I was in Paris a few weeks ago, in the first stop of a multi-city holiday! We arrived when most of Europe was in the middle of a heatwave – so walking around and doing stuff in mid-30° heat wasn’t fun – but the rest of Paris was!
Yeah, the Eiffel Tower was class. You see it loads on TV or movies, so you might think there is no need to bother with it, but it wasn’t until I seen it up close that it blew me away! As well, we ended up keep coming back to it or seeing it on the sky line at various times so you couldn’t get away from it.
The first time we saw it was on the first evening we were in Paris. To take a break from the heat we had a sit by the river (just outside Musée d’Orsay), then walked along the river for a bit occasionally stopping for water or a beer in one of the riverside bars.
Soon enough we realised that were were heading in that direction so decided to “get the tower out of the way” and have a look at it. As we walked closer you could so the top of the tower poking above buildings and then all of a sudden it was there and it was quite impressive. We walked underneath but decided not to go up as the queues were very long. We sat on the grass for a bit, politely declining the offer of buying wine/beer/champagne being sold from a bucket.
We swung by it the next evening at about 10pm to see it all lit up. The only problem was it didn’t get properly dark until 11pm. Though it still looked pretty good for the “light show” and by half ten it was dark enough for the lit up tower to look amazing. We watched this from Trocadéro as it got darker it seemed a bit more seedy, for example, the selfie stick sellers turned into Cup and Ball scammers – but it was safe enough, you just had to keep your wits about you.
We eventually decided to give going up the tower a try on the Saturday. We tried to get tickets online before we went to Paris but they were completely booked up (apparently the tour companies block buy them!). We also tried to go early in the morning to beat crowds but we kept sleeping in. We swung by in the evening and judged the queue to be moderate enough to join it. We were queuing for about thirty minutes before we got to the ticket booth (not too bad).
When we got to the booth there was a sign saying that they weren’t selling tickets to the top, but an annoying American in front of me asked and apparently you could buy a ticket to the top from the second floor and wait. We went into the “leg” of the tower and got the lift to the second floor. We seen the queue for the top of the tower and decided we couldn’t be bothered with that! The view from the second floor was still pretty good though!
We hung out at the second floor for a bit and, instead of waiting on the lift, decided to walk down the stairs to the first floor. Some of the views from the staircases were pretty cool! On the second floor we looked about some more, stood on the glass floor and then sat in a patio bar area for a bit. I then visited the gift shop and bought a tacky Eiffel Tower bottle of brandy, which would look neat in my globe drinks cabinet!
Anyway, the Tower looks great and I took loads and loads of photos of it in various angles, mostly in B&W.
I love a good underground system. Paris’ wasn’t the best I’d been to though, as it was always packed, some stations smelt of piss and some areas didn’t seem to have a stop! But the public transport is still better than Belfast so that’s something!
When we first arrived in Paris we went to have a look at Sacré-Cœur. One reason was it’s proximity to our hotel but also because Leona loves funiculars. We got the funicular to the top and had a look about. The whole place was was quite nice with a good view of Paris. We didn’t go in though because.. you know. At this point the heat was pretty bad so I don’t think we could have fully enjoyed it.
There’s a grassy park area in front of the church. We visited it on our last day. I was quite hungover that day so I couldn’t fully enjoy it!
Food was brilliant! Highlights include getting savoury crepe for the first time (with cheese, eggs and ham! it was amazing!)
We also had brunch one day. It consisted of orange juice and hot drink (I got hot chocolate), with a croissant, crepe, baguette and omelette.. all for €11. Oh, I have had a croissant before, and thought they were a bit.. meh, but this croissant was amazing! Apparently this particular area is famous for good baking.
I had macaroons for the first time in Paris. They were very tasty!
One evening I had a burger that was translated as Horse Burger. I didn’t know so I ordered it. The description (in English) said it had beef in it. Leona didn’t tell me it was called Horse Burger until the next day – but either way it was still delicious.
I don’t I had a bad meal in Paris. There was this one place that forgot about us so it took an hour to get our food. I was pretty angry at this but couldn’t fault the burger.
