I absolutely loved Paris, but getting there was another story. I can't honestly say that our bus ride from London to Paris was a pleasant one. Yes, it was cheaper than the Eurostar but man were we under prepared. A casual 9 hour bus ride with NO stops. Yes, they had a toilet on board but we had expected at least one food and water break along the way. Nope! Not this time honey.
|Still on the bus, patiently waiting to board the train to Paris.|
Feeling a little more accomplished we took to the next task of getting to our accommodation. As far as this day had been progressing, it wasn't a surprise that this wasn't an easy task. As we were yet to get an international simcard to allow us wifi access, we turned to asking locals, although friendly enough giving us completely different routes and directions wasn't advantageous. We then tried our luck with the local Metro, navigating with the basic skills we had acquired the day before in London. We made it, bags and all, unscathed to St. Christophers Hostel. Looking back, the previous 12 hours had been the hardest we encountered the entire time whilst travelling, again, setting the stress threshold high.
Later on, although well into the evening. After showers and being better fed we took a stroll along the canals right next to our hostel.
Gaining some understanding, as to why Paris is known as the "City of lights", and this was only the view a short walk from our door step.
Before retreating home, ready for a big day tomorrow.The Buttes-Chaumont Park.
We then walked back to our hostel to meet up with our SANDEMANs free walking tour pick-up. The girl who met our group was lovely and super helpful; giving us lots of tips about getting around Paris and avoiding pickpockets all the while getting a bunch of novice tourists to the meetup point at St. Michels Square, without stress and on time. Nancy was our tour guide, she was really knowledgable, knew all the questions we were curious about and did it all with style and a great sense of humour.
Our tour takes us past many important monuments in the central Paris region Notre Dam was the first recognisable building to me. Admittingly, most of my previous knowledge about the catherdral was based around Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dam, so not all that accurate but still awesome to see in person, if only from a distance.
Soon our walking tour approached an inconspicuous corner near the Palais de Justice, to look up and see a ornate, guilded gold clock. It turns out to be the oldest public clock in Paris, dating back to 1535, and it still works! Imagining the implications this would have for 16th century Parisians is quite intriguing.
A shining beacon in gilded bronze is Saint Jeanne d'Arc (Joan of Arc) riding into battle, flag held high. It pleases me to see a prominent statue of a woman, of whom is valued for her bravery and intelligence. Who is not depicted in a state of undress or with a child in her arms. Not only this, but shown mounted on a horse comes with a sense great honour and respect. I can't say I saw too many other statues of women around Europe with these values. Well done, Paris. Girl power, even if it comes from pretending to be a dude.
Later that evening we hired bikes from outside our hostel. Chris predicted our ride to the Eiffel tower would take about 45mins, which turned out to be a vast under estimate. Even so, it was still a great experience.
We took a seat right under her skirt and took some time to enjoy the sights, people watch and occasionally be harassed by "rose or wine guys" who are lurking around every corner. One of whom had good intentions but startled me half to death approaching us from behind. I was a bit highly strung about pick pockets, so when I let out a high pitch squeak, he backed right away.
For five minutes on the hour the lights of the Eiffel tower twinkle and it makes for an exciting and memorable experience, well worth waiting around for if you arrive during the hour.
When in Paris, sometimes you need to steal a moment to take a kissing selfie.
It was a great way to end our night in Paris. We parked the bikes up at a nearby checkpoint and took the Metro home. Quickly repacking for our Busabout ride to Bruges the next day.
Quick Summary (TL;DR)Duration of stay: 1 full day
Was it enough time?: No, it was not to see all that Paris has to offer. However, we will be revisiting at the end of our Busabout tour to experience more.
Where we stayed: St. Christopher Canal Inn Hostel.
Time of Year: May
Best memories: SANDEMAN's walking tour and seeing the Eiffel tower sparkling.
Worst memories: Constantly being paranoid about thieves, getting sunburnt, and the bus trip there.
Top tip: Savour the moment; Paris is a big, busy city with lots to see and do. Take a few minutes just to soak it all in.
Next time: We will see Sacre coeur, Notre Dame, and Arc de Triomphe up close.
Paris in a word: Romantic
Recommended?: Definitely, there is no place like Paris.
Overall experience: 8/10, it would be higher if we had more time and there were less thieves.
Next destination: Bruges