Paris has never been high on my bucket list. My favourite city in the world is London and I’ve always wanted to see Venice and Florence. However, this year I allowed my partner to talk me into visiting this capital of fashion and art.
We sat down and planned the whole trip within hours. We bought all the tickets online and used booking.com to find a suitable accommodation.
We stayed in a little hotel in the centre of Paris. And although it was the first zone, the place was quiet. Our room was far from being a royal apartment, but the beds were comfortable and there was hot running water in the bathroom. And that is all need when I travel. The hotel had also one other advantage – it was close to a tube station.
~ DAY 1 ~
The first historical monument I laid my eyes on was the Palais Garnier. And what a jewel of architecture it is. One of the most important, and definitely one of the most decorative buildings in Paris is 56 metres high and 154,9 metres long. It can house 1,979 spectators which makes it one of the biggest theatres in the world.
The main façade simply takes the onlooker’s breath away – it’s decorated with numerous bronze busts of celebrated composers and gilded sculptures of personified Harmony and Poetry. The statue of the Greek God of music – Apollo stands majestically on top of the building.
I couldn’t get enough of it! It was a building I felt particularly passionate about – Gaston Leroux, a French writer of Edwardian era, made it a dwelling place of the Phantom of the Opera. I wanted to see the theatre’s cellars and find out if the Phantom was still haunting the building. However, my travelling companions did not share my enthusiasm for snooping around damp undergrounds. Philistines!
Next stop was L’église Sainte-Marie-Madeleine, a Roman Catholic church built in recognition of Napoleon’s army. The Not-So-Tall-After-All Emperor clearly loved his armed forces because Paris is full of monuments dedicated to his brave troops. What surprised me the most about this church was its style – I did not expect to find a Roman temple in the middle of the city.
We sauntered through the Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries Garden and headed for the Louvre.
The place was steaming with people. Everyone wanted to take a selfie with the glass pyramids, me included.
I even spotted newlyweds posing near the fountain. No wonder – Louvre is a beautiful and romantic backdrop for photos.
We didn’t go inside because it was already late afternoon. I knew I needed at least 5 – 6 hours to feast my eyes on some of the treasures of the Musée du Louvre. So we spent some time in the Tuileries Garden and then went hunting for food and souvenirs.
Several snails and one big cappuccino coffee later we decided to visit Disney Store on Champs-Élysées. Oh, it was a magical place. Every single shelf was filled with Disney related merchandise! If only I was ten again! I would buy half of the store in one go. And if my parents didn’t satisfy my whims, I would lay down on the floor and cry myself stupid. Alas, I am a grown-up woman and I need to act according to my age, or at least try. But it was tough because my inner child refused to go out unless I bought some toy. I managed to shut her up by looking at price labels.
On our way to the hotel we stopped at the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile. Yet another monument celebrating Napoleon and his victorious soldiers.
Evidently the man needed to immortalise his every military triumph in stone and put it somewhere for others to admire. I wonder if it had something to do with his delusion of grandeur or his inferiority complex. After all, being a short person is not easy. I know it first-hand! Everyone looks down on me.
~ DAY 2 ~
We started our second day in Paris in the most glamorous of companies. We met Angelina Jolie and Leonardo DiCaprio.
I even had a chance to sing an aria with Pavarotti and bow to the British Queen. I must say that the Musée Grévin is one of a kind! It’s one of the oldest wax museums in the world and its collection contains more than 400 figures of historical and modern times.
Liberty leading the people
Fun fact – Napoleon is the only sitting figure among other French rulers
King Louis XIV and his minions
The brainiest and most talented Renaissance man – Leonardo Da Vinci
WTF fact – the scene of Charlotte Corday murdering Jean-Paul Marat includes the actual knife and bathtub used
Beautiful Esmeralda and ugly Quasimodo
Joan of Arc looking for some matches
Jean Reno chilling out in a café
Hollywood Golden Star in a golden dress
I was dragged away from this deliciously looking plate of macarons but I managed to lick one or two
A die-hard fan with a DIE HARD star!
We left the wax museum and went for a stroll along the shimmering Parisian river. The weather was nice (read: it wasn’t raining!) so we had a picnic. A simple sandwich and a croissant taste much better when eaten in a pleasant company and in beautiful surroundings.
After a short rest we headed for Notre-Dame de Paris – the most famous cathedral in the city. This impressive medieval building rises majestically up to the sky and looks beautiful against the backdrop of white clouds.
