Looking through my old posts, I realized that I never wrote a post about Paris, despite having been there 3 times. I did once write an English paper about my experiences, which is great because I had already forgotten more details than I should have at such a young age. So I decided to document the rest now – better late than never – and in the process found a lot of pictures I had forgotten about. Some are a bit grainy but I was reminded once again how beautiful the city is.
As was the theme with many of my study abroad trips, there were plenty of mishaps in Paris. I got lost multiple times; had to navigate with a tiny street map, ask for directions, or wander around til I found a metro stop. I once had to stand outside yelling my friend’s name for 15 minutes, hoping she’d hear me from the 4th floor window and give me the code to get in (it did finally work). On more than one occasion I’ve spent 30 minutes or more just trying to find somewhere to eat.
Despite all this, it’s still my favorite city to spend time in. Joe and I are going back for my birthday this year, and I cannot wait to go with my DSLR camera and take a million more pictures. Until then, here’s a recap of my previous trips. 😉
Arc De Triomphe
Fair warning: it is 284 steps to the top but it’s worth every one of them. There is a lift but when I visited it appeared to be only for anyone unable to use stairs. There’s a lot of significance and history to the arc as well, but I’ll let you read that from the experts if you’re interested. My recommendation is to go around sunset; the city looks incredible as the sun is setting. If you can time it just right and stick it out long enough, it also looks amazing at night with all the city lights!
No list of Paris attractions would be complete without the Louvre. It’s the largest museum in the world and notably contains the Mona Lisa, which is the most popular spot in the museum. As soon as you’re in, you’ll start seeing signs pointing you toward the exhibit (which is surprisingly not that easy to get to). It’s difficult to get to the front of the line to see it; then when you get to the front you’ll find there’s a barrier keeping people away. The painting itself is inside a case of bulletproof glass, thanks to a history of theft and vandalism.
While it’s absolutely good to see, I find it a little overrated, and there are so many other incredible pieces. So many in fact, that there are still whole sections of the museum I’ve never seen despite having been there twice. It’s much easier if you’re able to go earlier in the day; even an art lover like me can be too exhausted to care at the end of a long day. Especially when the layout is so hard to follow – the first time I went I couldn’t find my way out of the Roman statues and thought I’d have to spend the rest of my life there. Fortunately I weaved my way out eventually.
Just make sure you don’t try to go on a Tuesday as they will not be open. Yep, I found this out on a Tuesday. If you don’t feel like navigating the many rooms, it’s still worth it to go by and see the gorgeous exterior and the nearby Tuileries Gardens.
A really important tip if you want to visit Versailles: there is a metro stop called Porte de Versailles. This is not where the Palace of Versailles is! A very kind French woman took the time to write down directions for me and even asked people to help her translate. I had to take a tram and a train to get to the right location, which is further outside the city.
You should also check that they’re open on the day you want to visit, because I went through all of that only to find out the palace is closed on Monday. (Noticing a theme here?) Fortunately, it’s surrounded by massive, incredible gardens which I wandered around instead. I found myself in disbelief that it was once basically someone’s backyard.
I did go back again so that I could go inside the palace. It’s absolutely breathtaking. Everything has such intricate detail, from the front gates to the ceilings. I don’t even have the words to describe the extravagance; I could understand why the French Revolution happened, seeing how much they had when the people of France had so little.
Notre-Dame is one of the most wonderful cathedrals I’ve seen; stunning architecture and stained glass. I felt such a sense of reverence as soon as I walked in; it must be so incredible to attend church in such a magnificent place. You don’t have to attend any services though if you prefer to just walk around and see the beauty.
On a less reverent note, yes, Rebecca and I did get a nice picture of her as the “hunchback” of Notre-Dame, which I sadly don’t have to share with you today.
I must be honest, Sainte-Chapelle wasn’t my absolute favorite when I visited. It was smaller than I expected, under construction, and I had to pay more than I expected to get in. However, it still gets an honorable mention because the stained glass is incredible! It’s absolutely beautiful although maybe a little overpriced.
Ladurée is an iconic tea room and pastry shop that’s been around since 1862. They now have stores all over the world, but the flagship shop is in Paris on the Champs-Elysées. It’s an expensive place and I’ve never eaten a meal there, but I love to stop for a macaron and some ice cream. It feels so classy and Parisian to me.
There ya have it – some of my favorite places in Paris. I have so many that I’ve decided to split it into two posts… stay tuned for part 2!