2022 France Trip Review

This year, Mademoiselle Hamrick prepared the perfect vacation to Paris, which had long been on my bucket list. Her hard work and attention were greatly appreciated. We were able to visit the city and all of the historical monuments and learn about their significance thanks to our amazing tour guide, Tristian Bayle, who was a little unusual at times. The chaperones were polite and sweet, and they made sure we were safe at all times. We also visited local markets, historical buildings, boutiques, authentic eateries, and, of course, classic tourist attractions like the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before, and many of us were grateful to be able to witness it. Paris has become my new favorite city, and it wouldn’t have been the same if I hadn’t gone with all of my classmates. I’m already missing the delectable meals and breathtaking scenery. 


Our first day began with our flights to Paris stopping in London and learning the hard way about European security standards… such as having your very expensive shampoo confiscated by British airport security because it was more than 100ml and then leaving the conditioner, which was also more than 100ml. It was heartbreaking, but despite the fact that we outraged a significant number of British people upon landing, our travels to France were relatively uneventful. We met our tour guide, Tristian, when we landed in France and made a lengthy walk to our bus, or as Tristian referred to it, our coach. From there, we drove along the Champs-Élysées and performed a fast circuit around the Arc de Triomphe before pausing to stretch our legs and dine at a delightful restaurant with an underground dining section dating back to the 16th century. And we finished our exciting day at the hotel, which surprised us given that the showers lacked any type of door or curtain, as well as French tradition which expects hotel guests to be completely silent while attending. And, considering that 35 American teens aren’t used to staying silent, this didn’t quite work out.


On day two, every single girl on the vacation woke up an hour earlier than the adults had planned to get dressed and put on quite the fashion display. We boarded the coach and went to the city center, where we had a bus tour of Paris. First, we stopped to use a public bathroom, which are exceedingly difficult to locate in France yet are among the cleanest I have ever seen. After that, we headed to the Arc de Triomphe for about five minutes to take photographs before continuing with the tour. After the tour, we proceeded to the Luxembourg Garden, then around to the Fountain of St-Michel, where we had free time to shop, eat lunch, and explore. Then we walked to the Musee d’Orsay, where Tristan had handed us all a sheet of paper with questions regarding the artworks, which was probably one of my favorite parts. After immersing myself in rich, dazzling art, we drove to dinner, which was shockingly not as tasty as when we were permitted to buy our own food, which is unfortunate because our delightful lunch experiences could not be transposed to dinner. Regardless, we were appreciative of the dinner. And once again, it all comes to an end at the hotel. 


Our third day was, without a doubt, the most remarkable. We began with a rather low-key visit to the Moulin Rouge, the restaurant from the iconic film Amile, and a love wall. The wall is a big blue wall with the words ‘I love you’ inscribed in 311 different languages, and while it was a lovely sight, it undoubtedly put salt in the wounds of those who were single or without their partner, as it is customary to kiss your beloved in front of it. We next traveled to a smaller part of Paris where the great artist Van Gough formerly resided, admiring the elaborate constructions built by France’s homeless people, which were incredibly innovative. The most memorable aspect was when we came to a halt at a random gate and Tristian said cheerfully, “Stand at the door and remind everyone to be absolutely careful and quiet as we are doing something slightly illegal, ok?” Taking my job seriously, I informed everyone and then proceeded to the front where our poor Tristian had been apprehended and was being yelled at by a very angry French man, there was an almost physical altercation between the french man and our french Chaperone Agathe where she was pushed, and after his friend stepped in and calmly negotiated with us, the angry French dude gestured to the rest of us and called us some not very friendly names. Following that, we visited additional attractions, had some free time, then separated into two groups, one of which went to the Catacombs while the other, including myself, went to the Louvre. We arrived at dinner a little late owing to poor navigation abilities, followed by a river trip on the Seine and a visit to the Eiffel Tower. 


Our fourth day consisted of packing our belongings and boarding a train that would take us to southern France in two and a half hours. After that, we went to a historical cathedral and the greatest Roman aqueduct in France, where a couple of our kids leaped from a ledge into the freezing waters, so good for them. We also went to a museum on Roman bathhouses and how they were built. We finished the day by seeing some ruins in a lovely park with a pond and waterfall. On the fifth day, we went to a coliseum, the remnants of other Roman baths, a few more churches, and then to a small village on the shore, where we saw flamingos. We proceeded to another church in the hamlet to honor the patron saint of the gypsies, and then we separated into two groups, one going to the beach and walking into the Mediterranean ocean, which was rather exciting for me considering that it was my first time on a beach. Then we packed up and traveled to another local town to see the view from the hillside village’s summit. 


On our sixth and last day, we visited a perfume factory, witnessed the perfume-making process, and then had the opportunity to buy some. After that, we traveled to Monaco and had about 35 minutes to explore, which was okay because it was small and seemed a little shady… Maybe I was just nervous since our tour guide Tristian stressed the tight restrictions and the fact that the entire city was run by the mafia. Then we boarded the bus and paid our bus driver, Luigi, 15 euros to take us to Italy. As one might expect, the bulk of students slept for the two-to-three hours we traveled, and when we awoke, Tristain was shrieking “GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT! OUT!” I almost leapt out, clearly distressed and grabbed some things I might need. After gathering ourselves as best we could, Tristian began to walk, and we followed, unaware that he was leading us down one of the most difficult hikes I’ve ever been on, and not because the hike itself was difficult, but because I just woke up with a panic attack and I’m definitely not dressed appropriately. Due to our complaints, he came to a halt and said, “If you guys are having a hard time with this walk, then you are very very out of shape,” which, in my opinion, is quite a thing to say to a group of young people who commonly have body image issues and it is not taken well and was very much not appreciated. He then gave us the option of continuing the walk or returning to the little Italian town for leisure time, which the majority of the group chose. Several of us were upset by the remark but decided to enjoy our vacation instead, which we did! We all had our own shenanigans that we partook in; some went to explore a couple of the little alley’s they discovered, while others purchased goods and spoke Spanish to navigate about Italian, and it worked! Others may or may not have stolen oranges from the street trees and smuggled them to the US, intending to consume them during the second period, only to discover that they were the worst, most bitter oranges despite appearing and smelling absolutely lovely. To cut a long story short, do not consume illegal Italian oranges. We boarded the bus once more and returned to the hotel to relax, eat, and pack so we could return home the next day. 


Despite the fact that the ride home was a little difficult, we made it without incident and were all safe. Overall, the vacation was enjoyable, and I was grateful for the opportunity. I’d give this trip an 8.5/10 because there were a few glitches as predicted, but it was still enjoyable and satisfying.