When I was making plans for my trip to London, I really wanted to be able to hop over to Paris as well. Paris has been on my list of top cities I want to visit for as long as I can remember, and I thought “there’s no way I can come all the way over to London and then skip Paris.” Luckily, Skyscanner was there for me again, and $100 later, I had booked a trip to Paris. Hotels tend to be expensive in Paris (as well as everything else), and I wanted a little more of a French experience, so I started browsing Airbnb for Parisian apartments to stay in for the weekend, somewhere close to all of the sights and reasonably priced. I found an amazing little spot in the 14th Arrondissement, which is just south of Notre Dame. My Airbnb was a two bedroom apartment owned by Jacques, who rented out his spare bedroom for travelers such as myself. I actually had the place to myself for my entire stay, and I felt completely comfortable as a solo female traveler.
I flew into Charles de Gaulle airport Saturday morning and caught a train into Paris. It was very easy to purchase train tickets at the airport and there was an attendant there to assist you if needed. The train ride was about 45 minutes to Denfert Rochereau station, which is a transfer point to some of the other metro lines. I followed Jacques instructions and got on Line 4 for just one stop to Alésia, and the apartment was a five minute walk from there. It was noon when I arrived at my apartment, so I freshened up and headed out right away. I wanted to start on the East side at Notre Dame and work my way west along the Seine River to the Eiffel Tower. The metro ride to Notre Dame was only ten minutes and then my day of sight-seeing began!
Notre Dame is just a short walk from the St Michel metro station, and there are lots of pop-up souvineer stalls along the river where you can buy Parisian artwork, little model Eiffel Towers, and more. I wish I had found an original painting to bring back but most of the pieces looked like prints, the same ones that were being sold at each vendor along the way. So I passed by and walked into the square in front of Notre Dame. I felt like I was watching the Disney movie “The Hunchback,” with all of the pigeons in the square and the gargoyles staring down at me from the cathedral. Notre Dame is an amazing piece of architecture and I can only imagine how beautiful it was inside. However, since I was visiting Paris on the weekend, I knew the lines for everything were going to be extra long and this was no different. I had a lot I wanted to see in Paris so I enjoyed the view from the outside and then was on my way. I followed the Seine River towards the Louvre, taking a walkway that was right along the banks of the river and off the road. It was a very pretty walk and the weather was perfect. I stopped at Pont Neuf, which I wanted to see solely based on the Jason Bourne movie where he tells the guy to meet him at “Pont Neuf. Come alone.” Then I moved over onto the road that ran alongside the Louvre before crossing into the center square and Pyramid entryway to the museum.
What impressed me most about the Louvre was it’s size. At first, I didn’t realize that the massive building I was walking alongside of for two blocks was the museum, until I crossed the street and into the square. It’s said that it would take over four years to see every piece of artwork in the Louvre and I believe it. The pyramid in front is strikingly different than the old architecture of the original building, but the contrast works beautifully, and the outside of the Louvre is amazing to see. I relaxed and took photos next to one of the pools by the pyramid, and then decided to find a nice cafe to grab some lunch. I walked slightly north and west of the Louvre before settling on a nice corner restaurant named La Coupe D’or, which I chose because they had outside seating and the food looked delicious! I got a glass of rosé and a tomato and mozzarella salad, along with some fresh bread. It was the perfect Parisian lunch, except for the French woman chain-smoking right next to me, gross! After lunch I headed back towards the museum as the Garden of the Tulleries is directly in front of it, and leads to the Place de Concorde.
The Tulleries Garden was beautiful, and if I had more time, I would have spent an entire afternoon reading on one of its benches, which is saw many people doing. The colors on the trees were starting to change for fall, so it was a very enjoyable walk among the foliage. I emerged from the Garden into the Place de Concorde, which is where a 3300 year old pink granite obelisk stands in the center, a gift from Egypt in 1831. This is Paris’s largest square, with several beautiful fountains surrounding the obelisk as well.
From here I started up the Champs-Elysees, the world famous street on the way to the Arc du Triomphe, known for its upscale shopping. Not that I had the time, or money for that matter, to be shopping, so past the stores I went until I reached the Arc. There’s a tunnel that leads under the traffic circle surrounding the Arc so that no one is crossing the busy street, and you pop up right beneath the Arc itself. There’s an area around for photo opportunities, as well as a line to go to the top, which I passed on as well. After the Arc du Triomphe, I was ready to go to the Eiffel Tower. I went down Avenue D’lena, which lead me right up to the front of the Eiffel Tower. If I had to choose my number one thing that I wanted to see during my trip to Paris, this would be it. The Tower itself is so beautiful and romantic, and I absolutely had to see it at night also. It was close to sunset at this point so I waited for the tower to be lit and sparkle in all its glory. Every hour, 20,000 lights glitter for 5 minutes, illuminating it for all to see. It was truly my favorite moment of the day.
Early the next morning, I started back out at the Eiffel Tower and walked the Seine while watching the sunrise. I saw the Grand Palais on my way to the Musee De l’Orangerie, located in the Tulleries Garden. I had decided against the Louvre for obvious crazy tourist reasons, and chose to see Monet’s “Waterlilies” at De l’Orangerie. When Monet was painting “Waterlilies,” he wanted a special room to be built in a large oval shape in which to display his masterpiece. He ended up with two massive rooms with wall-to-wall stunning paintings. The color was amazing, and the scale of the piece is immense. Also in this museum were works by Matisse, Picasso and Cezanne. This museum is a relatively quick trip-it’s not very big, so soon I was on my way back to the Louvre to snap a few more pictures before heading back to the airport. I also lucked out and walked right into a Sunday morning street market, so I had a delicious lunch on the train to the airport of fresh cheese and a warm whole grain baguette.
Overall, my Paris trip was not long enough by far, but it convinced me that I need to plan another longer stay in the future for the City of Lights. The vibe and atmosphere of the city is so amazing, and the food, lights, and sights are unlike anywhere else. Paris, you’ve won my heart. Je t’aime!