Bon Voyage: North student reflects on exploring France


Lila Metko, Contributor

On Friday, March 24, 2017, I embarked on a voyage to France for the second time in my life. This time, unlike my first experience traveling with my family, it was with the school organized trip to France. Now it was up to me to organize my passport, money, and tickets, arrive on time for each group meeting, and pick out which restaurants and shops to visit in free time hours. Before the trip, I had feelings of worry, as well as excitement, but as soon as I arrived in Paris on the first day I knew I had made the right decision.

When anyone asks me how the trip to France went I never know what to say that can sum up all the great experiences I had. By the end of the first two days in Paris, we had visited the Arc de Triomphe, the Tuileries Gardens, the Louvre, the Pompidou Art Museum, the Catacombs, Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle and cruised along the Seine river. All of the teachers leading the trip did a wonderful job of planning things so the students could see as many of the major sites as possible. We went on tours of many of the sites and were able to climb up the Arc De Triomphe, Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower. It was exhausting to climb up all the flights of steps but the breathtaking views of the city from the top of each landmark made the climb completely worth it. Each of the tours was very informative and it was amazing to hear about all of the history attached to each landmark we visited.

The adventures of exploring the city by ourselves in groups was another important part of the trip. I am happy the chaperones gave us many hours of free time to make choices of what we wanted to do. Sometimes my group of friends would spend hours trying to find the perfect restaurant, and other days we would run in and out of many different boutiques and souvenir shops looking for the perfect gifts for our families. There is so much to see in the streets of Paris and Lyon, the two major cities we visited in France. There are crepe stands and gelato shops on every corner, hundreds of stores in which to buy almost any kind of souvenir or the perfect stylish french outfit, and the music of street performers can be heard everywhere.

For six days during the trip, each student stayed with a host family, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France. My host family was perfect. Each day they had activities planned such as shopping, sports, and even a family board game day. It was a little difficult to speak completely in French for that long of a time, but I felt like the experience largely improved my French fluency. Also, it was nice to live the life of a French local for a few days rather than being a tourist. I attended French school with my host sister and participated in the everyday activities with the family such as grocery shopping and preparing meals. The experience highlighted many cultural differences, such as; in the schools the teachers moved from classroom to classroom instead of the students, the school day started and ended later, school lunches were gourmet and the typical family meal usually contained over three different courses. Did I mention the food is amazing?

During my stay in Lyon France, I was able to meet with the exchange student I had hosted the previous summer. She met everyone in the group and stayed for the group dinner at a restaurant in Lyon. It was wonderful to be able to see her again and know that I have a true friend and sister in France.

Overall, my two-week experience in France was truly amazing. I have already stayed in contact with my host family during this week I have been back in the United States. I plan to stay in contact with them and maybe even come back to France to see them again. Hopefully, they will be able to visit me, in the U.S., also. This trip has definitely inspired me to continue my travels, to France and to other parts of the world.