I also got a Quarter Pounder with Cheese in McDonalds. Did you know in France it’s called a Royale with Cheese…
Beer was very expensive! About €8.50 for 500ml if you’re lucky. Special mention to a pub called James Hetfeelds though because theyhad pints of Brooklyn Beer for €6 and White Russians for €5. It was here where a woman argued with me for burping and the reason I was too hungover to enjoy the gardens.
The Louvre was another one of those places we expected a long ass queue. Even when we got there a sign said to expect an hour long wait. We were in within ten minutes. The longest wait was for getting tickets but there were automated machines that no one was using so we used them and were sorted quite quickly.
That’s not to say it wasn’t busy. The place was crammed! First we went in through the Denon wing. Had a look at paintings. Seen the Mona Lisa which was quite cool, apart from the crowd of morons surrounding it and taking photos (which I don’t see the point of – I was going to take a photo of the crowd though to illustrate it.. but … didn’t). It was also protected by glass so the light would shine on it… that bugs me when watching TV so looking, you know, the world’s most famous painting it’s a bit irksome.
We checked out one floor of the Denon and then headed to Richelieu. That’s when we got lost for a bit. When we found our way we headed to the Sully wing and checked out the Venus de Milo. In total we were there for about four hours and didn’t cover half the stuff there. You could easily spend a could of days there to take it all in.
Arc de Troimphe
Went to the Arc on our first full day. There were two choices to get to the actual Arc i) cross the road and probably die ii) use the underpass. We went with the latter. At the end of the underpass they sneakily added the ticket office – I think you can just skip it if you want to just have a look at the Arc but if you want to go to the top you need to pay. We paid.
Once at the bottom of the Arc you need to climb lots and lots of stairs, two hundred and something apparently. Thankfully we were in a dark,cool(er than outside) Arc and not outside in the hot sun, but it was still tough going.
We got to a floor where there is an exhibition about the Arc and a WW1 monument. There was also a tap to fill your water bottles but we foolishly forgot our bottles! We then proceeded to the top which meant more stairs – but thankfully not as many!
The view from the top was pretty spectacular with a good view of the Eiffel Tower and Champs-Élysées.
We endured the stairs back down (thankfully, not as bad as the way up) and had a look at the bottom of the Arc. Within minutes a policeman chased us away and told us to evacuate so didn’t get to see the bottom. We never found out why were were evacuated.
We read about the tethered balloon online and were keen to go on it. We got the Metro to Balard – which was at the end of the #8 line and seemed like miles away but in reality was quite close.
From the metro station we walked to Parc André Citroën. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon so the park was busy with sunbathers and kids playing in the fountains. It was quite easy to spot the balloon as it was really (really) high up.
It was straight forward to get tickets and we weren’t waiting long until we were on the balloon. The view from the top was amazing though the height was a tad unsettling, especially if you looked directly down! The balloon felt a bit bumpy, even on a sunny day with little breeze, and when the cable started to pull us back down it scared the crap out of me. We were only up for 15-20 minutes but it didn’t even feel that long. All in all it was still really good.
We took a river tour one day and it was very good – despite a sudden rain shower.
A cool thing in Paris was the amount of out door bars along the river. One evening we had a few beers and drank beside the river. There were loads of people there with there own bottles of wine, picnics etc and it was a pretty cool atmosphere. I imagined if we had something similar in Belfast and soon realised that some skeet would probably throw someone in the river and we don’t deserve nice things!
One day we randomly came across a concert, it was free in so we walked through to get to the other side of the square. They were shite so we didn’t stay and headed towards Notre Dame. It was quite impressive to look at but we didn’t go in because … y’know?
During the hot air balloon Leona noticed the mini Statue of Liberty, so afterwards we walked along river towards the island it was on. Had a look and then walked along the river some more until we ended up at the Eiffel Tower (This was when we decided to go up).
There was also a chocolate “museum” which was more of a big shop with chocolate statues. It was near Sacré-Cœur and we went into it when I was really hungover. We picked up some chocolates and macaroons for the next day’s train journey.
All in all Paris was great despite the heat! There was so much stuff we didn’t get to do so I would love to go back.