Today we began our visits with the Arc de Triomphe, built after the Napoleonic wars in 1806 to commemorate the victories of the French. Needless to say that Waterloo is nowhere to be seen. In the arch there is also the tombstone of the unknown soldier of WWI. We then followed the Champs Elysee and your children were able to visit some of the expansive stores that line up this famous avenue. By 11:15 a.m. we were at the Eiffel Tower for a visit up to the summit. We had lunch at a restaurant located on Quai du Louvre, along the Seine River. A short walk further, we entered the Louvre Museum for a private visit with an English speaking guide (her English and accent could have been better) until 5 p.m. Your children then visited on their own an area of the museum that they particularly enjoyed.
Our dinner was at the restaurant “Au Machon d’Henri” a small typical restaurant of the left bank. Its reputation was such that the restaurant was full and people were standing in this tiny restaurant waiting for our table to leave. We then went on a cruise on the Seine River and saw many of the 38 monuments that the visit should have included. The flood of the Seine River (it has been raining steadily since we arrived in Europe) made it impossible to go around the Ile de la Cite wherethe cathedral of Notre-Dame stands.
One of the participants asked me if anyone on my trips was ever pick pocketed… and I said no!
The reason is that all groups before the May 2013 one, followed my directions when it came to safety and general information for the trip. I said that girls should not take a handbag with them (10 out of 10 of them have one). I said that it was not a good idea to bring a cell phone with them (12 out of 13 participants have one). I suggested taking only small amounts of money from an ATM. I said that the best place to put money was in a money belt (none has one). I said that the weather is highly variable in May/June and that each participant should have a WINTER jacket. (2 have a winter jacket, one does not have a jacket at all!). I said that everyone should wear walking shoes in Paris and that I did not want anyone wearing flipflops or sandals. One hundred percent of the female students have chosen to disregard my multiple suggestions for city safety.
In the metro, at the very first one, between getting on the train and the FIRST STOP (less than a mile of travel) one of the girls was the victim of a pick pocket who stole over 70 Euros (see my suggestion to only change small amounts of money) from her handbag and took her cell phone as well! On the first day in Paris, with temperatures of 50F, rain and SLEET, three of the girls were wearing sandals on their bare feet, another one was wearing a very thin sheer sweater over a tank top. Another was wearing a cotton sweater for two days in a row with intermittent rain all day. This lack of concern for general safety and health risks puts the entire group in jeopardy. If one person gets hurt or sick, it affects everyone’s trip, adds work on our plates, and may delay, postpone, or cancel activities for the entire group. This is why I have meetings to discuss these issues and include parents.
The only thing that all participants respected is the size of the luggage! Needless to say, Paris was a success for the students however this blatant disregard for safety concerns us both and causes unnecessary stress since our number one responsibility is the welfare of your children.
From two concerned mothers to you all,
Dr. L. and Dana Litwornia.