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Why Paris Remains With Me

January 8, 2011

“Si vous avez la chance d’avoir vécu â Paris comme un jeune homme, puis partout où vous allez pour le reste de votre vie, il reste avec vous, car Paris est une fête” (If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.) – Ernest Hemingway.

Although I never had the opportunity to live in Paris, I did have the extraordinary privilege to visit in 2009 thanks to my grandma. After four years of French classes, my grandma noticed how fascinated I was with the culture and decided to take my sister, my cousin, and me to Paris as a Christmas gift. She typed a letter in French and told me to translate it to my sister, but overwhelmed with excitement, I stopped halfway through to go start packing for the most memorable experience of my life.

We flew into London and took the Euro star across the Chunnel where I had my first, and might I add, most interesting encounter with French food. I ordered the pumpkin tortellini, which was not exactly my cup of tea. The sweet taste mixed with the familiar texture of the pasta was unexpected and less than enjoyable. After this crash course in foreign food, I was much more careful with what I ordered from then on.

One of our first stops on our Parisian adventure was to strut down the Avenue des Champs- Élysées. Because it was still the holiday season, there were festive seasonal shops in addition to the usual shopping. It was when I was picking out a stunning ring when I had my first authentic French conversation with the saleswoman. After being applauded by the woman and my family for my French, we spent the ever darkening evening on the top of the Arc de Triomphe where we could look down on the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, in addition to the rest of the city. While I was standing on the top of one of Paris’s oldest buildings, looking out at the splendor of Paris, I realized that I wanted to create buildings and structures that are as magnificent and memorable as those that have become a staple of Paris.

On our last night in Paris we topped off an amazing trip by seeing the Tour d’ Eiffel which, in preparation for New Years, was covered with thousands of dazzling lights. I wanted to climb to the top and look out over Paris more than anything, but my grandma refused. Seeing how agitated I was, she leaned down to me, smiled, and said, “Ashley, if you climb the Eiffel Tower now, what will be your reason for coming back? You will have done it all. I want you to promise yourself that you will come back and climb the Eiffel Tower.” It was at that moment that I decided that I would return to Paris, no matter what.

I will never be able to explain to my grandma how grateful I am for her giving me the most amazing trip.  I really do believe that Paris will always be with me and I will never forget the experience I had there. It was on that trip where I realized my desire to leave my mark on the world through beautiful buildings that generations to come will enjoy.

Ashley McLean


Ashley McLean is a High School Senior currently applying to some of the premier engineering universities in the nation. She loves to travel, enjoys tournament softball and makes her Mama (you guessed it…Travel Maestro) very proud!

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 8, 2011 5:49 pm

    It’s very nice information and pictures.Thank you…

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