Of course, I was staying in London with my dad at the time, so our day started earlier than normal with a 6am train ride across the English Channel to London.
But it was so worth it. The moment, we stepped out of the station in Paris, at rue de Maubeuge, I was engulfed by the smells of fresh bakeries and coffee, serving up divine treats to both tourists and locals alike. Unable to resist the smells, we too floated to the nearest café for coffee and treat, before embarking on our jammed packed day of exploring Paris. We had a 9pm train to catch that night, and time was ticking.
Our first decision; which turned out to be a bad one, was to ride the hop on and hop off bus, this was a disaster. Traffic in Paris is a nightmare (and I thought Egypt was bad). We lasted all of 30 minutes on the bus before getting off at the first stop to go on foot. Glad I wore my flats.
We decided to charge on foot straight to the Louvre, with the hopes there wouldn’t be a crowd this early in the morning. Lucky for me, dad has travelled to Paris many times before. So, he made the perfect guide. All I had to do, was follow his lead and snap as many pics along the way as I could.
Yippie! No crowds or large ques at the Louvre. Well, that’s a lie. There were a lot of tourists, however, instead of your standard 3 hour wait to get inside (which apparently is the norm), we only waited 45 minutes and we were in. It’s easy to lose track of time inside the Louvre, admiring not just the art and antiquities – but the actual building itself. We realise we have been inside for nearly 3 hours (whoops). Time to charge ahead and move to the next location.
One of my dreams has always been to walk across (maybe not the whole way) the Pont des Arts Bridge over the River Seine (well this one and of course the spectacular Pont Alexandre III also). The fence of Pont des Arts Bridge is covered with thousands and thousands of padlocks. Locking all the secrets from lovers, friends and family. Similar to that of friendship bracelets, the locks are a commitment of sorts, between two people. You lock the padlock (some with inscriptions) on the fence and then throw the key into the River Sein for safe keeping.
I don’t make it far across the bridge, before dad pulls me back reminding me of our time limit. I take just enough photos, before we are off again (I thought I would mention, I also got a chance to walk a little way along the Pont Alexandre III – second Paris dream achieved).
Onwards to see the famous Notre-Dame. A massive crowd is starting to form at the Notre-Dame, so I que up quickly to take my turn in the church. It’s certainly megalithic inside, but it’s absolutely chaos inside though and I hate big crowd, especially ones made of tourists (even thought I am one LOL). I take my turn wandering the halls through the Notre-Dame as quickly as I can, absorbing its breath-taking ambience before scrabbling back outside.
I snap as many pics as I can, of the stunning Parisian lifestyle as we charge through main streets, side streets, past exotic restaurants and glorious delis, and find a cute little café for a quick lunch along the Boulevard Saint-Germain. Of course, you must do the French thing when in France, so I order myself a French baguette with the lot – delicious. After lunch, we continue our long walk (it’s approx. an hour walk from the Notre-Dame to the Eiffel Tower) until we finally reach the pis de resistance; the Eiffel Tower.
We are super lucky also, as there seems to a lull in the crowd; possible as everyone is out eating lunch still. So, it’s only a 30-minute wait in the que until we loaded into the elevator of the Eiffel Tower and begin our long ascent up the tower. Did I mention I hate heights? LOL. Yep, terrified of them. But, the ride is not too bad. Perhaps my excitement is outweighing my fear. I’m not sure, but I am happy for it. Once we make it to the top, we decide a hot chocolate and donut is in order whilst kicking back at one of the bar tables outside and admiring the magnificent view of Paris city. As you can image, being so far up and away from the noises of a busy city, it’s very peaceful hear. After an hour or so, we make the long decent back down to the ground.
As it’s now late in the afternoon, and it’s almost winter here – the light has already started to fade. We take a walk in the Champ de Mars park; which is the best spot in Paris to admire the Eiffel Tower in its full glory. Especially at night, when its lights turn on. Spectacular.
Weary from all the walking and now super cautious that time is slowly disappearing, we don’t have too long now before we need to make tracks back to the rue de Maubeuge (get it, tracks for the trains station HAHA), to make the 9pm train back to London. The last iconic tourist spot on the list of things to see, is the L’Arc de Triomphe. So, rather than racing there on foot (as it’s too far), we catch the train instead and I manage to purchase the cutest red beret at a hat shop inside the station. So, French J
I’m really happy we left the L’Arc de Triomphe as our last tourist stop of the evening. It’s super pretty at night there, with all the lights illuminating the great structure in a shield of gold. As we are taking photos, we notice a few tourists enter through a secret door we hadn’t noticed before and we stop one of the tourists to ask what they are doing. Apparently, they have now opened the Arc for tourists to climb the 284 steps to the top view. You only live, once right? So, dad and I decide to do it. By the time, we get to the top, I can’t feel my legs, nor my feet. The 2-hour train trip back to London is looking more and more good.
What an amazing adventure in Paris. I can’t believe what we managed to achieve in 1 day visiting Paris. Of course, we didn’t get a real chance to explore too much of the beaten track (as it’s said). But you know what, for my first trip to Paris it was the best way to spend the day.