Day One. We arrived in Paris and began to tour immediately after we were met at the airport by our guide Thomas. Thomas, who lives in southern France, took us all over Paris with some of the most important places being Sainte-Chapelle, Notre Dame, and the Latin Quarter. To view pictures from day one of our trip to France, please click here.
Day Two. The day began with our guide Thomas meeting us with a bus for our trip around the city of Paris with our other guide Lawrence. Lawrence showed us a number of sites while we were on the bus, so excuse those pictures. We had picture stops at Les Invilades (which was a hospital at one time, and now houses Napoleon's tomb). We had a photo op as well at the Eiffel Tower. From there we went to the Versailles Palace, and toured there as well as the grounds. This evening we will be traveling back into Paris aboard the Metro to see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night. I have added pictures from our trip to the Eiffel Tower at night to see the light show. There was a large celebration taking place with people all dressed in white and being held in the park near the tower. Everyone was waving sparklers which added to the evening. Enjoy these pictures from day two here.
Day Three. After our trip to see the Eiffel Tower last night, today was a day to continue to explore the different museums of Paris. We began the day by going the Musee d'Orsay. This was a former train station that was converted into a museum in the 1980s, and it did not disappoint. From Monet, to Van Gogh, and many other outstanding artists, there was much to see on the various different levels of the museum. From here we walked through the gardens behind the Louvre, and onto the Musee du Perfum, Fragonard Perfumeur. Interesting in how the method of making perfume has evolved over time. We were able to have a number of scents shared with us, as a means of trying to determine what goes into making them. From here we ventured to the Paris Opera House, where the providing us with an opportunity to see the famous venue, and one that many may recognize as the home of the Phantom of the Opera. We did see the famous chandelier that is referenced in the musical. As we closed out the time at the Paris Opera House, the students were given a chance to visit the Lafayette Galleries where they could experience what retail spaces look like in Paris compared to home. Finally, our night was ended with a couscous dinner. Couscous was brought to Paris by way of North Africa from the one time colonies of France and is a great meal to have. As we finished the evening, we prepared for our trip to the Loire Valley tomorrow by having the students get food for a picnic style lunch tomorrow when we tour some famous castles in the valley. For pictures of today, please click here.
Day Four. Our day was spent about two hours away from our hotel and Paris. We took a charter bus with our guide from Explorica, Thomas, and then the guide for the day Jeanne, to the Loire Valley, where we were able to see magnificent castles, see the villages in which they were found, and experience what life is like away from a major metropolitan area. France, which is the same in land size as California or Texas, is double their population, but is not densely populated when you leave its major cities. In addition, when we were at our second castle it played some significance in World War II, as it was the border between occupied France under the Nazis and the free France under the Vichy French Government. There was a river on the property of the castle, and a number of French citizens tried to swim across during the occupied time to flee the Nazis. Our guide Thomas shared that during the war several of his family members worked in the resistance against the Nazis, and how they lived during the war. As we moved onto our last castle, at Chambord, we were not able to see the inside of the castle given time constraints, but without question this was the most impressive castle of the day with regard to size and beauty. You will see a photo op we had with the group at this castle. When we returned from the Loire Valley, we came back to Paris and had pizza for dinner. Similar to a thin crust pizza, this was made with special toppings and cheese. We even had desert as there were chocolate types of pizza and cheese. Finally, we finished the day by walking through Paris again to our metro stop and home for the night. Tomorrow we will go the Champs Elysees, a cruise on the Seine River, ascend the Eiffel Tower, and then dinner in Paris. Here are our pictures from today. I have tried to get as many as possible so that you can see what the kids are seeing, but forgive me as I am not a professional photographer. To see today's pictures, click here.
