So far we have discussed Rome, and we have discussed the Vatican City, and now, on to the final part of my Christmas vacation: Paris!
We flew on the 30th, and again, by the time we got to the airport in Rome, went through security, flew to Paris, went through customs, sorted out the Metro system and got to the place we were staying at, it was most of our day gone. As such, our sight seeing doesn’t really start until the 31st.
We were up bright and early on the 31st, as we had arranged a free tour in Paris (similar to the free tour we had tried to do in Rome, but had ended up missing). This one I was so happy we ended up going to, as the tour guide was fantastic and gave us so many fun stories about Paris.
Such as, as of the 18th Century, Paris was considered the dirtiest city in the world. There were 30 tanneries at the start of the river, prior to the city. They would wash the leather in acid and manure, and then wash it down the river. Add that to old, medieval style buildings, with no way to remove your sewage and body waste- and it was not a nice place to be. An architect was hired to remake the city, and he tour down over 300,000 buildings and build up the buildings which are to this day characteristic of “Parisian buildings”. After this remodel, Paris was not only the most beautiful city, but also the most modern.
First major site we walked by was the Notre Dame
Another fun fact- this building was almost torn down in the 18th Century. What saved it? Just a little book about a certain Hunchback, written by Victor Hugo.
Yep- that’s right. Hunchback of Notre Dame saved this building from being torn down.
Some of the other sites we saw:
Love locks on the bridge. They’re trying to get people to stop, as it’s too much weight on the bridge. But still so pretty.
This is a smaller arch than the famous Arc of Triomphe. This is because the Arc of Triomphe was commissioned by Napoleon, but he knew it would take a long time to complete. Therefore, they also built a smaller arch so he could ride through the arch in a triumphant march.
The plaza where all the guillotine murders occurred. Including the beheading of Marie Antoinette. As per the story told by our tour guide- a fun “game” children used to play around that time, was to jump on the blocks until old blood came out of the blocks.
Seriously- Europe has a dark dark past!
After our 4 hour tour guide, Assen and I did some quick shopping so we would be ready for our New Year’s Eve plans. First up, we had to have the right ingredients
And next up, we had to find the right location
We spent New Year’s Eve at the base of the Eiffel tower, with some fresh French food. But before we settled in, we took a boat ride along the Seine River. Which, since Paris is called the City of Lights, it was stunningly beautiful.
Then we settled in with our Paris New Year’s Eve dinner, complete with red wine
Fresh french baguette, cheese, the most amazing tomatoes of my life, juicy raspberries and some red wine. Ringing in 2015 in style! Honestly, the actual change-over to 2015 was a bit disappointing. It was amazing to be in Paris, and see the Eiffel Tower, however, the fireworks were over the Arch of Triomphe, and there was nothing at the Eiffel Tower. No countdown or anything of the sort. It was a once-in a lifetime experience, but in comparison to my 2014 ring-in, which was spent in Amsterdam, it was a tad different and more low key.
We left shortly after midnight, and opted to walk the 4 km distance back to the place we were staying at (we stayed with AirBnB, which was amazing). There were thousands of people fighting to get into the Metro, and we decided it just made more sense to walk. As such, we were back home around 3 am, and pretty much went straight to bed.
Most things were closed on the 1st January, and so we had a very low key day. We slept in, relaxed with some fresh baked goods and coffee for a bit, and generally relaxed. On my Rome recap, I noted that Italians like to drink their coffee quickly and while standing. While, Parisians enjoy their coffee the exact opposite. Instead they can make a cup of coffee last hours. They will sip an espresso for ages. So it was a perfect relax day in the midst of so much activity.
The 2nd was our final day in Paris, and therefore Assen and I woke up bright and early to ensure we saw as much as we could.
First up was seeing the inside of the Notre Dame. We enjoyed a delicious butter croissant (which we shared) while we waited for our turn inside
I enjoyed seeing the inside of the Notre Dame, but honestly, after seeing the Vatican only a few short days previously, it was hard to compare it to what we had seen there.
However, the Saint Chapelle, where the Holy Relics previously were kept, was stunning. The Holy Relics are a fun story- as St Louis( which at the time was a King of France) drained the treasury to purchase these relics. Some of them are amazing, such as the thorns worn by Jesus, and a piece of the Holy Cross. However, some that were purchased seem a little iffy- such as the breast milk of the Virgin Mary. Some of these Holy Relics were lost during the French Revolution. However, at one point, they were held at Sainte-Chapelle, which is a stunning church that has 13th century stained glasses everywhere
I was so glad we waited the hour to go in. (Heads up if you go to Paris- except to spend a lot of your time in line-ups. EVERYWHERE we went to had long, long lines).
We took a quick break after the churches to enjoy some food. One of my friends lives in Paris (we met up with her for a couple of dinners), and she recommended a felafel restaurant for us to check out, and I am so glad that we followed this recommendation. So delicious. It was a large felafel, but I managed to make room for every bite.
Our final stop of the day was to go to the museum D’Orsay. Now, I realise everyone goes to the Louvre. But once you see the size of it from the outside, you start to realise the massive size of it. And I do want to go inside to see the artwork within. However- neither Assen or myself had researched what we wanted to see while in there. And we were warned that if we didn’t know exactly what we wanted to see, we would spend most of our time just wandering around.
So instead, we went to the D’Orsay. It’s a converted train station, which now holds many pieces of art. It holds many paintings from the Enlightment era, such as Monet, Manet, Picasso, etc. I loved it- I’m so glad we went.
And then it was time for our final dinner in Paris, and off to bed. Next day we woke up and took the train back home.
I already have a very, very long list of things I want to see next time I go to Paris. There was just too much to see in the few days I was there. It was truly a dream come true to be there! When I was in Grade 4, one of my friends went to Paris with their family, and he brought me back a miniature Eiffel Tower as a gift. I think I’ve wanted to go to Paris ever since then.
However, I am starting to plan trips to Iceland, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, and a few other places- so I’m not sure when I’ll be heading back to Paris!
Thanks for following along with my most recent travels! Have you been to these places? Where should I go next?
And how did you spend your Christmas/New Year’s break?