The time of my life (IV)

Paris: The city of love, of dreams, of Moulin Rouge and hunchbacks and Marie Antoinette. Of river water, iron towers; Hemingway, Picasso and Stravinsky. Of late night jazz clubs, hawkers of souvenirs and a blur of colors and languages. 
And, for three days, our city: The city of the exchange students. 
We took the city by storm from the moment we saw it, devouring views and smells and sounds (and tastes) with our every pore and camera lens. 
 After a drive through Belgium (with a stop for chocolate) we arrived in the late afternoon gladly at our hotel. A quick jaunt through the neighborhood and a brief meal preceded our first big outing in Paris: the Eiffel Tower.
Having visited the Eiffel Tower before, I was excited to see the city but not bubbling over like many of my colleagues. But as soon as we got off the bus, my heart skipped a beat as the entwined metal loomed above me, glittering to signify the change of the hour. 
We crammed ourselves through turnstiles and into the elevator, rising up and up into the skyline of Paris. 
My breath was gone; we stood high above the city, wind whipping in our hair. Languages whirled, cameras flashed, and below us, there was a carpet of light.
The next day began bright and early with a breakfast of bread, hot chocolate and jam. No German spread of sausage and cheese and rolls and bread and crackers and fruit and Nutella and salad was this; we were most definitely in France now. 
Gastronomy aside, we packed our bags, hopped on the Métro, and climbed entirely too many steps to get to Sacré Coeur. 

The steps were worth it.
Since we were so good at being tourists, we figured we might as well stick to it; after a refreshing pain au chocolat we roamed the streets, searching. For what, we weren't sure. 
Then we figured the Louvre might be a nice place to start. 

Who doesn't love enjoying famous artwork in peace and quiet? 
The rest of the day was taken up by other famous sights, souvenirs, getting a bit lost and found again (several times) and trying very hard to remember how to speak French. 

Many hours and two tired feet later, we fell into bed. I wouldn't say we slept like kings and queens, but the next day we were royalty for a few hours. 

Versailles was even more packed with tourists than it had been in the late 18th century with courtiers and nobility. After singing and dancing standing in a long line, we entered the palace, shuffling along in hot crowds full of cameras. The gilded ceilings, tiled floors and embroidered hangings closed around us, until the Hall of Mirrors magnified everything for us. 
To continue our theme of simultaneous gross excess and great beauty, we spent the afternoon on the Champs-Élysées and the evening lounging by the Seine, soaking up the sun.

All in all, Paris was a triumph.

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