We arrived in Paris from our adventures in Dublin late at night and after struggling to figure out how to get tickets and the RER train system (complete with scary guys onboard knowing we were tourists and cops touring the train). But soon, we were at our stop in Marais. Fortunately, it was a nice part of Paris, so we were no longer scared as we made our way through the rain. We got to our hotel room (again, with no elevator) and watched French television, which is some of the best TV I’ve ever seen. I like shows that are so bad that they’re good, though, and these were definitively that.
It was perfectly gothic inside and out.
It’s also the site of one of my favorite love stories: Abelard and Heloise, which was one of the first things I thought when I walked inside.
After much admiration of the legendary cathedral, we walked Ile de Cite, finding the cheapest croques, which turned out to the best we would find in Paris.
We then strolled by Pont Neuf and made our way north to St Germain l’Auxerrois Church. Like Notre Dame, it’s also ornately gothic on the outside, but much lighter on the inside.
There are priceless paintings and statues inside, which are much brighter than Notre Dame and the organ and stained glass windows also shouldn’t be missed.
After taking in the much lighter splendor of this church, we moved across the street to the Louvre.
It was the most amazing museum I’ve ever seen. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever see a museum that can compare to it.
One of the very first things I saw was Hammurabi’s Code (and even touched it).
We also saw Napoleon’s apartments, which were were the most ornate rooms I had ever seen in my life up until then. They were only topped by the Chateau de Versailles.
We also saw renowned works such as The Coronation of Napoleon, The Intervention of the Sabine Women, Leonidas at Thermopylae, The Love of Paris and Helen, The Oath of Horatii and many more that I had learned about for years.
We also saw the most prized painting, the Mona Lisa behind guards, ropes and several inches of bullet-proof glass.
Other than the magnificent sculptures, paintings and other collections, the Louve has some of the most elaborate rooms I’ve ever seen (as it was the king’s palace before). After a few hours and a few thousand steps later, we collapsed, ate, then were ready to move through the Tuileries Gardens.
The cool thing about most gardens in Paris is that they are big and meant to be places where you can simply sit, relax and enjoy the day.
There were walls full of Monet’s water lilies, and there are even more in the Musee d’Orsay.
Next to the Gardens and the Museum is Place de la Concorde. This is where King Louis and Marie Antoinette were beheaded.
It now has an amazing Egyptian obelisk built by Ramses along with a beautiful fountain. After more wandering by the Petit Palais, Grand Palais and our first view of the Eiffel Tower, we went home, got cheese (which is extremely cheap), bread and wine (also ridiculously cheap). We actually wanted to watch more French TV (mainly Largo Winch) rather than explore the French nightlife.
The next day we finally got the metro system down and could now get around. We went to the Luxembourg Gardens first and it was the perfect way to start the day. We actually saw some people throwing a football, which they don’t play. Soccer is their football. We then heard their American accent though, and it made sense.
The Pantheon came next and it was bigger than I could have imagined. Not only is it beautiful, but it houses the tombs of many famous Frenchmen throughout history.
We then moved onto many more churches. The first was Sainte Suplice across the street from the pantheon.
funeral at Saint-Germain-des-Prés ChurchNext was Sainte Germain des Pres, where we accidentally walked into a funeral.
He had a large, green, beautiful estate and his works are now displayed throughout the house and his gardens, including his most famous work is The Thinker.
Next was Les Invalides right next door. Les Invalides houses museums of the French military throughout history.
It is most famous though, for being the site of Napoleon’s massive tomb with his oversized coffin that matches the size of his ego.
Saint Chapelle Church followed and it was one of the most beautiful churches I’ve ever seen. With 15 tall, ornate stained-glass windows, its picturesque and I could stand in there for hours.
Finally though, we reached the best of the best: the Eiffel Tower. On the way, we encountered more gypsies than I knew existed in the world. And, the gloomy skies turn into an absolute downpour forcing us to bargain with a gypsy for an umbrella.
After much argue for an umbrella that could fall apart at any minute, we paid €4 for what they wanted €10 for and then the cops started chasing them away.We then checked out the Trocadero across the street, waiting for our time to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Thankfully, we bought out tickets in advance online, so we didn’t have to stand in lines for tickets, then in the lines for the tower for hours in the rain.
We just rode the gondola to the first deck, which is enough to take your breath away. Then, after fighting with people cutting lines, (most Europeans have no qualms cutting you) we took the second gondola to the top. It was amazing.
You are told to not stick cameras outside of the wire, but how I could I resist? So, I chanced dropping my phone from the top of the Eiffel Tower and got some pretty amazing views of Champ de Mars, the , the Arc de Triomphe, Les Invalides, and the rest of the span of the city.
After the rainstorm, the sun was beginning to go down and the sunset was perfect. We didn’t get see the sunset at the Eiffel Tower, so we would see it at the next best place.
After a quick ride of the metro, we came out from underground to see the giant Arc de Triomphe. It was sunset and picture perfect.
We watched a bride and groom take photos on Champ de Elysee in front of it, making us witnesses to a wedding and a funeral in the same day.
Once we figured out how to get to it was to go through an underground tunnel and not not across the biggest roundabout I’ve seen in my life, we were right in front of this massive structure.
