Paris the City of Light. Famous for its Eiffel Tower, and known as the romantic city; place for newlyweds, honeymoon goers, the place for art and literature enthusiasts. The place for everyone.
My first trip to Paris was short and sweet. Paris was a little under 10°c.
I decided to stay at a small studio apartment which I booked from www.airbnb.com for around €40/night. If you book earlier, you could find something less than that for a decent studio unit or a room and if you don’t want to spend a single cent, go couchsurfing!. It’s pretty important to read up travel articles on blogs or websites about Paris prior to your trip so you know where to stay and what to do. It’s very convenient to stay near the metro station or bus station because for a short trip, it can be a bit difficult to get familiarized with the place and street. So having a metro station as your landmark will save you a lot of trouble.
I stayed at 65 Rue des Martyrs street, at an area called Pigalle. It’s a great place with a lot of amenities and the metro station is just a few steps away from my studio. I rented a place from a guy called Lucas and you can check out his nice and super value for money studio here. The studio is complete with kitchen and sofa bed, just nice for two people maximum and it has a shower with a separated toilet which is located just outside the studio.
In Paris, a normal meal will cost you between €10 – €20 and a can of soda is around €4. You can save more by cooking but you wouldn’t want to miss trying out all the tasty food in Paris. French food is an absolute delight especially the authentic ones. I really had a great time enjoying their salads, freshly baked pastries and cups of aromatic coffee in a windy cold weather.
I didn’t have much time to try all of their local delights but I had enough time to explore most of their main attractions over the weekend. I spent three days of my trip wisely and within the budget. I bought Paris daily metro pass (free unlimited use of the Paris metro system) for €11 and it took me to every corner of Paris. It is advisable to carry a map with you or at least know where you are heading to because metro, being the most used public transportation in Paris, it is huge and confusing.
The minute you land in Paris, the first place you want to go is of course the Eiffel Tower. I took the train from Pigalle, sailed through the blue line, changed to the light green line at Charles de Gaulle Etoile and stopped at Bir-Hakiem station.
From the station, I walked a few minutes before I reach the leg of Eiffel Tower. Don’t worry about walking alone but be careful with pickpockets. Before I start
ranting on how amazed I was with Eiffel Tower, I’d like to share my experience using the metro. The Paris Metro is over 100 years old and used by almost 1.4 billion travellers every year. It goes through tunnels and the train carriages range from the oldest canned-like train to the modern double-decker train. Dimmed lights, overcrowded station and some weird piss-like stench. It was a bit unpleasant at first but after a few rides, I got used to all that and it wasn’t that bad after all. I hopped from one train to another, just to appreciate the experience and make full use of my daily pass.
Now back to Eiffel Tower; It’s huge and nothing like I expected. It’s majestic, grand, ambitious and simply breathtaking. Another spectacular architectural masterpiece located on the Champ de Mars. The tower was named after the engineer Gustave Eiffel. Filled with awe and amazement, I started walking around the tower to catch a glimpse of what it has to offer. Really, the tower is HUGE. You can climb 704 steps to the second floor or you can opt for the elevator. From the second floor you can see the panoramic view over Paris. Lift entrance ticket is €9,00 for adults and €7,50 (12-24 y/o) which takes you to the 2nd floor. Lift entrance ticket to top is €15,00 for adults and €13,50 (12-24 y/o). Stairs entrance is only €5. Eiffel Tower is really magnifique that even in the day or at night, you can never take a bad photo of it.
So you must be wondering what’s around Eiffel Tower? There’s a park where people “camp out” with friends and family. A long span of grass, flanked by trees and fountains and thousands of tourists taking pictures. You will meet people from all over the world and I mean it.
The sun was up, weather was perfect. Windy, but bearable. You’ll see people doing all kinds of stuff; kids running around, Parisians with a book in their hand, people by the pond, sitting on the bench or just lying down on the grass. The place was filled with laughters and chat-buzzing sound.
From Eiffel Tower, I walked across Seine River. I’ve been to many rivers in my whole life but nothing like this river, it has an atmosphere of sophistication and culture.
I walked further down to Jardins du Trocadéro, an open space and a great spot to get the perfect full-length photograph of Eiffel Tower in the background.
I had the whole day to cover more places so I filled my itinerary with must-go-places. First stop was Musée d’Orsay, located on the left bank of Seine River. The nearest metro station is called Solférino (green line) and from there I walked a few minutes down the street before reaching the French museum. Famous paintings can be found in the museum, among them is James McNeill Whistler, Whistler’s Mother, a portrait of the artists mother, 1871 (let me jog your memory, remember Mr Bean the movie?).
The bank of Seine River is just a few steps away from the museum.
Next stop is to Louvre. Everything is located within walking distance. No one can ever claim that they do not know a thing about Louvre, it is the most talked about place after Eiffel Tower. It is where the Pyramid-shapped glass building is located. One of the world’s largest museums and it has one of the insanely famous artworks of all time; Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. The museum opens from 9am to 6pm every day except on Tuesday. Tickets cost €12 for permanent collections and €13 for hall Napoleon or a combined ticket for €16.
From Louvre, I continued walking through Grand Bassin Rond, Tuileries Garden and all the way to Place de la Concorde. There’s no access road for cars, only paths for people to walk while enjoying the greenery surrounding the area. It’s really breathtaking as colourful flowers bloomed healthily and the air is so fresh it makes you feel so alive. The place is just beautiful in its own way.
My journey didn’t end there. I continued walking until I reached the ultimate shopping spot in Paris, The Avenue des Champs-Élysées! International brands and branded boutiques lined up along the street, people swarming like bees. The weather suddenly turned slightly warmer, not sure because of the Sun was heating up or because of the area was crowded with people. At the end of the street, you will see this huge monument called The Arc de Triomphe circled in the middle of the craziest and biggest roundabout I’ve ever witnessed.
I went to Montmartre on the 3rd day. It’s closer to my place, close to Pigalle. I wandered the streets of Montmartre, passing through the Place du Abbesses (where the nearest metro station to Montmartre), strolled the streets of this bohemian neighbourhood and it was one of the best experiences I had in Paris. I started climbing towards the top, 130 metres high and visited the Sacre Cour (Sacred Heart) which is certainly another wonder of Paris and there lies an amazing view of the city.
From Montmartre, I took the train to Notre-Dame Cathedral. I stopped at Saint-Michel – Notre-Dame station and crossed the Seine River. Long queue but totally worth it. So I went inside in awe, observing every inch of the church.
Among other places that I went on my last day in Paris were Les Galeries Lafayette, at Boulevard Haussmann where I took the train and stopped at St. Lazare station. I walked along a few streets around the neighbourhood but it was a bit disappointing because most shops in Paris were closed on Sunday, even shops in malls. I spent the whole day sightseeing and exploring remote areas.
All in all, I really enjoyed my time in Paris. Although the city may seem overrated from all the excessive hype, but it is a well-deserved reputation. I have to admit that everyone needs to go here at least once and be part of the amazing culture. It’s really hard to describe the experience in words and pictures, that’s just the small bit of the whole thing!