A Surprise to Paris

East junior Lizzie Adkins gets surprised with a trip to Paris from her aunt, uncle, and cousins.


Audrey Allen


East junior Lizzie Adkins stands in awe in front of the Eiffel Tower. Adkins gazes at the 984-foot iron landmark and sighs happily. She reaches for her phone and snaps a picture to capture the moment. Paris was a place Adkins never thought she would be able to visit.

On Jul. 22, Adkins hopped on a plane with her cousin, Brennan Williams, and took off to Brussels. She was radiating with excitement because she was going to see her two other cousins, Ivy and Nancy along with her aunt, Liz Adkins and uncle, Ian Adkins that live in Belgium. Lizzie didn’t know that her relatives were going to surprise her with a trip to Paris. 

“We left at two p.m. EST and arrived at 8 p.m. GMT,” Lizzie told Spark. “I ate dinner on the plane and slept a lot. It was very crammed, and I was squished next to my cousin.” 

Once she landed, she ran to say hello and hugged them. She was practically jumping up and down. Lizzie says that the next eight days after she arrived were “some of the best days in her life.”

Jet-lagged, Lizzie got up at 6:00 am. Groggily with her three cousins, aunt, and uncle, she boarded a one hour tram ride to what she thought was Germany.

“The train was crammed but super cool because it was so fast,” Lizzie says. “You would sit facing people so I was with my cousins and we were playing games, but there were some people who were just on their computer doing work.”

Right there on the train, her uncle and aunt announced they were going to Paris.

“Liz and I were talking one night in June about how to make their first trip to Europe even better with some sort of a crazy surprise! Paris seems like it’s on a different planet, but it’s only about an hour long train ride from our house,” Ian told Spark. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, seeing the Eiffel Tower and all the other famous Parisian sites in person for the first time leaves you speechless.”

Lizzie had never been to Paris before and dreamed of seeing the Eiffel Tower. She couldn’t believe her ears. She was overwhelmed with emotion. She was going to France.

“I was so surprised and giddy, ” Lizzie says.”‘I totally didn’t see it coming.”

Williams was just as shocked as her.

“When I heard we were going to Paris, I thought it was a joke,” Williams told Spark. “When it sinked in, I was so happy and super excited.”

Once she exited the tram, Lizzie was faced with cute,cosy buildings and bright green landscapes. She admired the many bridges Paris had to offer including Pont des Artes, Pont Neuf, and Pont Alexandre III. She didn’t know what to do or look at first.

“Paris is a wonderful place that is full of energy. You get a specific feeling walking out of Gare du Nord (train station),” Ian says. “You can hear the music and conversations, smell the boulangeries (French bakeries) and see amazing architecture right away. From the bustling streets to the picturesque sidewalk cafes, Paris is full of lively people from all over the world.”

The family spent the day in Paris sightseeing and cracking jokes with one another. 

“It was raining most of the day, but we made the most of it,” Lizzie says. “I’ve heard so much about the Eiffel Tower, and when I saw it I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is it.’ We got food and it was nice to see a lot of gluten free options to pick from. The waiters were very kind even though they don’t receive tips there. Later, we visited Notre Dame and took a boat ride.”

The boat ride was on the River Seine, the second longest river in France after the Loire. It starts 18 miles northwest of Dijon in Burgundy, and it flows through Paris and on to Le Havre where it flows into the English Channel. 

“My favorite thing was the boat ride in the canal,” Williams says. “I loved being able to see the entire city and seeing the Notre Dame and Eiffel Tower.”

Williams may have loved the sights, but Lizzie loved the food.

“My favorite thing was the Belgian waffles,” Lizzie says. “But all of the food was so good in Paris. I didn’t want to leave. I also enjoyed seeing my cousins. It was like a whole different world. You can walk down the street and see people selling different types of food.”

Ian loved watching Lizzie experience France for the first time. 

“My favorite part was watching Lizzie see all of the incredible sites for the first time,” Ian says. ”It truly is an incredible feeling to see things in person that you had only seen on TV or read about. Watching her experience new cultures, languages, and historic sites made me feel happy.”

Paris left a lasting good impression on the family, and they recommend that everyone visits it sometime in their life.

“I think people should visit Paris to learn about the history of the major monuments and history in France,” Williams says. 

“It is a different atmosphere and society. I was amazed by how they dress and carry themselves. It was just very cool,” Lizzie says. “It is a new experience that everyone should see for themselves once in their life.”