Paris. I didn’t know what to expect, but it exceeded whatever expectations I may have had. I went on this trip completely alone, and it was nice but I can definitely see why (especially at night) that it is a place that couples like to go. It definitely lives up to it’s reputation as the city of light and romance.
I left on an early train on Thursday, which had me up at 4:30, out the door by 5, going through security and border control at 6 and finally on the train at 7am. The Eurostar proves to be quite speedy (thankfully, since the guy sitting next to me had really bad BO) and I arrived at Gare du Nord in Paris by 10am local time. After dropping my stuff at the hostel I was eager to get into the thick of it and got back on the Metro heading for the Louvre. The Louvre was pretty cool, and huge. I didn’t stay long, as I’m not really into the whole art/museum scene, but I found the Mona Lisa and was not as impressed as I had hoped I would be. For future reference, if anyone wants to see it, you’ll find it in the Denon wing… once you climb a gazillion and one stairs. Paris has lots of stairs.
If there is anything I can say I dislike about Paris, it is the pickpockets and pushy people on the streets trying to get your attention. Since Paris has more tourists than residents half the time, it’s surely likely to happen. I didn’t have anything stolen but man were these people irritating. They would come up to you asking you to sign something and be really really insistent and while you are distracted they try to pickpocket you. This happened to me a couple of times on the first day around the Louvre but after that I wasn’t bothered anymore. I was really close to snapping on a couple of them and saying “WHAT DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND ABOUT NO?!”. As I’m pretty sure they spoke English and even if they didn’t, a shaking of the head is pretty clear.
I was lucky to have decent weather while I was in town and I was determined to get pictures of the Eiffel Tower in the sunshine before it disappeared, and so I walked from the Louvre to the Eiffel Tower, which felt like it took forever, and I think I definitely went the long way. Thursday was roasting, and by 1pm in front of the Eiffel Tower I was shedding my layers for the 20 degrees beating down on me. I arrived back on the hostel that evening with a mild sun burn.
After having a short rest and changing into something a little less warm, I headed out with three new Australian friends from the hostel on a pub crawl. A dangerous one it was, since because we were part of a group, cocktails were cheaper than beer and you got a shot with every drink you bought. It didn’t take long to spiral downward given the excessive amount of Tequila I drank, and the next morning I was definitely feeling the floor part of “one tequila, two tequila, three tequila”. Worst hangover of my life, no joke. I wasted half of Friday trying to recover.
I made up for wasting Friday morning by staying out late on Friday night to see Paris light up. I headed down to the Arc de Triomphe in the afternoon and was amazed by it’s size, as it is much bigger than I had thought it would be. Napoleon had the Arc de Triomphe built so that his soldiers would have something ride back into the city to see, but unfortunately it took over 30 years to complete and Napoleon was dead before it was finished. And so, there is a mini Arc de Triomphe near the Louvre, which served the same purpose the big one was meant to.
Following that I went to my skip-the-line tour to get into the Eiffel Tower. Now, the queue to get up the Eiffel Tower is anywhere from 3-5 hours long. Yes. Because one of the lifts is broken down. And so I paid €50 to skip the line with a tour guide. Say what you will, but time is money and I’m not a queueing girl. The views are pretty spectacular and it’s definitely cool to say I’ve been to the top of the most recognizable structure in the world. The rest of the evening I spent walking along the Seine river (a long way) and then back towards where I had bought a ticket for a river tour cruise. By then I was absolutely exhausted and it was beginning to get much colder than it had been during the day, but seeing Paris at night was worth it. It is definitely magical.
Saturday was a day for Sacre Coeur and Montmarte, the Ile de St. Louis, ice cream from a popular local shop, the Notre Dame, lots and lots and lots more walking, and Angelina cafe. I was quite perturbed at the Notre Dame as before I went to Paris I discovered that I can get into museums and national monuments for free since I am under 26 and a resident of the EU. Sweet, got me into the Louvre for free no problem. I go to Notre Dame and there is a bit of a queue but not too bad, so I decide to wait and it must have been at least half an hour before I got to go inside. I finally get inside and the woman looks at my passport and says “That’ll be €5.50”. After some arguments from me she says that apparently it is free for under 26, citizens of the EU, or residents of France. And I couldn’t even pay the €5.50 because they required exact change, which I didn’t have. I was pretty pissed off and refused to wait in any more queues. I wanted to go into the Musee D’Orsay which has Van Gogh and impressionist work inside this old converted train station, but the queue was long so I took pictures of the outside instead.
Saturday ended with a night in at the hostel as Mother Nature finally caved and the heavens opened to dump a crapload of rain on the city. Also, I was
completely and utterly exhausted from the little sleep and a lot of walking and stair climbing I’d done in the past three days. And today, I am back in London. Clearly I didn’t have enough time to do everything, and I missed out on the Palace of Versailles since it’s a bit outside the city and I just didn’t have the time to get there. However it does mean I still have plenty to do next time I’m there.
Paris is pretty cool. I could see myself living there, but I’d probably want to learn a bit more French first so I wouldn’t come off as such a tourist. I loved it though, and I definitely want to go back there with someone special some day.