After being in France for a month, it was time to visit the French capital. I have been to Paris before, but it was for a Model UN conference and we didn´t have enough time to actually see Paris. When I found out that you can go to Paris by bus for 5 Euros I started to plan a week-end trip with my friends. The three of us took the night bus on Thursday and arrived early in the morning, after a 8 hour bus ride.
We arrived at 6 AM after a very long bus ride. Since by now I´m rather used to sitting in buses or airplanes for a very long time, I even managed to sleep a bit. The Megabusses stop at Quai de Seine which is right next to the Metro stop Bercy. We were tired but happy to finally have arrived. We took the metro to our hostel, which was right next to the Sacre-Coeur. We got lucky and could check-in straight away and even have some breakfast (the croissants were amazing!). After some food and a lot of coffee we were ready to start sightseeing. My role during the trip was to be the guide, whilst the other two had to make sure that me took breaks and ate frequently, if you have ever traveled with me you´ll know that I am a hard-core tourist and have to see EVERYTHING. I hope that my friends actually enjoyed themselves,they didn´t complain so I guess it wasn´t too bad.
First stop was the Louvre. We first saw it from the back and where like “what building is this?”, then we realize it is THE Louvre (in our defense: we were tired and the Louvre is famous for it´s front side and not it´s back). We were there a few minutes after it opened. As we all are under 25 we had free entry, which is the case in most museums in France, so you better go while your under 25!! We directly went to see the Mona Lisa, it´s not a very impressive picture (really small) but it has something special. Since we were early we actually could look at the picture in peace (okay, with like 10 Chinese tourists). Sightseeing in winter as its benefits 🙂
After the Mona Lisa we had a look at some more paintings. We saw the highlights and also saw the Egyptian exhibition. Not only does the Louvre have some great pieces of art but simply the building is impressive!
After the Louvre, we walked through the Jardin des Tuiliers to the Place de la Concorde. The weather overall was very cloudy but at least it didn´t rain. Overall, we were rather lucky.
We then took the bus to the Eiffel Tower. The first time I saw it I wasn´t very impressed. Seeing it in daylight and having enough time to walk around made a real difference! I was fascinated! It is really impressive after all and I do not understand why I remembered it as being rather small and disappointing the last time. We didn´t go up as we thought it was expensive and the weather wasn´t great anyway. From the Eiffel Tower we walked towards the Arc de Triomphe. On our way we saw many beautiful building (like nearly everywhere in Paris!) and passed by some great shops. A highlight was the Elli Saab store, I´ve never seen the dresses in real life, AMAZING. Unfortunately slightly above what I usually spend on clothes 😉
For lunch we had burgers from Quick (the French McDonalds). As we where on the Champs-Elysees when we got hungry, we didn´t have many options as everything is insanely overpriced. It was our first time at Quick and it was quite nice.
After we had lunch we went to the Arc de Triomphe. After walking around for several hours we were exhausted at went back to our hostel to rest a bit.
In the evening we walked around Montmartre. We passed by the Moulin Rouge and the bar from the Amelie movie.We found a nice place to have dinner and some wine. In Montmartre prices are fine and you can actually afford eating or drinking something there. After dinner we walked up to the Sacre-Coeur and enjoyed the beautiful view over the city. It was a perfect end to a great first day
After getting a good night of sleep, we had breakfast and continued our sightseeing tour.
We started with the Notre-Dame. Notre-Dame is architecturally way more impressive than Sacre-Ceour and it is definitely a must see. Afterwards we walked to the Sorbonne University. The building is amazing and it was really great to see the place where the French elite is educated at. The Pantheon is just some streets away, so we visited it as well. Voltaire, Rousseau and the Curies are buried there, so it has a lot of history.
Later on we went to the Jardin du Luxembourg. Afterwards we went to the Marche aux puces de Saint-Quen. The market is huge, and you can find a lot of different things there. The first section sells clothes and shoes, whilst further along the street you can buy antiques. I´m not a great fan of antiques or second-hand stores (I hate the smell in these paces) but it is a big thing in Paris and the atmosphere was great.
For lunch we bought some sandwiches and ate them in a park close to the market.
Later on we visited the Centre Pompidou and walked around in the area. We didn´t actually visit the museum as there was a long queue. It was finally sunny and we enjoyed walking around. We went to the Galeries Lafayette, shopping in my opinion belongs to a Paris trip just like visiting the Louvre. From the roof of the Galeries Lafayette you can get a great view over the city (FREE), so we did that. Afterwards M. went to the Centre Pompidou whilst Z. and I went shopping. We managed to spend around 2 hours in the Galeries Lafayette! I was successful and bought some really nice things ( on sale so don´t worry I´m not broke just quite yet). We really enjoyed it and I was happy that we had decided to separate.
In the evening we had Thai food (very Parisian!) and some wine. The next day we took the bus back to our beautiful Bordeaux.
Overall Paris was amazing. Paris has so much to offer, especially for people that love culture. Even if the weather wasn´t that great, we still had a great time and managed to see A LOT. I would definitely advise you to go off-season as there are way less people and the Parisians seems more relaxed and are way friendlier.
One remark about safety. Paris, just like any other city attracts lots of people and sadly also criminals. However claims that Paris is particular unsafe is an exaggeration. If you follow a few rules you are fine: NEVER buy things from the sellers at the touristic places, as chances are high that you´ll get robbed. Also: many people walked around asking us to sign things, simply answer “Non” (or any other language) if the ask you if you speak English. It is rather annoying but it is the most efficient way. Also, we were unlucky to be tricked at the metro station by a fake metro staff member (they are extremely sneaky and professional). Only buy tickets (for anything) at the official ticket offices!
One last remark about the atmosphere in Paris after the attacks. It has been some months and Parisians instantaneously after the attacks tried to live their normal lives again. This is very impressive and takes a lot of courage. Police presence in Paris has always been high, however since the attacks it is common to see heavily armed soldiers. This might be disturbing at first, however you get used to this quickly.
I already look forward to visit Paris again in order to explore the city a bit more!