I started writing this blog post while I was on the train to Nice, so the timeline reflects myself still being in France 2 weeks ago.
The last two days in the city of love have truly been incredible. I’m now on the train to Nice so I’m taking this opportunity to work on a travel post while everything is still fresh in my mind.
Two days isn’t very much time to visit Paris in its entirety, but I was able to efficiently visit most of, if not all the sites I wanted to see, and I’m grateful that a gal pal of mine was there to take me around, otherwise I would have been lost most of the time! By the end of the trip, I was more accustomed to the metro system and how to make my way around. There’s a lot to do so if you want to make the most of your trip, grab a map and pinpoint sights and establishments that you’d like to visit and you’ll quickly see that many things are clustered in relatively the same area so you’ll be able to hit many places one after the other.
My goals for the trip were as followed:
- Have a café au lait on a Terrace and people watch
- Have a picnic by the Eiffel Tower
- Take a picture with the Eiffel Tower
- Visit le Louvre, Les Champs Elysées and l’Arc de Triomphe
- Get macarons from Ladurée
- Have a crêpe
I landed at CDG early morning to be greeted by my gal pal from back home. I was graced with her presence as well as fabulous weather. It was in the low 20’s, which is amazing for this time of the year. We made our way to a corner café to have my first Parisian meal, which of course consisted of wine, cured meats and cheese, also known as a charcuterie platter. Once our bellies were full, we made our way to the Eiffel Tower! I didn’t expect to get so close to it, and we were literally by its feet. So close, you have to lie down on the ground to get a full body picture of it (yes, I witnessed tourists do this, and no, I wasn’t a participant).
We grabbed “une glace” and “un coca” (translation: an ice cream cone and a Coca Cola) and enjoyed it by the Eiffel Tower. Although I didn’t get to have a picnic by the monument, enjoying an ice cream cone in the sunny weather was just as spectacular. Heck, eating anything with the Eiffel Tower in sight is amazing. Watch out for the Eiffel Tower salesmen. There’s an army of men trying to sell you Eiffel Tower keychains and figurines. Have you ever had a friend who came back from a trip to Paris and gave you an Eiffel Tower keychain souvenir? Chances are they got it from one of those guys. At every 2 feet, there’s a guy hassling you to make a purchase. Simply ignore them because no matter how many times you say “non merci”, they will insist and try to negotiate with you. I commend them for their adamance, but NO THANK YOU.
The next stop was L’Arc de Triomphe, which is another typical tourist site, but it’s a must-do. It’s so beautiful, standing tall in the middle of the street. You can take a picture with it if you cross to the middle of Avenue Champs Des Élysées and walk towards the arch. It might seem dangerous, but you’ll see there’s a designated walking area for pedestrians. If you want a more astonishing view, you can go to the top for a small fee. Once the photo-op was complete, we walked up Champs des Élysées, a beautiful and long street full of designer stores and fab restaurants. We came across Ladurée higher up on the street, but the line was hella long that we decided to forego getting fluffy macarons.
We made our way to the metro station called “Opéra” where the opera house, Galleries Lafayette and Le Louvre are. One thing to note if you decide to go to Paris, most stores are closed on a Sunday, so we unfortunately couldn’t go inside Galleries Lafayette. At this point, I was crashing from having been on the red eye and all the walking. I needed a caffeine jolt so we stopped at a cute little corner café where I had my first café au lait in Paris. Here’s my next French learning. I always thought “café latte” was the North American term, so I deliberately asked for a “café au lait”, thinking that’s what they call it in Paris. Wrong. The correct term to use is “café crème”. So I got my first “café crème” and enjoyed it facing the street watching people and cars go by. That’s another thing I noticed about coffee shops there; the chair aren’t facing towards the table, but towards the street so you’re sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with someone rather than face-to-face.
We passed by the opera house, and it’s beautiful and the architecture is magnificent, but we didn’t take the time to go in and check it out.
