the sight of the massive canvases of water lilies. I hope you enjoy the following pictures! More to come on week 3!
My computer has finally loaded the gazillion of photos I took this week at Versailles and they are ready for you! Although this is only a fraction of what I saw, I hope that these give a better insight at what the day was like. It was probably one of my favorite days so far because of how much fun we had together as a group goofing around and exploring the huge estate Versailles makes up. Enjoy!
It is 11 pm here in Paris and I am wrapping up an exhausting day of visiting beautiful Versailles. Last night I watched a movie about Marie Antoinette, starring Kirsten Dunst, and I got a first glimpse of what court and royal culture was like back in the prime of Versailles and Marie Antoinette’s reign. The movie shot in 2009, was actually filmed in Versailles, unlike many movies that are unable to film on locations as historic as the palace is. It offers a snapshot of what Marie Antoinette life was like after marrying Louis the XVI in 1770. I highly recommend the movie for anyone interested in it.
This morning I woke up at 6:30 for Paris’ finest croissants. Now I’m not kidding when I say that. Every year local judges taste the best croissants in the area and the bakery across from the Cite won the competition this year. They were divine! We took the train to Versailles and arrived promptly at 8:50, 10 minutes before opening. We were some of the first people into the palace yard, but the crowds were not far behind us.
Once inside I was completely stunned. Every square inch is covered in the most beautiful marble, art, linens, drapery, and furniture. Every room you walked into was adorned in gold molding with creamy white doors while large windows let in the warm morning sunlight. My favorite room in the palace was Marie Antoinette’s bedroom. It was covered in a soft pink floral print and everything just looked so perfect. I was very excited to see the portrait of Marie Antoinette and her children, a propaganda piece the Queen had made to seem motherly to the French citizens who were not fond of her. We made our way through various rooms of wall side paintings ranging from the Battle of York to the Coronation of Napoleon.
Outside, we wandered around the gardens of the palace and sat for lunch amidst large pink roses and tall green trees. We shared laughs over a large plate of burrata while we ate gnocchi, pork, and pastas for lunch. We sat for a long time enjoying the beautiful atmosphere and the made our way to a little train that would take us to Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet. As Queen, she designed the Hamlet to replicate the local village so that her and her friends could play poor. It felt like Disney walking outside the small buildings, but what was amazing was how well kept the gardens were. Vegetables, fruits, and flowers are still grown throughout the Hamlet’s gardens. It was all so surreal, I was constantly reminding myself of where I was.
The whole day was amazing. I enjoyed every minute, even when my legs felt like they were going to give our. Okay maybe not so much that part, but I still enjoyed every minute. It was all a dream. Pictures to come!
Week 1 has been an absolute dream here in Paris! I can’t wait to share all the details about some of my favorite spots thus far, but I have decided to upload a gallery of my favorite photos of each week to give you a better idea of what I have been up to! I hope you enjoy 🙂
Et bienvenue a Paris! That might not even be french but I’ve only been here for four days so you can all give me a hard time at the end of the trip if my french is still bad. But hello, and welcome to Paris!
I arrived in France in nearly one piece. The flight was horrendous to say the least… happy that it is over, though looks like I may never return to New York if I have to go through that again. I landed in Charles de-Gaulle airport at 7:35 Saturday morning and found the three Holy Cross students that were also on my flight. We wandered around the airport for the next four hours meeting up with other friends in the program and testing out our very limited french while buying lunch. The train to the Cite Internationale Universitaire de Paris (our dorms) was quick and easy. Shea, Molly, Luka, and I wandered around our neighborhood to a cafe and sat for a few hours waiting for Jess, Gabby, and Thuy to meet us for dinner. As dinner ended we got stuck in a torrential downpour and walked the 15 minutes home sopping wet. I personally found this amazing, the others not so much.
My first steps into central Paris were breathtaking. We came out of the metro station to the light of Notre-Dame, shining amidst its tragic fire only a short month ago. I could not withhold my excitement upon finally seeing the Cathedral I have been eagerly waiting to admire. Sunday consisted of a scavenger hunt around the Ile de la Cite, a boat tour of the Seine River, a long stop at a nearby cafe, and a group dinner. The day was absolutely amazing. I felt like I had to keep pinching myself to believe that it was all real, that I was actually in Paris, France.
Monday began the start of both language and culture class. I am really enjoying the beginners french class. We learned the alphabet and how to spell our names out loud on Monday. When the professor asked me to spell mine aloud, while he wrote down what he heard on the board, I was dubbed, “LEEUCY”. I can not pronounce the letter “U” to save my life. For the next five minutes I proceeded to pronounce the letter “U” with such force I could not help myself from laughing. After class professor Schilt began training me on how to properly pronounce the letter. Unfortunately, I literally can’t do it, so I will now be known as Lecy.
