As part of the CAES: Flowers and Photography program, our group spent the last five days of the program in France. There we visited many places, such as Chantilly and Giverny, but primarily we remained in Paris.

Paris truly is a cosmopolitan city, as the capital of France, it also serves as the repository for much of France’s immediate and powerful culture. Under the shadow of the Eiffel tower, great monuments and museums dot the city. From the Arc de Triomphe to the Louvre, from the Seine to Sacré Coeur, various landmarks mark their indelible tick on the timeline of their country. I made it my goal to make it to as many of these places as I could. Paris is the city of lights, and I wanted to experience every single one. The first full day we were in Paris, our group took a trip out to Versailles. The opulent palace and expansive gardens are a sight to behold. Serving as the royal retreat for Louis XIV, the Sun King, the chateau is as radiant as the King’s epithet. Recently restored, the famous Hall of Mirrors reflects the sunlight that streams in from large windows and fills a large hall with light. Such a sight overwhelms visitors today just as it did three-hundred years ago.

On our second day, we visited the Louvre, where the motif of light continues as we saw the great glass pyramids that decorate the museum’s exterior. This place, along with the Musee D’Orsay, were highlights of my stay in Paris, due to my background in Art History.

On my own, I visited Sainte-Chapelle, an old thirteenth-century royal chapel that is notable for its large stain glass windows that illuminate the interior of the chapel with brilliant multicolored hues. A jewel box of a church, I would recommend the visit to anyone in Paris.

Of course, talking about the many lights of Paris cannot end without mentioning the Eiffel tower. Lit up every night with lights as myriad as the stars, this illusion deepens when the lights would twinkle briefly at certain times in the evening when it got dark. Sitting and enjoying these moments were some of my favorite times across the entire trip, and I am glad I had the opportunity to attend this program.