My Experience in Paris

My Experience in Paris

Written By: Adolescent Abroad

This past spring break, I had the opportunity to visit Paris for three days. Paris is one of the most famous, if not the most famous city in the world. Paris tops everyone’s bucket list as a place they would like to see before they die. 

I arrived in Paris on the night of March 16 by train from London. We took a short taxi to our hotel, Holiday Inn Canal de la Vilette, and went to sleep.

The next morning, we woke up early and ate breakfast at the hotel. We found a nearby subway station, Riquet I believe, and used the subway as our way of transportation. We then took the subway to the Palais Royal Musée de Louvre station.

Louvre Museum

We arrived at the Louvre without pre-booked tickets. Even though we did not go during peak season, the wait in line took almost half an hour and during the wait it on/off rained and hailed. (Tip: pre-book your tickets, you can book them as late as 30-60 minutes in advanced. If you do book late, chances are they are sold out so I recommenced booking a couple days in advance. The line was much much shorter for those who pre-booked.) We finally got inside and there are three different areas of the museum. Seeing this museum in one day would be merely impossible, in order to see as much as you can, arrive in the morning. The Louvre has many great artworks but of course we had to see the two famous ones, the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo. Both of these artworks have almost entire rooms dedicated to them with small paintings on the walls or in corners while these famous pieces sit in the middle with ropes around it guarded by employees with crowds of people around it. When seeing these famous pieces, be aware of the amount of people there are, you may have to wait and push a little trying to get to the front. The most you might be able to get with these works is a picture of it, a selfie, and a video - no family pictures or just getting to sit and stare at the piece. We were in the museum for almost six hours and I don’t believe we even saw half of the museum. There are a few places to eat and maybe get a small lunch, but chances are it will be crowded or there will be a long line. 

Eiffel Tower

After we left the museum, we hopped back on the subway and rode to Iéna. This station was about a ten minute walk from the Eiffel Tower. We arrived at the tower during sunset, so we were able to get picture in the light but also in the night, I think this was a good time to visit because you see the tower in the perspective of light and darkness. When we arrived at the tower, since it was late lines were pretty short. The line it took for us to buy the tickets for the elevator took about twenty minutes and they offer stair/elevator access tickets - go with the elevator tickets. We rode up to the second floor - took some pictures - and then rode up to the summit. One cool thing about the Eiffel Tower is that at the top of every hour, the tower will begin to sparkle for the first five minutes of the hour - a beautiful picture moment. Since we went in March, the weather was not very promising for us, especially since we were at a high altitude it was very windy! I couldn’t even go outside for more than a couple minutes without being blown away by the freezing cold air. The views of Paris were still amazing though and there are heaters on the inside. 

Notre-Dame Cathedral

The next morning we woke up again went to our new hotel (Hotel Ibis) and took the subway to Châtelet and walked to the Notre-Dame Cathedral. I consider myself lucky to have seen it in March, just a month before it devastatingly caught fire in April. Admission into the Cathedral is free, but the bell tower is not. We wanted to go up to the bell tower, but tickets were unfortunately sold out. (Tip - if you want to see the bell tower, I recommend you pre-book tickets!) The inside of the Cathedral was beautiful, there was a timeline of the Cathedral and for a couple of euros you can go into a small exhibit and see a part of Jesus’ cross and I believe his crown (not sure about that one; I also don’t know if they were preserved from the fire but I think they were). I recommend if you see the line into the building is short, go in! You can take pictures of it when you come out but that line can stack up very long in no time, so if you see the line is short, take advantage! The Cathedral is absolutely beautiful and I hope once it’s restored, it does not lose that historic quality.

Arc de Triomphe

Afterwards, we took the subway to Charles de Gaulle Etoile to see the Arc de Triomphe. Getting into the Arc de Triomphe is a bit tricky. You may first think about crossing the road but 1) it is a crazy busy roundabout section with no crosswalks and even though it has no lanes, it is probably about 5-6 lanes thick and 2) there is a gate around the arc anyways. If you’re walking around the arc and find a staircase leading underground (that is of course not a subway station) it most likely leads to the arc in an underground tunnel. Once you get there, you stand in a pretty long line for tickets, and then take the stairs to the way up (I am not sure if there was an elevator option but we did not go with it). At first, you’ll arrive in a little indoor area filled with billboards and dioramas filled with history. Then you will take another staircase up to another big indoor area where there is a gift shop and more placards/TVs talking about history of the arc and Paris. You will then take another staircase up to the top which is completely outdoors. From the top you can take great pictures of the Eiffel Tower and see the Champs-Elysees, one of the roads leading to the arc.

Champs-Elysees

We then left the arc to go walk down the famous street, Champs-Elysees. The street is very wide and has many expensive, name-brand stores. During the time we went, the yellow jacket protests were also taking place. We didn’t show up in the middle of a protest, but there was a protest down the famous street just two days before. Many windows were smashed or cracked and some street side carts were charred and black due to fire. There was only a bit of vandalism and one store, a Levi’s, had its entire window completely shattered with broken glass everywhere. We continued to walk down the street, ate dinner (Morny), bought some macaroons, shopped, and went home. (Tip: if you are in Paris, try the macaroons, they are absolutely delicious!)

Palace of Versailles

On our last day in Paris, we took a train to Versailles to see the Palace of Versailles. We did not pre-book tickets, therefore, we had to wait in a very long line (30-45 minutes) to buy the ticket and then wait in another line outside of the palace (30-45 minutes). Instead of waiting this long, my mother and I waited in the ticket line and sent my brother to hold a place in the entrance line. But the time we had bought the tickets, my brother was almost at the front of the line ready to go in. (Tip: pre-book the tickets because the line outside is long or you can do what we did.) The palace was beautiful, very classy and historic. Some rooms though do not have a lot of space for the visitors (because they block off so much for the attraction) so it can get crowded at times. The palace is stunning and of course has a cafeteria and macaroon shop!

When we were done, we took the train back to Paris and headed to Gare du Nord to head off to our next destination.

My Experience in Paris

Paris is a beautiful destination and has a lot to offer. I hope I get to see Paris again one day and explore other places we didn’t have time to see. I went during March and I think it was a great time to go, although, the temperatures were not extremely cold, what got me is the wind. The wind can make 60 degrees feel like 30! Make sure you bundle up because even if it says its 50-60 degrees, chances are it might not feel that way when you leave your hotel. During this time of year, it is not peak season, lines were still a bit long at times and there were of course crowds but I think it would be better to go in March then during the summer time, when I imagine it to be jam-packed. Traveling during the summer can cause you to wait in lines longer than the amount of time you spend in the attraction, especially in a city like Paris. Going to Paris during March, even though it was cold, it gave the trip a historic-Paris vibe. Paris is a beautiful city and must-see for anyone!


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