The numerous ornaments on façades and stained glass windows, especially the well-known rose one, mesmerise the visitors and leave them flabbergasted. Medieval masons knew their work well – they shaped the stone to praise the Lord and erected structures to withstand any kind of turmoil for centuries.
We did not go inside because the queue was far too long. We admired it from the outside and took several beautiful pictures. But I promised myself that next time I was going to see the Notre-Dame cathedral from the inside, too. Fingers crossed!
The small yard in front of the western façade of the cathedral is a place where people can make friends with pigeons. A nice lady, with a huge bag of seed, walks among the crowds and scatters bird food on the heads of unsuspecting tourists. And even if you are not a great bird lover, you will probably enjoy the encounter – the nibbling of the pigeons’ beaks is an unforgettable experience. Moreover, a selfie with a pigeon looks nice on Facebook.
I was glad that we walked away with only few scratches and no bird poo on our heads. Notre-Dame pigeons were well-mannered.
The get-together with feathery friends left us hungry so we headed for a nice Parisian café for lunch. After my first encounter with snails in garlic sauce I emerged victorious and surprised that I gulped them down so easily and without any upheaval from my stomach. Encouraged by this, I ordered a big plate of delicious snails and some frog legs. When the waiter brought our food, I tried not to think of slimy toads. But the image was inescapable. Needless to say, I wasn’t the first one to eat frog legs. I took one when I saw my partner surviving the taste test. It tasted like chicken. I only hoped that there were no enchanted princes among the frogs that we consumed so whole-heartedly. What a waste that would be! 😉
We roved the small streets of the city and feasted our eyes on beautiful surroundings for several hours.
~ DAY 3 ~
We spent the entire day in a magical place called Disneyland Paris. More details in my next post. 😉
~ DAY 4 ~
We woke up to a heavy shower of rain. It seemed that our ambitious plans of exploring the city were put on hold. The weather forecast did promise some sunshine late in the afternoon, but I wasn’t going to sit in a hotel room and wait for the sky to clear up. Luckily for us, I had packed our raincoats and umbrellas.
We decided to make for the Louvre. After all, there was no better way to lift our low spirits than admire beautiful works of art. Or was there? It turned out that eating an enormous macaron could improve my mood considerably. Especially, if it was followed by a delicious cupcake and another macaron. What can I say? Macaroons are first class French delicacy I cannot resist.
We entered the world’s largest museum in high spirits. We got the map at the entrance and went straight to see the Louvre’s most famous Renaissance beauty – La Joconde.
On our way there we found this beauty – Nike of Samothrace, also known as The Winged Victory of Samothrace. Perched on the marble base that forms the prow of the ship, the Greek goddess floats above the throng of admirers. The marble sculpture, although missing some body parts, still manages to spark admiration and elation.
Mona Lisa with her enigmatic smile attracts millions of tourists every year. For some people she is the sole reason to visit the museum. They gaze at her beautiful face and wonder what hides behind this famous smile of hers.
There are several other Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings in the museum, all of which are impressive. The Virgin of the Rocks, La belle ferronnièr and The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne caught my eye and triggered some indescribable emotions inside me.
I could stand in front of Leonardo’s canvas for hours and admire the light, the colours and the brush strokes.
I am a huge enthusiast of Egyptian antiquities. When I was in high school I seriously considered studying history and ancient Egypt was an era of my choice. My plans to become a world-famous historian crumbed to dust because of my inability to remember numbers. History is all about dates! But I still take a keen interest in times past and I love visiting museums.
I was happy as a clam when I finally got to the Egyptian collection. Thirty rooms of papyrus scrolls, tools, jewellery, weapons, figurines, sculptures and sarcophagi. Oh joy!!!
I even saw a mummy! A real, ancient dead body of somebody, wrapped nicely in many layers of white linen cloth.
I know that my smiley face clashed with the morose scene in front of my eyes, but who cares! At least I didn’t try to take a selfie with the stiff in the glass case.
When in Egypt, walk as Egyptians walk 😉
Only after seeing every single piece on display, did I agreed to move on to the next wing. This time we wanted to see some naked bodies. What better place to learn about human anatomy than in the Roman / Greek sculpture display room.
Again we started with the most famous piece of the Louvre collection – Venus de Milo.
This Greek goddess has managed to keep her head but sadly lost her arms. This evident deformity of her marble body does not trouble the onlookers. They admire her timeless beauty and her feminine curves.
She’s perfect from every angle
The Sully wing was full of statues depicting various Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. Most of them were naked! Clearly ancient artists had a different approach towards nudity than the modern ones. They admired human body and cherished it in their works of art. Although we do not live in Victorian times anymore, we tend to be more prudish than our Greek and Roman ancestors. We don’t strip in public for any kind of sport event and we usually cover our butts when we leave our bathrooms.
