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A-level French pupil Elinor Davies gives account of Paris cultural trip with Elysia Gilman

A-level French pupil Elinor Davies gives account of Paris cultural trip with Elysia Gilman

Elinor Davies and Elysia Gilman

Lower Sixth Form pupil Elinor Davies is spending the week at Rydal Penrhos' marketing department, where she is getting a crash course in journalism from Communications Assistant Dean Jones.

After convering all aspects of feature writing, Elinor was tasked with producing a piece surrounding her trip to Paris with fellow A-level French pupil Elysia Gilman:


Paris has been the subject of many an inspirational and romantic quote, so much so that I doubted whether our trip to this city, one which I have longed to visit since 2007 (coinciding with the release of Ratatouille by sheer coincidence) would live up to its lofty reputation.

The trip started well with the complimentary croissant on the flight, travelling with someone else’s family meant I no longer had to travel with EasyJet where even the air you breathe has an additional charge.

Leaving the train station and catching my first glimpse of the infamous baroque style architecture was surprisingly overwhelming – I was finally in the place that I had dreamt of being for the last 10 years.

I had no idea windows could be so emotional. Later that day we wandered up the Champs-Elysees and stumbled upon I think the most expensive Patisserie in Paris, ‘Sebastian Gaudard’ but we had passed the last three without purchasing so we had to go in. One Napolitan and €7.90 later (Elysia and I shared to avoid bankruptcy) we headed back, ready to begin our French adventures properly the next day.

The next morning, we headed to a market to eat like the French and were embarrassed to find four cakes for €6. Annoyingly they were equally as nice as the one sampled the previous day. The Notre Dame followed with a walk across ile de Saint-Louie.

This is definitely the most beautiful area of Paris with rustic tree-lined streets and pretty bridges. However, I do not think it is possible to have an ugly area of the city. Compared with London which has nice Georgian and Victorian architecture but always a 1970s block hiding around the corner, Paris is uniformly quaint and attractive with all the more modern buildings confined to an area far from the centre.

That evening our many French lessons with Mr Lavery were put to the test when Elysia and I had dinner with her cousins whose first language is French. We coped ok (I hope) as no major misunderstandings were made and all our conversations, though dreadfully long-winded, were completed.

Monday was the big day – we went to the Eiffel Tower. The queues were long but it was worth it for the views at the top. The tower stands like beacon in the area, attracting tourists, locals young, old and rather annoyingly lots of street vendors trying to sell you mini Eiffel Towers (why would I buy one of those when I could look up and see the real thing for free?).

We visited Montmartre afterwards and looked around the artists’ square, Elysia was in her element. Then we walked around it again, and again and again – she really likes art. I didn’t mind however because all the artists were really talented and it seemed sad that they had to resort to clicking in your direction for attention rather than having their pieces in galleries like they probably deserved.

We tried out our French again in a local cafe, less successfully than yesterday however, because we were told that we “had a long way to go”. Of course we left no tip and stormed out of the place.

We woke bright and early for Disneyland the next morning and were greeted with a man playing the accordion in one carriage of the Metro, this was real, and there was no mistaking where we were.

By this time Elysia and I had perfected the ‘Metro stance’ a standing technique that allowed you to travel without the need to hold onto a rail, we had devised this through looking at the locals. I don’t know what is about travelling, but there is an insatiable desire to look like a native, we weren’t going to hold onto a bar like some touristy losers, we were Parisian. When entering the gates to Disneyland, I had never seen a human being as excited as Elysia. It was a fun day, despite the eye-watering, relentless heat (40 minutes queuing outside Peter Pan with no shade was tough).

Our last day in the great city was spent in the Louvre, a magnificent building that we got to know well during out queue for the front door.

The great thing about traveling in Paris when you are under 18 is the free entrance into most museums and attractions, without proof of age, Elysia and I sauntered in without a second look from anyone, perhaps it was our combined height of six foot that convinced them.

This was easily the biggest museum I have ever come across, with the most ornate design on the inside, most of the time I was looking at the glamorous ceiling roses rather than the art on display.

Overall, I loved my trip to Paris and like Anton Ego from Ratatouille “I shall return, hungry for more”.


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