My thoughts on Paris, France

There’s nothing more romantic than spending two nights in Paris with your friend since 3rd grade. On second thought, I hope that there’s a lot of things that are much more romantic than this scenario. Anyway, Ty and I went to Paris about 5 days into our Europe trip, and we ended up having a great time. We got lucky as well, because this is a trip that almost never happened.

The night before we were supposed to leave for Paris, Ty came down with an illness. This wasn’t good, because when Ty gets sick, he REALLY gets sick. I could hardly sleep that night because I was worried that if Tyler couldn’t go to Paris (we had already booked hotels and $400 worth of train tickets), then this could really throw off our entire Europe trip.

When we woke up the next morning, Ty gave himself a clean bill of health, and Paris was a reality! (Thank god too, because Ty had estimated the night before that there was a 25% chance we’d make it to Paris). You couldn’t get me on that train fast enough.

Montparnasse Tower in the BackgroundWe arrived in Paris mid-afternoon, and after I masterfully navigated the Paris Metro system, we got to our hotel before check-in time. Not a problem, because after being on trains and busses all day, we were ready to walk start walking. We checked our bags at the hotel and then explored the area. Our hotel was in the Montparnasse area of Paris, which is a very unique part of town with lots of shops and restaurants, and a great personality. Best yet, our hotel was across the street from the Tour Montparnasse, which is the tallest building in all of Paris. We were able to gauge where our hotel was from anywhere in Paris!

Hotel Room - two twin beds stuffed togetherOnce the hotel was ready, we checked in and found that our room was very “quaint”. In fact, it was about as small as I could possibly imagine a room. It featured two luxurious twin beds smashed together with about 2 feet on each side. If Ty and I weren’t such good friends, I’m not sure these accommodations would have worked.

Needless to say, we didn’t spend much time in the room during our stay in Paris. About 5 minutes after we checked in, we already were leaving the hotel for an unknown adventure. We started walking down one of the surrounding streets, and it seemed to be very popular with the locals. There were shops everywhere, and all kinds of beautiful women, so we gladly walked down the road.

Eiffel Tower in the distanceAbout a half mile down the street we turned a corner and looked down a perpendicular road, and what did we see? The Eiffel tower! I had no idea we were staying so close to the tower, but I made a mental note of the proximity as we walked down the street. We kept on walking down this street (called Rue De Rennes), and kept on enjoying the sights.

French National AssemblyEventually we came to the end of the street, decided to go north on the next street, and ended up hitting the Seine river! This is the major artery in Paris, and there’s all kinds of government buildings along the river. Within minutes of hitting the river, we were suddenly engulfed by all kinds of pieces of French government. On one block there were the French national assembly. On another, we saw the French secret service transporting some sort of government member in fully tinted BMW’s.

On the bridge across the river there were all kinds of cool gold-plated (or as I later learned, gold painted) statues, all overlooking the river. We took our picture around all kinds of statues, and then decided that we’d had enough Seine for one day, and braved our way to the Eiffel tower.

Eiffel Tower is Getting CloserBy this time, I was starting to feel the pains of wearing the wrong shoes for the occasion. We started out our walk just surrounding the area surrounding our hotel, and we quickly ended up in the heart of the French government. Now we’re on our way to view and climb the Eiffel tower… quite to the dismay of my feet. Being my resourceful self, I made the executive decision to tuck my jean cuffs into my shoes, minimizing the friction of the shoe-on-skin rubbing party that had been going on throughout our walk.

My Favorite Tower ShotAfter what seemed like forever, we finally made it to the Eiffel tower (it’s so tall that it looks like it’s 10 feet away at all times. Very deceiving). There are two ways to ascend the tower: 1) take an elevator and 2) walk a crapload of stairs. It was so windy outside that the elevators were broken, so we were forced to climb the stairs (even though we would have walked anyway… seriously).

We walked up the tower and made it to the 1/3 way point pretty easily. Not willing to settle for 1/3, we walked up the next part of the steps and made it 2/3 of the way up the tower. Naively, we thought we would be the only people brave enough to scale it this far. We were quite wrong! There were literally hundreds of people at this level of the tower, and hundreds of these people were waiting to go to the next level.

Me at the top of the towerWe soon learned that in order to get to the top of the tower, you must take an elevator. Unfortunately this elevator appeared to have a capacity of only 6-8 people, and the line was 200 people deep. We estimated it would have taken a few hours to get on that elevator, and it wasn’t worth our time (the view from 2/3 up the tower was great, as evidenced by the pictures below). Instead, we took a bunch of pictures of the view, and decided to run down the stairs as fast as we could.

On our way out of the Eiffel tower area, we were approached by a woman who said “speak English?” Since we were so relieved to hear our language, we gladly said “yeah!” and she handed us a note. The note said something about how she was from Serbia and that her brother had died and that we needed to give her money. My elation at hearing English was quickly marred by the realization that I was being solicited by an international scam to try to exploit English speakers out of money (my scam premonition was confirmed when two other women pulled the same “speak English” line on me during my 2 nights in Paris). Needless to say, I didn’t give her any money.

We walked back to our hotel (another large tower that seems really close), and it seemed to take forever once again. By this time, my feet were literally bleeding. The two of us were also starving, so we found a place to get dinner. We ended up going to an Italian joint near our hotel and had a 3-course special, which ended up being a great deal! It involved a salad, pizza, and dessert. I had a chicken salad, a salami and sausage pizza (which for some reason also had an egg in the middle of it), and tiramisu for dessert.

