Posted by: lindsaygoes | April 2, 2010

Initial Adventures in Paris

I’m in Paris at the moment.

Short summary if you can’t be bothered reading the full email: Cold, lots of walking, sightseeing and eating.

And now for the long version.

So I arrived in Paris on Tuesday afternoon. Managed to find my hostel really easily which I was pretty proud of! It’s got the most amazing wooden staircase, but luckily a lift as well because lugging a backpack up several flights of stairs is never fun, even if it is kind of lightish at the moment (that will soon change!). All I did that afternoon was go for a bit of a walk, but I did have a French guy flirt with me (unsuccessfully) which was kind of fun.

The next day I headed out early and went to the Eiffel Tower first thing. It was too windy to go past level two, but even from there the views were spectacular. Even on that level the wind was pretty strong and icy, so I wasn’t up there for too long! After that I successfully navigated the metro (alright, it’s not that hard!) to make it just on time for an 11am walking tour of Paris. Bizarrely there was a friend of mine from Melbourne on it, so I had someone to hang out with. The walking tour was for three and a half hours and went past quite a lot of the main monuments in Paris, so I got to see the outside of Notre Dame, the Louvre, some of the Latin Quarter, the Tulleries, Arc de Triomphe, the Grand Palais and Petit Palais, National Opera, Pont Neuf and more. We did manage to lose the tour group at one point (taking photos) but amazingly found them again among all the other people! Unfortunately during the tour it rained and hailed and the wind blew my umbrella inside out, so it wasn’t the best weather, and I’m sure no one will be surprised that I was cold enough that my teeth were chattering! Never mind, better than sitting round inside when there’s a beautiful city to explore! After the tour we were going to go to the Musee d’Orsay, but the lines were too long so we went into a restaurant and got some crepes instead. Mmmmm, hot chocolate sauce and delicious vanilla ice cream! After that the weather had cleared up a little bit so we went to Notre Dame. Went down into the catacombs; I always find it amazing when you can see the actual sites of ruins under buildings, and that we were walking under the streets of Paris. Then we went inside the cathedral itself where they had a mass on, and all the music really added to the atmosphere. Then it was back to the hostel. Ended up joining another girl from Melbourne, and we walked into the Latin Quarter which was cool and she had crepes (I had the second half of my baguette from lunch because I’m a stingy backpacker ok!).

The next day (Thursday if you’re interested), I again headed off early to go to Versailles. Luckily it was sunny (although still quite cold!) and it was an amazing place. The castle was so opulent, and the gardens were just gorgeous, particularly in the Queen’s area with the lovely grotto. I ended up with a bit of the afternoon free so I went back to Notre Dame and climbed the tower. Lots of steps, but the view from the top was again amazing, made extra special by all the gargoyles. Got talking to an Iranian guy staying in Paris who suggested I go to the Avenue des Champs Elysees, where I could check out the expensive shops and car dealerships (examples he gave were Ferrari and Toyota. Yep). The trickiest bit of the 400 stair journey around Notre Dame was the journey down. While going up had been in a few stages, going down was in one stretch along a narrow spiral stone staircase. Admittedly my knees shake fairly easily, but they were definitely shaking by the time I reached the bottom. Then it was back to the hostel again and I went out to a French restaurant for dinner with the Australian girl from the day before. Very tasty! Then we went to the Eiffel Tower to see it at night. The top level was open but we were too late to be able to ascend, so we just took lots of photos and complained about the cold together! On the way back we got onto the wrong train platform and the easiest way to get down was in the lift, or so we thought. A recording proceeded to tell us that the lift would depart in 30 seconds, 15 and then 5. Eventually it started moving!

Today I went to the Arc de Triomphe. The early start didn’t work quite so well as it only opened at 10am, so I had to wait around (yeah, yeah, in the cold!) for half an hour – and then there were more narrow stone spiral staircases. Again, going up not so bad, going down, little more nervewracking! But lovely views once again! Then I walked along the Avenue des Champs Elysees, apparently the super rich don’t start shopping until at least 10:30am, because that’s when all the shops were starting to open. Then I went into the Musee d’Orsay, which is a lovely building and then had a wander around Paris (broke down and bought another jumper) – until it started raining, when I went into a cafe, had a hot chocolate and people watched. Once it eventually stopped it was back to the hostel, stopping for a lovely macaron/macaroon on the way. Mmmmmm – I also managed to convince someone else in the hostel that they wanted one, apparently I can be quite persuasive.

So that’s it so far. Hoping to go to the Louvre, Montmarte and on a boat on the Seine before I go – I should be able to fit all that in with another couple of days! Oh, and I need to buy one of the gorgeous Easter Egg creations that I’ve seen in some shops over here!

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Responses

  1. Love it there. The subway system is great. I don’t recommend the couscous restaurants. Enjoying your blog now and then. Smart of you to keep such a good record. I’m your Goodreads friend Doug Bradshaw


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