A Taste of Paris (and of myself)

A week before we were to fly to Rome for ten days, Hannah Waters texted me at 8:34am a screenshot of the price of a plane ticket from Rome to Paris. With a crying emoji.

Since I am a normal college student who takes advantage of a 9:10am class by sleeping until 8:59am, I was not awake to respond. So she responded to herself, with another text at 8:49am saying “So wait actually if you think about it, that’s not an unreasonable amount money or time.”

Then at 9:06 she responded once again with “Also Africa is close.” And then a minute later, “But less romantic.”

(once I woke up enough to comprehend the fact that this woman wanted to go to Paris for a day when we’re in Rome) I immediately loved the idea. We had one free day on this trip to Rome, and Hannah and I were going to use this day to go to Paris.

We purchased the plane tickets that day. We would have eight hours in Paris.

The day we flew from Rome to Paris began exactly how I expected it to, after sleeping 1.5 hours and waking up at 3:30am.

With our taxi cab arriving at our hotel at 4:15 a.m., Hannah Waters and I planned on being ready and in the lobby by 4:10, because those Italians are IMPATIENT (I can say that – I’m 50% Italian 100% impatient). Naturally, by the time 4:15 rolled around, I was hobbling after Hannah down the five flights of stairs in one boot, attempting to untie the other. I soon gave up, shoved the other boot under my arm as if it were a football, and raced across the lobby with my bag swinging off my shoulder, making a beeline for the doors with the hopes that our cab was still waiting.

The receptionist of the hotel watched our crazy dash for the exit as we passed him, and then shot up and ran after us yelling “Ciao! Hello! Hola!” He eventually stopped us, asked us if we had paid or if we planned on coming back, and then realized we were just trying to catch a cab.

This poor man thought we were ditching and dashing out of there without paying for our stay.

Imagine how the next 20 hours went after that morning.

After the wildest taxi ride I have ever experienced (Hannah compared it to Mario Kart—which was pretty accurate except for the lack of bananas), we arrived at the smallest airport I’ve ever laid eyes on, let alone flown out of. Two hours later, we were in France on a small plane attempting to make the bumpiest landing I’ve ever experienced (this was a day full of new experiences, if you haven’t already realized that).

I held onto the arm rests for dear life as the endless acres of green fields and farms came closer and closer. We landed (kind of) safely and got on a bus en route to Paris. In one hour, we were finally there.

After studying the metro map for a few minutes, we got onto the train and were on our way to see the “City of Love.” And then we realized we were on the wrong train riding in the wrong direction for the past ten minutes. We quickly switched trains, and then were on our way to see the city, in the right direction this time.

Our first destination: Notre-Dame. As we crossed the Pont Notre-Dame bridge, numerous seagulls flew overhead as Notre-Dame’s bells chimed the hour. We passed through the beautiful doors into the dusky cathedral, welcomed by the potent haze of incense filling the immense space. As the organ began to play to signal the start of mass, a wave of silence swept through the throngs of people admiring the cathedral. Mass had begun in Notre-Dame, and after a lifetime of dreaming, Hannah and I were finally there in the great cathedral to experience it.


Our second destination: lunch. Hannah and I walked arm in arm back across the Pont Notre-Dame and wandered the narrow, bright streets of Paris looking for the perfect place to get lunch. That turned out to be a tiny café on Rue Saint-Denis called Café Arena.

The café was empty except for a few girls in the corner excitedly speaking French and enjoying milkshakes, burgers, and fries, and a group of men in the corner smoking cigarettes. The waitress first addressed us in French, then Italian, and then was surprised (and somewhat disappointed) to find that we were American. The food was delicious, especially the BURGER Hannah ordered.

I will never let this woman live down the fact that she ordered a burger in France. Also French fries.

When we left the café, I turned around to take a photo of the outside of the building —and noticed one of the men in the window begin to pound on it as I raised my camera in that direction. I took the picture of the café— and of the angry or jokingly obnoxious man in the window— and then ran for my life, not sure if he was banging on the window in a threatening way or to be funny for the picture. I didn’t want to stay to find out. I still have the picture.

Next destination: The Louvre. With only two of eight hours left in Paris, Hannah and I didn’t have time to go into the museum itself. Instead, we walked the courtyards and ended up at the Louvre Pyramid, the entrance to the Louvre, and enjoyed the beauty of the architecture.

As we were standing there, we saw several girls taking photos of each other – and having what seemed like the best time doing so. I don’t think they ever stopped laughing and yelling – at the same time – in their almost incomprehensible British accents.

Naturally, since they looked like they (almost) knew how to use a camera, I asked them if they would take a photo of Hannah and I with the Louvre entrance in the background. They happily agreed, and so I plopped my Cannon into open arms. Which one of them responded to with “Bloody HELL this thing is MASSIVE” in her thick accent which made the whole situation more amusing. But Hannah and I finally got a photo together, which is a rarity when using a MASSIVE camera in Europe, apparently.


From the Louvre, we got back onto the metro and made our way (without getting lost OR going the wrong way!!!) to our last stop before our flight: The Eiffel Tower.

As we walked in its general direction, I couldn’t help but constantly search the sky for what I imagined the Eiffel Tower looked like. When it finally rose above our heads over the surrounding buildings, I had to stop and stare. It was everything I imagined it would be, and yet still took my breath away.

Hannah and I walked beneath it looking up at the very top, and then we walked around the Champ de Mars admiring the tower in all of its glory.


As our eight hours in Paris came to a close, we made it back to the bus stop, somehow climbed onto the last bus to the airport as it was closing its doors, and were on our way back to Rome.

The night ended as it had begun: a two-hour plane flight with more turbulence than I paid for and an exceptionally bumpy— and this time dark—landing, a wild taxi ride through the dark, narrow streets of Rome, and a trek past the receptionist back at the hotel.

He smiled at us, nodded his head, and I’m almost positive he checked to see if I was wearing shoes on both feet.

In one day we had flown to Paris and back, and we did not regret one second of it.

“Paris is always a good idea.” — Audrey Hepburn





Published by Carrie Durning

Senior at Patrick Henry College - Instagram @carriedurn

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