Bonjour Paris!

Becca Jolly shares her perspective on her trip to France
Every hour the Eiffel Tower sparkles for five miniutes.
Every hour the Eiffel Tower sparkles for five miniutes.
Becca Jolly

On March 9, I had the great privilege of traveling to France, to participate in HCP’s French Exchange program.  

My group consisted of 29 students from our school and Cassady, along with our 4 chaperones, making 32 travelers.  


We departed on March 9, after a long day of flight delays. Originally, our flight to Miami was supposed to leave at 6:30 a.m. but didn’t end up leaving until almost 2 p.m. During this time, I learned just how boring Will Rogers World Airport is.  

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After a very long 12-hour flight we arrived at Charles Du Gaulle Airport in Paris, France. At this time, I was exhausted, as I hadn’t slept in almost 24  hours.  

Paris, Day 1 

While waiting for our tour guide in the airport, I had my first experience ordering in French, and tried my first bite of French food: a Pain Au Chocolat (a chocolate croissant). 

Then we took off! 

The first thing I noticed about Paris was the amount of graffiti in the urban area. There was so much of it! Walls and walls were covered in beautiful artwork. 

During our first day we mainly walked around, taking small walking tours. I saw so many beautiful buildings. The architecture is immaculate and very detailed (It only gets better). We went to some shops and cafes, where I tried traditional macarons, a Coke and a strange strawberry basil drink with chia seeds. 

We continued our day by walking across the Sein River. It was huge! We learned that one side of the river is the academic area, and the other side is the art area. We took so many pictures and my friend licked a statue of a fish.

We then walked through The Louve, sadly we didn’t get to go inside the museum, but the outside was just as amazing. The glass pyramid was so much bigger in person than I expected. Being able to see the most famous art museum was an incredible experience.  

We went to dinner in a very cramped restaurant. It wasn’t anything special, though. Just some bread, chicken and potatoes. The dessert consisted of a puff pastry with a load of whipped cream in the middle. The whole thing was drenched in chocolate sauce! 

Paris, Day 2 

The next day we traveled to the Latin Quarter of Paris. 

We started the day by meeting a new tour guide. He was a very nice British guy.  

He took us to an old battle arena, where we learned a lot about old Roman and French empires. It was super interesting.  

We then walked some more and arrived at Notre Dame. It was so huge. All the architecture in France is stunning. Most of it is gothic, and original from hundreds of years ago.Obviously, we couldn’t see it in full glory due to construction, but even seeing a part of the Cathedral was amazing.  

During our free time, my friends and I ate at a cute Italian restaurant. I ordered the best spaghetti, and the waiter called me a child! 

After free time we went to the Sainte Chappel, one of the most famous Cathedrals in the area. At first it was boring, but once I walked up the very long spiral stairs (that I almost fell down) and my breath was taken away. The entire upstairs of this cathedral is nothing but stained-glass windows; the moment the sun came out, the whole room lit up.  

Later in the evening we went to the Eiffel Tower for dinner. This was the first time I saw the tower. From far away it is kind of underwhelming, but the second we were standing right next to it I was speechless.  Dinner was immaculate. It was some of the best food I have ever eaten. We had baguettes, some strange soup that tasted like broccoli, a steak with red wine sauce, and potatoes. Desert was a hollowed-out apple filled with salted caramel and topped with whipped cream.  

Dinner made me so sleepy I fell asleep on our Sein River boat tour. I was sleeping happily until we met some Scottish friends and sang the National Anthem with them.

Paris, Day 3 

This was our last full day in Paris. We started the day by going to the Musee D’Orsay. This is an impressionist art museum. My favorite part was the ballroom. The only way I can explain it is by saying it looks like the ballroom from “Beauty and the Beast.” The entire room was covered in gold and giant crystal chandeliers.  

A close second was Monet’s “Waterlilies.” This painting was so pretty, and I couldn’t believe I was really looking at it in person.  

Our tour guide took us on a very long and hard walk to Montmartre, the highest point in Paris. The walk was physically hard, and very steep. It was worth it, though, because we turned a corner and met the Sacre-Coeur. My jaw dropped when I looked up and saw it. This was the biggest Cathedral we had seen so far, and I thought it was a castle.  

For dinner we went to a creperie, and I learned that I do not like savory crepes. However, I learned I love a good dessert crepe, especially when they are covered in chocolate sauce. 

Paris, Day 4 

To start off our last day we went shopping at Galeries Lafayette. This was a very fancy mall with all sorts of designer stores like Gucci, Dior, Prada, and Chanel. Basically, any designer store you can think of was in this mall. Sadly, I could not buy any souvenirs here.  

We then hopped on the metro to go see the Arc de Triomphe. I don’t know why, but I was not expecting it to be so giant. It amazes me how Paris casually has giant structures and buildings in the middle of their local areas.  

This area had so many fun shops. I think I counted three different Louis Vuitton stores, and that didn’t include the giant statue of a bag in the middle of them all.  

After our day of shopping, we hopped on the bus and took off to meet our host families in Senlis! 

Stay tuned for part 2! 

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Becca Jolly
Becca Jolly, Editor-in-chief
Hi, I'm Becca! This is my second year on the staff, but my first year as an editor. I love writing music reviews. This year I am hoping to focus on more school related/serious topics. I can't wait to see what this year brings!
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