Paris is formally known as the City of Light because it was a vast center of education and ideas during the Age of Enlightenment. Paris is also known to be an expensive city.
Our per day spend in Paris was the highest of anywhere we had visited to date (excluding our Spain Backroads trip and Kenya safari trips). Our money was not spent on tourist stuff – it was spent on eating and drinking. One day, Peter was jonesing for a Diet Coke, so he stopped into a small convenience store next to our Airbnb and was consequently struck by sticker shock. A single can of Diet Coke cost 3€ (~$4). The following day, Peter stopped into the small grocery store located a few shops down the from the convenience store and while we can’t remember the exact price, we do remember that the per can price was close to that of the convenience store. Insane!
Another example of Paris being an expensive city occurred at a wine bar we stopped into one afternoon before dinner. We looked at the menu and then ordered what we thought was a bottle of wine for 24€ (~$32) but that turned out to be the PER GLASS price. After Peter ordered, the winetender asked us if we wanted one or two glasses and we said “two.” I mean, obviously, as we weren’t going to share a bottle of wine using a single glass. When the wine was delivered sans wine bottle, we realized the error of our ways and did our best to enjoy ~$62 worth of wine spread over two glasses. Ho hum.
Our long weekend in Paris was not one I was looking forward to because of things I’ve heard about Parisians disliking tourists, especially American tourists and Americans in general. The real deal is that Parisians are known to dislike anyone who is not a Parisian. My disinterested feelings were a combination of feeling unwanted in Paris and the forecast which called for rain.
We took the Eurostar train from London to Paris which was more enjoyable than flying but I have to note that the Eurostar trains are dirty, outdated, and basically falling apart. I remember this vividly from a same-day trip I took to Paris with my friend Heidi. Before that trip, I held Eurostar on a high pedestal and thought Eurostar trains were pristine machines and in reality, Eurostar trains are some of the worst trains I’ve been on.
Once we arrived at Gare du Nord, we hopped on the Metro and arrived at Saint Michel station in central Paris 14 minutes later.
Our Airbnb was located in the Latin Quarter and in a perfect location as far as I’m concerned. The area around our apartment was always busy and on Sunday, a jazz band played on the corner of our block all day long. The music made Paris feel a bit like New Orleans and I’m aware of how backwards that statement is.
Below is a video I took from our apartment window. The most amazing thing about our apartment windows was that we couldn’t hear a thing when the windows were closed. Most. Amazing. Windows. Ever.
The weather turned out to be quite pleasant which allowed us to visit a few attractions: Notre Dame, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, and the Eiffel Tower. First up, Notre Dame.
Our visit to Notre Dame was less of a visit and more of a walk-by. Admission to Notre Dame is free which meant the line was long but it seemed to move at a steady pace even though Peter and I watched multiple tourists cut in the front of the line (and no one ever called them out on it!). Peter and I decided not to go inside Notre Dame because to be honest, no church/cathedral/place of worship will ever top the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. Sorry, Notre Dame.
After our Notre Dame walk-by, we stopped by the Louvre. It is a monster-sized building!
We went to the Louvre to see the Mona Lisa. To get to the Mona Lisa, you have to navigate through various exhibits and other artsy stuff. To my amazement, a sculptor read my Romantical Adventure: Prague post and saw the conjoined twins photo of Jessi and I and then made a sculpture of us! We are trendsetters.I knew we had made it to the Mona Lisa when I saw a group of about 200 people snapping photos. The Mona Lisa is so tiny that I could barely see it hanging on the wall beyond the horde of people. The mass of people was like an organized riot. People were pushing their way to the front and less-pushy people were getting noticeably upset with pushy people and I just wanted to get a photo and get the fuck out of there.
Thankfully, my height gives me an advantage in scenarios such as this but I still wasn’t able to get a good photo (I was off-center and the flash-protective glass caused a glare).
After our much-longer-than-anticipated Louvre visit, we took the Metro to the outskirts of the city to a boutique cocktail bar called Candelaria. It is accessible through a secret door located inside a taqueria. Yes, this post is still about Paris. To clarify, we went to the six-seat taqueria, ate two tacos, and then walked through the white wooden door at the back of the taqueria and into the amazing cocktail bar, Candelaria.
The cocktails were pricey at 12€ each but they were delicious! There were three mixologists on duty, ready and willing to get us drunk: Two Americans and one Canadian. One of the Americans hailed from White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Small world.
I liked the secretiveness of Candelaria, the cocktails, and that language was not a barrier. This may be shocking to some but we had difficulty finding good English speakers (or even websites in English) in Paris.
This brings me to my next topic: Translations. Sometimes translations just come out wrong.
On our second full day, we visited the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. The Arc de Triomphe is located in the middle of a roundabout and accessed via a pedestrian tunnel under the road.
Once you are in the tunnel, you can either ascend to ground level in middle of the roundabout (free) or buy a ticket (8€) and climb the stairs to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. We chose to climb the approximate 300 stairs which turned out to be a walk in the park compared to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Climbing the stairs was a good decision considering we had eaten the most expensive chocolate in our lives the day prior at Patrick Roger.
Back to the Arc de Triomphe…
The view from the top is unique because there are 12 roads which radiate out from the arch. You can’t get this view from ground level, nor would I have known about it had I not hoofed it to the top.Below is a panoramic photo I took from the top of the arch. Note how the radiating roads are distorted.
Finally, we swung by the Eiffel Tower which to my dismay, is undergoing renovation work. The scaffolding seen below the arch ruined my photo-op! Yay for blue sky and no rain though?
Overall, it was a good trip to Paris and I’m glad I was able to revisit and explore the city and culture for a period longer than nine hours. Would I return to Paris? Yes but probably not in the near future. There are too many other places to visit before I would return to Paris.