We then climbed the few hundred steps to the top. The cool thing about this arc is that it’s at the center of Place Charles de Gaulle, where 12 streets converge into a roundabout.
After a day that we were sure was complete, we headed back home to Marais to crash for a few hours before heading out at night. Seeing the Eiffel Tower during the day made us want to see it lit up at night, and there’s also a light show every hour as well. But, we fell asleep, woke up at 3 AM and realized it was too late to go out and that our body clocks were still really off.
The next day, we woke up early to get to this bakery that had been closed when we walked by it everyday in the afternoon. So, we got there with the morning rush, bought some delicious croques, tarts and cake and went our way to the Chateau de Versailles.
We had some entertainment on the train and an overcast walk to the greatest home I’ve ever seen in my life.
Not only was it massive, it was covered in marble and gold from the outside in.
The rooms were all different shades complete with some of the country’s finest statues and paintings. Other rooms not covered in colorful wallpaper were composed entirely of marble and paintings that covered the entire span of the wall.
One room even had a fireplace taller than me. The chapel was also beautiful beyond words. It was 2 stories tall and each floor was amazing.
The roof though was pure art. Throughout all the rooms, painting decorated the ceiling. Gold and sculptures covered the corners and walls on top fo the beautiful wallpaper and marble.
Then, we came to the Hall of Mirrors. It was one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever seen in my life in person or otherwise. In fact, the only rooms that could rival it could be the bedrooms that came after.
King Louis’ bedroom was covered in gold from wall to wall and ceiling to floor.
You could see the gardens from many rooms of the house and it was stunning from afar.
The only room that possibly could have topped King Louis’ bedroom was Marie Antoinette’s, and I believe she did.
After we moved through the palace, we went to the gardens. It was still gloomy though and a massive thunderstorm began. We ran back inside to wait it out. We walked around more, and to our surprise found a Laduree. We got some macaroons from this world-famous sweet shop, but sadly we weren’t impressed. Once we realized the rain wasn’t going to die down anytime soon, we ran as fast as we could to the train station and went back to Paris. Not ready to call it a day, we decided to go to the Musée d’Orsay. There were problems with the RER though, so we had to walk in the rain, with me wearing a skirt and Sarah wearing shorts. We finally made it though, but sadly no photography was allowed. We saw famous and priceless works of art such as The Whistler by McNeil, Starry Night by Van Gogh, Apples and Oranges by Cezanne, The Self Portrait by Van Gogh, Dance at Le Moulin de La Galette by Renoir, and more by these artists and Degas, Monet, Pissarro, , Cassatt, Seurat, Rousseau among others. After the museum, we were soaked and the rain was picking up, so we rushed back to the hotel for cheese and wine.
On our final day, we realized everything we had missed, and knew that we had to cram in all into one last day. Our first and most important stop was to the towers of Notre Dame. They open later than the church, which was why we missed them in the first place.
So, we finally went, waited in line for an hour outside the church as service was going on and then climbed the few hundred steps to the top.
We walked the rows of gargoyles, and saw magnificent views of the city. There were statues of saints lining the steeple as well that you could imagine in a lightning storm on a dark night, like in Beauty in the Beast or something.
Then, we came to the fabled bell tower with a door so short and narrow that you do have to hunch just go inside.
After the bell, we went to the very top of the church and really got views of the city. Afterwards, we walked by the statue of Charlemagne (who my mom always reminds me I’m related to) and then sat at our favorite restaurant with the best croques.
We had to finally try French coffee and our final attempt at finding good onion soup, which was not successful. I then tried a crepe at random (because they were all in French on the menu) and turns out it was just a crepe soaked in liquor. It was better than I thought it would be though, and a perfect last meal in Paris.
We then moved to Montmartre to see Sacre Coeur. The area near it is not nice, but the church itself it gorgeous close up and from afar. The inside is stunning as well, but they don’t allow photos inside.
One of the biggest attractions in Paris is the view from Sacre Coeur at sunset. We weren’t there for sunset, but we were there for some entertainment.
After much gazing, we just strolled through the city in all the places we loved. We were done with museums and all the touristy stuff. We just wanted to walk.
We were really starting to get annoyed with everyone dressing like they were at the country club, so we began taking photos of everyone with a sweater tied over their shoulders. We slowly made our way back to Marais snapping photos.
We walked through the Palais Royal, which was something you won’t see anywhere else. The Jardin du Palais Royal came next and more sweaters followed there. Soon we worked our way back next to our hotel, got our last serving of cheese and bread and then hung out in Place de Vosges.
Place de Vosges was literally right around the corner from our hotel, so we walked, got our luggage and hopped on the metro. We needed to get on the RER B, but somehow we got on the RER C and were now lost. After backtracking and worrying if we’d make our flight, someone was kind enough to walk us through the station all the way to our platform and got us on the right track. Once at the airport running late, we got to Aegean Airlines, which had at least 40 people waiting to check in and we were already late. Fortunately, we were able to fast track because we had checked in online.
After running way behind because of people checking in 8 bags in front of us, we rushed through the airport just in time to observe more sweaters before boarding our flight. We were about to walk onto the worst flight of our lives, though.