Visiting the Eiffel Tower is undoubtedly the most touristy thing you can do in Paris, potentially even in the whole of France. Considering the fact that I have lived in the City of Light for almost six months now you would think I’d be a bit over it by now. I am not.
I have developed a sort of sixth sense which enables me to spot it literally anywhere, even if that’s just the top of it peeking over a building at the other side of the city. My friends don’t even flinch when I scream ‘EIFFEL TOWER’ at random anymore, they simply resuscitate me and we get on with our day.
Hear me out…
The huge iron thing that sits at the bottom of Trocadero Gardens, on the banks of the Seine is so much more than just the Eiffel Tower to me. I don’t even care how cheesy and cliche this sounds, but the Eiffel Tower is a symbol of me properly achieving something in my life that I worked hard for.
I don’t think there are many people who know me who don’t know the story of why I am even in Paris this year, but of course I will re-tell it anyway. The first time I visited Paris I was around 14 and on a school trip. One night we were on a cruise down the Seine, sitting on plastic chairs along the side of the boat, and nearing the end of the cruise the clock struck the hour and the Eiffel Tower lit up. It was one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen, and I clearly remember promising myself as we walked back to our bus that I would live there someday.
From that moment on I was dead set on figuring out how to get myself there. I had always loved writing but never really considered that it could take me places, or be something that I could be serious about. What better place to inspire a budding writer than Paris? Of course I would need to speak French to make the most out of my imagined life in the country, so I set my sights on studying English and French at university. Here I am, six years later, a third year English and French student of the University of Aberdeen on my year long internship in Paris.
The first thing I wanted to see when I arrived here was the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t need to be right near it, just to catch a glimpse. I just needed to know that it was there, to feel like it was real. I still kind of have that feeling all these months later, and every time I see it I am reminded of where I am and what I myself have done to get there.
Telling people, especially those who live elsewhere in France, that living in Paris is your dream really doesn’t often go down well. A lot of people look at you with an almost pitiful ‘aww look she’s so cute she thinks Paris is just like all the pretty postcards and that it’s the city of love and everyone wears berets and drinks wine and smiles’.
Nuh uh. I know the real Paris. I have been chatted up by creepy men in front of the Notre Dame, I have spent two months ruthlessly calling and emailing in pursuit of my travel card, I have been very nearly splashed by someone’s vomit on a bus, I have spent ridiculous sums of money for a minuscule weekly shop, I have been to areas where the only thing you can do is put your head down and keep walking straight, I have seen the city entirely flooded, I have seen multiple rats the size of cats running along metro platforms.
I have travelled to some unbelievable places in my life, and seen some of the most sought-after sights there are to see. Paris still holds my number one spot, and the huge iron thing that sits at the bottom of Trocadero Gardens, on the banks of the Seine will always be so much more than just the Eiffel Tower to me.
Best wishes from Paris x