An Essay About a Trip to Paris

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My first trip to Paris was a remarkable experience, which I will never forget. My parents drove from Vitoria to Paris at the cold Christmas weather. We stayed until the New Year in a hotel located in a suburb of Paris and visited the city every day. It was a great feeling to arrive in Paris and see the city of light. I will never forget when I first went through, passing the canals and seeing the monuments. It was like a huge open-air museum. It was love at first sight.

It was dark in the evening, Christmas lights illuminating the whole city. It was bright, almost like daytime. The streets were very busy, full of shoppers marching from one shop to another. I was fascinated seeing the Palais Garnier, which is the Paris Opera House. My dad parked the car in a small one-way street nearby. When we reached the main road, there was an underground station with a big, lit-up sign displaying the word ‘Métropolitain’. He did not make note of the road name, as he thought that the name of the station would be sufficient for finding the car again. We visited the Opera House and walked towards Place de la Concorde. We walked back to find the car. My dad located what looked like exactly the same ‘Métropolitain’ sign that he had noted in his head, but it was not the right street. My dad became anxious and confused. He approached people who were passing and told a French man in English that we were looking for ‘Métropolitain’ station. He pointed towards the station. My mom asked an American couple who were tourists. The guy said, “why don’t you go inside the station and find out?”. My dad approached the woman behind the counter and asked her the same question. She said, “c’ est Métropolitain”. He repeated, “but this is not the same”. She laughed, “Tous sont métros de Paris, ils sont tous le Métropolitain”. She continued in broken English, “All … Métropolitain”. Finally, my dad released of his mistake and understood that the ‘Métropolitain’ sign was the symbol for all metro stations in Paris, not the name of one station! This was just the beginning of our nightmare. How were we going to find the car? It took us nearly over two hours walking through many streets that all looked the same. It was a miracle that my dad finally found the car.

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It was late in the evening and we were hungry. We decided to eat in a recommended Lebanese restaurant in a street very close to the Champs-Élysées. We parked close by, so that we could watch the car easily.

We stayed in Épinay-sur-Seine in the north of Paris, 11.3 km from the city center. The next morning, we walked around the small town. It was Christmas and all the shops were closed. We were happy with our hotel, but we decided to check the prices of other local hotels. I saw a very nice building marked ‘Hotel de Ville’. I told to my parents to approach to the building, but the door was closed. After a few minutes a man opened a window. My dad asked him, “how much is it per night?”. He replied, “Qu’est-ce que vous voulez?”. I repeated my question. He simply said, “Il est fermé”. I could not understand him. I asked him again, “I just want to know the prices”. He shouted, “Il est Noël. Le bureau est fermé”, and closed the window. We wondered what kind of hotel this was and left. When we were in the center of Paris, I saw another Hotel de Ville. It was a large building that looked like a palace. I suggested to my mom that it was possibly a five-star branch of the same hotel. It was only when we visited the tourist office to get directions to various sightseeing places that we found out the Hotel de Ville is actually the city’s municipal office!

We stayed in Paris for ten days and had a fantastic time. I loved everything about this romantic city and vowed to never hesitate to come back to experience it again and again. But I promised myself that I would learn the language.

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