Hello everyone! Welcome to another edition of our travel special. Today we’re going to write, no, share our travelogue to Paris: our experiences as first timers, places to see, things to do, where to eat, and a few things we noticed about Parisians.
Plus we have lots of photos from our travel to Paris so keep reading!
Not a very warm welcome in Paris
You’re bound to be excited when you spend what you’ve saved on a trip to Paris (and a few other places in Europe). After watching movies like Amelie, Before Sunrise, French Kiss and re-runs of Gossip Girl, Sex and The City and a million movies, we’d completely romanticized Paris in our head. We were in for a rude shock.
The minute we made it to the luggage belt to pick up our hefty red bags, we realized one had been broken in (the lock was missing in). We were obviously not going to sit there and check what we were missing, and headed to find the quickest way out of Charles De Gaulle Airport.
After speaking to three different people who refused to help with directions, luggage, I was honestly sick of their nonchalance. A few escalators later, we found an exit to a metro that was supposed to take us to Champs Elysees. It didn’t.
The local metro was full to the brim so we had to stand, and my sister was apparently felt up by a fellow passenger. By the time she looked back, he was gone. Typical metro shady behaviour.
Emeraude Hotel Plaza Etoile, Wagram Avenue
We got off at the last station and decided we weren’t going to take the metro anymore: after 14 hours of flight time and 2 hours of Parisian misbehaviour, we hailed a cab and reached our hotel, Emeraude Hotel Plaza Etoile. This is basically a few meters away from Arc De Triomphe, Place de la Concorde and Grande Arche de la Défense. The hotel is REALLY small, especially for Delhites and Bangaloreans who don’t live in Mumbai or have never lived in small, confined places. I honestly don’t know how children or families would stay here, happily.
The room had everything a traveller would need: a double bed (small), a side table, a shower, and vanity case. But everything is very small in width, so to say, which is not what we’d expected (despite reading up!).
On our first day in Paris, we stepped out of the hotel before 8 am (hard boiled eggs, toast and cereal for breakfast), and made most of our proximity.
We almost got robbed in Paris
After an hour of clicking pictures and enjoying a crisp summer morning, we headed to the Metro Station where we were almost robbed. I was buying a day pass for the two of us from a carousel when I noticed someone had already opened my bag and had my wallet (with 500 euros) in it.
I grabbed the wallet back from him, and started screaming at him as Parisians didn’t give a shit and walked on.
My sister, who seemed to be talking to a fellow tourist slash robber was completely unaware of the situation.
A metro ride to Gary De Lyon, we decided to man up, and basically stay out of trouble. After getting our EuRail Pass for the next 10 days, we decided it was time for mango juice, croissants and some conversation.
Day Tour of Paris and a Small Shopping Spree
I need to shop, I tell my sister. She thinks I am drunk on mango juice. But she is awesome, so she takes me to Châtelet. H&M and Aldo is what we can afford. Another bistro later, its time for a city tour—and the magique of the city is strong enough to take over us, through the windows of our bus.
We went on sucky tour to the Eiffel Tower
I had no idea the sun in Paris was so strong. Pragati, who is allergic to sunlight and sunscreen (can you believe it?) had a rash as we sat in a tourist bus and made it to a queue of passengers being taken to the Eiffel Tower. We honestly hate group tours of more than 10 people and there were like 50 or 75 people being guided towards the tower.
The best part about going to the Eiffel Tower? Paris goes quiet as you go up The Eiffel Tower. Check out the view:
We then strolled across the iconic bridges across River Seine (also went on a horrible cruise later) and walked up to Flame of Liberty. We miss you, Princess Diana.
What’s up with Parisians, Man? Our impression of People and Attitudes
Somewhere between going for Seine River Cruise, Coffees, and Nutella Smeared Waffles as we looked up at Eiffel Tower at 8 pm, we started talking about French men.
Before we left for Paris, I remember dozens of people telling us to cross off ‘a French guy’ off our bucket lists. But truthfully, it was far from that. Don’t get me wrong, they’re as good looking as the movies. French men don’t believe in baggy clothes, they wear skinny jeans, live on cheese and espressos. They smoke a lot, and, I mean 2 cartons a day, but are shamelessly thin. But what good are you when you’re not polite, to the point that you’re unchivalrous. Not just to me, or the tourists, but even to the girls with them.
Parisians also hate tourist season. They literally don’t care about losing business in tourist season, which is the complete opposite of the way Indian businesses operate.
Had enough of our opinions? Good. Here are some Be For Beauty recommended things to do:
- Go to Arc de Triomphe at 7. 00 a.m and 7 pm. Be a tourist, go crazy taking pictures and take in the historical significance of Champ Elysees.
- Enjoy a European meal and French Wine in Rue De France.
- Drink tap water when you run out of Evian.
- Take a personalised, guided tour to the Musée du Louvre. Then go back again on a weekday and stare at the pictures. It’s therapy. If you’re a big fan of Monet, head to Musée de l’Orangerie.
- Come up with new ways to say no to the souvenir sellers in the streets of Paris.
- Take a day tour of the city: this will give you an idea of where you want to go back and explore again.
- Spend some time at high-fashioned streets like Avenue George V, Rue François 1er and buy nothing. It’ll make you go back, sell your soul and want to earn more money.
- Go back to Eiffel Tower and the surrounding area in the evening, watch the light dance that happens every hour—and eat waffles.
- We went on a horrible cruise on the Seine, because our travel operator didn’t guide us. Choose a good Seine Cruise: there are more than 20 available from fine dining to family affairs.
- Take a 3 day metro pass —besides the obvious convenience of hopping off and on, you’ll figure out the city at the back of your hand.
- Go to Notre Dame: we couldn’t but you should.
- Go to Laduree–if you love, or want to love, macaroons. By the way, eat a lot of dessert.
- Don’t watch Moulin Rouge—unless you’re interested in wasting 195 dollars. It has no story, structure, music or acting. However, it has almost a 100 dancers who don’t wear clothes say “I love Paris” for 2 hours. See, everything said and done, it’s a cabaret, and happens 200 meters away from the Red Light District of Paris. By the way, we decided it’d be safer to take the metro back to the hotel (more people, less danger) but we were wrong. Parisians were drinking in the train and we got chased by 10 blokes till we made a run for it.
- Leave Paris. Go for a day tour to Champagne or Versailles or anywhere in French countryside.
PS: We’ve have very little time in Paris and don’t claim to be experts.
Share with us your experiences in the comments’ section.