So much to see and so little time to see all that I want to see, do and eat. That’s how I felt about our time in Paris.
Today I was going through our Paris photographs in preparation for our making our photo album through My Publisher. Looking at the photos brought back such wonderful memories.
After we checked into the Le Metropolitan, a SPG property that we booked on points when it was a Club Carlson property, we immediately left not wanting to waste a minute of our time. We walked toward the Arc de Triomphe. I was giddy with excitement and felt like jumping up and telling everyone that “I’m here, I’m actually in Paris” while I’ was walking around and viewing this landmark at the end of the Champs des Elysees. If you continue walking on the outside, not going into the traffic to get to the Arc, you’ll see a sign directing you to where the tunnel is to walk underground to get to the Arc. The Arc, as I learned through a tour, was commissioned by Napoleon Bonaparte to commemorate those who fought and died for France during the French Revolution and during the Napoleonic Wars. Whenever you think of Arcs, this is the one that comes to mind. The Arc sits in the center of 12 converging avenues that radiate out form the Arc. When we were there there was some type of bicycle event happening and they were at the Arc. Police were there to control the traffic for the cyclists
We walked all around Paris, stopping at an outdoor fruit market where we picked up some delicious fruit to bring back to our room. It was convenient to a small city sized grocery store where we picked up some yogurts, pastries and other items to keep in our room. On our way back to the hotel we passed an Italian restaurant and decided to eat dinner while we mapped our what we would do the next few days. Instead of going right back to the hotel, we continued walking and I saw the Eifel Tower all lit up. We walked to a great viewing spot directly across the river from it, along with a few hundred other people. Vendors were there selling their wares, flashes were going off as everyone seemed to be taking pictures. We caught out breath as we saw the light show on the Eiffel Tower. This was a dream come true a million times over. Instead of walking back to the hotel this time I floated back. Do you ever feel like that?
The next morning we were up and ready to put our plan into action. Since we hadn’t been to Paris before, we thought a great way to get an overview of the city would be to get tickets on the HoHo bus (Hop on, Hop off). Apparently there are several different companies who do HoHo bus tours but the one recommended by our hotel was the L’Open Tour bus.
There was a special promotion on the flyer with the HoHo bus. You could purchase a bus ticket for one day for €33 or, what we did is purchase a 2 day pass that also include a river boat cruise on the Bateaux Mouches for €43. What we liked about the bus we took is that there are four different lines, each going to a different part of Paris. In addition to touring, we used the bus as public transportation. A great map was on the flyer so we knew which colored bus to take and what we would see. There were over 50 stops among all four colored routes.
We decided to do the boat tour first. We walked, and walked, and walked to where the boats were (hint – take the subway, bus, uber or cab). We bought our ticket, stood in line and immediately went to the upper level for viewing. There really are no bad seats there but if I had to suggest a seat, it would be in the rear. You go up and down so if a building is not on your side, wait till they turn around and it will be. We went pass the d’Orsay, Notre Dame and so many buildings. The narrative was good as well. Would I recommend this? Definitely yes. A great introduction to Paris.
After the boat tour, we walked to catch the HoHo bus. Since we had one of their maps, we knew where the stops were and we knew which colored tour we wanted. As we were walking to the stop, we passed by a memorial in honor of Princess Diana that was over the tunnel where her fatal accident took place. Also at the location was a duplicate of the Statue of Liberty’s torch .
When we found our stop and boarded we headed up to the upper level for an unencumbered view of the city. When you board your driver will give you a pair of earbuds to plug into the box at your seat where you can dial in to your language to hear the audio.
We drove through the Montmartre section of Paris and saw the famous Moulin Rouge with their windmills.
A few blocks later we got off and walked uphill with a small crowd to Sacre Coeur. Walking up the hill we passed numerous T shirt shops and other shops selling all types of souvenirs. That didn’t interest us so we kept walking. Once again we passed another carousel. Europeans, we noted, love their carousels and we saw many during our visit to France. We walked left at the carousel and followed the signs to the funicular for the quick ride to the top of the hill where the Basilica was built with an unparalleled view of all of Paris. I certainly enjoy the history and architecture of the many churches we have visited.
Sacre Coeur was built in the 1800’s on the top of the hill in the Montmartre section of Paris. This was the site where the Druids of Ancient Gaul would come to worship as well as the Romans who built their temples to honor Mars and Mercury. There is a very long history on this location. Soon after, we walked down the hill, across the street to catch the next HoHo bus to bring us close to our hotel. We were traveling in rush hour and it seemed to take forever yet on the other hand, we went through the Arc on our way home. We seemed to always pass the Egyptian obelisk that, depending who is telling the story, was either given to the French or the French stole it from Egypt.
My first full day in Paris was wonderful and we had more days to come with more adventures including a cooking lesson for me.
Here are a few more random sights we saw on our travels.