While there are many fantastic cultural institutions in the Washington area with too many events than one person can keep up with, I recently allowed myself a weeklong trip to France, mainly for the inspiration of travelling to a place whose culture and language I have long admired, and also for the learning experience.
I had not been out of the United States in 14 years, even though I had been accepted to study abroad in Austria while in college, I chose instead to remain in Ohio due to the extra cost of studying abroad. So, this was quite a treat for me as I had been looking forward to travelling back to Europe for a very long time!
I spent 4 days in Paris and 2 in the south of France. While in Paris, I visited Montmartre, where there is an abundance of street musicians and artists. I even played "La vie en Rose" on the violin of one of the street violinists there, and received quite an applause from the gathered crowd.
The Mediterranean town of Marseille is the 2013 Capital of Culture for Europe, so while there I was able to witness the events taking place in honor of the opening of this event. I also visited exquisite St. Tropez on the French Riviera and Aix-En-Provence, an adorable university town.
The highlight of my trip was actually the very first day, when I entered the Academie Nationale de Musique. It was the first site I visited in Paris, and I was brought nearly to tears from the magnificent architecture everywhere I looked inside. Many performances take place there, including the ballet, opera, and symphony. I was fortunate to find a ticket for that night's ballet performance, and even though I could barely see the stage, watching the orchestra pit was quite satisfying for me!