Virtual Pilgrimage – Paris, France

It has been a good ten years since I have been to Paris and the world has changed dramatically since then. The city has endured labor strikes, the Cathedral of Notre Dame has been nearly destroyed by a fire, and now the streets and famous landmark sites are empty, due to the Coronavirus. But, the “City of Light” still burns brightly and is waiting for a time that people can come, visit, and worship in her beautiful churches, once again.

While I could share about the long history of the city or even the many churches and religious sites you may want to visit, i really want to share a little about my last visit to Paris. I was serving as a chaperone for a youth orchestra from Michigan. We were there for a youth orchestra festival and I was assigned a group of older teens. They didn’t really need much looking after, but they needed an adult with them, as they traveled and explored the city.

We saw about all of Paris anyone can see, all in one day; from the Grand Opera to the Sacre Coeur and from a cruise on the Seine to the Arc de Triomphe, we did it all! Everything was wonderful, with the exception of when we hopped on the Paris Underground. I’m including some of the photos I took that day.

I consider myself an experienced traveler and can easily navigate metropolitan public transportation. I can get you anywhere you need to go in London. I’m familiar with New York’s Subway, Boston’s “T System”, the “L” in Chicago, and the Metro in Washington, DC. Paris was another story! I got so turned around in Paris; to be honest, it was a bit embarrassing.

Even so, the worst part of the underground experience was when two of my young charges moved too quickly to board a train and the doors closed before the rest of us could get on. Thank the Lord they had the good sense to get off at the next stop and wait for us to catch up! (That last thing I wanted to tell parents was that I lost their children in Paris!)

One of my most memorable experiences was stopping to show the youth the Cathedral Notre Dame. Unfortunately, we arrived as the Cathedral was closing, and didn’t get to go inside. The beauty of solemnity of that building surpassed its walls and its very presence overflowed into the streets around it.

One other great moment of the trip had nothing to do with churches or religion. Everyone wanted to go to the Eiffel Tower and most of the other chaperone groups headed there as one of their first stops of the day. I suggested to my group that we wait and go just as the sun started to set. They agreed, and at the end of a long day of sightseeing, when we reached the top, were treated to a spectacular light show, as the sun set on the city. The “City of Light” began to glow. Our group was in agreement that it was the highlight of our day.

When you have the chance to visit Paris make sure visit as many sites as you can. We never know what tomorrow holds and when we wil visit again. Pay attention to which way you’re going on the underground! If you have photos of Paris (or another city you’ve visited that holds special memories), and would like to share a story of your experience in Paris, please post to our Facebook page.