A Fun, Jam-Packed Day Three in Paris!

Posted on January 17th, 2015 by

Hello Olympic Quest followers!

Today, we were given the chance to sleep in!  With a tour at the Stade de France (the Olympic Soccer Stadium) scheduled for 11:45 am, we did not have to leave the hotel until 10 am.  Compared to past days, today we were allowed to catch up on much needed sleep! Knowing that we were able to sleep in, a few of us decided to venture out into the neighborhood and go to a local bakery to purchase baguettes and donuts. Unfortunately, as we learned, France is not like the United States in that almost everything opens at 6 am. We discovered that the bakery was closed and came back to the hotel defeated. From our experiences so far in Germany and France, shops here open late and close early.  Thus, we made the walk of shame back to the hotel and enjoyed a tasty continental breakfast courtesy of the hotel.  Breakfast in France is a bit different than breakfast in Germany. We noticed that in France, there isn’t as much variety in the breakfast options. Our options include bread, bread, and more bread, with some fruit and yogurt if we are feeling bold.  In Germany, breakfast was hearty, like all their meals.  Breakfast there consisted of many different varieties of food from yogurt, to breads, to cereal, to eggs, to sausage, and finally, the highlight of all of our breakfasts in Germany: lots and lots of bacon.

 

After breakfast, we all hopped on the bus that took us to the Stade de France.  The stadium was situated just north of Paris in the commune of Saint-Denis, which was about a twenty to thirty minute drive from the hotel.  Fortunately, traffic was on our side, and we arrived an hour earlier than our scheduled tour time.  Therefore, we were able to start the tour earlier than expected.  Our tour guide was a Danish man named Ruben, and he was quite entertaining.  Ruben led us up the endless number of stairs to reach the top tier of the stadium.  We can confidently say we got our exercise in for the day!  We learned many fun facts about the stadium today!  The stadium is home to the national French soccer and rugby teams.  It hosted the 1998 FIFA World Cup in which France defeated Brazil 3-0.  The stadium also has several other uses, such as concerts, shows, and athletics.  A very interesting fact we learned about the stadium is that it was not allowed to be built higher than the Basilica Cathedral of Saint Denis, and thus, it was built 11 meters underground to respect the basilica and also to remain true to the planned height of the stadium.  The tour ended a little short today as the changing rooms in which we were meant to visit were no longer there.  This was due to the stadium being prepped for the 2016 European Championship in futbol.  After the tour, we were allowed the chance to visit the stadium’s museum, and also, the stadium shop.  The museum was very interesting, especially since it highlighted all the major events that the stadium hosted.

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Next, after the stadium tour, we all hopped back on the bus and traveled to the Arc de Triomphe.  It stands in the center of the Place Charles de Gaulle, at the western end of the Champs-Élysées.  Once there, we were given one hour of free time to explore the area.  The area we were in was one of the most expensive areas in Paris.  We walked by stores such as Louis Vuitton, Mercedes Benz, and Zara.  One interesting note of the area was the number of pick-pocketers in the area.  There were many Gypsy woman who would walk up to us and try to make us sign a petition.  Our tour guide informed us when we first arrived in Paris that while a person is signing the petition, the woman will pick-pocket him or her while they are not paying attention. Therefore, some of us pretended not to speak English or French and quickly walked away!

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After this lovely hour of free time, we once again hopped back onto the bus.  The bus then took us to the center of Paris.  There, we said goodbye to our wonderful bus driver.  We were then given another hour of free time to grab lunch before our 3 pm chocolate adventure.  At 3 pm, we came back as a group and walked over to Girard Chocolatier.  There, we split into two groups to taste chocolate and learn about the art of chocolate making. Considering we were greeted with homemade hot chocolate, it did not take very long for everyone to fall in love with Girard’s chocolate factory.  We tasted many delicious chocolates of many different varieties.  Not only did we learn about how chocolate was made, we were also given the opportunity to taste the different stages of chocolate making.  It was a whirlwind of flavor that began with 100% pure chocolate, which was not the tastiest of chocolates, and ended with a sample of one of Girard’s finished chocolates.  It was definitely a highlight of the day, although everyone will have to brush their teeth extra good tonight to prevent those cavities!

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Once everyone came out of their chocolate comas, we walked as a group over to Cathedral Notre Dame.  This cathedral is widely known as the center of Victor Hugo’s Hunchback of Notre Dame.  We were given the option to either attend mass or walk around the area.  About half of us chose to attend mass.  Mass was short but it was definitely an experience worth remembering.  We were unable to understand as the mass was in French, but the atmosphere of this massive cathedral and the history behind it made the experience worth while.  The cathedral was beautifully designed with many stained glass windows, sculptures, and paintings.  The detail was extraordinary.  Looking back at its history, the cathedral took almost 800 years to be fully completed.

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As our day came to a close, we made our way back to the hotel without a bus. We had to first walk through a bit of Paris to reach the entrance of the Metro.  The ticket scanner stopped working halfway, and thus, half of the group had to jump the turn style.  Don’t worry, we all had tickets, so we did not get in trouble!  After weaving our way through an endless maze of tunnels, we finally reached our platform.  The group had to squeeze into the already crowded subway.  It was a chaotic experience that involved a lot of pushing and fitting into tight spaces.  Luckily, it was only two short stops before we reached our destination and were freed from the chaos called the Paris Metro.  According to our tour guide, London will be worse, and this is only preparation, yikes!  We finally reached the hotel around 7 pm tired and hungry.  After an hour to recuperate, we all enjoyed our third authentic French dinner.  First, we had an interesting slice of leek pie and salad.  Then, for the entree, we were given duck with rosemary potatoes.  It was very delcious and hit the spot after a long day.  Our day finally came to an end with a slice of some sort of very rich chocolate mousse cake.  We will all be sleeping good and full tonight!

Can’t wait to visit Normandy tomorrow!

-Britta and Audrey

 


One Comment

  1. Kathy Entwistle says:

    Thank you all for these great posts! It’s fun to follow your travels/adventures.