Day Five. Today was a busy day, but one where the students were able to sleep in for a little bit of time. We have covered almost 50 miles of walking in our time here, and the kids needed the morning to sleep in. When we began the day we visited the Arc de Triomphe, which was proposed by Napoleon, and eventually completed to what it appears as today. From here, we had the opportunity to see the Champs Elysees, the world's largest avenue I believe, and beautiful as well. Once we had lunch, we moved over to the Eiffel Tower again and to the river where we took a cruise up and down the Seine River. This was an opportunity to see many significant landmarks in Paris, and offered a great view of the city, while also hearing a narrative in many different languages. After the cruise, we took to the sky via the Eiffel Tower and ascended to the top. While there is the option of taking the stairs to reach the very top of the tower (over 1,000 feet high), we decided to wait for the elevator ride. You will see by the pictures offered that Paris is an expansive city that covers a great deal of area. When talking to the kids we also began to put into better perspective the amount of walking we have done each day, and how much of the city we have seen. Our guide Thomas, has shown us a great deal of the city and been incredible in his logistical planning. Our day ended with a fine meal of crepes (including egg, ham and cheese), topped off with chocolate on top of another crepe for dessert. Tomorrow we will be traveling to see several other parts of Paris (the art district), and the world famous Lourve Museum. Enjoy today's pictures by clicking here.
Day Six. Today was an interesting day for several reasons. First, it would be our last full day in Paris, and there were several important places we were going to see. For me, I had a side trip the gravesite of Jim Morrison, the singer from the legendary band, The Doors. Morrison died in the summer of 1971, and was buried in Pere Lachaise, in Paris. The first series of pictures you will see are from Jim Morrison's gravesite, and even though it was early in the morning, there were people there already to pay their respects. I know when I asked the kids who he was, they did not know him, nor who The Doors were. Montmartre was a special place for many reasons. Located here are the artisans of Paris, and you can go around the square and see many different artists plying their trade. For many of your children they were willing to sit for a self portrait, and the pictures turned out beautifully. Another part of this section of Paris is the Sacre Coeur. This Catholic church has a unique distinction in that it can almost cleanse itself when it rains, thereby having the stone facade turn more white. There is some reaction in the stone that causes this to happen. The kids had a great time in this section of town, and it was the perfect lead into our next stop, the Louvre Museum. The Louvre was once a palace for Louis the XIV, but he deemed it too small and turned his attention to his new palace at Versailles. Take a look at the pictures from that day and like us, you will be asking what was he thinking. That being said the Louvre is the largest museum in the world. From its famous paintings, particularly the Mona Lisa, to the various artifacts that are on display, one can get lost just going from room to room. Some of us did for a short period of time. From the Louvre we ventured back to Montemartre, where we had dinner in the outdoor restaurant on the square and allowed the kids to walk around one last time. At the end of the evening, we caught our last subway ride back to our hotel near the Moulin Rouge.
Today we put on 25,000 steps approximately, for almost 12 miles of walking. Like any other day we wore some tread down off the soles of our shoes, but this trip has added much to our learning experiences, and we have to thank Mrs. May for showing us the capital of her native France, and for our guide Thomas from Explorica. Thomas has been there to answer questions, solve logistical problems, offer invaluable historical and educational perspectives for his country, and he has been a great person to work with on this trip. Thank you Thomas.
As for the kids, Mrs. May and myself, we leave tomorrow at 1:00 from Paris for our flight home where we will land at 6:00 pm Cleveland time. While we have had an extraordinary time here, we are ready to come home. Thank you to Mrs. May for asking me to join her on this trip, to Mrs. Barnett for her help as being a chaperone, for Thomas everything that he did from logistics, working on any issue, and for showing us the great hospitality of his native France, and finally to the students. Our kids were constantly complimented for how great they are, and this comes as no surprise to Mrs. May or myself. Wadsworth kids are special, and they make each day a memorable one. Thank you for letting me join you, and this awesome experience.
To see pictures from today, please click here.
**Side note to parents! Please check out the Explorica Website and the journal that our guide Thomas is keeping. He has done a great job updating this, and giving his own account via photographs as well. Enjoy! To reach the Explorica diary, click here.