Four Nights in Paris
January 1, 1970
by Femke Paul
Travel to Paris! Bienvenue a Paris:
A few years ago I visited Paris with a few of my friends… Pourquoi? Well, aside from always being attracted to the French flair, French language (there is a quote saying: “French is the language that turns dirt into romance”) and reading a book called “French Women don’t Get Fat” by Mireille Guiliano, what the French did, always fascinated me… So off we went to Paris…
After arriving on the Charles de Gaulle airport, riding a sketchy looking train to our apartment and hitting the road hard while dragging our luggage behind us, we finally arrived at our quaint hotel where we booked into our lovely room on the second (or maybe third?) floor. Our room overlooked a beautiful small public park with a luscious green garden.
The Eiffel Tower
After familiarizing ourselves a bit with our new environment, our first order of business was to… can you guess?? Make a trip to “La Tour Eiffel!” I will never forget the moment we first saw the Eiffel Tower: We got off at the train station (Gare de Lyon, if I am not mistaken) and we started walking toward where they indicated the Eiffel Tower was. Nothing could top the moment when we walked past the corner and there stood the Madame of France herself: the Eiffel Tower in all her glory! We screamed and hugged each other and were ecstatic with joy. But the fun didn’t stop there: we actually got ourselves some tickets to go straight to the top of that beautiful piece of architectural engineering. (I might need to mention this here: when going to see the Eiffel Tower, take A LOT of warm clothes with you- I took my very warm snow jacket, but only wore light cotton baggy pants. When we got to the second “level” of the Eiffel Tower, all my friends had to huddle around me, to prevent my legs from freezing off! It was memorable, but not recommendable. I am sometimes surprised that there isn’t snow or ice at the top of the Eiffel Tower.
When we got to the third level of the Eiffel Tower (which was isolated from the wind, by the way), we had a spectacular view of the entire city in the form of a dark blanket covered in splendorous lights. Now, if you are wondering about the romantic side of Paris – the evenings are every bit as romantic as depicted in various films: the Eiffel tower is covered in flickering champagne lights, lovers have small, intimate picnics next to the Seine with some fine French wines and croissants and the charismatic French language can be heard all over the place. Even the Notre Dame (which literally means “Our Lady”) has some great lighting, showing off its world-renowned flying buttresses.
The Notre Dame
The next day we went to the Notre Dame which was built in French Gothic architectural style. Aside from constantly being distracted by the sophisticated aroma of freshly percolated coffee, we had no problem finding our way there, as it was near the Eiffel Tower. The Notre Dame brought back memories of the Disney classic “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” where many a child shed a tear while having to witness the suffering of Quasimodo. The glass windows of the Cathedral adds some colour to the architecture in that it looks like beautiful kaleidoscopes at the top of the church with the colorful light playfully reflecting inside the church.
The Arc de Triomphe, Louvre and Jardin de Tuileries
Next stop was the Arc de Triomphe in Champs-Elysees which was built in neo-classical style. The monument was built to commemorate those who died for France during the French Revolution and Napoleonic wars. This historical landmark is situated close to the Louvre- the art gallery where the world-renowned Leonardo da Vinci painting, “The Mona Lisa” hangs. At the Louvre we saw the famous glass pyramid (if you ever read ‘The Da Vinci Code,’ you will know what I am talking about). Seeing as we didn’t have enough money and camping gear (since you need to spend a few days to get through the entire Louvre), we did not visit the museum. The Louvre has a beautiful park (or garden) called “Jardin des Tuileries” (the Tuileries Garden) which was created by the French monarch, Catherine de Medici and opened to the public after the French revolution. It was a pleasurable experience watching small boats being steered across the fountain in the garden in a racing competition.
The Sacre Coeur
During our tour, we visited the “Sacre Coeur,” which means Sacred Heart. It refers to “The Sacred Heart of Jesus” which is linked to the Roman Catholic faith. Having almost an “ivory” appearance as the Taj Mahal, the Basilica of the Sacred Heart was built in Roman and Byzantine architectural style. After that, we spent some time with the locals near a French restaurant where we ate some crepes and got to look at some beautiful local art by an old French lady who painted oil paintings while we also enjoyed some French music by a street musician. Culture at its finest!
A boat trip on the Seine
Our final night in Paris we went on a lovely cruise on the Seine river while being guided by a tour guide and listening to old French music. This is definitely a must for those of you who ever go to the city of Paris. I felt so inspired by life and everything it had to offer- it was definitely the epitome of our travels (which included Germany and Austria.) It was an invigorating experience and one I must recommend to all aspiring travelers.
The morning we left, I bought myself an espresso shot near the Notre Dame- needless to say: I was WIDE awake for the next couple of days and the trip back was like having ADHD. Would I recommend touring the romantic city of Paris? Of course! (Just a tip on when to buy French perfume though: opt to buy at the airport, as you do not have to pay tax on something that already costs an arm and a leg.)