Paris is an incredible city. I absolutely loved it and would certainly visit again. It has several interesting districts teeming with culture, beauty and tasty treats. We had about three days to explore, which gave us enough time to have an overview of France’s capital. But I would have happily spent more time in Paris.
It was a miracle that we even made it to Paris. Our bus was scheduled to leave at midnight on a Friday. We got to our bus stop about 20 minutes early and proceeded to wait and worry, wait and worry, repeat. We were out in the cold at a random, dimly lit city bus stop in Saarbrücken, Germany with no bus station in sight. By the time 1 a.m. rolled around and we had yet to see a bus (but plenty of teasing semi trucks), the worry really started to escalate. Fifteen minutes later we decided to throw in the towel, assuming that we got scammed, and called a taxi. A beat later we saw a glorious, magnificent tour bus with “Eurolines” painted in large letters on the side… It was our bus! Our bus! I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited to see a bus. The drive in to Paris was pretty uneventful and filled with fitful sleep. We arrived quite early in the morning and took at train to our hostel to drop off our luggage. The staff was incredible and gave us free breakfast for that morning, even though we weren’t able to check in until later in the afternoon.
Our first stop in the city was, of course, the Eiffel Tower. It was a surreal moment, because I thought I’d never make it to the city, but here I was looking at the iconic image of Paris! We walked around for most of the day, stopping to see the Statue of Liberty’s sister, the Pont de Bir-Hakeim (the bridge that was in the movie Inception), the Arc de Triomphe and the famous shopping boulevard Champs-Elysees. Later that night we saw the Moulin Rouge and then headed to a club called Showcase that our hostel receptionist recommended. His directions were all turned around, but we managed to find it with a taxi driver’s aid. It was a fairly fun club, but only pumped out techno all night, which was a bit of a disappointment after the hostel man promised hip hop, techno and dubstep. He was just wrong on most counts. Getting home after the club was another challenge. We left late, and as we walked up to the top of the steps to get down to the metro, the gate closed. So we tried to hail a taxi. Well apparently everyone else was doing the same thing, because it took us TWO HOURS to finally find a free taxi with a driver (thank God for Mark!) willing to take us all the way to our hostel (it was a fair drive out of the main part of the city). Two girls tried to swoop in and take out cab, but I wasn’t about to let that happen. We hopped in and finally made it back to the hostel, where I immediately curled up in bed for some sleep.
Sunday morning we got up early and headed to the Louvre, getting there about half an hour before it opened. It was a great decision, because we got pictures outside of the museum without tons of people milling around, and we were first in line at the main entrance. We leisurely strolled through the museum, taking a little over two hours to check out all the art work. Had we come an hour later, we would have spent that time in line to get into the museum and buy tickets. And another great thing was that we were able to get in for free, because we are international students studying in Europe. It was fabulous!
The rest of the day we saw the Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur and the Montmartre district. The district was my favorite part of Paris. Artists showcase their work along cobblestoned streets lined with shops and restaurants. And it is where we discovered hang music. The hang is a percussion instrument that has only been (hand)made since 2001. The sound is so beautiful and unique, but familiar because it has hints of steel drum and tablas. We finished the night off with dinner at Cafe de France in Place d’italie, complete with French onion soup, a mozzarella tomato sandwich and crème brûlée. Our final stop was the Eiffel Tower lit up at night, making it even more beautiful than during the day.
Monday was a relaxing day. We went to Tuileries Gardens, which are exquisite and provided a glimpse of the Louvre, Obelisque, Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower. It was a great summation of the trip. We had lunch at a little cafe and then stocked up on some delicious pastries (croissants included) before heading home.