Paris, je t’aime

I’m going to start this post with a disclosure. If you follow me on Instagram you will know this by my recent posts, but if you don’t (then  you totally should) one thing you will notice is that I love, love, loooove travelling.However, unlike many people, my first trip abroad was just a little over a year ago.

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Sunday 13th September 2015, I shall never forget this date. Besides being the day after my wedding, it was also the day the airport doors opened up for me, indefinitely. We set out for our early morning flight and arrived in Beauvais, Paris from where we took a bus to the city and made our way to Hotel du Metro. We then left our bags and ventured out to get to know the area and a lovely area it was.

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Disorientated, with no plan in mind we explored the streets only to end up running into a small coffee shop, ‘Le Consulat’, to escape the rain, how romantic right? Sitting there, sipping on hot chocolate and enjoying our first french macaroons (only the best dessert ever invented), reality set in, as well as the fatigue. We then headed back to the hotel which was rather small and old but it was run by an elder French man and his son who were the most lovely and genuine people. Despite the language barrier they still made the effort to give us directions when we needed them as well as recommendations of where to go and warnings to be careful.

We then napped for most of the day and in the evening applied our new-found knowledge of the area to find a lovely rustic food place that served snails, our first taste of France (quite literally).Following some wine sips and a lovely dinner we headed back to our hotel and turned in for the night.

The following morning, Monday 14th September, we started off our day with a lovely breakfast in the patisserie located perfectly around the corner from our hotel. Serving both savory and sweet treats, we fell in love with it so much we revisited it every morning for the rest of our stay. Then, equipped with a map of the metro, off we went. Fun fact, our hotel was called ‘Hotel du Metro’ as it was situated a mere 2 minutes walk from one of the stations, talk about perfect location!

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So we headed to Avenue des Champs Elysées which, I probably don’t need to say, is the most famous shopping street in Paris. Feeling very prestigious and posh we walked around the acclaimed shops and made some modest purchases. One thing I absolutely love about travel is how easy it is to be a voyeur, to just stand back and observe people, locals and tourists alike, going about their daily life, especially in such a busy and crowded location.

At the top of the picturesque street was the renowned Arc de Triumphe. After taking a couple of photos with it in the background we noticed what looked like people roaming the very top of it. Obviously surprised, we headed there for closer observation and I must admit that, standing there with the great structure by one’s side, there is no denying how astonishing the architecture is.

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Excited by the prospect of ascending it, we made our way in and were totally surprised to find that entry for 18-25 year old’s was totally free! I mean, how was the queue not a mile long?! Totally delighted, we started our climb upward and, I’m sure it must have been the adrenaline but, considering the height of the place, the ascend isn’t so bad. And boy is that view worth it! Completely striking, post-card panoramic cityscape. And a little, cheeky preview of the Eiffel Tower.

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We then made our way to the Pyramide du Louvre (The Louvre Pyramid) where we took some great photos and then visited the Carrousel du Louvre shopping mall in front of the museum. There we saw the impressive La Pyramide Inversée (The Inverted Pyramid) which looks like an upside-down and smaller version of the Louvre Pyramid.

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Unfortunately we didn’t visit the actual museum as, if I remember correctly, it was closed at the time. However we did indulge in some of the best macaroons from Boutique Maxim’s de Paris. We then took a long, scenic walk through the streets and parks (sadly I cannot remember any names) where we encountered a very friendly street artist who drew our caricatures within minutes.

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The next day, Tuesday 15th September, after an amazing breakfast and getting off at a couple wrong stops on the metro, we headed to the one and only, Tour Eiffel. We started off with a gift shop nearby where we bought some souvenirs for family and friends and then made our way to the back of the queue. The wait was indeed long and the ascend totally freezing but in some ways it was worth it. Of course, that was one of those once-in-a-lifetime things which you do once to be able to say you did it. However, the photographs were beautiful and I definitely enjoyed it.

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After that we headed to the La Grande Arche de la Défense which is a monument and building in the business district to the west of Paris. Once again, it took us far longer getting there than it should have as we kept confusing stops but, man, some of those stations were so pretty, we didn’t mind at all. One can certainly have fun in Paris without even getting out of the metro, at least I know I could.

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That evening we decided to explore the Basilique du Sacre Coeur  which was a mere 10 minutes walk from our hotel. We went after sunset, which we thought we might regret, but most certainly did not! The entire building was lit up, giving it a very eerie but mystical air about it, while accentuating the intricate architecture. Luckily we were able to stroll the inside also, which was quite spectacular with the high ceilings, the beautiful stained-glass windows and the grande painted dome above the altar. Unfortunately, cameras were not allowed inside, so, when in Paris, it should definitely be visited and experienced first-hand.

Stepping down the front steps of the Basilica we were met with a view we did not expect or anticipate. As it is located on the highest point in the city, Sacre Coeur possesses the most panoramic unbroken view of the city. Having visited it at night with crowds of young people and musicians gathered on the steps, we experienced what we felt was the ultimate, romantic ‘Paris at night’ moment. Without a doubt, one of the best moments of the trip.

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The following day, Wednesday 16th September, was very gloomy and rainy. Determined not to let that ruin the day as well as not to get wet, we headed for what we thought was a fair alternative to being outdoors- Aquaboulevard de Paris, the alleged biggest urban water park in Europe. However, I’m not sure if we were just tired or it really wasn’t that great but we didn’t think it lived up to the hype, nonetheless, it was quite fun and definitely different.

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Later, when the weather cleared up we headed towards the one and only, Notre Dame! Despite our best efforts we didn’t make it before the closing time, however, seeing the sunset over that monumental, monstrous building made up for it (or so we like to think). Whatever architectural brilliance we’ve seen before that seemed belittled by the detail and sheer magnificence of the Cathedral. And what better place to end our trip with.

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The next morning we headed back to Beauvais, but that’s another story entirely.

Have you ever visited Paris? What did you love most about it?

-iMarina

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