"The last time I saw Paris, her heart was warm and gay,
I heard the laughter of her heart in every street café."
-Oscar Hammerstein II
I have never been to Paris. For someone who loves to travel you’d think Paris would be one of the first to be ticked off from the list. Because Paris is basic Europe right?
But I have been putting off Paris for the longest time. Well, because
1) It's not exactly the cheapest city in the world. Haha!
2) Once upon a time, a dreamy-eyed 18 year old Nikki decided to save this trip to the most romantic city in the world for her future husband. And let’s just say this was one of the few times my idealism + cheesiness paid off. So glad I'm seeing Paris for the first time with my favourite person in the world!
IT WAS LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT. I loved everything about Paris. The whole city looked like something out of a painting.
The cobblestone streets, the creamy buildings
with swoon-worthy balconies,
the al-fresco cafes, the mouthwatering pastries,
the rich art world, the elegant cuisine!
We were in Paris for 5 days, which, if you’ve been there you’d know, is not enough time to really take in this beautiful city. It’s enough time to cover all the tourist stops and to eat at some well-known restaurants. But I feel like I'll need more time to take in Paris in all its diversity. We were going on a Mediterranean cruise which leaves from Marseille, so we decided to spend the last remaining days of the trip in Paris.
Having arrived only a few weeks after one of the first Paris attacks, the city was on high alert. The French military and several security personnel manned the commonly crowded areas like the Tuileries Garden, the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysee, and the Louvre. Their presence was comforting and unnerving at the same time. You can taste a bit of the tension in the air, but nothing that a warm pain au chocolat can’t help counter. :)
Prior to this trip, I asked some friends who knew the city inside out for resto, shopping and sightseeing recommendations. But there's just so much Paris and so little time. Will just have to save those for another visit (perfect motivation to start saving as early as now! Haha!).
In the meantime, here are some highlights that I think will make a good itinerary for the City of Lights first-timer:
Seeing the Eiffel Tower for the First Time
We were inside our Uber ride from the airport when BJ tapped my shoulder to show me a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower from his side of the car.
I was awestruck.
It was similar to how I felt when I first saw Piolo Pascual in person backstage in ASAP. Hahaha! Okay, no. Siguro mga times 1,000. Haha! But it was the same feeling of kilig because I had just been seeing the Eiffel Tower on photos and on TV (parang si Papa P talaga hahaha) and now I was seeing it in person!
We made a turn a few minutes later and there it was, standing tall and majestic right in front of us. It really is an imposing monument. And to think the French weren't big fans of it when it was being built!
Tip: The Eiffel Tower sparkles for 5 minutes every hour at nightfall which was such a treat to watch while relaxing (and by "relaxing" I really mean "freezing our butts off!") in one of the benches along Champ de Mars.
Art in Montmartre
We took the metro to one of the prettiest art centres in Paris, with an added bonus of the beautiful Sacre-Coeur sitting atop the hill. We got there at around 4:30PM, the afternoon sun just lovely. You can tell the Parisians were getting tired of the winter breeze as they lay on the grass soaking up as much sun as they could. Pag dito yan sa Pilipinas, #sunog. Haha!
We did all travel cliches--a cup of coffee in one of the cafes while people watching, fighting off some pretty persistent merchants trying to sell us random stuff, and buying a pen and ink illustration from one of the French artists in the square.
Tip: While it might be tempting to just let the pushy artists walking around sketch you (for a fee) for the heck of it, make sure you hit the main square for a more diverse selection of art works before you purchase anything.
Aaaahhh... The Louvre. I would've wanted to spend more time here but we had scheduled another tour on the same day. You don't have to be an aesthete to enjoy the Louvre. You can have limited knowledge on the arts (like ME hahaha) but still marvel at the exquisite pieces the Louvre carries.
Of course there are the superstars like Da Vinci's Mona Lisa (too crowded and overrated if you ask me), or the Venus de Milo (looooove), or Veronese's Wedding at Cana (massive). But there are so many other interesting pieces that would turn you into a fan of the craft if you aren't.
Tip: Join a tour for a more organised visit to the museum. The Louvre is humongous. So to make the most of your time, look for a tour that will have the must-see pieces. We booked a 3 hour tour on Trip Advisor.
I didn't think I'd enjoy this as much as the Louvre but I did! The fact that it used to be a railway station was pretty cool. It wasn't as packed as the Louvre, which allows you more space (and time) to really take in the paintings by rockstars Monet, Van Gogh, Renoir... (and that's as far as my knowledge of impressionist and post-impressionist artists goes. Haha!)
Tip: Do some research on the art you'll find here. You might find the original version of that calendar or notebook cover you have at home. Hahaha! #artiswastedonus
Shopping and Eating in Le Marais
On our shopping day, we decided we didn't want to head to the mall only to be greeted by stores we already have back home. Upon the recommendation of some friends, we went to Le Marais which is reminiscent of New York's SoHo. They had all the pretty French boutiques as opposed to the giant retail stores you can find in the malls. This would also be the perfect place for a classic crepe or fragrant falafel.
The River Seine
Think of the Seine River Cruise as a 1 hour overview of Paris. You can spot most of the important structures from the boat. I can imagine how beautiful it would be at night as well!
Tip: Make sure you know where your boat is docked to avoid running from one bridge to another like we did! Hahaha!
Here are some more random photos from our trip. Most of these photos were taken with my iPhone! :)
Will be posting more photos of our trip in the coming weeks! :)