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Studying Abroad: A Weekend in Paris

View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower
View of Paris from the Eiffel Tower

It's starting to get colder in Brighton as we head into mid-November. I had to switch out some of my fall clothes for gloves and a scarf, but I haven't seen any snow...yet.

In our Audiovisual Professional Practice class this week we learned about some of the editing software we will be using to edit our project, including Adobe Photoshop, After Effects, and Premiere Pro. After capturing all the content that we need for the project, we started to think about what our ads will look like. Learning how to use some of the applications that come with Adobe Suite has been one of my goals for a while, so it was fun to learn how to use the features.

This week went by quickly, mostly because I was looking forward to another trip organized by the study abroad office. This one is to Paris, France! The trip started early on Friday morning with a truly traumatic experience.

Since Brighton is a beach town, it's well known on the Falmer campus that seagulls often wait on the rooftops of buildings to steal food from unsuspecting students or professors. There are signs plastered around the main area of the campus telling people not to walk with food in their hands. In fact, during one of our first British Culture classes as we took a tour of the campus, we also got to meet the falcon employed by the university to scare away the seagulls. was early in the morning, and he must not have been on duty because as I made my way to the bus with a bagel in one hand and my luggage for the weekend in the other, a seagull attacked.

It grabbed at my back and was flying around near my head as I tried to run toward the bus. I ended up dropping my bagel on the ground which seemed to appease the crazy bird as it stopped attacking me and stayed behind to eat my breakfast while I sprinted to the bus.

To get to Paris from Brighton, we took the Eurostar tunnel, an underwater tunnel through the English Channel, into northern France. The whole ride was about 6 hours. When we got to the entrance of the Channel Tunnel, we had to get off the bus and go through a security check where we showed our passports. The study abroad office gave us paperwork that detailed everything about our trip that a security officer would need to know, like where we were staying and for how long. We also stopped to get breakfast at the food court before loading back on the bus.

The ride in the tunnel was uneventful. We were in the bottom of the train and were not able to see much outside of the bus, so I slept most of the way. When we finally got to Paris, we quickly checked into our hotel, the Ibis Styles Paris Eiffel Cambronne hotel, near the Grenelle neighborhood, which was about a 20-minute walk to the Eiffel Tower.

After getting checked in, our study abroad group walked over to the Eiffel Tower for a boat tour of the Seine River. It was an in-depth tour with a guide who pointed out some of the historical sites and interesting facts along the way. The Eiffel Tower and the whole city was beautiful at night, but the boat ride was freezing cold. It was so cold that many of the students in our group huddled up together and held each other's hands to keep warm.

Dinner at Le Petit Suffren
Dinner at Le Petit Suffren

After the boat tour, one of my flatmates and I walked over to a nearby restaurant for dinner called Le Petit Suffren. Surprisingly there was no wait and the restaurant wasn't too busy for a Friday night. I ordered the chicken sandwich which came with a tiny salad and some fries. The food was flavorful and filling - much more so than meals I've had in England. After a glass of wine, I was exhausted, so we went back to our hotel for the night.

We woke up early on Saturday morning to get free breakfast at the hotel. They served scrambled eggs, ham, juice, and an assortment of pastries in a small buffet area. Honestly, breakfast was not that appetizing, but it was free and it held me over until lunchtime.

Our study abroad office handed out itineraries for the weekend, but my flatmate and I agreed there were other sites we wanted to see, so we left breakfast early to head to the Eiffel Tower. According to our group itinerary, the plan was to visit the Eiffel Tower later in the morning, then take a bus to see some sites. Rather than sit on a bus for most of the day, we decided to walk around the city and see museums and other landmarks while we had time.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France
The Eiffel Tower in Paris, France

After leaving the hotel we walked over to the Eiffel Tower to get in line for a trip to the top. When we arrived the line was already pretty long, and it had started to rain. We got in line around 9 a.m. and didn't actually get to the top until around 10:30 a.m. We started out waiting in line to go through security, then waiting in another line to buy tickets for the elevator to the top. There was also an option to take the stairs, but since it was cold and rainy we decided to spend the extra money to take the elevator.

The view of the city was beautiful once we finally crammed into the elevator and made it to the top. It was foggy, so visibility wasn't as clear as it would be on a sunny day, but it made the view that much more unique. My flatmate and I wandered around the balcony of the Eiffel Tower for about 30 minutes. We took time to enjoy the view and take pictures before we decided to head back down and catch the metro to our next stop.

The National Academy of Music in France
The National Academy of Music in France

We walked about 5 minutes to the nearest metro stop and rode the train for about 20 minutes, stopping near the National Academy of Music. Then we walked another 5 minutes to The Palais Garnier, an opera house, for a tour.

The Palais Garnier was breathtakingly gorgeous. There were neon lights in some areas and gold moldings along the ceiling in other rooms, giving the building an old artsy feel. Some of the rooms were filled with huge mirrors and most of them had detailed paintings and art covering the walls and ceilings. A huge staircase at the center of the building reminded me of the Capitol building in D.C.

We walked around the building for about 30 minutes on a self-guided tour. We were able to see one of the theatres which was covered in gold moldings with a stage draped in red cloth. There were also old costumes on display around the building to give visitors an idea of what an Opera singer might wear on stage.

The Palais Garnier in France
The Palais Garnier in France

We left the opera house just as it started to get busy around noon, and on our way to find a place to eat, we encountered a protest which seemed to be about women's rights. Protestors dressed in purple were gathered in front of the National Academy of Music with banners and signs as news reporters with cameras tried to get the story.

My flatmate and I walked for about 10 minutes to a restaurant called Le Vert Tulipe for lunch. I ordered the chicken breast, which came with mashed potatoes and a salad. The food was pretty expensive, especially for a lunch portion, but it was satisfying.

After leaving the restaurant, we decided to walk over to the Galerie des Arcades, a huge shopping mall known for its decadent decorations. The mall was beautifully decorated for Christmas, but it was so packed that it was almost impossible to move around freely. My flatmate was searching for a present, so we spent most of our time smelling perfumes and checking out different parts of the mall. We left around 5 p.m. and took a 30-minute train ride back to our hotel to get ready for dinner.

We decided to eat an an Asian restaurant that was near our hotel on Saturday night. The place was tiny and quiet, and the food was cheap but delicious. It was a great affordable option.

Jazz bar in Hôtel d'Aubusson
Jazz bar in Hôtel d'Aubusson

We left the restaurant and took a 15-minute train ride to the Latin Quarter of the city in search of something fun to keep us entertained. We wandered around for a while before stopping at the Hôtel d'Aubusson, a luxurious hotel with a popular jazz bar. We stayed and listened to music for a while, but since it was so busy, we eventually left and wandered around the Latin Quarter, stopping at a few more bars.

By the end of the night, we ended up at Le Caveau de la Huchette, an underground jazz club with live music. The cave and the whole club were packed, and it was impossible to see the stage where a band was playing since we had to sit on the steps. The drinks were expensive, but if we had been able to find a better seat, I wouldn't have minded staying longer.

We hopped back on our bus early on Sunday morning to catch a train back to Brighton.



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