Lutetia of the Parisii
– was its name during the Roman era but ‘Paris’ is what people know of it these days. I have heard mix reviews about the city. Some people fall in love with the city at first sight whereas some people hate its dirty rough edges. I personally have not been there and yearned to see this city of love (yes, I am cheesy that way). Thank god for the Eurostar, Paris was only 2.5 hours away. A good friend and I decided to take a day trip to immerse ourselves in the Parisian culture.
The day started off with a cup of coffee and a French croissant. We intentionally got lost around the area by Basilique du Sacre-Coeur and fell in love with the beautiful architecture, small side streets and rewarded ourselves in a French bakery. Thank god for Hina’s bit of French, we did manage to maneuver ourselves pretty alright. I noticed that the city wakes up very slowly in the morning and begins its day at about 11am.
As we only had about 12 hours there, I had to squeeze in time to check out some touristy sights. After a quick snack, we walked down Champs-Elysees, the big touristy shopping street (it reminded me of Oxford Circus but just a lot wider) and said hi to the Eiffel tower. With a nutella crepe in hand, we strolled along the river Seine and stumbled upon a Chanel perfume exhibition in the Librairie du Palais de Tokyo. Although we had a rough plan of what we wanted to see, we were both really relaxed about getting a bit lost and checking different things out as we were walking.
The afternoon consisted of walking in the Tuileries garden. I must say that we were pretty lucky as the sun decided to peek out and we took the chance to rest on the chairs by a water fountain. Compared to London parks, the gardens in Paris looked really organized and structured. The trees were all shaped in square standing tall next to each other. It definitely has a different charm. We walked from one end of the garden where the Obélisque stands to the other end to see the Le Grand Louvre. I do enjoy museums and will have to come back to Paris to spend a full day in the Louvre.
After walking all afternoon, our legs got a bit tired and our tummies were grumbling again. We treated ourselves to some macaroons by Pierre Hermé and headed to the Latin quarter for dinner. What took us by surprise in the evening was that we expected eating at a nice cutesy French restaurant in the Latin quarter but realized that we had gone into a huge tourist trap. As we walked out of Cluny – La Sorbonne station, tons of restaurants waiters stood outside and attempted to lure us in. I personally found it scary and was taken aback. We then asked around and walked further away from that area. I guess that happened for a good reason as we both got to see Notre Dame in the evening light while we were finding food. We finally ended up in a cute french restaurant (still in the touristy area but quieter), had a savory crepe with a glass of wine and ended dinner with a Creme Brulee.
The day flew by so quickly and was quite tiring but filled with so much excitement exploring and learning about a different culture. In addition, the good company made a big difference to my experience as well. It was really hard to say goodbye to Paris but I know I will be back really soon.
On a side note, stereotypes about Parisians being rude to tourists may not be true. We encountered friendly Parisians (especially in the customer service) all day. Well this does not include the first two people we met there: one was pestering for a signature and the other was just a tad bit weird.