Where to begin. You know what I’m going to say – J’adore Paris! But seriously, there is just so much this beautiful city has to offer – I could just go through all of the sights I saw, the places I visited and the streets I walked – but there is more to Paris than its sights, its architecture and its history.
My first day was part walking tour, part Cinders own tour. I joined the back of a Sandemans tour, a great way to see the sights of Paris, or many other cities – but not for me. I ditched the overly theatrical, slightly bossy tour guide at the Lourve and began wandering, joined by two American girls I befriended on the tour. The cold damp weather, didn’t stop us – from the Louvre we walked through Jardin des Tuileries, up to Place de la Concorde then back down the river to have lunch in Odeon. On our way down the river we passed the Lovers Lock bridge. I had a quick look for the lock(s) Dalke and I placed in 2012 – but no luck funnily enough. Walking along the river was pretty surreal, I remembered my way around which was a surprise in itself but it made me feel quite cool in front of my new friends who were first time Parisian travellers.
At lunch I remembered exactly what it was like to be a female dining out in Paris. You get called beautiful, you get treated like a princess and you get offered anything from the menu to phone numbers and even marriage proposals. Who knew lunch could be so exciting? The cheeky humour of the French men is adorable, you can’t help but enjoy it and smile. My steak frite arrived and another memory hit me – steak can often arrives on your plate as what us kiwi’s call a mince pattie…not a steak. I sat facing the road watching everyone battle the rain and ate with my new American friends. The girls and I split up here but made a plan to meet up at the hostel bar later that night. Back on my solo venture, my first stop was to buy an umbrella…I wasn’t about to let the rain postpone my afternoon – I just needed to keep my already ruined hair slightly dry so that i didn’t look a right shambles while exploring the glamour and style capital of the world! I put the umbrella up and trusted my inner gps (eeek!) to get me back to a metro somehow. I stumbled across the Notre Dame, it hit me – ‘wow i’m actually here, in Paris’. I then took a left to wander down a street surely because it was just so pretty, so Parisian. It was here that I started to think that Paris might not be just a place and a bunch of iconic sites; Paris is starting to be more like a feeling.
Over the next few days I explored the City of Lights – I managed to wander the streets, catch connecting metro lines and even a bus which meant I got to not only cover off the key sites but also delve more in to more everyday, real life Paris.
Yes I saw the touristy sites; Notre Dame, Lourve pyramids, Champes Elysse, Arc de Triumph, Eiffel Tower, Montmartre, Sacre Coeur, Moulin Rouge…but it’s what I didn’t see and what I felt that made me fall in love with this city.
Paris makes you feel all sorts of emotions; from empowered, to single, to independent. From scared, to inspired to romantic. From welcome, to foreign, to feminine. The aroma of urine might always in the air but so is love. Whether it be the love of life, love of the city or the love of another person – it just makes you feel ‘love’ – you can’t help it.
Paris got me in the sense of the love of life. To get to Paris and wander these beautiful streets, eat on my own in French restaurants, shop in the cobbled alleyways, see some of the most world-renowned sites – was so simple. All I had to do was get the Victoria line two stops from my house to Kings Cross St Pancras and then catch the Eurostar underseas to Gare du Norde. A mind-blowing concept for a girl whose entire life was lived on an island where you had to catch a plan just to get out of the country you have to catch a plane. I was blown away by how easy it is to get to Paris from my house…seriously? How cool is that to be able to say?!
Yes I encountered the dark side of Paris; the streets of Gare du Norde are not the safest in the day time let alone at night outside an ATM – but I held my own, I pushed back, persevered and I survived. I didn’t let the scary parts limit the exciting parts – nothing stopped me. I climbed the stairs to the top of Montmartre, I walked along the Seine in the rain (rhyming not intended), I shopped (and spent) in Le Marais, visited St Pauls, took selfies at the Eiffel Tower and endured hostel life – because Paris made me feel like I could.
Paris made me proud of myself and Paris made me feel love – of my life, the city, traveling solo and the way it all made me feel.
// Info ~
IMAGES // a snapshot of my trip here …
WHAT // Paris, France
WHERE // St Pancras International to Gare Du Nord
WHEN // Summer doesn’t tend to hit till July/August – but if you’re not concerned about weather this city is alive any time of year
HOW // Eurostar – approx. £189 return
TRANSPORT // Metropolitan system in France is super easy to use – buses are available but slightly less tourist friendly
TOP TIP // Practise your French! The Parisians in particular aren’t known for being too friendly when it comes to foreign languages, if you give it a go in French they’re far more likely to happily help you
WEBSITE // http://en.parisinfo.com