We walked into the square where Le Louvre is, and as soon as we walked through the gates I felt like I was in a completely different world. You walk in and it looks like a grand courtyard. The iconic glass triangle of Le Louvre was towards the left and a roundabout in the centre of the courtyard. Behind us was some kind of maze, and on the complete right was another arch. We sat there for a good 20 minutes or so and snapped a few photos before making our way through the arch. This next area is one of my favourite areas in Paris. It’s a gigantic park with fountains, gardens and places to eat. As you’re walking further in, you’ll notice the tip of the Eiffel Tower on the left and straight ahead L’Arc de Triomphe. Another to be mindful of: parks close at around 6pm, so go early to enjoy the scenes at your own pace.
For dinner, we decided to get a classic French meal, cheese fondue. We went to one near the “Abesses” metro station, which is also where “Le mur de je t’aime”, the “I love you” wall showcasing the expression in different languages, but as the tip mentioned above, the park was closed so we couldn’t access it. The fondue place we went to was on a street lined up with other restaurants and bars. This place was so small and narrow, there were only two rows of tables. If you were the lucky one and had to sit on the inside by the wall (as I was) you literally have to step onto a chair clear the table and land on the bench on the other side with the assistance of the waiter. The place is so tiny, you’re rubbing shoulders with your neighbours. You’ll be making friends with strangers quickly. It was my first cheese fondue experience and it was delicious but very rich, and I didn’t think I’d ever get cheesed-out. The most interesting aspect of this experience is that they serve the wine in a baby bottle. That’s right, a baby bottle, although it was a glass bottle, you know, to keep it classy.
I don’t know how I managed to stay up and put that late, but I’m sure that afternoon café crème helped out. Usually coffee doesn’t have an effect on me, but it seems like the ones in Paris do!
I had a morning café crème by the hostel and made our way to see the Eiffel Tower from the Trocadero station. I’m presuming this is where everyone takes their selfies with the Eiffel Tower. Note, selfies are huge in Paris that, remember those guys selling Eiffel Tower memorabilia, they also sell selfie sticks! Oh, and I made one of the gentlemen happy by buying a mid-sized gold Eiffel Tower for my shelf. It took a lot of me saying “no” and him bringing down the price and throwing in a million keychains along with it before I said okay. If you want to see the Eiffel Tower, this is the perfect way to see it, especially in the evening when it glitters.
We found our way to Sacré Cœur, grabbed a sandwich and strolled around the little streets full of art and older men offering to sketch us. We were close to where the love wall was again, and I came across a precious flamingo mural before arriving at the park to admire the wall.
We went back to Galleries Lafayette, not only to browse the store, but to also go all the way up to the rooftop for a stunning view of Paris and for a moment to unwind with a drink. It was so sunny and beautiful, it felt like it was a summer day. Apparently there aren’t many of those in Paris.
The last stop before dinner was finding the Ladurée in that area to finally get some macarons. I mean, when you’re in Paris, it’s a necessity. After so many failed attempts and one person telling us to go this way and another to go the other, we finally found it! They’re so fluffy and heavenly! So happy I don’t live in Paris, otherwise, I’d be overweight, diabetic and constantly on a sugar high.
It was the last night in Paris for the both of us, so we wanted it to be a classic French meal, and I was able to cross off the last item on my to-do list, have a crepe.
It was almost time for bed but I wanted to see the Eiffel Tower at night because it’s when it’s the most beautiful and the brightest thing in the city. As I was taking the metro back to Trocadero, I saw the light show (when the Eiffel Tower glitters). The show is on the hour so make sure you get there around that time, otherwise, you’ll wait an hour, which is what I had to do. But it was totally worth the wait.
My first experience at a hostel was a successful one, although I wasn’t used to having strangers as roommates who popped in and out at different times, making noise as they come and go, some who snored or made noises when they slept. I met interesting people and characters from other countries such as Brazil, South Korea, and Poland, and to hear their stories and travel experiences.
Which brings me here, on a train enjoying the French countryside scenery and watching cows frolicking the fields.
On to the next leg of the trip, yachting the French Riviera!