That One Time I Went to ParisWednesday, January 04, 2017
This time of year always reminds me of that time I went to Paris just before the holidays. It's been several years since I walked along the Seine during a freezing December evening. That night I swore my legs would fall off at my hip joints because my friend and I had decided it wasn't that far from the Eiffel Tower to Notre Dame Cathedral, where we'd find our hotel. We were sorely mistaken. After three hours of walking the streets along the river, we finally made it. It was our last night in Paris, and we'd seen all the major stops on our few days there.
We'd gone to an evening mass at Notre Dame, ridden an open top bus tour (freezing, but awesome) to see major historical landmarks through town, hiked the 700+ stairs to the middle of the Eiffel Tower, went through the Louvre, trekked up to Montmartre and the Sacre Coeur, strolled along the Champs Elysees during a holiday festival, and stopped at the Arc de Triomphe, and then decided to go back to the Eiffel Tower to see it all lit up at night on our last night there.
Some fun facts about Paris that I discovered:
- It was a lot harder to find amazing food than I thought it would be. To be fair, I had just come from Italy, so nothing was going to top their culinary masterpieces.
- There were self cleaning public bathrooms on the street. They would lock after each person used them and the toilet would be cleaned automatically. Apparently, they automatically open after 15 minutes, so don't plan on using them if you're going to need to be in there for a while.
- If you're a nice person to French people, they aren't as rude as you hear they're going to be. We were approached and asked if we needed help reading our map, and wait staff were all polite as could be. I was told to expect to be snubbed. This didn't happen to me. We also tried to speak french whenever talking to people which helped.
- French desserts really are fantastic. Crepe stands do not disappoint.
- I felt way less out of place in Paris than in Italy. Pale blondes are common there.
- Even in winter, the line to the elevators at the Eiffel Tower is a mile long. It's beyond ridiculous in the summer. If you're feeling healthy, take the stairs to the middle. We stayed warm for hours after because of the exercise and there was no wait. Also, the view is still spectacular when you're only halfway up.
- Americans are getting gypped by McDonald's. In Paris, the menu is different and there's a pastry bakery inside.
- You simply must attend mass at Notre Dame cathedral. The woman's singing voice is out of this world.
- The Louvre Museum is massive. It will take you days to see everything. We chose one part of it and it took several hours.
- Hop On-Hop Off bus tours will help provide you with transportation around the city to all the major tourist spots. That way you don't need to be as map savvy, and they run all day long. In winter they stop just after dark, which is quite early so you'll need extra transportation if you're out for the evening.
My only regret is that I didn't get to see Paris in the spring, summer and fall. I hear it's gorgeous there. I guess I'll have to go back sometime.