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Zander Willoughby

A Weekend In Paris

by Zander Willoughby | Feb 13, 2017


One of the great opportunities while studying abroad is programme excursions. For Strasbourg, we take at least 2 day-long excursions within Alsace and also spend a weekend in Paris (all covered by the programme, don’t worry—you won’t have to pay for foie gras with your lunch budget, just wait for group dinners!); for full-year students, you can opt-out of the Spring Paris trip and organise your own education and cultural based trip somewhere else in France. This trip was the first time I’d ever been to Paris (sans airport)! Here’s a bit of what we did:

The Eiffel Tower
Though I had never visited Paris before this trip, I’ve flown through CDG airport 3-4 times, always sitting on the wrong side to see the Eiffel Tower. It’s not quite as cool the Strasbourg Cathedral, but it’s pretty cool! One nice thing in Strasbourg, is that one can always use the Cathedral to find their way (even from Germany!), the Eiffel Tower is twice as tall with an extra 18 metres. I don’t know how much elaboration there is to give there, just that the quintessential study abroad stereotypes in this case hold true.



Musée d’Orsay
Highlight of the trip! Pro-tip: if you’re an impressionist person, turn left on entering. When you have three hours to spend in one of the world’s foremost museums, you don’t want to start with Starry Night over the Rhone, Van Gogh’s Self-Portrait, The Siesta, The Church at Auvers, View from the Chevet, The Italian Woman, Portrait of Dr. Gachet, and Bedroom in Arles and then spend another two and a half hours walking around looking at amazing art, but wishing it was Van Gogh’s or Monet’s…

Les raboteurs de parquet, Whistler's Mother, Bathers on the Beach at Trouville, Olympia, The Lion Hunt, The Saint-Lazare Station, The Rue Montorgueil in Paris. Celebration of 30 June 1878, Wind Effect, Series of the Poplars, Rouen Cathedral. Harmony in Blue, Blue Water Lilies... need I go on? It speaks for itself.


Palais Garnier
The Paris opera is deemed (by Wikipedia, so take that as you will) to be possibly the most famous in the world. We took a guided tour of the 142 year old opera house as a programme group. Mr. Charles Garnier’s project is awesome in the true sense of the word. Though an elitist symbol of the bourgeois ruling class, it’s pretty amazing. Cue the name dropping: The Phantom of the Opera, that’s all I need.



My favourite perk of programme trips is always the meals, hands down (I’m not a foodie by any means). As part of the programme, our host families provide us with breakfast and dinner; for lunch we have 5,75€ provided, anything past we pay on our own. Needless to say, we don’t eat the same way during the week as on these trips. In the fall, our group was over 20 people. We usually filled the restaurant! Not only are group dinners an opportunity for great food, it’s a great time to hear stories from the other students (the Strasbourg programme is with Lewis & Clark College, Kalamazoo College, and Bryn Mawr College).

The best part of a weekend in Paris is, of course, just walking around. I’ll let the pictures speak to that.


Zander E. Willoughby ’18 is a Political Science & French major & Peace Studies minor, and a former Multicultural Affairs Programmer, Student Senate Vice-President, Model U.N. Secretary-General and more. He is currently studying in Strasbourg, France at the Institut d'Études Politiques at Université de Strasbourg. His future plans include working in International Relations or International Law, hopefully within the U.N. system.

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