Today, we left Oxford for good and moved on to our segment of faster travel on the European continent. We packed up our bags and hiked to the bus, and at this point, I’m pretty grateful to only have a backpack and a purse.
Traveling to Paris
We took the bus to Kensington station in London, where the real fun begins!
On a side note, there are absolutely zero trash cans in this train station. Does anyone know why this is?
We went through customs and I got a passport stamp for France, it has a little train on it to show that that’s how I’ll be entering the country! The train goes under the English channel for 30 minutes, which I was very excited for!
Reflecting on this journey, I’m not actually sure what I was expecting, or what warranted the excitement. The reality is that I spent that 30 minutes looking at a concrete wall before we popped up on the other side of the channel, which means that we are now in France!
Woohoo! A new country!
The train took us all the way to Paris, and after leaving the tunnel, I slept most of the way there. The train was actually pretty comfy, not as spacious as the other trains I’ve ridden across England, but absolutely preferable to an airplane.
From the train, we got on another bus to get to the Le Marais district of Paris that we were staying in. It was a short distance but traffic is just INSANE. The crowded streets became the worst when we drove through the roundabout at the Place de la Bastille, cars are just zooming all over the place regardless of the lines on the road, with little motorbikes weaving in between them. I gasped several times at the near-crashes, but the traffic also gave me time to look at the Génie de la Liberté, a pillar shaped monument that commemorates the French Revolution in 1830.
Walking in the Le Marais district
Once we dropped off our luggage, we decided to take a walk around the Le Marais district to get a first taste of Paris. There’s a diverse selection of restaurants and boutiques in this area, but I most enjoyed the small parks scattered around where we could just sit on the ground and enjoy the gardens.
I suppose this Catholic Basilica has two patron saints.
We were intrigued by the light blue and gold sun-themed clock tower on the front, and were delighted to find that it was free to enter. Inside, it’s cozy and really a lovely place to just sit and look around. The top of the central dome has a little blue circle and gold star in the middle, which reminds me, oddly enough, of the Texas state capitol.
My First French Food
Tonight I experienced one of the best dinners of my life!
We had to order our own food in French, which worried me because I don’t speak any at all. Thankfully, the waiter was nicer than I’d feared, and he helped me stumble through my horrible pronunciation of his language.
Everything they put in front of us was amazing, from the steak, to the fries and bleu cheese sauce, to the chocolate dessert, but the real stand-out of our meal was the cheese “salad”. I put the salad in quotation because it was a wheel of baked brie and honey cheese with some salad garnish on the side. I cannot describe to you the sheer holiness of this wonderful cheese. It was so melty and perfect with anything I dipped it in.
You could have beat me to death with a wheel of brie and I would have thanked you for it.
And on that note, this is the end of our first day in Paris! For me, it was love at first bite, and I’m sure I’m going to eat a ton of yummy french food and just have a blast in general.
Look out for tomorrow’s update! We’re visiting whatever’s left of Notre Dam, and another beautiful french cathedral as well!