The story began long time ago when I was in secondary school, reading almost all of Alexandre Dumas’s books and imagining, between the lines, Paris of the XVIIth century. So early on in my life I started being very interested in this city. When, in my third year of college, I got a Socrates-Erasmus scholarship in Paris, it was like a revelation,which significantly influenced my life. During my time in Paris I discovered not only the city that I had dreamed about since childhood, but also that the world is much bigger,and far more beautiful and complex than I had ever imagined before.
In my case, staying in Paris, made me understand that the times when I really felt fulfilled as a human being with complex needs were the moments when I discovered new places, when I met people with a culture totally different from mine, as well as when I lived unique experiences, which I certainly would not have lived otherwise.
That's why, for me, the greatest gain that an Erasmus scholarship brings to people is the multicultural opening. As a student, you'll meet new people, new places, you will have experiences that, otherwise, you will probably not have, and definitely it will make you more rich, culturally and spiritually, as well as more tolerant towards others.
As regards Paris, I believe that it is one of the most beautiful expressions of the urban aesthetics created by human nature.
Even if issues like failure of immigration policies have resulted in a significant number of immigrants and, sometimes, the French people’s exaggerated nationalism can create a confused image about this city, its charm continues to attract tourists just like a siren song.
11 Places to see in Paris
Paris abounds in tourist attractions: museums, cathedrals, palaces, squares and surroundings of unrivalled beauty, and therefore the Parisian atmosphere conquers the heart of its visitors.
I took me four days to visit all the three wings of this building: Sully, Richelieu, Denon. I was able to see the Mona Lisa painting only from a distance, because the groups in front of the painting prevented me from getting too close to it.
2. Tuilleries Gardens are situated in front of Louvre. These gardens were preferred for promenade by the French kings’ court. For the first time here, I closed my eyes for a moment trying to imagine the glorious past of France. Mind's eye, I see how they are populated by beautiful courtesans, pedantic and educated, as well as the Knights / musketeers always ready to give their lives in a duel for some noble ideal, any king or their lady’s love. Maybe Dumas's novels have fed too much of my imagination, but Paris has certainly the merit to create a unique sensation of a travel in time.
3. Orsay Museum, inaugurated in 1997 by Francois Mitterrand (one of the United Europe’ parents), is my favourite museum in Paris. A railway station turned into a museum, housing many paintings (Renoir, Monet or Cezanne), sculptures, photographs… is really something special. The view from the restaurant upstairs is delightful. After so much time, I can still remember the feeling I lived there. It is definitely worth seeing!
4. Cluny Museum or Moyen Age Museum, near Sorbonne University, in the heart of Latin Quarter, hosts medieval artefacts, sculptures, paintings, miniatures and works in gold. The day I visited this museum, a medieval show was organized, which completed the picture.
5. Rodin Museum hosts valuable sculptures by Auguste Rodin, such as: The Thinker, The Kiss, The man who walks etc. Personally, I liked the location in particular; I would return anytime with great pleasure to visit it.
6. Pompidou Center. Because I’m not a big fan of the modern art, this museum didn’t impress me much, but I found the building very interesting, as it offers a great view of Paris. In addition, it is located near Brancusi's workshop, one of the greatest sculptors of the world.
7. Notre - Dame and Sacre Coeur Cathedrals, as well as Saint-Eustache Church – each one offered me a unique emotion. In Notre-Dame Cathedral, I felt the greatness of the French royalty, and more specifically of the French people; In Sacre-Coeur Cathedral - I felt how joy and beauty rein in the air due to the hum of tourists groups, who enjoy the spectacular view of the Montmarte hill. Instead, the Saint-Eustache church, built in Gothic style, captures by its fascinating architecture, but I felt it cold, “soulless”, opposite to the Sacre-Coeur Cathedral.
I can well remember the rush I took on the Arc de Triomphe stairs, which are very narrow and only allow one person to pass at a time, as well as the Asian group behind me, full of energy and eager to reach the "roof" of Paris, who forced me to move forward faster then I normally would have. When I finally reached the top, my legs were trembling because of the effort and I took a few minutes to catch my breath, and then, my breath was taken away again by the view. All of a sudden, a lot of clouds had gathered on the sky of Paris and the fog filled the air, and I could barely see the Eiffel Tower between other beautiful Parisian buildings.
Nowhere had I felt so much romance as in the middle of this amazing landscape, which I will probably never forget.
9. Luxembourg Palace and Gardens are one of my favourite places to relax in Paris. The beauty of the garden attracted me from the first moment I arrived there; therefore, every Sunday, I took a short stroll in the Luxembourg Gardens. It seemed to me the perfect way to forget the worries, resting my eyes and observing the people who enjoyed their time outdoors, in this wonderful setting. That is why, I will always associate Luxembourg Gardens with the ideal place to relax in Paris!
10. Eiffel Tower. Incidentally, Paris’s most important attraction has a special meaning for me. I still believe that the Eiffel Tower is a symbol of love. Perhaps the large number of lovers who declare their feelings here creates the magic of this place. The fact is that, after dozens of minutes of waiting to climb up the Eiffel Tower, the beauty of Paris, seen from above actually breathtaking, I just felt grateful to God for this gift He made me!
11. Trocadero Square is situated in front of the Eiffel Tower, having on one side the Museum of Man, and on the other side, the Chaillot castle. Every time I was on vacation in Paris, I spent the last day in this area, and each time, I promised myself that it would not take too long before I saw Paris again.
I lived in Paris and have visited it several times, but I've never had the feeling that I have seen "enough" of it. Maybe it is a subjective opinion, due to a personal chemistry between me and this city, or maybe Paris really has "something" magical, but you can find an answer to this dilemma just visiting it or living in it, and an Erasmus Scholarship can be great opportunity to do this!