Postcards from Prato

Ashley Arminio

A Parisian Experience

My second destination for fall break was Paris, and it was a one-of-a-kind experience.

Ashley poses with the Eiffel Tower  (Photo by Ashley Arminio/Charger Bulletin photo)
Ashley poses with the Eiffel Tower
(Photo by Ashley Arminio/Charger Bulletin photo)

As soon as we arrived and put our stuff down in the hostel, our tour guides took the group to a fondue restaurant. It was my first time having fondue, so I was so excited to experience this with a bunch of my new friends! The restaurant gave us olives, cheese, pepperoni, peppers, and a whole lot of mayonnaise, mustard and pepper dips as a starter. This was followed by the cheese dip that you can use for your bread! I personally loved the beef part of dinner!

You get a pot of oil on a hot plate that allows you to put your meat on a skewer and leave it in the pot until it’s fully cooked. I dipped the beef into the variety of sauces we were given and it was fantastic!

My favorite part of dinner had to be the wine that was given to each of us in baby bottles, with the choice of house red or white. I learned that restaurants have to pay a tax on every wine glass they have which is why fondue restaurants generally use baby bottles—this way, they don’t have to pay the extra money. I also learned that drinking wine out of baby bottles supposedly gets you drunk faster due to the oxygen, which is the same technique as drinking out of a straw.

During my tour of Paris, I saw the Notre Dame, which is over 800 years old and learned that construction on this landmark started in 1163 and finished in 1272. The cathedral has been the main symbol of France, and has been a stage for a variety of major political and religious events. Fun fact: out of all the statues on the outside of the cathedral, three of them have the same faces!

On this same tour, I experienced the famous “World Lock Bridge.” This is the bridge of Pont des Arts that couples come to with locks with their initials written on them. They lock them on the bridge and throw the key into the water. This fun, romantic movement has become popular and now people from around the world come to this bridge with locks and write the initials of their lovers’, friends’, families’ and even pets’ names! The bridge is absolutely beautiful with the variety of locks and vibrancy. What I love about this bridge is that it holds so many stories.

Unfortunately, the government began cutting the locks off the bridge and replaced the railing with glass panels because, in June, a railing collapsed due to the weight of the padlocks. By the end of the year, there won’t be any more padlocks on the bridge; however, people started locking their padlocks on other bridges around the city to keep the tradition going. My tour guide also told me about a movement that has begun called “love without locks.” Tourists now come to this bridge and take a picture on it with the hashtag love without locks in order to still participate in the movement.

For dinner I ate my first escargot (snail), which is something that I NEVER thought I would do! The texture is pretty strange, but the taste wasn’t all that bad. However, France has the best French onion soup!

Last, the magical Eiffel Tower! The tower was by far the best part of my trip; I loved taking pictures and exploring the area. You can see the tower, especially lit up at night, all around town and it’s such a beautiful experience.