After spending the first half of the week exploring the towns on the Cote d’Azur, for the second half of the week my friend Sara and I headed to Paris.
I had visited Paris twice before – once at age fifteen, and again at age twenty. I had liked it both times and was curious to see how I felt about Paris the third time around.
Sara and I decided to stay near the Arc de Triomphe, which I would recommend as its quite centrally located. I was really impressed with where we stayed, the Hotel Mercure Arc de Triomphe Wagram. The hotel was modern, our room was spacious (for European standards), the location was very central, and most importantly – the WiFi worked really well.
Our first night in town we had dinner on the most famous street in Paris, the Champs Elysees which is plentiful with restaurants and shops. After our dinner and a bit of shopping, we did a night time bus tour. The bus tour was a good way to get a grasp on the city quickly – it started at the Arc de Triomphe, and we passed by the Louvre, Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rouge, and various other attraction while learning a bit about each.
Funny side note: As we were walking to our bus tour, two guys came up to Sara and I trying to talk to us. One of the guys kept asking me something I didn’t understand in French – it sounded like he was saying “silly butter”, so I kept asking him what “silly butter” was. Turns out (thanks to Sara for figuring it out) he was asking if I was “célibataire” – which apparently in French means single – but sounds like “silly butter” and spelled out looks like celibate (awkward).
The next day I worked remotely from our hotel (never enough vacation days for me), while Sara toured the super-huge Versailles – apparently the palace and grounds at Versailles are bigger than Monaco AND Vatican City combined! That evening we had dinner at a restaurant at the Palais Royale and made our way to the post modern (aka strange architecture) Centre Georges Pompidou for drinks at the rooftop bar.
On Saturday we headed over to the Champs des Mars hoping to see a beautiful park next to the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately, the Champs des Mars (at least as far as our eyes could see) is pretty much mostly dirt because of everyone who goes there to get the perfect picture of them with the Eiffel Tower – ourselves included. Alas, after admiring the tower, we walked over the Seine River and hopped on one of the boats that would bring us to Notre Dame.
Notre Dame did not disappoint. Construction on it began over 850 years ago, and what has been produced in the years since is wonderful. The details put into the exterior and interior are truly beautiful. I definitely enjoyed the moments inside where I connected with my spiritual side.
Our last in the city we decided to go out in the well-know Montmartre neighborhood, where the Moulin Rouge is. It was good fun to explore an area thats previous residents include Picasso, Van Gogh, and Salvadore Dali.
Our final day I saw Sara off as she was flying back to Toronto. With a few hours to spare before my train back to London, I did a walking tour to learn a bit more about the history of Paris. During the tour I learned more about Louis XIV’s reign, Marie Antoinette’s opulence, and historic leader Napoleon Bonaparte.
My thoughts on my third time to France
Paris is a great city – and I recommend everyone visit at least once in their life. As it was my third time, I think I’ve seen quite a bit and likely won’t return soon unless I have a reason. France has always been a bit of a tricky country for me to pinpoint my feelings on. Some of my mixed feelings come from that I often don’t feel English speakers are welcome there (more so in the south of France than in Paris though), and that the laissez faire culture of the country is not always ideal for someone who is type-A like me. I definitely do appreciate France’s cafe culture, food, and beautiful architecture though.
What are your feelings on France? If you haven’t been, would you want to go?
Till next time all!