Published: May 31st 2011May 26th 2011
After just two hours and fifteen minutes we arrived in Paris. Although we knew we were in another country it was strange to think we could get to another country faster than it takes to visit Nikki’s mum in the north of England. As we walked along the street we found a restaurant for dinner. If the chic French decor and quaint patisseries on every corner were not enough to convince us we weren’t in London any more then the menu was. Featured on the mains was ‘Raw Beef’. We’re not talking steak cooked blue, we’re talking about a plate with raw beef on it and sat just outside was a woman eating just that, most definitely not what I would call good food.
We arrived late so after dinner (which included escargot) we went straight to bed ready for a day of sightseeing the following day. We had both been to Paris before but not together and the last time I came to Paris I was 19 and was more concerned about drinking alcohol than seeing anything even remotely cultural.
The weather forecast we saw was monumentally incorrect and we most certainly did not dress appropriately for the
day. Nikki and I started our day at Paris’ number one tourist attraction, The Eiffel Tower. We got there about 45 minutes before they even started to sell tickets and there was a queue. The bottom of The Eiffel Tower is like a wind tunnel and the distinctly ‘summer’ clothing we had on meant within seconds we were both shivering. Nikki stayed in the queue whilst I went back to the hotel to get as many layers as I could for both of us before rejoining a now cold through Nikki in the queue.
My last visit to The Eiffel Tower was in January 2002 and the weather was so bad that when I got to the top you could not see a thing. This time, although it was freezing, it was a clear sky and the views were amazing.
I was amazed at how many people there are at the base of The Eiffel Tower trying to scam tourists. A group of people separated from each other and would approach tourists individually with signs saying they were deaf and mute and needed money for their charity. They were very far from mute as I had heard them
talking to each other only moments before approaching me.
Now it could be because I grew up in London or just the fact I’m incredibly cynical but I NEVER trust people on the street that are asking for money for their charity/dying family member/incurable disease. At breakfast we were speaking to an American couple who told us they were sat in a park when a woman approached them with a ring asking if they had dropped it as she had just found it on the floor. To cut a long story short they gave the woman some money for the so called ‘gold ring’ she had found and shortly after another person tried the same thing again. After our visit to The Eiffel Tower we were walking along the river when a women “found a ring on the floor”, we just ignored her and carried on. About five minutes later a man began to walk towards us, he began to bend down, I saw that there was clearly nothing on the floor but he miraculously managed to pick up a ring from the floor “GO AWAY” I said, as rudely as I could. I hate scammers, I feel sorry
for the genuinely nice tourists that are so helpful that they “help” these people out and give them money.
Anyway rant over. Our next stop was The Louvre, I didn’t visit The Louvre on my last trip to Paris as at that point in my life I wasn’t really bothered by museums. The queue, expectantly, was huge and a little old lady tried to push in halfway so she didn’t have to join the end but security caught her and told her to go to the back, the look on her face when she got told to go to the back was priceless.
The Louvre is amazing, I wish we had more time to spend inside. When visiting The Louvre you have to see The Mona Lisa, it is by far the most famous piece of art at The Louvre, if not the world. This is proven by the enormous queue of people waiting to get a look at it. There are many different parts to The Louvre and you could easily spend hours in each one but we concentrated our time on the parts we were most interested in. The Louvre itself is a great piece of
architecture and a photographers dream, all those leading lines create great pictures.
We took a walk along the Champs Elysees, Paris’ main shopping street, this street is my idea of hell. Loads of people rushing around, going in and out of shops, packed streets so you have no option but to walk slowly. Street performers with crowds of people watching them, reminds me very much of a cross between Oxford Street and Covent Garden in London. After a very brief amount of time spent trying to photograph The Arc De Triomphe we headed back to our hotel for a rest before dinner.
Our hotel was situated literally a two minute walk from The Eiffel Tower, you could see the tip of it from our hotel room window. We usually like to stay in nice hotels as, in my opinion, nothing ruins a trip more than being kept awake by noisy neighbours and although the hotel was more than adequate the paper thin walls meant we were woken up by the elderly man next door who felt the need to shout in to his mobile phone at ridiculous times.
On our last day we decided to visit Notre
Dame Cathedral, we got a cab and before we fully explored we had some lunch at a lovely little restaurant called Le Petit Pont. The waiters were entertaining and the service was great. Seeing as we were in France I opted for the frogs legs whilst Nikki had salmon, as the weather was so nice we decided to celebrate with a glass of champagne which was presented with a slice of orange on the side and a sparkler in it, nothing says class like champagne with a sparkler in it lol.
Nikki and I do not drink much so after our one alcoholic drink each we walked around Notre Dame but alcohol on a hot afternoon and a lack of sleep meant we needed to sit down for a rest within 5 minutes. Nikki and I found a very comfortable park bench where we could sit in the sun and relax only one of us found it a little too comfortable, Nikki decided to lie down on the bench which resulted in Nikki falling asleep on the park bench, if I haven’t mentioned how classy we are already surely drinking alcohol and falling asleep on a park bench says
it all lol. After about 10 minutes (during which time a number of people walked past pointing and laughing at Nikki) Nikki woke up and we continued to explore Notre Dame. The only thing that spoilt Notre Dame for us was the scammers trying to ask tourists for money, for some reason there are a lot around Notre Dame.
With our last few hours in Paris before we set off for the Champagne region we sat along the Champ De Mars, there was a live band playing jazz music and the weather was amazing. We had walked along the Champ De Mars several times at different times of day whilst in Paris and what struck me most about it is how many people there were getting drunk. All along it are groups of people drinking, singing, dancing and some even in fancy dress. It must be a place known for drinking as the ‘looky looky men’, as I like to call them, were not only selling cheap souvenirs but bottles of wine and beer too.
I broke my main rule of travel on this trip, never visit the same place twice, there are too many places in the
world to see to start seeing the same ones again. But I’m glad I broke my rule as my first trip to Paris was wasted and I still did not see everything I wanted to on this trip. It had made me totally rethink my rule and has made me want to revisit a number of places I visited when I was younger, so I can actually experience those places and not just get drunk.
Speaking of drunk, when we left Paris we made our way to Reims in the Champagne region of France, blog to follow soon.
There are more photos below