by Nina Sabin - Travel
Being a tourist is interesting in France, especially in the winter time. I had taken some French in college, enough to say hello “Bon Jour” and my name is “Je m'appelle”. Other than that, it was difficult to communicate. The French do speak English, but they prefer to use their language. We realized part of traveling is learning the pleasantries in the country’s language. So we picked up some more words as we traveled to help with communication.
Since we originally from Florida, we are familiar with Disney World in Orlando. So we knew our trip wouldn’t be complete without visiting Euro Disney in Paris. This was actually our first stop. The lines were just as long as we remembered them in Florida; however, the weather was very different. We were so cold standing in the lines in January. As I mentioned in Blog 10, this trip was during the Eid holiday which dates varies based on the observation of new moon by local religious authorities. Also, as we went to each ride or show everything was in French. Most things we understood, like directions. For shows, like “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” they provided headsets that translated to languages other than French. The girls loved seeing Mickey - he is the same in any language.
As John booked the hotel, he explained them that we are six people…four adults and two children under the age of 7. (We met our in-laws in France to travel with us and begin their love for traveling.) We thought hotels would always have a room to accommodate a family of four. They only had rooms for 2 people occupancy, so we had a room next to us for the girls; it wasn’t even an adjoining room. We made it work, thought I didn’t like our daughters being in a separate room from us.
When people plan to visit France the following activities are a must to see: the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Versaille, The Arc of Triomphe, and the Louvre. We had three days to fit everything in. That was a little challenging being that I was a little slow, due to a sprained ankle.
In one day we began visited two famous places and also finished the evening with Paris on Ice. We first visited the Eiffel Tower; this towering edifice was built for the World Fair of 1889, held to commemorate the centenary of the French Revolution. Named after its designer, Gustave Eiffel, it stands 320m (1050ft) high and held the record as the world's tallest structure until 1930. We were able to climb up to the three public viewing areas and was blown away by the incredible views of Paris.
Our next stop was Notre Dame. Since our daughters were young we had talked about the Hunch Back of Notre Dame and watched the movie with them. So they had some reference of the place when we visited.
Paris on Ice is an enormous Christmas ice skating rink and merry-go-rounds for children amongst festive Christmas trees. It was the girls first time to try skating and it was so amazing to see the festival lights.
The next day we saw Versailles, breathtaking rooms that made us feel like royalty as we walked down the corridors with the tapestry on the walls. Next we went to the Catacombs. Quite different from leaving Versailles. Most tourists may not want to see the Catacombs but it is an interesting part of the French history.
In the late 18th century, Paris decided it had a problem with its cemeteries, namely that they were full, if not overflowing so in 1785 the decision was made to create the Catacombs. As we visited to this disturbing 'attraction' we were 20m (65ft) underground and walked along corridors stacked with bones. We finished our day by visiting the Obelisk – 3300 year old monument from Luxor – Temple of Thebes , Egypt (familiar to the ones we saw in Egypt).
Our last day in France, we visited the Arc of Triomphe, a Monument built in honor of the French Army and inaugurated in 1836. We had lunch at along Avenue des Champs-Elysees, a popular promenade for the ostentatious aristos of old, the Avenue des Champs-Élysées has long symbolized the style and joie de vivre of Paris. In the afternoon, we went to the Louvre. The Louvre Museum presents collections of western art from the middle ages to 1850, and the antique civilizations that have preceded and influenced art. We were amazed as the amount of art pieces, they seemed to go on for miles. It was an honor to see famous art pieces like the Mona Lisa. The Louvre architect is also phenomenal; a must see when in Paris.
I am still amazed and feel blessed that we had the opportunity to go to France and be able to travel to once-in-a-life time places. As a child I dreamt of going to France, especially when watching movies that were set in Paris. Who knew those dreams would come true. France was only one of the places on the Eid trip that we visited. Our next blog will be about the adventures in Belgium and Germany.