Apollo in his birthday suit – he’s got nothing to hide
Venus – the goddes of love, lovely unclothed
Aphrodite looking for a towel
Atena – she’s the clever one, so she cleverly keeps her clothes on
Diana, the goddes of the hunt, with her hand quivering at her quiver
Even an avid art admirer like me had to say ‘no more’ at some point in time. And 7 hours of walking and goggling at the Louvre treasures was enough. We went straight to get some food for our bodies. Our minds and souls were already stuffed.
We had some free time on our hands so we decided to visit a super posh department store for super posh people. The Galeries Lafayette is definitely a mecca for shopaholics and fashionistas.
The variety and quantity of merchandise is mind-boggling. Clothes, shoes, bags, jewellery, cosmetics, lingerie – you name it, they have it! Being a woman in such a place is a real torment. Especially when your credit card is not in your purse and your partner hid his deep down in his wallet.
A hug from Spiderman is a small consolation, but it’s better than nothing.
I even chatted a Star Wars Stormtrooper up. I may not be rich or famous (yet!!!) but I’ve still got this something that draws people towards me. 😉 I rock this helmet!!!
~ DAY 5 ~
I was super excited from the moment I opened my eyes. Today I was finally going to see and touch the symbol of Paris – the Eiffel Tower. And you know what? I almost missed it! The sky was so cloudy that a better half of the tower was invisible.
Oh, look! The Eiffel Tower! Er… where exactly???!!!
My heart sank. I felt cheated out of my biggest treat. As an act of defiance I decided not to visit it. There was no point spending money on a ticket if the visibility equalled zero.
After some time the wind managed to dispel the clouds but I didn’t change my mind. My good opinion once lost was lost forever!!!
We went past the tower, took a gazillion of photos, and headed for L’Aquarium de Paris. I know that all aquariums are almost the same but I enjoy looking at sea creatures. Especially the ones with sharp teeth, like sharks. They give me the shivers but that doesn’t stop me from staring at them.
In London Sea Life Aquarium you can pet rays, here you can grope some koi fish. I loved it! They felt so smooth and slick.
We made our next stop at La Basilique du Sacré-Cœur. It is located at the summit of the Montmartre hill, the highest point in the city. It is quite an imposing building with some unusual architectural features and unique details like Byzantine domes and bronze statues of king Louis IX of France and Joan of Arc, both perched on their fabulous steeds.
Panorama of Paris from the Sacré-Cœur Basilica is worth any of your physical effort. You will forget about your wildly beating heart and your lack of breath the moment you look down. And if you travel up by the means of a cable car, you won’t suffer from any of the above health problems. However, if you are an extreme sport enthusiast and in great need of a challenge, then use the steps to reach the top of the hill. If I am not mistaken there are over 200 steps leading to the basilica. I lost count and breath at the 100th step.
On our way to the centre of the city we strayed onto Boulevard de Clichy. The Moulin Rouge is the main attraction of the area. Well, at least for me. But I am sure some other people would find a lot of things to do here. 😉
We wanted to visit Musee d’Orsay but came too late. It was 4:55 and the last group of tourists had already gone inside. Clearly not my lucky day – first the Eiffel Tower, now this. Arrrgh!!!!!
First irritation and then tiredness kicked in. It was my 6th day in Paris and 5th day of intensive sightseeing. No wonder such small things started to get on my nerves. I decided to improve my mood by visiting Paul café restaurant and consuming a gigantic chocolate macaron. Two coffee cups, a chicken sandwich and two macarons later I felt a different person.
We went back to the hotel and prepared for our departure. I felt sad but happy at the same time. I fell in love with Paris but my hometown waited for me and I wanted to get some quality sleep in my own bed.
THINGS I LIKED ABOUT PARIS:
I liked everything. I couldn’t choose just one thing or place, because Paris was a beautiful city with a magical and indescribable aura. Every building, every historical monument was stunning and breathtakingly beautiful. I fell in love with Paris and I already plan my next visit there.
THINGS I DIDN’T LIKE:
There was only one – the weather. It rained 6 days in a row! Not all day long, but still. I had ONLY one rain-free day – the day of my departure. I am not a great lover of scorching days but that amount of rain was too much even for me.
TIPS FOR TRAVELLERS:
Take a raincoat, an umbrella and a pair of comfortable and water-resistant shoes. Don’t stick to your trip plan, just allow Paris to charm you and you’ll be fine.