Why Paris Should be Your First Break Away without Your Parents
Two years ago, Jasmine Hung was a fresh faced 18-year-old and had just completed her final year at a school where she had spent the last 7 years of her life. It was a bitter-sweet moment for her. On one hand, she was relieved to have left the stress of exams and formal education behind, but also felt as though she had lost a huge part of herself as friends were all moving to new cities, and she still had no idea what she wanted to do with her life. Jasmine was in need of inspiration and adventure and in this article she shares why there really isn’t a better place to run away to than Paris- the city of love, the city of art, and the city of lights itself!
Top Reasons to Visit Paris
I first visited Paris as a wide eyed 6-year-old with my family, which may have included a visit to Disneyland. I returned 12 years later with my best friends and a greater appreciation for the city. Here are my top reasons as to why Paris should be your first break away without your parents, as you step into adulthood.
Any first trip away from your comfort zone is going to require independence, but being in a city as big as Paris is going to take a little more effort. Attempting to navigate your way around the city and its Metro system is going to be confusing at first- especially when everything is in French and you have no idea where you’re heading. There will be times when you’ll get lost and have to suck up the courage to ask a stranger for directions, in spite of the fact you don’t speak the same language. Eventually you get the hang of it and soon enough you’ll know the route from Gare du Nord to Champ de Mars like the back of your hand.
Paris is a city enriched in history and culture. It’s home to attractions such as The Louvre and Musee d’Orsay, showcasing history/ art from both France and the rest of the world. I was lucky enough to see the Mona Lisa with my very own eyes, despite having to que outside The Louvre for over an hour in the rain and battle my way through the crowds, it was worth it to be in the presence of such an iconic painting. I also remember discussing French culture in my geography class, and how the number of Starbucks opening in France has been limited in order to preserve their café culture. So, it was a great experience to sit and dine in traditional French cafes and restaurants knowing how proud the French were of their history.
Having protective parents and coming from a relatively small city in the UK meant that I hadn’t experience a lot of the world and life. Paris opened my eyes to the problems that many people face across the globe. In a city this big, it became apparent to me that there was another side to Paris after seeing many beggars and homeless people around the streets, in comparison to the sophistication and wealth that many people envision.
The trip also taught me not to believe every stereotype you hear. The Parisians have a reputation for being rude and unfriendly, which I had been told countless times before my visit. I actually found the Parisians to be very friendly and helpful, as long as I made the effort to speak French. I decided to put my French lessons into practice and ordered my meal in French. I was terrible and even made part of my order in Spanish. However, the waiters found it funny and endearing, attempting to help me with my language skills. This taught me that I should immerse myself in in other people’s culture and not expect everyone to speak and understand English - it’s just plain rude.
Inspiration, Adventure & Memories
This was the main purpose of my visit to Paris, as there’s so much to see and explore. Some of my favourite memories are from this city and you could make some of your own too. I remember running around the streets for hours, taking in the beautiful architecture and scenery with a sense of happiness and freedom. I recall laughing when my friends got their suitcases stuck in the Metro’s gates and some random (but lovely) Parisian men trying to help them out. I miss sitting under the Eiffel Tower at night, chatting and giggling with my best friends, and then going speechless when we saw the tower sparkle for the first time. I also remember the time we attached a lock to Pont des Arts, symbolising our eternal friendship and leaving a part of ourselves and hearts in Paris.
By Jasmine Hung