Mrs. McCarthy visits the City of Lights


Emily Smith

Paris is the prime vacation destination for those who love fashion, historic sites, artistic masterpieces or even indulging in French cuisine. Recently, Mrs. McCarthy was able to travel to Paris, France to attend an Explorica Program Leader Training conference to learn about guiding students on trips abroad. This conference is in preparation for her upcoming trip to Greece. At the conference, she learned about giving guided tours around foreign countries to high school students and their families. 

     One of the first aspects of Paris that most people think about are the delicious Parisian desserts. The city is known for its fabulous and decadent pastries, and Mrs. McCarthy was lucky enough to try some on her trip. The most delicious dessert that she tried was Kouignettes, which are made from dough that is worked into puff pastry. Most Parisians eat these pastries and others at outdoor cafes, which McCarthy noted are very different from here in the United States. “One interesting thing about Paris is that they have outdoor cafes. You sit outside, even in the cold weather, and people watch. Instead of sitting across from someone like here in America, you sit side by side and see the city.” She also noted that most people sit outside even in cooler weather, as her trip experienced mostly gray skies and temperatures in the fifties. 

     Desserts aside, the food was not exactly what Mrs. McCarthy expected. “The portions were small,” she noted. She also noted that typical American cuisine, like scrambled eggs or mashed potatoes, were made differently. “The scrambled eggs looked very different from the ones in America. The mashed potatoes were about a tablespoon size and very watery.” Although the food was not exactly what she had hoped, McCarthy was surprised at how fresh many of the ingredients were. “There aren’t places like Costco, so you can’t buy in bulk. You get your herbs and spices and foods at local markets.”

     What’s a trip to Paris without seeing the Eiffel Tower? Mrs. McCarthy was able to see this famous site during the day and at night. “Seeing the Eiffel Tower lit up was the most exciting moment,” she said. She was able to see the tower sparkle, which only happens after dusk for five minutes every hour on the hour. In addition to the Eiffel tower, she was also able to see the Arc de Triomphe, which is a monument built during the Napoleonic times, as well as the Louvre, one of the most famous art museums in the world. “We were not able to go inside the Notre Dame Cathedral because of the fire a few years ago,” she said. Despite missing out on that tour, she was able to see the famous Mona Lisa up close at the art museum. Other interesting experiences Mrs. McCarthy had during her visit to Paris include visiting the National Library of France and navigating the complex metro system. “I nearly got lost on the way back to the farewell dinner because it’s so difficult to navigate.”

     Mrs. McCarthy advises that any student who is interested in a trip to Paris should do some research beforehand. “We had about six hours of free time one day, which I did not realize we’d have. I was not sure what to go see, so I would look into exactly what you’d like to see before you go.” Paris has lots of beautiful architecture, so it is important to know exactly what you want to see before you get there. 

     Looking to travel abroad, but are not sure how to plan your trip? Stop by the library and talk to Mrs. McCarthy about the upcoming trips to foreign countries that she will be leading.