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The Splendors of France

Cesar Chavez High School student, Jose Salas, reflects back to his trip to France.  

As our tour of France started, we were greeted by the cool and welcoming Mediterranean Sea. The 8-hour flight was rough at first, but the landing was smooth as could be. Our first stop was in Nice, France and as we landed, we met our amazing tour guide Steph. Not far from the border of Italy, the city of Nice finds its roots in its neighboring country in many aspects including the food, culture, and architecture. Our tour began directly from the airport and off 5 hours of sleep and more than a whole day of traveling across the globe, we were more than capable of walking over 20,000 steps. We explored the splendors of the French Mediterranean which led us to the beautiful city of Monaco. After learning of its rich history, us CCHS world travelers were given time to explore the city and rejoice in the culture which Monaco had to offer.  

Through this three-day journey, our small group of five CCHS students (Adrian Jovani Balsa, Joey Salaz, Jagr Alindajao, Hannah Carrillo and Diane Baniaga) had not yet met our 24 other companions from Groton, New York. Unfortunately, they had a 2-day lay over in Detroit due to technical difficulties on their plane, but when we met in the small town of Uzes, they welcomed us right in. After exploring the beauty in which the Mediterranean had to offer, the new founded group of 30 world explorers moved on to central France. As we entered, we were greeted by beautiful fields of greenery and agriculture. Many of the fields also contained wild flowers that painted the ground and fed the eyes with pure beauty. Central France is full of historical Cathedrals and palaces, and as we explored these rich destinations such as the Chateau d’Amboise or the House of Leonardo DaVinci, we couldn’t help but feel as we were witnessing history right before our eyes.  

As our trip progresses, we made our way to the capital city of Paris. Once we entered, we were greeted by the grand spectacles this beautiful city presented us. For instance, the Eifel Tower was a glance away from our bus window and a couple buildings away was the infamous Arc de Triumph. As we explored these monuments on foot, in person, it was just a once in a lifetime opportunity. To walk on the streets of a city that is centuries old is surely a different tourist experience. Us travelers also had the privilege to see the remains of the Notre Dame cathedral. Such a sad, yet beautiful sight as we saw the citizens of Paris gather in crowds to pay their respects to their beloved Notre Dame. This trip did not come without learning though, as all of us had to learn to navigate through the complicated metro system of Paris. As we left the city of Paris, we found ourselves hours away from the historical beaches of Normandy, and as we entered a surge of patriotism found itself in all of us. We spent our last day in France touring the American Cemetery, German Cemetery, Omaha Beach and even Utah Beach. To be able to experience these historical destinations in person was an honoring moment. One thing is for sure, as we made our way out of the country of France the next day, all of us travelers felt as if we never wanted to leave. I, along with all CCHS travelers, would like to thank Mrs. Gardner who kept us safe and on track the whole trip, and the beautiful country of France who welcomed us foreigners with open arms.  

If any readers ever get the honor to be able to travel to any part of France, it is highly recommended that you do not miss out on the opportunity of a lifetime.  

Jose Salas, CCHS Grapevine Newspaper Staff Writer