Shockingly, I’ve become rather comfortable using the public transportation here in Paris. As a directionally challenged person, the metro system here is very easy to use and understand. Our Navigopasses allow us access to the metro and RER tram rails as many times as we like. What is very interesting about Parisian culture is that there are no conductors or staff checking passes on trains, on a regular basis. Despite this, everyone continues to scan their passes when they get on the RERs. I found this very interesting because as a metro north user, if the conductor doesn’t come to my train car I don’t activate my ticket or seek a conductor out to punch the ticket. Professor Schilt explained to us that while there are no conductors on trains, police officers routinely check passes when riders exit the trains to ensure that they are valid. If they are not, a 50 euro fine is issued and must be paid on the spot. I’ve noticed many other differences between life in Paris and life in America that I will explain in another post, but this is just one difference I have become very intrigued by.
I promise to post more on what I have been seeing, this is only a first taste!
Today is my last day in the states! Its crazy how quickly the week has flown by. I am extremely nervous to embark on this journey, but I know that it will be so good for me.
I have spent the last few days with friends and family while preparing to leave. I think that the quick turnaround has been very good for me, because any more time at home and I don’t think I would be able to get myself onto the plane. I am an extremely anxious flyer and have never been on a flight over an ocean, or a plane as large as the ones that fly internationally. I am nervous and anxious to say the least, but I need to push myself to do this if I am ever going to see all of the things and places I dream about visiting.
Keeping myself distracted, I focused on packing myself into one suitcase and one personal item. I used the Away Medium size suitcase and was able to fit everything I wanted to bring (and some). I definitely self identify as an over-packer, however this may be one of the few trips I feel that I packed the appropriate amount.
I went off a navy, black, and white color scheme with few pops of color through pattern. Focusing on specific color groups made packing a lot easier and eliminated a lot of the things in my closet I otherwise may have brought. It also ensured that I would be able to create different outfits from everything I brought without feeling like I was always wearing the same thing. Using individualized bags also limited the amount I brought and kept the bag very organized. Checking the weather beforehand was also essential in determining what type of clothing I would need. I packed pants, shorts, t-shirts, two cardigans, three dresses, one nice outfit, and accessories to mix and match. (There is 100% more in my bag, but these were the basics).
For anyone feeling nervous about packing for a Maymester I would tell you not to fret! I was nervous about making everything fit, but limiting myself has made travel thus far much easier and I know my arms will thank me when I’m lugging the suitcase up and down the subway stairs.
My name is Lucy Rizzo and I recently finished my first year at Holy Cross this past Monday. The year has completely flown by and I am sad to think about how quickly is it all going. Luckily for me, I get to extend my freshman year by four weeks on the upcoming Maymester to Paris.
While it may come as a surprise, going on this Maymester was not initially in my (or my parents) plans. In my “Intro to Academic Writing Class” first semester, a classmate projected an image of the Paris Maymester information session poster during one of our classes. The assignment was to describe and analyze everything we saw. I saw Monet’s Japanese water bridge painting, (my all time favorite artist), the Chartres Cathedral stained glass rose window, and an image of the Louvre museum. After listing all of these off to my classmates and Professor, a friend looked at me and said “Lucy you should probably go to this meeting.” One information session later, I called my parents and told them the plan. They both laughed it off, and when I arrived home for winter break with an acceptance in hand, they both looked at me stunned, thinking I was joking when I initially told them. Five months later and I’m less than a week out!
I am both excited and nervous for many different reasons. Having never spoken French, or even sat in on a single class, my only experience with the language is through Duolingo. The frustrating part about this is that I have only learned how to say cat, dog, horse, and croissant. I am also nervous about getting lost around the city and not being able to communicate with others to find my way around. I’ve heard the horror stories of Parisians yelling in American’s faces for not speaking French to them, so I’m google translating “Do you speak English?” in french, as I write this now. I’m sure the french class I will be taking will at the University will calm my anxiety around this, but for now I will continue my Duolingo practice on how to correctly pronounce “dog”.
Despite my language insecurities, I am so excited to discover a new city. I have studied French art and history for the last three years and took a modern french course my first semester at Holy Cross. It was amazing! I can’t wait to see the paintings, sculptures, monuments, and buildings I have seen through textbook pictures in person for the first time.
I am so excited to take you on this incredible journey with me on my first adventure abroad!