Underrated Church Behind the PantheonThe next day, we decided to walk a little less, and rely on the metro more for our sightseeing. We saw some pretty cool places (the Luxembourg gardens, the Pantheon, and Notre Dame), but the coolest thing we saw in the morning was a church that was right behind the Pantheon. Much like the church I mentioned in Antwerp, this church had very few visitors, yet was absolutely beautiful. The detail work on the inside of the church was remarkable. I am amazed at the number of artisans that must have been employed by the church during the times that they built these churches. There’s no way that these churches would be built in modern times.

Inside of Notre DameNotre Dame was also pretty cool, with great levels of detail and some awesome stained glass. However, I didn’t really get as excited about it as I did for the little churches in Antwerp and Paris. I wonder if it is due to my personal preference for rooting for the underdog (the not as well known churches), or if it’s because the larger churches like Notre Dame are so frequently visited that they loose their luster. For example, it was so popular that I was approached by another “Speak English” person with the same letter I saw at the Eiffel tower. Needless to say, all of these churches are very cool, and I recommend that everyone visit a few of them if they are ever in Europe.

The next stop in Paris was a very cool basilica called Sacre Coeur, which was in the northern part of Paris. This area is called Montmartre, and is famous for several reasons (read the Wikipedia article above, as I can’t really do it justice), but in particular, I learned that it was famous for being an artist community, hosting several very prominent artists. Just down the street from the basilica is a museum devoted to Salvador Dali, who is my favorite artist. I had already been to the Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL two years ago, so I was excited to see another museum (I had another opportunity to see a Dali museum in Barcelona, too… small world!). This particular museum featured several sculptures that Dali created later in his life. You can see the sculptures in the gallery below!

After the Dali museum, we went on a mission to get back to the metro. On our way, we were stopped by two guys who were Liberian, and kept on saying “hakuna matata” to us. Obviously, I thought they were ripping off Disney movies, so I didn’t pay much attention, but one of them asked Ty to put out his finger, and the guy started trying to make us friendship bracelets. I was reluctant, but the guys actually spoke good English, and when I told them I was from the US/Minnesota, they actually seemed to know about the area, and his wife was living in Wisconsin (normally I would think these guys were scammers, but MN does have a sizable Liberian population who came to our state on political Asylum, so I gave them the benefit of the doubt). So, they made us friendship bracelets in traditional Liberian colors, and when it came time to put them on, they demanded payment. The guy tried to get me to give him 20 euro for a stupid bracelet! That’s like $25-$30 for a cheap friendship bracelet. I told him the best I could do was 5 Euro (I wish I had smaller denominations, but I didn’t), and he acted as if I was cheating him when I paid. Hakuna Matata my ass!

At Arc De TriumfWe rounded out the day by visiting a few more points of interest on our map. One of these was the Arc de Triumph. The metro stopped right at this monument, so we got off the subway, walked up the platform and took our picture next to the Arc. After the picture, we walked back down into the subway and headed off for our last sight, the Louvre.

As my brother had warned me prior to my trip, the Louvre is closed on Tuesdays. Naturally, we decided to visit the Louvre on a Tuesday. This didn’t matter, however, because we were way too tired from a day of travel to actually want to partake in any more tourism. We just took a few pictures around the museum and headed home, exhausted after another day of travel. Sure enough, on our way home, we were approached by a “Speak English” lady AND a “Hakuna Matata” set of Liberians. Do you think it was obvious that we were tourists?

The rest of the trip was eating and getting ready for our next leg of the trip. I really liked Paris a LOT, and want to go back there again for an extended period of time. There’s so many fun things to do, and every part of town has a ton of personality. In addition to that, the city is very easy to navigate, and it is host to tons of history… and I have yet to mention that Paris is truly for lovers. I can’t wait to come back here with the love of my life when I find her.

You can see all of the photos below. Just click on one, watch it enlarge, and then navigate the rest by clicking the buttons.

Enjoy!

Leaving the Brussels Train StationIn Honor of my momNike Air Vicks.. I don't think those are selling well anymoreStatue of SullyCool Carvings/Statues on the National Assembly BuildingFrench Secret ServiceStatues newar the SeineTy Posing at the RiverHelloooo LadiesGraffitiGetting Stabbed by a SwordTea baggedEiffel Tower is Getting CloserAt the base of the Eiffel TowerPatented Thumbs UpMy Favorite Tower ShotView from the Eiffel Tower 1View from the Eiffel Tower 2View from the Eiffel Tower 3View from the Eiffel Tower 4Ty at the top of the towerMe at the top of the towerFlower Close UpCrazy StatueMontparnasse Tower in the BackgroundThe PantheonUnderrated Church Behind the PantheonI Donated to Restore This Pipe OrganAwesome Stained Glass at Notre DameClose Up of PantheonLove The Detail Work in these ChurchesStained GlassOutside of Notre DameInside of Notre DameIntricate DetailSacré-Coeur de MontmartreMore Sacré-Coeur de MontmartreJeff at Sacré-Coeur de MontmartreDali Museum 1Dali Museum 2Dali Museum 3Dali Museum 4Dali Museum 5Dali Museum 6Dali Museum 7Dali Museum 8Dali Museum 9Dali Museum 10Dali Museum 11Dali Museum 12Dali Museum 13At Arc De TriumfThe LouvreModestyThomas Jefferson, an American in Paris

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About Jeff Sauer

I started blogging in the year 2000, and go in spurts of inspiration followed by long dormancy. I love writing, and your comments keep me going, so comment!

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Comments

  1. Glad you made it to Paris!! I probably would’ve been sick up on the Eiffel Tower. Great photos of Paris too!

  2. Hey,
    I live in Paris and it’s great to see it through fresh eyes!! I have to walk through the Eiffel to get to college and i’m constantly accosted by those “speak english” women. It gets so annoying. Anyways, great site!