I wrote this blog post as I went. Whenever I had a half hour to write and I felt inspired, that’s exactly what I did. I filled in the gaps after I had resettled at home. If tenses are off and transition in the middle of the post, it’s most likely the result of the fact that I wrote things at different points in time. I was in France from Oct 9-14.
Bonjour! I write this from the Louvre.
I have been hit by such a moment of inspiration that I just had to pull out my laptop and stop typing.
You see, this trip to Europe is about so much more than just seeing these beautiful sights in the world. It means so much to me.
Monday & the Eiffel Tower
I arrived in France, early in the morning local time. Unfortunately for me, that meant the middle of the night EST. I immediately went from the airport to my hostel, where I begged them to let me check in 7 hours early and went for a nap. After a three-hour nap, I got up and started planning what I was going to do for the day.
I know that most people would have planned the day-by-day ahead of time. Under normal circumstances, I would have too, but I have been really busy lately. Life has just had lots of to-dos associated with it, and doing life alone has a lot more to-dos associated with it. (Not to mention, the emotional burden associated with not having your person there to help you recharge, but a discussion for another time.) I was on the road for most of September, home for just a couple of days, and then was on the road immediately before leaving. I just didn’t have the time to itinerize (I just made that word up). And I’m really happy I didn’t because I wouldn’t have had the wonderful day that I had yesterday.
After planning my day, I decided that I would head to the Eiffel Tower and enjoy that area of the city. I walked to the closest metro station and took the train into the center of the city (including one line transfer). When I got off the train and out of the station, I immediately saw it. As I walked the 400 meters (there was a sign) towards the North Entrance I could see the tower getting bigger and bigger. When I finally got to the entrance, I was absolutely speechless.
In high school, my French teacher Madame Collette got engaged at the Eiffel Tower over spring break. Back in college I took a civil engineering class on structures and bridges. We studied all the different forces a lot of different structures, but two that stick out in my head til today were the Washington Monument and the Eiffel Tower. Getting to see this real structure that had previously only existed in a flat way, mostly in textbooks and friend’s instagram photos, was absolutely magnificent.
To me this physical structure of the Eiffel Tower has signified love and travel and opportunity. It has been a physical marker of growth. Yesterday, getting to see it with my own eyes, I grew as a human being and a citizen of the world.
I bought a baguette for lunch and stared at the Eiffel Tower for about an hour while
enjoying devouring it.
I spent the rest of the day walking around Paris. I found a chocolate shop that made nothing but deserts. I bought a macaron as big as my head, the biggest madeleine cookie I’ve ever seen, and a delicious mini-beignet filled with just the right amount of this light filling. I navigated through the city with my broken French trying to find an US-EU power adapter (again, forethought is not my forte right now) only to find out it would require a bit of a metro ride, which I successfully executed. Mostly I just explored without an agenda or a plan. I walked around streets until I didn’t know where I was and then asked around for the metro until I eventually landed there. When I was exhausted, I made my way back to my hotel.
At the hotel, I worked (for my amazing company that had given me the opportunity to travel for this trip) before forcing myself to go to bed early. Time zones are hard.
Tuesday & the Louvre
I knew that Tuesday I had to get to my train to Lyon. Knowing that that was the end of my day, I knew the most important thing I had to do was visit the Louvre. I had to check out of my hostel with my whole pack. I walked all around with my huge 40 lbs backpack.
First, to the Louvre. That’s where I found this.
I ate a dozen macarons (not exaggerating) before heading to this iconic scene.
Did you watch or read The DaVinci Code? It was the first book I read right around middle school that I could “see” as I read it. As I read the words on pages, I could feel the book and its plotline coming to life around me. It was so beautiful. Not alone, but this book definitely helped me fall in love with reading. Visiting the Louvre, seeing this place I had pictured only in my head right in front of my eyes, was a dream come true, quite literally.
The museum was closed (Sorry Mona) because of a local holiday, so I made sure to steal some time to work where there was internet. These was true throughout my trip. At the end of the day, I was in Europe first and foremost for work, so while I made the absolute best of it, I also made sure to work to the stars.
Eventually, I headed off to the train station where there was a life crepe station, so OF COURSE I got an egg and cheese crepe for the journey. SO GOOD. That evening, I caught a train to Lyon where I’d be spending the rest of my time in France with my coworker Lucile.
Wednesday- Saturday & Lyon
I arrived in Lyon Tuesday night, after a three hour train ride/nap from Paris. The city was absolutely spectacular to see. Being able to work with my teammate Lucile, though, (I hadn’t met any of my coworkers to this point) was a real highlight.
One thing I definitely realized was how much older Europe is than America. Obviously, I know that, but this was the first time I saw it. This amphitheater is where there are free summer concerts. This is just a casual part of their life. This amphitheater has probably been around more years than my country.
My hosts are subscribed to a local CSA box-type-thing, and they pick it up from the fromagerie around the corner from their house. In case you didn’t know, fromage is french for “cheese.” They pick up their groceries from their local cheese shop. LOOK AT THIS PLACE. There was so much cheese everywhere. My lactose intolerance was not happy but I certainly was 😄
We took a break from work one afternoon to visit the Basilique Notre Dame de Fourviere- the Basilica of Our Lady of Fourviere. The sky was so blue and perfect.
One night we went to a Bouchon- a local-kind of restaurant. I had Sabodet aux Lentils- sausage cooked in wine for five hours served with lentils- for dinner. The sausage melted in your mouth! It was so delicious!
While in France, I made it to Crossfit! I guess I can say I’ve done Crossfit internationally now! There was a language barrier, but the moves were all the same. I even fought through Double Unders while there!!
Lyon was absolutely beautiful. I ate new foods, including a praline brioche, visited a number of beautiful sites, and deepened a friendship. Lucile was a phenomenal host! I already can’t wait to go back!!
Emilie is an Army Wife, Data Engineer, and CrossFitter with a love for working through her thoughts in this space on the internet. She lives with her husband Casey and their pup Bo in Savannah, GA.