A Perfect Week in France: My First Trip Abroad

A Perfect Week in France: My First Trip Abroad

In the summer after tenth grade, my entire life trajectory changed. I had boarded my first plane to a foreign country, along with 50 other choir members. We spent a week in Normandy and Paris, France not only seeing beautiful sites, but singing in them as well.

I fell in love with the cobblestone streets and the history beneath every place I saw. My first and still only trip abroad inspired me to forget my dreams of performing and instead pursue a life of storytelling and traveling.

Me in front of our hotel in Caen, France in the region of Normandy

It has been my dream since this trip to travel, and starting a travel blog developed in pursuit of this dream. My week in France was jam-packed, so I won’t be able to cover everything in one post. But I would love to detail some of the highlights and later on dedicate posts to certain towns or experiences that happened that week!

As a quick overview, I went on this trip through my high school choir commemorating the 70th anniversary of D-Day (so you can probably tell how my love for traveling and deciding to become a history major were related). We spent 3 and a half days in Normandy, France in June of 2014 and finished the week out with 4 days in Paris – the best 4 days of my life!

The most wonderful part about this week was that not only was I able to travel to these amazing places, but I got to sing there. I sang at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial, as well as other places in Normandy. And I also received a one-in-a-million experience that I will be eternally grateful for – I had the honor of singing a solo of “Pie Jesu” in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France.

The picturesque and serene cemetery of American Soldiers killed in France during World War II in the Normandy Invasion now called D-Day.

I’m pretty sure there a very few people who can say they did that… and maybe now this sheds some light on my personal ambition and affection for one day traveling the world.

Singing was amazing, but of course seeing beautiful architecture and experiencing French culture was incredibly inspiring. We started off in Normandy and within those few days we stayed in Caen, had lunch in Bayeux, stood on Omaha Beach and walked the cobblestone streets of Rouen before heading to Paris.

I could write an entire post just on the lunch we ate in Bayeux, France. Hopefully I will soon…

 

Standing on Omaha Beach was the first time I felt a physical connection to history. It was pretty strong, since now I am taking my college career to study it. But the peacefulness, the serenity, the breathtaking views of water and cliff; it was hard to imagine what that beach looked like 70 or so years ago.

In Paris, we stayed in an area right along a river populated with people playing games and taking walks. I walked along the river every night while in Paris, whether with friends or with my mom, who I was lucky enough to share the experience with. My most favorite memory was waking up in our hotel room in Paris, looking outside our window along the river and seeing a family of swans in the early hours of daylight drifting by – I mean, how much more magical does it get!

Waking up to swans outside my hotel window…

I visited the Sacre Coeur at Montmartre, the Trocadero for a view of the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa and of course, it was my personal mission to go to the lock bridge. We also visited Versailles which was one of the most amazing things I have ever gotten to do! I think at Versailles, walking through the rooms former Kings and Queens had occupied and strolling through the gardens they walked, I truly became infatuated with history. We did so much more and I will detail the days in other posts to come so that I am able to share my experiences and photos that I have (though keep in mind, I was not photographing for a blog back then…).

The Seine River running through Paris…

 

My mom and I at the Eiffel Tower!

Even with a week, there was still so much more I wanted to see and didn’t get the chance to. I would have loved to see Mont St. Michel in Normandy and I was dying to go to Angelina’s for tea or Come On Eileen, a vintage shop on the Rue de Rivoli.  I’ve thought about my future and one day I sort of hope it leads me to living in Paris, at least temporarily.

I have SO many pictures I want to share, so I will do that when I go into further detail in future posts. I would love to talk about Bayeux, Rouen, Versailles and other places I got the chance to ogle over in my short week abroad.

For now though, thank you France for changing my life…

— M

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