What an incredible journey this has been!
The last 3 days in Paris have brought us so much joy, culture and experience, I can hardly believe it! Our days were packed and now the team is tired, but every moment was well worth it!
We arrived in Paris on Tuesday evening and cut right to the chase. With our hostel tucked away in the Opera district, we walked down to the Place Madeleine, then Place de la Concorde and finally walked up the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe. Reed suggested we stop at a gourmet food shop, Hediard, where we admired all of the delicious looking pastries and teas. We ate dinner at a classic moules-frites restaurant and had crepes for dessert. Jessica tried mussels for the first time and not only cleaned her plate, but mine as well! Paris is beautiful as ever and everyone is enjoying practicing their French.
During our first full day in Paris, we visited the Notre Dame cathedral and the crypts below it, toured the Ile St. Louis and Ile de la Cite, and then walked the stairs up the Eiffel Tower. Having recently been to Paris with his family, Ryan was our tour guide for the day and explained the history of Notre Dame and it’s crypt to the group. Sellars charged up the stairs of the Tour Eiffel and was the first to experience the beautiful view from the top. Elyse loved the Berthillon ice cream on the Ile St. Louis and Jackie helped pick an amazing middle eastern restaurant in the Marais (Jewish quarter) for dinner. After dinner, we facilitated a group activity that involved 10 minute private discussions with every other member of the group. Emily expressed that she particularly liked this activity, as it helped solidify the intensive group bonding that has taken place over the last month. It was really nice to have some one-on-one time with every individual in our group.
Early the next morning, Trevor helped us plan a sunrise walk up to Sacre Coeur, where we watched the city of lights come back to life. Although we were tired, we stopped in at Angelina’s to enjoy the best cup of hot chocolate of our lives, along with a few French pastries. Caitlin then led us through the Louvre, sharing her knowledge of art. The Mona Lisa seemed to be smaller in person than we had imagined, but impressive nonetheless. Carson was excited to see the egyptian exhibit and helped keep the group together in the crowded museum. Throughout the rest of the day, we explored some more European clothing and food shops, then prepared for our banquet. The girls bought adorable new dresses so that we really looked the part and dinner. We dined at the elegant Laduree on the Champs-Élysées and Sonora expressed that this was one of her favorite meals of the trip. The four course meal ended with awards, laughs and some tears. Per Madison’s suggestion, we concluded the evening with another visit to the Eiffel Tower so we could see it shimmer is the darkness. As the clock struck midnight, the sparkles began and lasted about 5 minutes. Sarah set up and awesome group picture with the WV banner in front of the lit tower.
Though we are now quite exhausted, we have had the most meaningful and memorable time in Paris. It was the perfect conclusion to an amazing trip. We are all excited to head home, yet sad to see the course come to an end. We have learned so much about hiking and backcountry travel, French and Spanish language, culture and city travel and of course teamwork and leadership. We will all miss each other dearly and hope to keep in close touch throughout the years.
Thanks for sharing your fabulous children with Riley and I this past month! Its been an amazing trip that we will never forget. Au revoir!