Love, culture, amazing sights, and above all sore feet!
So we’ve just come back from a long weekend in Paris for my boyfriends birthday, and I’ll be honest…I wasn’t looking forward to it as much as other cities we’ve been too. How wrong was I!
We started our break away bright and early Thursday morning as my dad dropped us at my local train station. This time, we weren’t flying, we were going on the Eurostar! Neither of us have been on it before, so it was something new for us both. We arrived at St Pancras International in London, and an hour later we were in our seats on the train. I cannot believe how easy it was, and it’s unlikely we’ll ever fly to Paris when the Eurostar is so quick and easy. We arrived 2 hours 15 minutes later in the centre of Paris at Gare du Nord and 5 minutes later were in the queue to buy a book of metro tickets. I didn’t actually realise it wasn’t a book of tickets, they just give you 10 loose tickets. We’d bought 2 ‘books’ so I had 20 metro tickets floating around in my purse. I’d defiantly recommend buying the tickets in bulk…you save yourself about €4 per book and it may not seem much but hey, every little helps :).
15 minutes later we arrived at our hotel, checked in, dropped off our bags and set off exploring. Only problem was, we weren’t entirely sure where to go first. So naturally, first stop was food so we could sit and plan our day. First thing we decided to do was visit the Catacombs. This is a major site in Paris and one not to be missed. Unfortunately everyone seems to know this, and the queue was epic. Not long, not slow…epic. We stood there for about 15/20 minutes, realised we’d be stuck there for a while yet as the queue had barely moved, so cut our losses, decided we’d get there bright and early to skip the queue and instead head over to Notre Dame.
The weather, for once, was in our favour and as we got to Notre Dame the sun was shining!
We did a quick tour inside, lit a candle and headed back outside to join the queue (yep…yet another) to climb to the top of the towers. Unfortunately, that queue was barely moving too, so we grabbed a hot dog and chilled out for a bit in the sun watching the crowds rush by.
After a relaxing walk back to the hotel, we were allowed in to our room where we unpacked & planned our next stop. As far as I have seen, most rooms in Paris are the size of a postage stamp so we weren’t shocked that it was a bit small. The velvet wallpaper was a different matter though, and all I could think was ‘I wonder if they have to Hoover the wall’.
Next stop for the day: Montparnasse tower. A nice quick ride up what claims to be the fastest elevator in Europe (Berlin claims the same…awkward) and we had some of the best views of Paris. Luckily it was a nice clear day so we could see for miles!
We stopped off en route back to the hotel for a bite to eat at a restaurant called Hippo by the tower, where we found the rudest waiter…ever!! But after a quick bite to eat, we turned in for a long awaited nap in anticipation of a crazy day the next day.
Early morning our alarm went off in our attempt to beat the queue at the catacombs. It opens at 10, and we arrived at 10 past…the queue was about 2 hours long! One look at each other said all that was needed – we’ll try again tomorrow. We walked back toward Montparnasse through the cemetery, where we saw some amazing gravestones and mini temples. We even saw one for a couple that hadn’t yet died. Yep, you read that right…a grave for people who hadn’t died yet. We also saw a couple of graves for people whose work I studied for my dissertation…i had a slight geeky moment!
From there we jumped on the metro to the grand ole Eiffel Tower! We walked through the gardens behind the tower, before we were greeted by the monstrous queues. If you ever find yourself visiting the Eiffel Tower, I would DEFINITELY recommend pre-booking tickets. You’ll skip that 2+ hour queue. You’ve got choice of getting the lift, or climbing the 360 stairs to the first level, and potentially another 360 steps to the second level, although there is the option of the lift from floor 1 to 2. We decided we’d come back at night to go up the tower seeing as we’d already had views of the city by day.
From the Eiffel Tower we walked down the Champs de Mar toward the Liberty Flame Memorial which is at the place where Princess Diana died.
As much my feet were crying at this point (it’s quite far to walk) we continued on to the Arc de Triomphe.
The traffic here is nuts, and standing there for just 5 minutes we saw 3 close crashes. Don’t even attempt to cross the road to get to the arch, there’s an underground passage at the top end of Champs Élysées, and if you’re feeling energetic you can climb to the top of the arch…only about 290 stairs! If you’ve still got some energy, take a look down Champs Élysées for some fancy shops. If you’re shattered like we were, jump on the metro! There are stops everywhere, which is unbelievably handy! We got off at Concorde to see the place where Louis XVI(?) and Marie Antoinette were beheaded, before a romantic walk though Jardin des Tuileries.
Our next stop was the Louvre, which I believe is the biggest art gallery/museum in Europe. I loved it so much there (and we spent 5 1/2 hours there) that I’m going to write a post just for the Louvre!
Check back soon to hear about the Louvre, our romantic trip up the Eiffel Tower at night, the lock bridge, Sacre Coer and everything else we got up to!