France: Je Taime, Paris
January 1, 1970
After 2 years of wishing and saving money, I finally got to accomplish it.
In November of 2015, I was finally getting on a plane for the first time to the continent which would show me live what so far I had learned in the History books. Destination Paris, Mademoiselle.
Going back in time a bit…
Going to Europe has always been one of my many dreams. But as a recently graduated, 24 year old, Brazilian, life seemed too expensive. Yes, it is true. Doesn’t matter how much you work in Brazil, life will always be really expensive.
So that’s why I decided to leave.
I came to Australia in October/2013, to see what else life had saved for me.
And two years later, my departure to France started from Sydney. After 2 flights, 20 something hours and a lot of plane meals I arrived at Charles De Gaulle airport. It was grey, raining a little, full of people (speaking in a language I could not understand) and exciting. I had absolutely no idea how to get to where I was supposed to, and after a while of not travelling alone, it’s a bit scary to face it on your own. But oh, the satisfaction you get when you realise you can actually still do it. I mean honestly, I found my luggage and the train station all by myself and the help of “Excuse moi”, “ Pardon”, “Mercier”, “Si Vous Plait” and a little bit of mime. I know it’s common to hear that French are not really welcoming, but I had not problems whatsoever. Or at least I didn’t think I did because I couldn’t understand it anyways.
But okay, off the airport and into the train. Oh Geez, hopefully getting the right one (because there are many lines that go through the airport).
Important tip: always (and I mean always!) have a map with you. And I don’t mean your online map from your awesome mobile. Have it on paper for two reasons:
- You never know when your internet will leave you high and dry
- You get to keep an awesome vintage souvenir after your trip is over
After about 30 minutes, I arrived at the Gare Du Nord (incredible) train station!
And that when the goose-skin began.
My first stop was Paris, but in four hours I would catch another train to London. I had four hours, a loaded backpack and the certainty I would not waste any second by just waiting. So I found a place to leave my luggage (at the station, near platform 3 in the left side, going down the stairs – coins only, around E$12) and got back to my map to see which amazing place would I have time to go visit for now.
Sacre Coeur Basilica
It was the first and turned out to be the most unforgettable for me. It was about 18 minutes walking from the station. Following my map, and going through the characteristic french streets I found myself in the bottom of this beautiful cliff which hosted (
what was so far) the most beautiful church I had ever seen. It was another 5 to 10 minutes walking going up and the closer I got to it, the more beautiful it seemed. But it was when I looked back that my breath fell short.
As I said previously the day was cloudy, but I hadn’t realized how foggy it was. When I turned around I found myself on the top of Paris, the most beautiful city in the world. And I was literally above the clouds.
Like in a movie, there was live classic music playing. I felt tears watering my eyes and I felt so amazed. I’ve been there again after, but that first feeling. Nothing will never top it.
Because that’s the thing about travelling. If you get yourself in the moment, experiencing. You can never feel as alive.
After the Sacre Coeur, I did not want to leave Paris. The first four hours until my London train, were the best preview for a trip soon to come.
When I came back from London, the Gare Du Nord felt familiar. I had plans to meet one of my closest friend who was coming from Ireland to see Paris for the first time (with me!). She bought one of those great 48 hours return flight deals, so we rushed through Paris and checked in to all of the famous places.
We walked to the Musee de l’armee, took a picture at the Arc de Triomphe. Had the sun come out for a beautiful polaroid
shot eat the Eiffel Tower. Stopped for dinner and walked down the bright and shiny Champs-Elysées, where all of the big brands are located. And as any great cinema admirer, went the Moulin Rouge for a photo.