Special Six: Paris Highlights

Travelling for the first time to Paris, when you are in your early twenties, is an enchanting experience. A magical age, when you are at the interface between shedding one’s youth while still retaining some starry eyed dreams such as an enchanting trip to Paris. So you can imagine my delight when my mother told me that she was transferring the prize, she won in a raffle draw, to me. Yes, her prize was a return ticket to Paris. As one of my friends had moved to Paris with her family, and had extended an open invitation to stay with them when I visited the city, my accommodation was also sorted out. In the autumn of 2002, one of my then top travel wishes on my bucket list was fulfilled.

I diligently covered all the trails that I had read and dreamed about. From my week in Paris, the following six remain my treasured experiences.

  • Walking around the arrondissements:

Walking must have been my favourite activity in Paris. This was years before my road traffic accident so I was able to walk long distances without easily tiring. I enjoyed wandering around the arrondissements on the left and right banks of river Seine, namely the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th arrondissements, simply taking in the vibes of the places I passed by. I enjoyed coming across both expected and unexpected pleasant surprises. Coming across the pretty Église Saint Julien le Pauvre, a Melkite Greek catholic church built in the 13th century, was an unexpected surprise as I had not marked it on my walking route previously.

Église Saint-Julien-le-Pauvre

Another unexpected pleasant encounter was the black cat that came to greet me as I looked around Shakespeare and Co.

Cat at S&Co

I did expect to be impressed by the medieval Gothic architecture of Notre Dame cathedral and I was.

Notre Dam

Walking around the lovely streets of Paris, I especially loved it when the delicious smells of a bakery would waft past me and tempt me to stop and try out some delicious baked treat. I came away from Paris with an impression there was a bakery on every corner.

  • Sacre Coeur and Montmartre

Simply breathtaking. There are no other words for it. I had seen so many photos of it, prior to my travel, and had been anticipating the visit here a lot. My friend and I explored the place, taking the funicular up and later, climbing down the crowded stairs on our way back. Making our way down to the tiny square, stopping for an ice-cream cone, and then meandering around Montmartre and of course, visiting the Place du Tertre.Sacre Couer

  • Sorbonne

I really enjoyed walking around Sorbonne. Christine, another of my friends in Paris and a former colleague from my gap year of teaching in Stockholm, was also in the city then. Since we had planned to meet up for lunch, I had asked that we meet up at her favourite neighbourhood in Paris. We met at Sorbonne, her alma mater and walked around the beautiful place. It was at a cafe here that I tried out French onion soup for the first time, as Christine recommended it as the quintessential French cuisine.

Sorbonne2

  • Musée d’Orsay

I was enjoying walking around a lot that I did not particularly want to go into museums and have the day pass by indoors. However, I am glad I decided to visit this lovely museum housed in a former railway station in the 7th arrondissement, based on the strong recommendation of my research supervisor. The museum was smaller, easily navigable, than the overwhelming and crowded Louvre and I was able to enjoy the painting collection better.

Musee d'Orsay.jpg

  • River Seine cruise

I have always been partial to cruises, whether on a lake, river or sea. So of course, I had to take a boat cruise on the River Seine, which I enjoyed very much.

River Seine cruise.jpg

  • Eiffel Tower

I had expected that this would top my favourite list, before travelling to Paris, and this was one of the first places I visited. My friend had actually discouraged me going to the top of the tower, mentioning that it was not all that great an experience. However, since I had wanted to go to the top of Eiffel tower for a very long time, I didn’t mind the long wait in the queue for our tickets. I felt sorry for my friend’s nephew though, who was fidgeting the whole time, so it is probably not a great idea when travelling around with kids. I did enjoy visiting the tower and I even visited Montparnasse tower to have a different view of Eiffel tower from its top.

Eiffel tower.jpg

Eiffel closeup.jpg

Six plus One highlight: My friend’s family were keen to take me on a day trip out of Paris, though I was content to simply continue exploring Paris’ fascinating arrondissements. After some discussion, we agreed on the Palace of Versailles. When we arrived there, we saw the immense crowds and the ticket counter for the palace tour had a very long queue in front of it. I did not want to wait in the long queue nor did I think that my friend’s nephew and niece would appreciate the wait either. So, I suggested we take the palace gardens tour instead, since they had anyway visited the palace before, which turned out to be a lot of fun. We ended our trip with a picnic and some rowing on the lake, which everyone including the kids enjoyed and left me with a wonderful memory, of the palace of Versailles as a lovely day trip out of Paris.

