To try and sum up our trip in one little essay may be an impossible task. France was everything I expected and more! When I told people we were going, I would tell them we were going to Paris for a week, but I soon learned that our trip exceeded Paris and I started to call it our trip to France. We actually traveled through 3 French regions: ÃŽle-de-France (Paris), Normandy, and Brittany. And though I adored the countryside, I feel like I shouldn’t compare it to Paris, which I also thoroughly adore. Both were amazing, yet totally different. In Paris, everything was put together for the tourist. There were museums, landmarks, and things to see everywhere; whereas, in Normandy, things were more peaceful, and instead of beauty coming from buildings and statues, it came from nature at its purest. My favorite place in Paris was Montmartre, and it’s probably due to my wonderful experience there. Sure, the Champs-Ã‰lysée had a lot more going on, but I felt almost like a local in Montmartre. (Though, we definitely stood out as Americans!) The town square was exactly how I pictured France to be, and at dinner I got the most French item on the menu. After walking around a bit, we got crepes, and I couldn’t have been happier! We probably climbed everything you could have in Paris: Montmartre, Notre Dame, Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower just to name a few. (And yes, I do realize we took an elevator to the top of the Eiffel Tower, but for how high up it was and how exhausted I was, it felt like I climbed it!) I cannot pick a favorite place in Normandy, though St. Malo might be close to the top. (Yet technically, St. Malo was in Brittany.) Again, it was because it fit my image of France. St. Malo was an amazing town, and the night we were there we had an amazing dinner and watched an amazing sunset. Plus our hotel was the greatest ever; it had this huge window with a ledge that I would sit in. I probably sat there for an hour journaling and listening to the sounds of the streets below. Even at midnight, people were still out and about! I also really enjoyed the chateaus we saw in the Loire Valley. Though I struggled that day with car sickness, the castles we saw were just stunning! I wore my pretty little black dress just for the occasion, and oh how I enjoyed the gardens and the amazing flowers. I know mom loved it to! That town we stayed in, Saumur was also amazing. While mom went to take a tour of a wine producer, I went shopping with Lauren and Connie. We walked into this lace store, and while the shop keeper was wrapping up Connie’s purchases, we began this conversation. She barely spoke English, but I knew enough to translate back and forth. I was so proud of my French skills on this trip. Really, I believe deep in my heart that this trip has embedded in me a love for French culture, including the language. Before, my French was limited in the classroom. Learning French was so much a chore with tests and worksheets, but this trip has given me a new energy! When we first got there, I was so nervous about messing up and making a fool of myself, but towards the end, that all went away! Sure, I didn’t know everything, but at least I try my best to speak their language and pronounce it well. One day, I hope I can fully master the French language! I feel like that’s a good dream to have! Going to France at my age has been the greatest blessing! I’m only 17, and I already have a desire to go back. Who knows what tomorrow is going to bring me, but I pray that one day I would be able to return. Also, I am so happy that I got to experience this with my mother! She has always been my favorite travel companion, and for her to come just made the trip a hundred times better! As I read over what I just wrote, the word “amazing” seemed to pop up quite a lot. And that’s what this trip was: AMAZING! I have no regrets and only good memories. At times, especially with the weather, it seemed like God was paying special attention to us, making sure everything went perfectly. Sometimes we would be walking around and see these dark rain clouds in the distance, yet it would never rain until we had all loaded up on the bus and driving away. Yeah, God was looking out for us, I just know it! And I could not praise him enough. I am so grateful for everything I experienced and absorbed. Yet for how much I love France, I’m glad to have made it home safely! For now, I can look pictures (which we have hundreds of) and remember the memories until … well, they say if you walk over Point Zero in front of Notre Dame you will find you way back to France. Let’s just say, I walked over it twice, just in case!