My third trip to the French capital of Paris was full of memories from my previous visits. Here for two nights, it was impossible not to recall being here last April, as well as on a family holiday at thirteen. It made for an unusual solo travel experience as I was carrying a lot of people with me, or so it felt.
At first I perceived no pressure to see the sights as I’ve been to them all before, but as I started, I couldn’t stop and went in search of new memories for this time to stand out. It helped that all the main attractions could be done heading west from my hotel towards the Eiffel Tower and then walking back east. This mega trip matched my top number of steps in a day at 32k! With only one week to go, I smashed another out of the park.
My hotel was the Luxor Bastille in the 11th arr. and was basic but good enough. The train here was a relaxing journey where I sat smiling as reaching Paris felt like the last challenge; in Edinburgh I would be with my family and wouldn’t have to look after myself as much! Lunch was found at B & M Burger before I decided to head off to my first stop, the Notre Dame. My route was at first new as I explored narrow streets and quiet areas to reach my destination, seeing the city from a new angle.
If you’ve read about my days in other French cities – Nice, Marseilles and Lyon – you’ll remember that I visited the Notre Dame in each. Unsurprisingly, the Paris example is the most impressive and gets the most attention. The queues were long but I didn’t have to worry as I’ve been in it twice before and was just here to enjoy the atmosphere on what was a dreary day before the sun broke through the clouds for the evening.
Being near Saint Louis Island, I took the chance to revisit the love lock bridges and the news reports are true, the authorities in Paris have removed substantial amounts of the love tokens to protect the structure of the bridges. In April 2014, I put a lock on one bridge here. Although I don’t remember the specific name, I knew it by sight and it seemed fully in tack. I didn’t seek out my lock but I’ll trust it made it!
Following la Seine I bought some souvenirs from the riverside stalls that get tucked away into green boxes at night, and met a man who said, ‘You look like you’re happy with where you are’, which worked on a couple of levels. Then he asked me for two euros to pay for his lunch, voiding the statement as I manoeuvred away (he was an American tourist, not someone who needed to ask for money to survive).
Continuing on, I went to the Louvre, home of the Mona Lisa and the see-through pyramid! The grounds are an impressive lead in to the nearby Tuileries Garden, from which it’s easy to go to the Luxor Obelisk at the centre of Place de la Concorde, as well as several statues and fountains. Champs-Elysees and the Arc de Triomphe quickly come into view, and this stretch is roughly a twenty five minute walk if you avoid the shops.
Starting to tire, I was in very familiar territory as I crossed back to the river to catch sight of the Eiffel Tower and to reach the bridge (Pont d’lena) to go and stand in it’s shadow once more. I was thrilled by the idea of sitting on a bench with the attraction in view, just taking a quiet moment to take it in on my own. I also took a closer look at Place de Varsovie, lining the way for the glorious Palais de Chaillot, a huge palace and now museum.
By the time I grabbed an ice cream and had soaked up enough of the tower, treating it as my last time in it’s presence, I had an hour and a half’s walk back to my accommodation. This took my originally down streets not river facing, until I manoeuvred to be by the water to see more the most beautiful area of the city as I returned during sunset. This is by far my favourite time of day in Paris, even when travelling solo.
I passed a number of museums, picked up a baguette and sat in awe of the Notre Dame once more, still busy like it had been earlier in the day. I took this time to take everything in and reflected much like I did in Lyon. As my last destination by myself this summer, this was the last time to myself, wandering on my own and making plans purely for my own benefit or not. It made me relish every step and decision, every sight and sound.
Perhaps because this felt like the perfect way to see Paris, I chose the next morning to have a hotel day before my flight to Scotland, where I slept in and watched Netflix before taking a stroll in the afternoon for supplies. I sorted out my case to remove anything in excess I’d picked up along the way and also watched a french gameshow on TV. As I did this, I thought how many amazing things I’d seen this summer that I felt perfectly comfortable to do ordinary things in this great city! The Palace of Versailles was out, as were the dark catacombs which were too scary to enter alone.
Preparing for my flight, I used the EasyJet app which was so easy to work and made checking-in and boarding stress free; it doesn’t even require the use of Wi-Fi so I really recommend it when flying with this brand. For me, seven days were left and eight before I’d go home, bringing my days away to exactly sixty. Never have I done so much in as many days.
Goodbye Paris, may we meet again!