As I mentioned in a recent blog post, Paris was on my list of places that I hoped to visit in 2017. Well, I’m so pleased to say that I actually managed to book the trip and spent last week in the beautiful city of Paris with my best friend. I was so excited to go and visit all of the incredible sites that I’d seen in movies ranging from ‘Funny Face’ to ‘Passport to Paris.’
Where we stayed
We flew out early on Monday morning, landing in the French capital around midday. After arriving at Charles de Gaulle airport, we caught the tube into the city centre which actually couldn’t have been easier. Two very quick trains later and we had arrived at our stop, right outside the Eiffel Tower. I find it hard to imagine a better experience than stepping out of the tube and having the iconic Eiffel Tower be your first view, especially when you know your hotel is right across the street. We stayed at the Hotel Mercure Paris Centre Tour Eiffel which was in a fabulous location with rooms quite reasonably priced. However, we didn’t have breakfast with them as I couldn’t really justify €19 PER DAY. But the hotel was clean and a nice size, so we were happy enough to look elsewhere for our breakfast.
On our first day, we spent time exploring our area which mostly meant admiring the Eiffel Tower and taking countless, beautiful pictures. This also involved a stroll around the Champ de Mars gardens located directly in front of the tower heading towards the École Militaire as we just wanted to get an overall feel for the area and the city.
For our dinner on the first night, we decided to fully throw ourselves into the spirit of French cuisine and order snails with a side of mussels and fries. As much as you might read this in disgust, we found that snails are actually delicious. They were coated in butter and garlic and had a similar texture to mussels – we were both pretty impressed and wished we had ordered a larger portion. And of course, dinner came with a side of a wine – when in Paris!
On our second day, we decided to head towards Notre Dame. This was about an hours walk away from our hotel and it basically meant walking a straight line across the River Seine. But as the weather was a little bleak and cold, this walk felt slightly longer on the day yet we were pleased to see it clear completely in the afternoon. Despite the weather originally dampening our spirits, the view of Notre Dame from across the Seine was beautiful. The whole architecture of the church is absolutely incredible and this was made even more evident when we decided to climb one of its towers. For EU citizens aged 18-26, this was free to do so this was a pretty big bonus as we were trying to keep our budget low on this holiday. In total, we climbed over 300 steps to get to the top of the tower so it’s fair to say that our legs were aching like crazy! But the view made it totally worth it.
Once we had left Notre Dame, we decided to head towards the Louvre museum. This also meant walking a straight line along the River Seine, only this time on the opposite side of the river. On the way to the museum, we passed love-lock bridge. As you would imagine, it was completely covered in locks, all with names and love hearts. All across the bridge, couples were fastening new locks to the bridge, making me wonder how many locks new locks the bridge must see every day.
We continued on our walk and finally reached the Louvre museum, only to find that on Tuesdays, they’re closed. So, unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the Mona Lisa or any of the other fine works of art on display at the museum during our holiday. But I’m sure this is something I’ll look to do when I re-visit.
On our third day, we decided to head for the Arc de Triomphe. This wasn’t too far away from our hotel and it took us about 20 minutes to walk the journey. I think this was one of my favourite parts of the whole holiday. As we approached the Arc de Triomphe, it looked incredibly majestic and seemed so much grander compared to how it looks in the movies. Located in the centre of a horribly busy and intimidating roundabout, we had to walk underground to get across to the landmark. Once we were across, I was sure that I wanted to reach the top. Again, entry for this was free for 18-26 EU citizens so this was another bargain visit. After the previous day’s walk, this was quite a challenging experience despite having little stop-offs along the way to look around the museum part. Yet, I really couldn’t get enough of the view of Paris from these incredible buildings. They really are worth struggling for.
And of course, the Arc de Triomphe stands at the end of the Avenue de Champs-Élysées, one of the most famous shopping streets in Europe. So to walk back to our hotel, we took a stroll amongst some well-known brands including Cartier, Tiffany’s and Chanel.
That evening, we decided to visit the top of the Eiffel Tower. It seemed like a better idea to do it at night as the tower is lit up so perfectly and it’s MUCH quieter. We paid €14 each to get the elevator to the top floor of the Eiffel Tower and it was worth every single cent. Paris looks magical in the daytime, but even more so when it’s lit up. At the top of the tower, there’s a small champagne bar, so we toasted to our bravery at reaching the top floor and our incredible holiday. It was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had in my life and I would recommend for anyone who visits Paris to climb the Eiffel Tower when it’s dark.
Unfortunately, we were set to travel home on the fourth day. But I couldn’t leave without first seeing the Panthéon. We caught the Metro from the Eiffel tower station to Notre Dame, then completed the short walk from there to the Panthéon. It looks like it’s based on a random side street when you first approach it and it completely stands out against all of the other architecture around it. It was originally built with inspiration from Rome’s Pantheon but according to our guidebook, it now more closely resembles St Paul’s Cathedral in London. I’m so glad that we had time to visit on our last day – it’s so beautiful and was a lovely way to finish off our holiday.
Although we technically had four days in Paris, we really could have spent more time there to see all of the things we wanted to see. But I enjoyed Paris more than I had originally predicted and it really is one of the most beautiful cities I’ve visited so far. I’m already thinking about going back one day but for now, it’s one city checked off my travel list for this year.