Boating on Versailles lake.jpg

I found my first visit to Paris enchanting, though I know if I were to revisit now, the focus of my exploration would be different.

How did you find your first visit to Paris?

[I am linking this up to City Tripping #33, hosted by Wander Mum and Mummy Travels]

Wander Mum
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23 thoughts on “Special Six: Paris Highlights

    • I am hoping I will get to revisit Paris soon so that I can experience it, while I am still in my 30s. I am sure it will still be a special experience, though a different one 🙂

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  1. How wonderful that your mother did this for you – and at such a perfect age! I was lucky enough to Iive in Paris for a year when I was 20. I loved every minute. Completely agree with you about the delights of walking around the different neighbourhoods in Paris.

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  2. It sounds like you did a lot while in Paris. I think, during my first trip, we skipped the Versaille Palace for much the same reason. (Well, that and they had already sold their last ticket for the day.) Lesson learned: buy tickets early. I’m surprised you didn’t have a picture to share from the top of Tour Eiffel? … Personally, I found it less impressive than seeing any view in which Tour Eiffel was actually in the view. I haven’t visited Musee d’Orsay, but it’s on my list. Glad you enjoyed it! 🙂 Do you remember which company you used for your river cruise? I’m planning a trip to Paris right now, and I’m trying to learn about the different companies and which cruises are the best. If you have any suggestions or could tell me anything you remember about the cruise you took, that might help aid me in picking a company. There are a surprisingly large number of them! 🙂

    #citytripping

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    • Thank you for your comments, Amanda. I did walk around a lot during my week in Paris 🙂 I agree that pictures with Tour Eiffel are better than those of the rest of the city from its top. And, yes, I do have lots of photos from the top of Eiffel tower and Montparnasse tower. Only thing, since they were taken by a non-digital camera, the photos don’t seem to translate well when scanned. Even the ones I have shared here seem to have lost much of the colour of the originals. I do remember the cruise company I used because I had specifically wanted to go on their cruise. It was the Bateaux Mouches regular cruise (not their lunch or dinner time cruise). Enjoy your upcoming visit to Paris!

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  3. I had a similar experience to you the first time visiting Paris. I agree Montmartre was well worth the visit. As far as attractions go, the only thing I regret skipping out on was Catacombs.

    Random side note: I LOVE the film photos. I’m just getting all sorts of romantic vibes from them.

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    • Montmartre was indeed lovely, Lindsay! And, I sometimes miss my old Canon non-digital camera – I used it for around 10 years before I finally shifted to a digital camera in 2007.

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      • Yes! I have a few film cameras that have held up over the years and my goal is to use each one for a different trip. I like that every film camera seems to add something very unique to each set of photos without the need to edit.

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  4. Some lovely photos – I never get tired of visiting Paris. Over the years, I’ve been with different friends and family who often want to head to the similar big sights and main attractions. Even then, I love to keep seeing them – although just walking always turns up something new, as you found. I discovered a different side too with my daughter and can’t wait to return with her. #citytripping

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  5. I first went to Paris on a school trip with my French class when I was 13. It was incredibly memorable experience although perhaps less for the culture and history and more because we were all away together without our parents and a group of us managed to get lost- on the Chsmps Élysées. Even as a teen I was still wowed by much of the City… I found Versailles beautiful, the Effiel Tower was an exhilarating experience and I was in awe of Sacre Coeur. I’ve been back a few times since…you definitely see cities differently as you mature and grow but I adore Paris. I haven’t been for a while but I look forward to going back with my children. By the way, what a lovely gesture by your mother! Thanks for linking to #citytripping

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    • I can imagine it must have been an incredible experience traveling to Paris as a teenager. And, I am sure your experience of visiting the city with your children will be very special. I am looking forward to revisiting the city myself. And, yes, my mother’s gift was truly special and meaningful as she is one of the few people in my life who understand that I value experiences than material things and how much travel is a part of me.

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  6. I love these throwback posts of yours! I managed to visit Versailles because I went with a tour and it was really good – if you get the chance, i’d recommend checking it out! That said, I was generally underwhelmed by Paris during my short stay there, although it wasn’t Paris Syndrome level (that’s an actual thing, haha). Probably my expectations were too high.

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    • Thanks, Michelle. Paris Syndrome – I didn’t know it was an actual syndrome until now 🙂 It would certainly describe the reaction of one of my friends, who has traveled with me to several countries, and who recently visited Paris for the first time. She was very much underwhelmed with Paris though she loved her first visit to Rome. Hence the reason why I felt it might matter when the first visit to Paris is made to reinforce the enchantment with the city 🙂

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