Taking advantage of mid-week discounts
One of the many advantages of home-education is the freedom to jet off as and when you please without having to worry about school. I booked a trip to France on the Eurostar taking advantage of their midweek discounts, which enable you to go to Paris for £29 one way or £58 return.
We left St Pancras at 9am and arrived in Paris, Gare Du Nord, in the early afternoon. I was a bit too shell-shocked to cope with the metro and chose to travel by the easiest option, the bus. We took the number 42 to the Eiffel tower, which was a bit of a long haul; It took 50 minutes. And thank God that most of Paris speak some English otherwise we’d have been in trouble, but it would have been nice to have spoken some French, had I prepared a little.
The Eiffel tower is pretty imposing; I would have been far happier to have appreciated the iconic structure from the ground, but Kai wanted to go to the top. So up to the summit we went. My God, what a nightmare. If you’re like me and have a big problem with heights, then even being in a lift that goes up very high can be a problem. But knowing that you are going 100s of metres up a piece of metal is mortifying, and the higher up the narrower it gets..
Many of the visitors went out onto the terrace area, but that was too much for me. I just wanted to get down. Kai even went up the stairs to the pinnacle. He managed to take some nice pictures, something I was unable to do the whole time we were up the Eiffel tower.
Next stop, the Louvre
I had wanted to visit the Louvre ever since I had heard it was only place you could see the Mona Lisa. Prior to go going to Paris I did a little research on the museum and planned to see at least a handful of some of the most famous pieces: The Raft of Medusa, Aphrodite, Winged victory, and John the Baptist by Leonardo Da Vinci. Online commentators suggest making a plan as there is so much to see. But by some happy accident we managed to see most of the popular pieces without referring to a map. We found our way to the Mona Lisa by constantly bugging security. When at last we found her, she was a real sight to see..
Despite the prior warning about the restricted viewing, the picture is still magnificent and pretty awe-inspiring to see in the flesh. Even Kai, able to sense the reverence around the masterpiece, quietly drank it in. Later, he said he was probably one of the few children in his former class that had seen the Mona Lisa. There is a permanent crowd in front of the picture, so you have to be patient and work your way to the front to get a good pic; it will be worth it. I would suggest after the manic photo taking to take some time, camera down, just to admire it. I was so intent in taking away a memento that I did not take enough time just to really appreciate the beauty of the portrait. Its simple timeless beauty and enduring smile deserved more of my attention.
The Mona Lisa was not the only masterpiece that I was fortunate enough to see. John the Baptist, one of my favourites, was one we simply stumbled upon walking along a corridor. The greatest excitement was caused when we turned a corner and saw the great sphinx. I was thrilled. We only had a short time to go before we had to leave, and had no idea how to find the Egyptian antiquities until we walked right into it. The Sphinx is one not to be missed. It is absolutely breathtaking.