Paris is a city that everyone dreams of going to at least once in their lifetime, and for good reason; it is a city of magic!
The Tour Eiffel, Place du Tertre, River Seine, Josephine Balconies, sexy sidewalks and cafes filled with couples in love. I can see why writers, poets and artists come here for inspiration; the city is filled with architecture, museums, galleries and character around every cobblestoned corner.
Day 1: We started out our day very enthusiastically thinking we could make it to the Eiffel Tower in under an hour after talking to our hotel receptionist who says he walks it everyday and only takes him half an hour. Three well explored hours later and we made it, the thing with Paris (and many European countries) is that around every corner is another little piece of magic to discover. Be it street performers, architecture, views across the River Seine, gothic churches, or just to gaze at little sneak peaks of the Eiffel Tower itself. Also keep in mind when visiting Paris, the maps are deceivingly not accurate, what looks like a couple of blocks walk will turn into a half-day expedition. One disadvantage (and there were not many) of staying in République, we were about as far away from the Tour Eiffel as you could get except for the city outskirts.
For the first day of exploring I highly recommend walking as much of the city along the riverside. The views are magnificent, most of the tourist attractions happen to be close to the river, and there are lots of little art and tourist stalls setup along the walls. After walking around in loops in search of Notre Dame we purchased two cokes from a nearby café that cost us close to ten euros, the cafes around this touristy area are very expensive.
Notre Dame was a lot smaller than I had expected but amazing nonetheless, with lines that seemed to stretch for blocks waiting to get inside the cathedral. We stopped at the Pont Des Arts, which is a bridge crossing the Seine that links the Institut de France and the Louvre. It is best known for the many love locks attached to its metal sides by couples with written messages of eternal love. The way it works is you bring a lock with you, write an ‘eternal love’ message on it, usually along the lines of ‘FR loves JF’, attach the padlock to the fence, and then throw the keys into the river so that your love is locked forever. Ahh Paris, city of romance.
Continuing down the river we marveled at the sheer size of the Louvre from across the water, then turned down Rue de Bellechasse in the direction of a market that was rumored to be happening on a Saturday, passing the Musée De L’Armée. The market was unfortunately not happening on that day and we took the opportunity to find a bakery and a supermarket in preparation for a little picnicking in front of the Tour Eiffel.
Everyone I talk to who has seen the Eiffel Tower has said that it will be a moment I will never forget. It was built in 1889 for the World’s Fair, people wanted it torn down as they thought it was basically ugly, and is now a national icon of Paris and France. My favourite part of walking around Paris is you get little glimpses of it almost everywhere you are, like seeing a fairy hidden in the leaves of a big leafy tree.
After much feasting, relaxing on the grass, and of course photographing we went on our way to the Arc De Triomphe. Walking through the Eiffel Tower and up the hill to the Cité De L’Architecture, we found a nice couple to take our photo in front of the famous tower (that was not looking up our nose).
Our journey continued down the Avenue Des Champs Elysees, avoiding showers of rain by hiding under Cartier’s front door cover, window shopping at Louis Vuitton, and other very expensive shops, and eventually ending up at the Louvre to see the pyramids.
Getting caught in the rain (even if you are not a fan of Pina Coladas) was a magic experience I had envisioned for my partner and myself. I should specify for anyone wanting this experience it is best to choose a slightly warmer month than May and stick to the light misty rain and not the ‘heavens are opening’ kind we encountered whilst walking past the Louvre on our way home. Thank you to the taxi driver that picked us up in the middle of traffic and saved us from being completely soaked through.
You know you are really travelling when you are cold & wet and you can still laugh about it. We probably laughed just a little to much as my loving partner spent the next day in bed with a fever and chills; note to self must take at least some kind of light rain cover next time.