Today, sadly, was our last day in Paris. In the morning, several students went with Bill to mass at Notre Dame, while another group came with me to the Conciergerie (first Parisian castle turned prison, most notable for housing Marie Antoinette in her final days).
After lunch, we all headed to the Musee D'Orsay, which is home to Impressionist art. Despite being my third trip to Paris, this was the first opportunity I'd had to visit the Orsay. Of course I loved seeing many incredible artists - Renoir, Van Gogh, Monet, and Rodin to name a few. But the real highlight for me was seeing the works of two of my very favorites, Degas and Toulouse-Lautrec. I actually teared up at first sight of each (reason 361 why I am a nerd).
Those whose feet could tolerate it, then went with Bill and Pascal to Pere Lachaise cemetery to see the gravesites of famous individuals such as Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Edith Piaf. The rest of us chose to spend our last hours in Paris gathering souveniers and I snuck off to a favorite little cafe to have a pastry and quietly soak in my favorite city one last time.
The real adventure of the day was next - the overnight train to Munich. Each room slept six - three bunks down one side of the room and across a narrow 2-foot aisle, another three bunks down the other side. I shared a room with Bill, Scott G., Kevin B., Andrew R., and Nate C. (all of whom apologized in advance for any potentially bad smells that may be emitted). I have not laughed that much in a long time. They were, combined, delightfully hilarious. And all were perfect, polite gentlemen in my presence.
In fact, Bill, his parents, and I have all commented several times about the manners of all of the boys on the trip. They are so very polite and thoughtful - holding doors, allowing the girls to go first, etc. I am a huge feminist, but tremendously appreciate courteous behavior, so thank you parents for raising such lovely sons! (and of course the girls on the trip are amazing, too...this comment was not meant to exclude or deny their wonderfulness!)
Overall, the kids seemed to find Paris amazing, overwhelming, and beautiful in a grand sort of way. I wish we could have slowed down the pace to give them a chance to know the quiet side of Paris, but when you are trying to cover so much ground in so few days, that is difficult to do. I hope they will all come back in the future and explore Paris according to their own preferences and pace. It truly is the most marvelous city in the world!