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Many, many years ago, before the Euro, before even a mighty Deutchemark, I spent my 12th birthday in Paris on a school trip. It was spring, and I had a huge crush on an older boy. The weather was rainy, and the boy took no notice of me, but I was in Paris! After a day spent exploring Versailles, we all came home to our little hotel. No one had any money left, but on my bed was a lovely little pile of gifts -- chocolate, postcards, little momentos -- a splendid birthday surprise from my classmates, all of whom were older than I. The following day we headed back home to Germany, via Rheims, where we stopped to tour the champagne cellers. With fresh baguettes picked up before leaving Paris, stuffed with peanut butter, our lunch, washed down with champagne, was wonderful. When I arrived at my own front door later that evening, my parents opened it to find me, a tear in my stockings (that's how long ago!), my trench coat askew, and a half bottle of champagne under my arm. One should spend time in Paris, in France, in Europe, as early as possible in life. It will set you up for ever!
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