What can you achieve in 3 days in Paris? Quite a lot as it turns out!
Gemma had decided to return home to Perth at the end of May, her BFF, Lauren (also living in London) was retuning on the 7th and it was my birthday on the 3rd. The girls had not had the opportunity to visit Paris so what better way to spend your birthday than in the City of Lights….and Love!
So making the most of the Bank Holiday (Public Holiday to us Aussies) in the UK we chose to take the Eurostar Train on the Friday evening to Paris and make the most of a 3 day break as Gemma didn’t need to return to work until Tuesday morning…. bonus!
This whole process of catching the train London to Paris was very easy and straight forward. At the London end you pass through UK Immigration and French Immigration and on the return you pass through French first then UK. So on arrival you just leave the station and get to wherever you need to be.
We made a reservation through Airbnb for a apartment in the Montmartre district, Steve and I had been to Paris before during our France/Italy trip about 2 1/2 years go so we knew this city quite well. Our apartment was right near the tube station of Anvers (Line 2) and just a couple of stops from the Paris du Nord station where we arrived on the Eurostar from London.
There was to be no sleeping in on this trip, we had limited time and so much to see!
ARC DE TRIOMPHE
The Arc de Triomphe is one of the world’s most famous monuments and the detail in it’s architecture is just stunning from the bas-relief ceiling to the larger than life sculptures that adorn the exterior on all four sides. A monument to those soldiers that fought in the Napoleonic Wars, the tomb of the unknown soldier and it’s eternal flame also can be seen on the Western side of the arch.
Walking down the Champs Elysees is an experience in itself, lined with cafes, high end brand name stores like Tiffany & Co, Longines and Yves Saint Laurent to name a few. Well dressed Parisians commuting to work or lunching in a patisseries, choosing to sit on the sidewalk and people watch. The lower tree lined avenue will eventually lead you to the courtyard and entrance to The Louvre Museum stretching as it stretches from Place Charles de Gaulle to Place de la Concorde and beyond.
We didn’t actually visit The Louvre on this trip, but managed to spend nearly half an hour just wandering around the courtyard. Steve and I had been on our last trip and with our limited timeframe this time we decided that there were other more desirable things on the list.
However, like any museum of this quality you could spend a week in here and still not see everything, something we were beginning to become accustomed to.
PONT DES ARTS – LOVE LOCK BRIDGE
It was very opportune that we walked the Pont des Arts or better known as the Love Lock Bridge across the Seine as just a few weeks later the locks had been removed due the weight causing the bridge to collapse. We were here less than 3 years ago and I was astounded as to the number of locks that were now attached to the metal balustrading of the bridge. Not a square inch could be seen for padlocks of all shapes and sizes, some engraved and some simply marked with a permanent marker. Already timber had been added to the extreme sections of the bridge to prevent more from being added.
I wonder what will happen to the relationships of those that believe their love will last forever? Will they be jinxed? I hope not.
NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL
I LOVE Notre Dame de Paris (French for”Our Lady of Paris”), of all the cathedrals we have visited this would have to be my favourite. The French Gothic Architecture and darkness of the inside immediately quietens you to a whisper and the stained glass windows remain the most splendid I have seen. Entry is free and there is just so very much to take in, both inside and out.
The image at the beginning of this post is of the statue in honour of Pope John Paul II which is to the Seine side of the Cathedral in the Square Jean XXIII. I was pretty certain it wasn’t there in 2012 and I have since found out it was only added on October 25, 2014. So there you go I’m not going mad.
In 2012 my Camera battery died as I entered the cathedral so to return and capture the photos I always hoped I would was very special indeed.
I don’t think anyone who has been to Paris hasn’t visited this mammoth icon that dominates the skyline of this magical city…..have they?
Well we went twice this time to see The Eiffel Tower. First time round we were greeted with awful weather and it was pretty pointless to try and ascend to any level if we were to see anything. So we decided to call it a day and head back to our apartment and dry off.
PASTRIES IN THE RED LIGHT DISTRICT
Today was my birthday! So we started with pastries, 2 each, eaten literally in the median strip of the red light district, we felt pretty safe at 10am. Happy Birthday was sung by Steve (whilst filming with the GoPro), Gemma and Lauren AND I was also surprised via Skype by my eldest daughter Renae and her boyfriend Keelan who joined in too……BEST BIRTHDAY EVER……crying now just thinking about it……..only thing better would have all been there in person…..oh well maybe one day.
You know how I said above that Museums are very time consuming? Well we spent nearly the whole day in the Musee D’Orsay due to our later than expected start time and lengthy queue to get in. One we missed last time so to experience it with the girls was just awesome. My fave would have to be Degas’ sculpture of The Little Dancer, it has captivated me for years and to see it in person was beyond my expectations. I could have stared at the expression on her face for hours.
The other room you must not miss here is the The Salle des Fetes, just a stunningly decorated room with ceiling friezes, gold and crystal chandeliers everywhere….WOW! It was once the ballroom of the Hotel D’Orsay.
After a little later start this morning after my birthday celebrations the night before, we decided to climb our way up to the Sacre Coeur Basilica along with a few other 1000 or so people. The architectual style is Romano-Byzantine and is in stark contrast to the other cathedrals in Paris like Notre Dame, with its interior enveloping you in calm the moment you enter.
Built high on one of the original worshipping and pilgrimage locations in Paris it can be seen from many of the more famous landmarks in the centre of Paris
In Montemartre you will find culture, artists, food and typical Parisians going about their business. We roamed the streets on the Sunday and visited the The Place du Tertre or more commonly known as The Artists Square, where you can have your portrait painted, sketched or scribbled, for a handsome fee of course. We ate our way through the Arrondissement choosing Ice Cream, Nougat and Brioche before heading down to the train station to re-visit The Eiffel Tower.
EIFFEL TOWER PART 2
After failing due to the weather with our first visit to the Eiffel Tower we all agreed it was worth a second shot. Worth it, it was! We managed to get to the 2nd floor before the top of the tower was closed due to imminent thunder storms and strong winds.
2nd floor it was and awesome it was! The views from here are just incredible, it gave me a new perspective on Paris, one I hadn’t seen before. Although a little cold and wet we managed to spend nearly an hour here before descending in the elevator (our knees are buggered remember!) to the ground once again.
The Paris Metro is relatively easy to navigate, although we did have problems getting out of Paris du Nord station when we arrived as we needed to walk from the overground to the Metro, which proved a little harder than we thought, the line numbers are not all that clear on the signage.
We were purchasing 10 tickets at a time from the machines as we found that easier than queuing all the time to get our return tickets. All the stations located close by the attractions are clearly signposted on the trains and at the stations. Keep your belongings close by and wear your backpacks to the front and you should be ok. Oh and be prepared for a brass band to join you on the Metro – tipping for entertainment is optional but we figured why not, this doesn’t happen everyday at home!
We also downloaded this app which we found very useful.
Bikes – Just like London they have bikes that you can hire from the sides of the road. We used the Velib ones, here’s a link to how it all works. If you are going to do this (and I recommend you do) make sure you grab a map as to the drop off points if you are travelling one way, oh and don’t fall off in the rain, like I did! The machines only dispense one bike at a time so if you are hiring 4 at a time like we did then you will have to repeat the process 4 times…..take your patience.
Food we found this trip a little easier than a couple of years ago to order, maybe because we were mainly in the tourist areas, just ask for a menu in English and they will be happy to oblige. Or you can download a French food translator app and use that.
I don’t think I could ever tire of Paris, it would have to be one of my favourite cities……EVER!