During my travels while studying abroad for the year, I made two promises to myself. First, to visit Paris while across the pond for the year, and second, to take a trip entirely by myself at least once. I got to do both when I parted ways with Kristyn in Portugal and jetted off to Paris, which was conveniently cheaper to travel to than immediately going back to the UK from Portugal at the time.
Paris has always been a place to visit on my list because of my love for Madeline as a child. I watched all of the movies and played all of the computer games and it was such a delight to FINALLY be in Paris. I was looking everywhere for old houses covered with vines…..
Paris had a really great first impression on me, despite things I had heard from people I knew who had previously visited, books, movies and TV shows. Here were some of my first impressions of the city:
1. Man are there a lot of school groups. Those teachers are brave souls, I barely trust myself on the streets of Paris let alone 10-20 4-8 year olds. And they are EVERYWHERE! School groups on the bridges over the canals, in the park area surrounding the Eiffel tower, at Notre Dame. You can’t escape them, at least in mid-April you can’t!
2. Paris has a reputation of being dirty and smelly, but honestly it’s one of the cleanest cities I have visited in a while. It might be because of the garbage bins I noticed that were located approximately 2m apart from each other but I digress; this city is beautiful.
3. The stereotypes are true: everyone smokes and everyone walks around eating baguettes.
4. I heard the people aren’t very nice here but I’ve had the opposite experience so far. Some restaurant workers let me use their bathroom and I’ve already made friends with the man who works at the produce shop across from my hostel! He commented on my counting change in English- I think he found it amusing.
5. The French way of life is old fashioned and I love it. For my dinner I went to a grocery store for cheese, the bakery for a baguette and the grocery produce store for vegetables. I also ate at 9pm, which was a nice change from my usual 5pm evening meal.
I started off the day with an almond croissant. I went a little buck wild in the bakery department but I figure I’m only in Paris once. It was such a beautiful day I promised myself I wouldn’t take the metro, and I did not! I walked around Notre Dame, which was packed, so I didn’t bother waiting in line to go in. Between England, Spain, Portugal, and all the other cathedrals I had visited, I decided to skip looking at the inside of this one.
I crossed the bridge over the river by Notre Dame to visit Shakespeare and Co., a quaint bookstore with all kinds of books inside! There were books in many languages, old and new, and a treat for the eyes for any book lover.
I then ventured a couple of blocks down to one of the landmarks I had been dying to see – the original Love Lock Bridge. Of course, there were many other pieces of infrastructure covered in locks by the time I got there, but I wanted to see the original. The locks were covering every part of the bridge and I could only see locks dated from a couple of days before I arrived, there were so many. No wonder the authorities are worried the bridges covered in locks will eventually collapse – those things are heavy.
Next, I took a relaxing walk up to Lafayette galleries, the Paris version of Herrod’s in London. I stepped into the elevator and ventured to the observation deck on the top floor. I think this was one of my secret gems of my Paris trip – I visited almost every day. It’s the only public viewpoint in Paris where you can see both the Arc De Triomphe and Eiffel Tower at the same time! Here was a shot of my view that day:
I took to the streets again to find the Eiffel Tower. I had secretly promised myself that since I was alone and didn’t have a lot of time crunches, I would walk to as many places in the city as I could. That meant sometimes hour to two-hour walks from point A to point B, but to me that was just extra exercise with some extra views of the city streets. Once I read the Eiffel Tower, I spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the lawn of the Park in front of it, and even had a nap in the beautiful sunshine. I also wrote my postcards here, so if you received one from me in Paris, think about that!
Note: this post is a recapture from when I studied abroad for the year during 2013-2014. It was rewritten to enhance the included media and writing quality for this blog. The original post can be found here.