A month down the line and I don’t think I will ever reach a point where I’ll walk around Paris and no longer be in awe of its beauty and what it has to offer.
As we’re walking around the different districts and down the little side streets exploring, I’m constantly stopping to take my phone out my bag so that I can get some photos of the little cafes, statues, and buildings – especially the buildings that have the most beautiful architecture and balconies decorated with pots of beautiful red flowers.
I haven’t seen everything on my to-do list yet, and I have been quite relaxed about getting around because I know I’ll be here until mid December. Some of the things I was dying to see immediately were the Eiffel Tower at night when the little sparkly lights flash and the Arc de Triomphe. So on the first Friday here, I set off after work with two of my colleagues to see the Arc de Triomphe and have a picnic on the grass by the Eiffel Tower.
On the way to the Arc de Triomphe, we stopped off at Ladurée for macarons. The store was so perfectly decorated outside, but believe me it’s even more beautiful as you step inside. We were lucky that the queue wasn’t too bad, as people often queue outside the door to get their macarons and treats. We opted to get a box of macarons to share amongst us and there were so many choices that we struggled to choose, so the super patient and kind gent behind the counter guided us on what he suggested we take. The macarons are pricey, but definitely worth the treat! They are absolutely delicious and far better than any macaron I have had anywhere else. A couple of locals have told me to try out Pierre Hermes as well for macarons, so that is on my to-do list now.
Ladurée is a French luxury bakery and sweets maker house created in 1862. It is one of the world’s best-known first sellers of the double-decker macaron, 15,000 of which are sold every day.
From what I’ve seen so far in Paris, sweets, cakes and chocolates are made with every single delicate detail in mind. They are so pretty you often don’t want to eat them or unbox them. And when you do buy them in boxes or packaged, they are wrapped with the outmost care and every detail in the packaging has been considered too! There really is beauty in just about everything in Paris.
After spending some time at Ladurée, we headed out to see the Arc de Triomphe. I can’t begin to describe how excited I was to see it in person. It’s so much bigger than I thought, and we got to see it just as the sun was setting which was ideal for capturing it in photos. We stood there for quite a while admiring it and taking photos.
The Arc de Triomphe honours those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, with the names of all French victories and generals inscribed on its inner and outer surfaces. Beneath its vault lies the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I.
You can go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe and see Paris during the day or at night, which I imagine must be pretty spectacular, but I am petrified of heights so I didn’t try that. The Arc is also known as the “star” of the juncture, so if you do go to the top of it, you’ll see 12 roads radiating outwards from it as the centre.
- Quick Tip: if you want to get a good photo of it from the ground, walk towards the Arc, and there is a strip in the middle of the road where pedestrians all stand and take pics. However, do be careful of the traffic on both sides because it’s easy to get lost in the moment of taking photos and getting the quick selfie in.
We then headed off in search of the Eiffel Tower. Google Maps has been amazing this last month in helping us navigate the streets, and work out which station to go to at the metro. On the way to the Eiffel Tower, we came across a memorial for Princess Diana which was situated above the tunnel where the car accident that lead to her death happened. It was so sad to see this, but at the same time heartwarming that people still came to leave flowers and messages.
A picnic at the Eiffel Tower is something I have wanted to do for months! So, on the way there we stopped off at a small cafe and purchased “baby” (I use this word frequently now as everything in France is teeny-tiny) wine, a baguette, cheese and some chips to snack on as we hadn’t had any dinner. We eventually arrived at the Eiffel Tower, and it was so amazing to stand below it, look up and appreciate it’s beauty. You can also go up the Eiffel Tower to see the view, but again, this is not my scene. We made our way through the crowds of tourists and dozens of entrepreneurs selling wine bottles in buckets of ice (which they are not allowed to do) and cigarettes, and we found a comfy spot on the grass where we sat down with our picnic snacks. A number of people were sitting on the grass with friends and enjoying some wine together. The Eiffel Tower is lit up at night, and every hour on the hour it sparkles for exactly 5 minutes. My night was made when I got to see it sparkle! Next on my bucket-list is to go picnic there during the day.
We sat on the grass next to the Eiffel Tower until quite late and headed back to the metro at around 12:00 am to head home. The metro is still a little daunting for me at times, but hopefully in the next month I will conquer it on my own!
- Another Quick Tip: If you are out in very populated tourist areas, or even on the metro, you really need to take care of your personal belongings. I’ve been here a month and two friends have been on the metro when someone’s purse and bag were snatched. It’s very easy to forget to look after your goodies when you are taking photos, texting on your phone, and enjoying the scenery. If you are wearing a sling bag, wear it in front of you, and backpacks are not advisable. Rather be safe than sorry.
Paris has now moved from summer to autumn, which I think is quickly going to turn into winter. The fountains in public areas are slowly being shutdown for winter and the leaves are all changing colour and falling. I’m extremely grateful for the warm weather we had for our first month here – even though the humidity got a bit much at times. It’s been so amazing having friends to explore with, and today we were saying that in 2.5 months when we say goodbye, life is going to be very strange…
But, for now we will explore as much as we can, enjoy wine and beer together, laugh lots, and eat tons of yummy cheese!
PS. I just realised that I forgot to add in that we went to The Louvre Museum one night in the first week I was here. I will definitely write a post about that and show you some pics because I got to see the Mona Lisa!