I am adding a new portion to my blog that'll be dedicated to all you adventure lovers out there! Here, we can talk about our experiences with traveling, hot spots, wish lists, and more! Whether you're a globetrotter or planning your first trip, this travel section caters to everyone's needs!
Today, I'll be talking about my trip to France back in 2014. I was fortunate enough to be in the Hinds Community College Wind Ensemble at the time that was planning an international trip for us to perform abroad. The trip was hosted by Music Celebrations International, which gave our Wind Ensemble the opportunity to tour and share music with others across the globe while educating us on the culture we'd be communicating with.
NOTE: Some of the photos will be a combination of my own and Google Images as I left my phone in the back of a taxi after a very long, fun final night in Downtown Paris... But that's a story for another time. 😉
Day 1 consisted of actually getting to the airport and transferring flights to get to France, so it was filled with much fun, anticipation, and chaos!
Our real day in France started on the second day of the trip, where we visited Normandy's capital, Rouen. There we got to visit the cathedral. We also made our way to Caen, home of Château de Caen and the Caen Film Festivals. There I had the pleasure of purchasing my first authentic buret and French rain coat! We also got to enjoy fresh seafood (including escargot) while enjoying a lovely view of the English Channel. This was the first time I had escargot in France, and I must say, it was quite different. I worked at an authentic French restaurant back in Mississippi owned by a Normandy native, so I was prepared for the cuisines that lied ahead.
After lunch, we got to stop and see another piece of history, the Arc de Triomphe. Standing in the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, This is one of Paris' most famous monuments!
That night, we stayed in the Mercure Cote de Nacre, which was a beautiful hotel with LOTS of food for dinner! There was also a McDonald's down the street (don't act like you're sursprised) within walkable distance that we snuck out to at late that night to have our hangout.
We arrived in Coleville to perform a memorial recital and participate in the wreath laying ceremony at the American Cemetery, site of the June 6th Normandy Invasion. We were there to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. This was a very moving ceremony as our band director helped lay the wreath after we performed and paid tribute to the fallen soldiers from the Normandy Invasion.
After our final piece and a solo trumpet performance of Taps by my best friend, Andrew, two fighter jets flew over us as if it were part of the performance. I can honestly say that I am honored to have been able to perform in honor of our American soldiers who fight every day for our freedom, and I thank all who have served and are currently serving for that very thing. We spent the morning walking through the cemetery and also walked on Omaha Beach while learning about everything that happened there. It was so unreal to actually be standing right where history was made 70 years prior. It was a reminder of how truly blessed we are. The entire experience was breath-taking.
Later that evening, we set up for rehearsal at the Parish Church of St. Aubin sur Mer and performed hours later for a large crowd as part of the American Celebration of Music in France! Afterwards, we went back to spend our day in Caen before heading back to our hotel to prepare for another day of adventure!
We finally got to spend most of our time in Paris, France! We went to check out Notre-Dame de Paris where we were able to walk through the entire cathedral with an opportunity to experience an authentic service. The cathedral was full of individuals from all over. I've never seen so many cultures packed into one space!
We also went to the Louvre where I was able to see paintings and other works of art from some of my favorite artists like Leonardo da Vinci, David Michelangelo, and Donatello! We then visited Place de la Concorde, Luxembourg Palace, the Eiffel Tower, the Latin Quarter, and Place de la Bastille! We ended the day with dinner at Les Ambassades, and the food was divine! During the week, we performed in many different places across Paris including the center of a park where we played with the jazz band. The audience grew immensely over the course of an hour, and they cheered for us. An artist loved our band so much that he drew sketches of us and individual musicians!
This entire week was filled with performances, adventures, and loads of fun; and I had the opportunity to not only perform abroad side by side with some talented musicians, but I was able to create long lasting memories that'll forever hold dear in my heart.
There is so much I could say about these places and their wonders, but I would be writing an entire book rather than an article (may not be a bad idea)! These are my highlights of my trip, and I wanted to share them with you. France has so much beauty and history. Whether you're a foodie going for the cuisine experience or a historian traveling to truly appreciate it's past and architectural beauty, France has a place for everyone.
Have you been to France? What are your highlights from the trip? Let me know in the comments below!