Just beyond the Eiffel Tower, across the Pont de l’Alma bridge, lies a bittersweet monument, that I had planned to show my family. It’s here, just after you cross over the Seine, that you are face-to-face with the very tunnel where Princess Diana’s car crashed, 21 years ago. The exterior of the tunnel- covered in graffiti, dedicated to the princess, with photos and memorabilia strewn around the Flame of Liberty.
Many people often think that this flame was erected to commemorate the late princess, when it was in fact a gift from the United States to France, as an exact replica of the flame on our Statue of Liberty in New York. However, since her passing, the Flame of Liberty has become an unofficial memorial for Princess Diana.
Although I’ve been here several times, it never gets any less impactful, reading all the notes and graffiti meant for Princess Diana. I still remember being little, and turning on the tv one morning, every channel showing her funeral procession. I think it’s sweet that after all this time, a tribute to the people’s princess still remains.
After spending time reading the letters to Diana and looking at all the pictures, we continued our walk into the 8th arrondissement for lunch, where we settled on George V. The food was, of course, amazing and it was nice to sit down with the family and relax in the shade.
With lunch over, our next stop was my mom’s pick- a river cruise on the Seine.
In the spirit of disclosure, I was not excited about this at first. Already feeling so immersed in the language, culture, and history, I didn’t think I would get anything out of this experience, but boy was I wrong!
We boarded the famous Bateaux Mouches line, and headed to the top to grab some seats with a great view. As we floated down the Seine, our director shared interesting facts about Paris as we passed the monuments along the way.
One of my favorite things that I learned was that the Pont Alexandre III bridge was constructed to pay tribute to the Franco-Russian relationship, and that Czar Nicholas II (Anastasia’s father), was actually the one to lay the foundation stone for the project. If you know me, you’ll know that I’m in love with history, but what many people don’t know is that I love Russian history specifically, so this was even more interesting to learn!
After sitting on top of the boat deck for an hour, Ben asked if we could go below to the shade, where he wanted to take pictures together. How could I say no to that?
After the cruise, our next stop was the Trocadéro. Despite having been to Paris several times, I had not yet made it here, and was excited to check it out with my family.
Although it was miserably hot outside, the fountains kept a steady mist blowing everywhere, which made it a bit more tolerable.
Soon, Ben realized that all the teenagers were jumping in the fountains to cool off, and wanted to go too. My dad, being the best Papa, took him into the fountains while my mom, Joe and I cooled off in the shade nearby.
As we made our way up to the top, there were bands setting up to play live, a Jamaican congo line/dance party in another corner, and a group of guys performing their dance before a crowd of people- it was a great time!
After a while, we realized how tired we were from spending all day in the Paris heat, and headed back to the 4th where we grabbed the Paris essentials for dinner- wine, cheese and of course- bread. And later that night, as we played cards around the dinning room table, with the window open, listening to the rain pour outside, I was happy. They say that home is where the heart is, and I was finally back home with the people I care about the most.