When we stepped out into Paris for the first time on this trip, I tried to ignore the cacophany, grime and stench that accompanies any large city. The first time I had travelled to ‘The City of Light’, I was disappointed at the very urban quality of what I expected to be a pristine city. This disappointment hindered me from truly realizing the beautiful history and culture of Paris. On this trip, I was determined to see through the urban environment to better appreciate what the city has to offer.
Each day, we experienced more than I thought possible and traversed miles of the city, wearing out our feet by the end of every adventure. Although the urban environment was still overwhelming, I gradually became a little more comfortable in Paris. On the last day, we were given ample free time to wander the city. Of my group, I was the sole person interested in seeing another museum (Le Musée de Cluny), as we had already been to the Louvre and L’Orangerie that day. The others wanted to wander along the bookseller stands lining the banks of the Seine. They suggested that if I really wanted to go to the museum, I could walk there myself, but I vehemently insisted that I could not traverse a city, let alone a foreign one, on my own. I walked with the group for a while, but it became clear that I would not have time to visit the museum if I stayed with them. I weighed the risks in my head, then told the group that I would venture to the museum, hardly believing what I was committing to. I set off anxiously, but relaxed as I walked. I was surprised how at ease I felt, remembering that I would never have been able to do the same a year ago. The museum was worth the effort, and I returned to the group proud of my accomplishment and satisfied with my day.
Not only did this experience prove to me my capability and independence, it allowed me to realize that on this trip I managed to appreciate Paris despite the urban atmosphere. I especially loved visiting the museums this time, while I always enjoy the cathedrals. The highlights were too numerous to list. Ultimately, while Paris may be as urban as any other city, it has incredible opportunities and fascinating culture, which I was lucky enough to experience on this trip.
The Musée de Cluny