When it comes to Paris, we would pick the Musee d’Orsay over the Louvre any day. For Ray, it would be because of the Van Gogh wing. And for me, it’s because it is in an old train station. The architecture, the lighting, the views – and of course the art – are the perfect combination.
When we traveled with my students, of course Orsay was on the list. We had seen art in Holland, and already visited the Louvre, so we didn’t opt for a long visit. Just enough of a taste to encourage them to come back and visit again when they return to Paris. And everyone should return to Paris.
My favourite part of this building is the clock on the top floor. I have a fascination with clocks. The symmetry, the physics, I don’t know totally why – but I find them beautiful. The view of the clock, and through the clock, on the top floor is by far my favourite of the whole museum, and for me, reason to visit alone.
Now there are more things to do in Paris then there is time to do them. Some of them are things to see, some things to eat, and some experiences to have. We gave our students a chance (a few days before arriving in Paris) to tell us what was left that THEY wanted to see and do. We had left an afternoon free for a choice activity, and wanted to respond to their hearts call in the moment. As a response to this, Ray took a group shopping. They found some need food and vintage shops, and of course an H&M (this I don’t fully understand – why not just shop at home, where the dollar is in their favour? But you know, teenagers be teenagers). Meg took her group to the Pompidou – the modern art museum. Rob took a group to the Pantheon. And my group wanted to take pictures of the Eiffel tower. We we left the Musee d’Orsay and took the RER west to the Bir Hakeim Station. We walked down through the collection of stalls selling watches and sweatshirts and scarves and dried fruit until we were standing under the Eiffel tower. Then headed across the Seine to the Trocadero. Here there is a beautiful fountain, tasty crepes, and, in my opinion, one of the best views of the Eiffel Tower. Just far enough away to get the whole thing in the picture, and a great place to sit and just take it in. We bought crepes and drinks and sat on the edge of the fountain, staring up at her, and watching the clouds roll by. There were your standard hawkers trying to sell you keychains at 5 for €1,00 – so it was a good time to get some souvenirs to bring home for friends. We took handful of photos – together, alone, standing, jumping – and we didn’t rush. We had no one to meet up with, no where to be, no one waiting. Just time to do what we wanted at our own pace. Moving as a group of 30 is not always easy. Everything takes longer, and you always have to do what is best for “the group.” With just 7 of us, everyone had a vote. We could backtrack, change our minds, stay longer. There was a freedom that we didn’t have our previous 2 days in Paris. I also get to have more conversations with my group. I felt like I got to know Josh, Allison, Tamara, Pallvi, Shiraz and Nicole even better than I did before.
After we felt we had adequately taken in our views of the Eiffel tower, we walked back to the metro and decided on dinner across from Notre Dame – again – looking for French foods and great views. We decided that French Onion Soup and Escargot and Croque Madame were on the wish list, so we took the RER east to our destination. Strangely enough, our group ran into team Dewinetz at the SAME RESTAURANT. So we took up the table next to them and began our French feast. Mr. Dewinetz made sure to let the waiter know that our students COULD speak French, and forced them to try ordering en Francais. We ordered food on the cheaper end of the budget so that we could save a few euros for dessert. According to a blog I follow, one of the best places for gelato in Paris was just down the street. So, along with team Dewinetz, we went in search for gelato before taking the metro back to the hotel. It was a great night for my group, and myself. I plan a lot of trips – personally and professionally – and I appreciate well researched and well organized itineraries. And I appreciate even more remembering that those itineraries are but a loose guide. Sometimes it is essential (like when working with large groups), and sometimes it’s more important to just see where the day will take you. This was one of my favourite experiences on the trip, and one I plan to incorporate into all school trips to follow. As for the gelato – I give it two thumbs up.