We were at the top of the Eiffel Tower. All of Paris stretched before us in a rosy tint from the setting sun. A cool breeze tugged on my dress, and he wrapped an arm around me for warmth.

Alright, you caught me. I actually did not have time to climb the Eiffel Tower, and I was nowhere close to the arms of a dreamy man—but that is how these Paris stories are supposed to be, right? Well, besides those ideal situations, my visit to Paris was everything an American tourist could hope.

We started our day of tourism at Notre Dame Cathedral. At first, we decided to only circle Notre Dame and take pictures. How could our families ever forgive us for being outside and not entering the cathedral, though? So, we entered. The majesty, massiveness and history took my breath away. Even though somewhere in the distance the choir was chanting and a low hum of shuffles and whispers echoed, it felt pressingly quiet, as if breathing, let alone speaking or walking, would disturb the peace.

Back on the hectic Parisian streets, we consulted the map. The path from Notre Dame to the Arc de Triomphe was a straight shot on a map, but we discovered that some meandering was necessary until we arrived at the Louvre. Someone could spend days wandering this famous museum—so we didn’t. The well-known prism and arches of the Grand Republic made a pleasant place to rest before strolling through the Jardin de Tulieries and along Champs Elysée (the famous street with Louis Vuitton, Chanel, and Ladurée all in the same vicinity) to the Arc de Triomphe.

Ahh, the French and their tradition of strikes. Due to a manifestation, we were unable to climb to the top of the arch. From the top of the Arc de Triomphe, the view is nearly as magnificent as from the Eiffel Tower, but you have the beautiful Parisian view plus you can actually see the tower. Disappointed for only a moment, I realized it was still Paris and continued on my way to the Eiffel Tower.

In the evening, we climbed to the top of the hill in Montmartre with the Sacre Coeur (the church in the movie Amélie). This is one of the most complete and amazing views of all of Paris and the Eiffel Tower.

Each night, on the hour for a couple of hours, the Eiffel Tower starts to sparkle. The first time I witnessed that event, I did not know it would happen. I was standing right next to it, overwhelmed by the tower and awe-struck that simple metal could look so magnificently beautiful, when it began to sparkle. The second time it started was when I was on the hill in Montmartre.  It truly felt like a film.

So that was my experience as an American in Paris, and I have no shame to say I would gladly return for more touristy activities (in a few weeks with my parents, I hope!). For my next trip to Paris: a visit to the Musee d’Orsay—the museum with all the Monet paintings—and Versailles! And maybe I will finally make it to the top of the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe. Bon chance pour moi!

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