Paris…. I’ve always dreamt of visiting this exquisite city known by many to be the most romantic, idealistic and dreamy city in the world. Songs, Movies and Stories make us imagine that this is the perfect place for a man to propose and for a woman to say “Yes”. I used to have daydreams of myself on top of the Eiffel Tower with my man on his knees expressing his undying love for me; walking hand in hand with him on the streets under the rain; and having wine and cheese overlooking the tower. It’s just simply perfect like nothing could ever go wrong. – all that’s needed is French accordion music in the background.
11 days on our trip and we were off to the most awaited part – Paris. We took Ryanair, a low-budget airline perfect for people looking for a cheaper alternative to visit Paris. (low-budget as in they make you print your boarding pass or pay a fortune if you print at the airport, no reserved seats so you can’t afford to be late, no food so bring a sandwich with you and it lands at the farthest airport from Paris.) I really didn’t mind at all as I got what I paid for; EUR 95 for 2 for a 1-way trip from Faro, Portugal. We arrived in Beauvais Airport at 9:30pm. An hr-30 bus ride for 11 EUR, an hr metro ride and a 15 min walk later, not to mention with our overweighed backpacks, we finally arrived at our “hotel” at 12:30am. I couldn’t wait to shower and change and jump in bed but to my surprise what met us was a closed reception, a chained glass door and for some reason was covered with a cardboard! WE WERE SCAMMED!!! or so I thought we were. It was raining and freezing we were hungry and we had no place to stay. An old French woman who didn’t know a word of English helped us find the receptionist and when we did she rudely said, “We are fully booked” and slammed the door to our face without even looking at our reservation. Thank God for the Internet! At 3am we took a cab to our friend’s place and she offered us her place for the night. What an angel!
Our introduction to this city was not a pleasant one but we didn’t let the previous night stop us from experiencing “Paris” Our first stop was, ofcourse, the Eiffel Tower. It is indeed a site to see!
This was our first official taste of our Paris experience. Kissing under the Eiffel tower was just a must but we had no one to take photos of that. I didn’t realise Paris is a humongous city. We walked for a good 1 hr before we rested and had an amazing lunch and an even more exceptional dessert. The French sure know how to EAT.
JARDIN DES TUILERIES
We had our first glimpse of sunshine when we were strolling along Jardin des Tuileries appreciating the fountains and the array for intricate sculptures along the garden.
We got carried away with our stroll in gardens that we forgot about the time we had left to explore the Louvre. When we got there, hundreds of policemen were surrounding the area because the French Prime Minister was there. Seeing that they only let through the students in a school tour, we pretended to be one of them we got lucky! haha but we still had to fall in line for 30 minutes because we didn’t have tickets. (11EUR/person and closes at 5:45PM)
Considering we only had an hr to explore the museum, we covered a lot of the important paintings and sculptures. Aside from the Monsa Lisa, Da Vinci’s other works were very eye catching like these paintings below.
We look like giants, don’t we?
That sums up our first day in Paris. It was fun but I have to admit, “Paris is best when it rains” might be nice to imagine but in reality it was cold, dirty and smelly too! I had to buy those crappy 6-euro umbrellas and my feet were killing me. Ofcourse, Paris can’t be all perfect now can it? It’s hard to say this but scammers were just everywhere!
- Out of the blue a normal looking person would randomly give you a gold ring claiming innocently he found it on the ground and is willing to give it to you for “goodluck” then he walks away once you accept the gift but chases you right after to ask for a few euros.
- At night when going down the metro, a harmless looking girl would follow you and dare to reach in your front pocket. Always put your money in a waterproof pouch that you can wear on your neck and secure them safely under your shirt.
- When you get out from the metro, gypsies swarm at you selling little Eiffel tower key chains – nonstop. Just ignore them!
- Lastly, at the Gare du L’est train station, men who look like those kidnappers in the movie “Taken” would work in groups to try to rob from you. One would distract you by talking loudly on his phone and at the same time, another one would walk behind you and grab your bag. So NEVER leave your bags unattended even for a split second.
For travellers on a budget like us, NEVER TAKE A TOUR TO VERSAILLES. Heading there is as easy as 1, 2, 3. Just ask any information in the Metro for a ticket to Versailles. It was 24 Euros roundtrip for 2 people. We took the “VICK” train at Champ du Mars Station heading to Versailles. We got there in 20 mins. There are people at the train station pointing to a gift shop where you can buy tickets to the palace, it was 15 euros/ person for the palace and garden and 19 euros if you want to go to Marie Antuanette’s place.
Versailles is indeed as grandeur as they all say it is. It’s like taking a journey to your favorite Disney movie. It was just magnificent. The garden goes as far as your eyes can see. We didn’t have enough time to see everything but I suggest you take with you lots of food, find a spot and go on a picnic at the garden.
Hall of Mirrors at Chateau de Versailles
Champs-Élysées is arguably the most famous, expensive, beautiful strip in the world. It’s a good 1KM walk of shops, cafes, restaurants and a lot of entertainment before you end up at the Arc Di Triumph. It’s an outdoor shopping mall! Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Adidas, and Rolex among a few world known brands are not only boutiques but an entire building! The famous Laduree tea shop is a must visit! The 30-minute line was well worth the wait. The macaroons were just to die for!
Our second day was so much better than our 1st day. We moved to a different hotel, near the Arc Di Triumph and we spent the afternoon in Versailles. At night we met with my best cousin and she took us for some crepes near the tower.
Day 3 was truly a Parisian Experience. We started our day at Sacre Coeur. We took the metro and stopped at Anvers and walked our way up to the cathedral. I love strolling along tiny souvenir shops looking at trinkets and thrift stores which they have a lot of in this area. The walk up to the church was a long one but it was well worth the pain. You get the best view of Paris here. This is also another picnic place.
You can’t go to Paris without visiting THE Notre Dame. It’s part of my childhood. This cathedral is probably more known for “Hunchback of Notre Dame” where Quasimodo lived together with his gargoyles rather than it being the official chair of the archbishop in Paris.
PONT DES ARTS
Known as the “bridge of love.” Its a really cute date. My boyfriend and I couldn’t decide on a spot so we both went on each end of the bridge and met at the middle. The point where we met was our spot. We bought our padlock on the side street for 3 euros and stole a pen. You’re supposed to “lock” your love and throw away the key in the River Seine, this is a promise that you will love each other forever. This was one of my favorite “Paris Experience.”
After the whole day of experiencing Paris, just when we thought things couldn’t get any better, we met up with friends from Cebu for dinner. While waiting for them we decided give our tastebuds a feast with some french macaroons at its finest! ahhh Laduree, the home of the best macarons! I think the 20 minute line was worth it.
We had to convince Ricky and Sam to stay a bit longer for dessert at Trocadero. This place is where locals go to skate and it offers a different view of the Tower (a very beautiful view that shouldn’t be missed). We went to the Trocadero train stop and enjoyed the view of the Eiffel tower with our crepes. I say, it was the perfect way spend our last night.
CHAMP DE MARS PICNIC
Our 4th day in Paris and we finally got the chance to do something I’ve been wanting to do since the first day. At long last the weather cooperated! We had a bottle of wine, cold cuts and cheese at the garden while looking at the Eiffel Tower. It was very relaxing and truly what I expected it to be. This was definitely my favorite moment and thanks again for April for taking us here.
Paris wasn’t perfect but that’s what makes it so interesting. We spent more time transferring places than actually staying in them. We can’t expect it to be perfect but everything we went through made our “Parisian Experience” a perfect story to tell.
(May 29 – June 02, 2013)