We spent a total of 2 days in Paris and boy, did we spend it well!
We came to Paris by train from Geneva. It is roughly 250 miles from Paris, which means taking the train is a good option and we enjoyed the ride. We got to Paris from Geneva in 3 hours and 30 minutes via direct routes. Trains from Geneva to Paris arrive in central Paris at the Gare de Lyon station.
We remember travelling on the train from Geneva and our cabin was very empty that day. But on one of the stops, a huge group of gymnasts from France got on and started getting really interested in us. They filled up the entire cabin and were very boisterous and loud. They were very curious where Singapore was and what our lives were like on a daily basis. They were perfectly hilarious and kept on chatting away with us. That was an interesting 3 hour ride. Finally I think it got too much for me and I fell asleep.
When we reached Paris, it was a mad frenzy to get off the train and we were completely overwhelmed by the crowds at the Gare De Lyon station. It was very different from Switzerland and perhaps it could be due to the ongoing World Cup games at that time. We navigated our way to the hotel. We stayed at Hotel Helvetia.
This hotel was so dull that we did not take any photos at all inside the hotel. There was nothing special except for the proximity to the train station. It took only 10 minutes to walk to the hotel from Gare De Lyon. Breakfast was not included in the package as well but there is plenty to eat in Paris! This hotel is one of the cheapest on our Europe trip. We saved some so we can spend more on others.
After putting our bags, we came out to explore. We realised we were hungry when we came near a cafe. It was the cafe directly opposite the train station.
This was the 1st time we tasted ‘real’ french food and we were very excited. In Singapore, we have a lot of french bistros but nothing beats sitting in Paris, alfresco, with lovely weather and food. It is Paris, everything is better here…
The waiter came to give us menus and he was really friendly – explaining everything on the menu to us and sharing about the specials of the day. I remembered asking for the English menu everywhere we went because we could not read French. I remembered being really excited at our choices of food and maybe it was the air in Paris or maybe we were happy after a great time in Switzerland. Whatever it was, we had a superb 1st lunch in Paris.
Now that we are full and satisfied, we began our walking tour.
We walked to Jardin du Luxembourg – this seems to be one of Paris’ favorite place to sun, stroll, picnic, and play.
After that, it was onto the Louvre. We have seen this in movies before but to see it in front of you, is fascinating.
After that we walked towards the Arc de Triomphe.
This 50 meter/164 foot tall arch crowns the west end of the Champs-Elysées, the city’s most famous avenue, at the juncture known as the Etoile (star), where 12 prestigious avenues radiate out from the arch. And the Champs-Elysees was where all the shopping is!
One of the best tips that I can share with you is to BUY YOUR EIFFEL TOWER TICKETS ONLINE!
I bought 4 tickets online for the day that we were in Paris and it was one of the best decisions of my life. Before our trip, I went online to google the time for sunset for the day that we wanted to see the Tower and I bought tickets for that time. As it was summer, the sun sets really late so I bought our tickets for 8pm. I figured that the sun would set and we would see Paris all lighted up.
After shopping, we made our way to the Eiffel Tower. When we saw the Tower from across the river, we screamed and could not resist taking some photos first!
Then we reached the bottom of the Eiffel Tower and there were huge crowds and it was chaotic. I was so glad and relieved we did not have to queue up for tickets then. And I remembered to print them out!
And when it was our turn, we went ahead to the gantry.
The views of Paris, from the tower, were amazing. Honestly, just like the Empire State Building or Top of the Rock, this is something you have to do at least once in your lifetime.
And then when it got darker, the whole tower lit up, while we were on it! We were not the only ones who screamed when the lights came on.
KW took a lot of pictures and the feeling of being on the tower while it was lit was astounding! I remember it till today and it was one of the happiest moments of our trip.
We walked around inside the tower as well.
After spending a good 2 hours on the tower, we finally came down and went for dinner. After that, we were lost for a while and did not know how to take the train back to the hotel. I think most of the people near the Eiffel Tower are tourists though and everyone was lost together. Almost everyone that we asked, were also lost.
But in retrospect, is it that bad to be lost in Paris? Not at all.