I’m just back from the most charming city I’ve ever been to (yes ..considering Kolkata,Mumbai,New York..London and so on) and feel clueless about how I should start. Should I tell you I found Eiffel tower a bit overhyped and catacomb a thrilled yet profound journey ..or should I just mention how overwhelming a night river cruise followed by a Moulin Rouge show can be…or let the focus remain on the amazing Musee de Louvre…or emphasise on our aimless roaming around the streets of Latin Quarter and St.Germain area..hmm.. Let me tell you it my way….
This can continue for a while but I would rather not try to spoon-feed you with the must sees…to each on his own…everyone should come up with their own grand list…
So one Friday evening we took the Thalys from Amsterdam to Paris and my husband came down from Zürich. as a part of my plan we all met up in the Gare du Nord metro station and headed for the Hotel Derby Eiffel (1 km away from Eiffel tower and yes you can see eiffel from the balcony).
Nice cozy hotel and the receptionists were friendly. I had been in touch with them to get our Moulin rouge show booked in advance. Plenty of restaurants are available in the area and we made the most out of it and had a sumptuous meal. on our way back to hotel we saw traffic was stopped and hundreds of people skating on the roads. It was amazingly well-organized. it turned out to be the famous weekly skating event in Paris which is known as ‘Pari Roller’. if weather permits it starts every friday night at 10 and lasts 3 hours and thousand of Parisian attends the event. So if you are in Paris on a friday evening try to stick to the central paris along the bank of river Seine.
It was a late entry to St. Germain area and what struck me was that it actually feels like you are in a Bollywood movie when you roam in the streets here…you’ll see people standing in one quite corner and playing some musical instrument peacefully..in a way it is very similar to NY..but then life does not seem to be that fast in Paris…we found a gem of a small crepe restaurant and gorged on some awesome fresh cream and strawberry crepe (officially known as Aphrodite)
..we walked through the Latin quarter region stumbling upon artistes making portraits and abstract arts in the middle of the streets..met a charming old lady with her souvenir shop who without even being asked proposed us a group photo..witnessed a wedding with the bride and groom posing for their wedding albums…
and finally ended up on a bridge where people seem to come and lock their love…
then all of a sudden we found ourselves in the backyard of Louvre but we had kept our last day booked for it..so we moved on to notre dame..
You can visit Paris for many a reason but architecture has to be one of them..Nortre dame was just amazing with its French gothic architecture..
make sure to get the ticket to the tower separately..normally the queue is a long one..
We took a drinks break and continued our journey and just to let you know do not choose the café across the corner from Notre Dame..we were robbed J..And then we made the biggest blunder ..we chose to go Montmartre(Sacre de coeur) instead of marais…
Montmartre turned out to be a local picnic spot..The basilica is a comparitavely a new catholic church which was constructed from 1875 to 1914..too crowded its was like taking a trip to Kolkata zoo or Bandstand in Bombay or marina beach in Chennai…only good thing was the paris view from the top..if you are short in time do give it a miss..
So now was the time to go back and dress up for the evening..we were to be picked up from our hotel for an evening cruise in seine river and then enjoy the ‘ferie’ sow in Moulin rouge..
Paris is truly the city of lights and it is lovely to pass by these monuments and steal a glance or two at your partner…then you go under one of a kind bridge where you can just close your eyes and make a wish…only time will tell if Paris can fulfil mine…but it was worth a try…and when you come close to eiffel tower lookout for it…it sparkles like thousand of diamonds..
We were to attend the 11:pm show at Moulin rouge but the queue was never ending…but it moved fast and we were seated at a table of six..show was amazing . apart from the dance part the the ventriloquism act was a first rated one …it was almost half past one and our chauffeur drove us through champ elyess, arc de triumph to our hotel..And Paris does look intoxicating at night..
Eiffel tower was seeking attention from the corner but all I could think of on Sunday morning was catacomb..well here is some history on it..it is an underground ossuary which has the remainders of 6 million Parisian..due to the scarcity of burial places in Paris an attempt was made by opening a central mass burial ground fans tunnels for people who could not afford a church burial..so in short it is a long length of tunnels decorated with human skeletons.. it feels strange that had I been born in that period in Paris people would have bought tickets to pose in front of my skull..it is weird just to think we have so much needs in our lifetime and this is what remains at the end..it is a 2km stretch and there are 130 steps to be gone down and 83 up. And do start early and opt for the audio guide. Long queue is caused by the fact that no more than 200 persons are allowed at one time.
Went back to the hotel and again did the needful (to dress up for paris) to be in ‘la Pari’ and dressed up shabbily is just a crime and I did not want to be the guilty one..
We made a quick visit to the Louvre hoping that the pyramid will be lit in the evening..but we found out due to some security they never turn on the lights…our next stop was avenue de champ de elyess which was beautifully decorated for Christmas..
some window shopping and then followed by hot wine and Canelé (cylinder shaped dessert which has a thick caramelized crust with a soft core part and a flavor of rum and vanilla)…
End of the day Eiffel tower was waiting for us. We already got our online tickets from http://www.eiffel-tower.com website. Tickets to the top will cost you 13 euro. If possible try to book in advance then you can avoid the long ticket queues at the spot.Paris looks beautiful from the top but I failed to understand the hype of it being the most romantic spot ET all.
The whole day was saved for Musee de Louvre and I would just say it was totally worth of all the footaches. I’m not a patron of art. I still don’t get abstract works…but I loved the palace. I loved the paintings and in most of the cases the stories behind them and was awestruck by the grandeur of Napoleon’s apartment..it will probably take days or months to actually pause and appreciate each of those magnificent sculptures and paintings…and we did stop to see Monalisa and hundreds of people staring at her….
It was time to say goodbye. but there was still some time..we rushed to the crepe restaurant and had some more Aphrodite…delicious indeed.
Should you opt for any pass or not?
–well yes and No. Untill unless you want to go to Disneyland and other places which are a bit away from the city (not included in zone 1-3) do not get the visitor pass applicable for all transports. Day pass will be of good use only if you start early in Paris…it is valid till 12:00Am in the night..Also day pass becomes a must if would like to make more than 5-6 metro journeys in a day and it costs you 6 euro per person…each metro ticket costs 1.7 but if you can get a bundle of 10 (can be used in multiple days) it costs approx 12 euro. So you know which one to choose next time you land inParis.
It is ok stick to your budget but do try to be in the centre of the city..our hotel was great but we also loved St. Germain area..
The show ‘Ferie’ has been running for last 22 years..show tickets costs 100 euro..but if you book it through viator.com the package of show (with a glass of champgne)+evening cruise would be 130 euro.
And last but not the least..you don’t have to wait till summer…It is a city of all season and all reason..pick yours and make a move…