The tower itself was awesome. There are multiple levels that cost multiple moneys for you to climb, but we had purchased our tickets in advance and had full passes to go up to the top. And we did! We spent a goodly amount of time up there exploring and marveling over the epic views of the city:
Paris itself is beyond immense, and kind of scary – I’m not used to that much urban sprawl, even if it dates back 400 years or so. It made me feel very lucky to live where I do; I don’t think I could handle the congestion of Paris for very long.
We made the most of our time on top of the tower. They had a Champagne Bar up there for people to buy incredibly expensive glasses of champagne to toast themselves way up high; I think we all ended up taking pictures for tourists while they posed on top of the world. I didn’t have any champagne myself; I had a bottle of Diet Coke (from London; Paris has Coke Light ewww) and happily drank that instead. Surprisingly, there’s a bathroom on top of the Eiffel Tower – so we all gleefully peed on the tower, and I graffiti’d just a little tiny bit (shhhh):
We bought some cheesy souvenirs in the Eiffel Tower shop, then headed down to find our bus – we were off to the Notre Dame to soak ourselves in history!
The ride over on the bus was a little insufferable. We decided to stay in the bus this time instead of sitting up top because we were freezing (and Heather was sick – she came down with the flu that morning but was determined to soldier onward), and we were joined by a very loud family from the US. The three kids were obnoxious and the parents couldn’t care less – and, after the middle child asked for the fourth time in a row, the father told him that “Don’t Worry Be Happy” was written by Bob Marley. We tried our best to tune them out, but they were very shrill in addition to being somewhat ignorant and we were glad when they got off at the Louvre. We continued on the bus until we got to our second big destination of the day: the Notre Dame de Paris.
I’m fairly certain you can guess the adjectives I’ll use to describe the Notre Dame, but I’ll do it anyway: amazing, breathtaking, awe-inspiring, humbling. Also, pictures were allowed inside so that was an added bonus. It was just incredible inside, and we spent hours admiring the stained glass windows, sculptures and holy relics inside. I’m just this side of being an atheist, but it was beautiful in there and I feel privileged for being able to see it in person. Our pictures won’t do the inside justice, but here are some anyway:
Drained from everything we had seen that day, we spent some time wandering along the Seine to collect our thoughts. It was then I realized I had forgotten to get a miniature Eiffel Tower to bring home, and decided to get one from a cheesy souvenir shop along the river. There were several to choose from, but I went with the one called MEGA SOUVENIR figuring that if I was going to get anything, it had best be MEGA to truly capture the magnitude of our trip – and with that in mind, I got this:
It is a thing of beauty; exactly like my photos and memories of the tower. *sniffle*
We had to be back at the train station for our 9pm trip through the Chunnel, so we hopped on the terrifying Paris Metro for a few stops. We were famished, so we went outside and picked the first restaurant we saw at random: the Paris Nord Cafe, featuring the snootiest waiter in all of Paris!
He was a stereotypical dream – so snooty! So full of disdain for we silly North Americans! So rude and abrupt! We were slightly disappointed that we had not seen a single mine or baguette in all of Paris, but our Snooty Waiter more than made up for it. We ate dinner, splurged on dessert (creme brule, crepes and apple tart) and made our way back to the train station for the two-hour ride home.
So, what did we think of Paris?
As beautiful as the sights were, the city itself was scary. We had been utterly spoiled by London being so amazing, and Paris in contrast felt really crowded, dirty and congested. The traffic was terrible, everything was filthy from exhaust, a lot of the city was undergoing repairs, and huge 5-storey ads for luxury goods were plastered on every surface. Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely glad we went to Paris .. but whereas I LOVE London and am giving serious thought to applying for an ancestry Visa, I don’t feel the same urge to return to Paris any time soon. I am just not worldly enough for France, I think.
Next up: our last full day in London :(
5 thoughts on “on paris”
It’s really a shame you three didn’t spend a few days in Paris to really get to know it better. Taking a tour bus, on the busiest streets of Paris, from the Eifle Tower to the Notre Dame really doesn’t give you a great Paris impression, as you said super congested, very dirty, etc. Sprawl wise and traffic wise, and normal (sans Olympics) dirt wise, London and Paris are super similar and I’m surprised you found it so different.
It’s too bad you had no time to be able to just get a chance just to walk around and appreciate the architecture of the buildings in the city, which are much more impressive then the ones in London, or have time to plan a few restaurant destinations through TripAdvisor or the like as Paris has some of the best food in the world.
If you ever go back you have to go to The Louvre, which is one of the best Museums in the world, and take some time out just to walk around less busy boulevards and residential areas, take the Metro (which always has amazing architecture for their stations) to roads less travelled, wind up in Sainte-Chapelle on the Île de la Cité (a little island right in the middle of Paris), etc. Also with your sense of style you’d love going to a place like Montmartre and seeing whats out on display.
Basically you guys just didn’t have enough time in Paris to be able to appreciate it!
This is the general feeling I’m getting – we only had 10 hours in Paris, which isn’t enough time to make a fair assessment of the city. Maybe someday I’ll be able to go back for a longer period and see the city beyond the tourist center!
I agree! I spent 7 days in Paris and it wasn’t nearly enough time. We never did a bus tour but we did do a boat cruise down the Seine, which was worth the money. Though I didn’t think the French food was that great…maybe we just had bad luck.)
Kimli, your pics of Notre Dame turned out great! When I was there I couldn’t take any pics with flash so everything I took inside was too dark. If you ever go back, they have the original 13th century statues from the Notre Dame facade at the Cluny museum, with the original paint still on them. Really cool!
I thought the same thing about Paris… it was my least favorite city that I visited in all of Europe. I couldn’t stand the snootiness and… well… I just didn’t like it.
After touring Europe a few years ago I decided to pursue a dual citizenship – watch out EU – I can come in you any time now and you can’t turn me away!!
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