Paris: The City of Light
(For more photos from Paris, scroll through the gallery at the bottom of this post.)
I arrived in Paris late at night, and I was immediately overwhelmed by how much I wanted to fit in to just four days. I couldn’t focus on anything until I saw the Eiffel Tower, so I decided I would go there first thing the next day. Being the indecisive person that I am, I debated whether I should pay to go up, or just take a picture of it. In the end, I said what the heck, and paid the full price to go to the very top.
It was 100 per cent worth it. The sun poked through the clouds right when I left the elevator and lit everything up. It was breathtaking.
So I was officially in love with Paris. But shortly after I experienced a tiny hiccup in my solo travel adventure. I went to the train station to validate my Eurail Pass (I would be using it for the first time when I traveled from Paris to Bruges) and found out the trains were already mostly booked on the day I planned to leave. I had hoped to give myself a fourth day in Paris by leaving at night, but my only option was to take a train at 7:45 AM. I was so upset. Now I would have to fit everything into three days. I stressed over whether I should change my hostel reservations, but decided I would just have to be smart with my time.
For three days, I went nonstop. I walked the Champs Elysées at night, took way too many photos of the Eiffel Tower, and spent more than five hours in the Louvre before my brain refused to absorb anymore information. I almost didn’t get to Versailles because I took the wrong train (stupidly got the direction wrong) and then couldn’t find my ticket when I got to the front of the line. It was hiding at the bottom of my bag, thank goodness. On my last night I bought a panini and a croissant and had a picnic on the banks of the Seine as the sun set. Nothing could beat that.
I understand why people get engaged in Paris. I went back to the Eiffel Tower at night and couples were picnicking in its glow and drinking wine straight from the bottle. London was a big city with iconic landmarks, but everywhere you look in Paris is architectural eye candy. Basically, every king and queen built a new palace to out-do the king or queen that came before them. The buildings are now used as museums, court houses or police headquarters, but the result is a city of palaces. I had to force myself to stop taking pictures because every building is a work of art.
I did manage to see everything I wanted to see, although I didn’t tour some places (I didn’t have time to go inside Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur or the Opera House). As a whole, I LOVED Paris, and going back someday is now on my bucket list.
THE LOUVRE: Pay the extra five euros for the audio guide. It points out key works and will keep you from getting overwhelmed. Head to the Mona Lisa first to beat the crowds. After that, the Near East Antiquities and Ancient Egyptian exhibits are must-sees if you want to take in some seriously old stuff (think 7000 B.C.)
THE EIFFEL TOWER: Up close, from afar, at sunrise, at sunset… I am slightly obsessed with this iron icon. Nothing makes you feel like you’re in Paris like the Eiffel Tower.
THE AVENUE DES CHAMPS-ÉLYSEES: Start at the Louvre at dusk and stroll all the way up the length of this posh stretch of shops to the Arc de Triomphe. Gawk at the incredibly wealthy people in fancy cars and clothes with the rest of the tourists.
NEXT STOP: Bruges, Belgium