Bienvenue à Paris!
Paris Travel Blog› entry 68 of 128 › view all entries
The overnight train arrived early in the morning of the 19th of June. Getting off the train, I was excited to actually be in Paris! I got a lot of different impressions of the city from different people. Some loved it, others hated it. I didn't know what to expect, but I had a feeling I would like the city. As I exited the train station, I was right near the Place de la Bastille, which is where the prison was located where the French Revolution began. It was no longer there, but it was neat to stand in a place where history happened. I found my way to the subway and took it to my hotel, where I dropped off my things and headed out into the town.
I took the subway right to the 4th arrondissement (Paris is broken into 20 of these) and set out to see the sites there. Right on L'île de la Cité sits Cathedralé de Notre Dame de Paris. It happened to be a Sunday, so I went in to check it out. Not that I could really understand anything, mind you, because they speak so fast and all the echoes and stuff, but it was really cool to say that I was in Notre Dame and got to see a service. It's a really beautiful area too, with the Seine river splitting around the island. I wish I could have taken a boat tour. Maybe next time!
There were several other sites I spent some time at in the area, on the island. These include Sainte Chapelle, a 800 year old church said to house many Christian relics including the crown of thorns, and the Conciergerie, once a palace turned into a royal prison.
Heading toward the center of Paris, I passed the Hôtel de Ville and it's impressive architecture. Wandering around the city, I came across Le Centre Pompidou, a very modern, abstract building really out of place in the heart of Paris. Neat to see from the outside, it houses a bunch of modern art on the inside. Not really my thing, I never went inside. I eventually made my way to the Place de la Concorde, which is near the Louvre (I didn't even realize this at the time) and marks one end of the Champs-Élysées. I found it impressive even then, but the Egyptian obelisk that stands in the center of the area had even more significance after my trip to Egypt in 2007.
Seeing L'Arc de Triomphe a ways off, I decided to walk the Champs-Élysées, to check out the shops on the street and see what else was out there. Not far from the Place da la Concorde, several crèpe stands began appearing on the side of the street. I had to stop at one and get a crèpe before continuing my walk. About half way down the Champs-Élysées, it went from a foresty area to lots of shops and restaurants. Very chic, I must say. Pressing on, I arrived at the Arc de Triomphe, and got a ticket to go up to the top. After taking the stairs up, I saw what Paris was really all about. It was beautiful from up there! I also had some amazing views of the Eiffel Tower, Sacré Coeur, La Défense, all the way down to the Louvre.
After enjoying the view for a while, I walked over to l'Hôtel des Invalides, which was built in the 1670's to house disabled soldiers. Since, it has been converted into a war museum and mausoleum. Even the remains of Napoleon rest there.
Finally, after waiting all day (saving the best for last), I went to the Eiffel Tower. It got more and more impressive the closer I got, and when I was right underneath it you could see just how immense it was. I actually remember taking a small break before going up to the top (it has a lot of stairs, you know?) and I remember a nice police officer asking me to get off the grass. So much for a break, all the benches were taken! I got my ticket to go to the top of the tower, and saved like 4 euros by taking the stairs.
It was very late when I finally left the Eiffel Tower. I lucked out and caught the last metro back to my hotel (they shut down early for some reason), and didn't take too long to get to sleep.