Paris is the capital city of France. Divided into 20 districts (called: arrondissements), famous for a lot of things; as fashion capital of the world, as city which full of art, as business center in Europe also as the most romantic city. And I included Paris in our Euro ‘honeymoon wannabe’ itinerary just because it is Paris.
Our Paris’ Itinerary
16/Mar/12 Arrived in Paris, wandering around in Gare de Lyon area
17/Mar/12 Musee de Louvre, Cathedrale de Notredame & Sorbonne (Latin Quarter), Sacrecour (Montmare), Bastille (Marais)
18/Mar/12 Eiffel, Champ Elysses, Arc de Triomph, Mosque de Paris, Depart from Paris
The first impression (which then turn out to be wrong)
Perhaps like every-first-timer visiting Paris, my heart was full of excitement as my train Thalys stop at Gare du Nord which is one of Paris’ six large Train Station (refer to Wikipedia). Our first destination was Mercure Hotel, located at Gare de Lyon where our train to Switzerland will depart in the next 2 days. The direction on how to reach Gare de Lyon from Gare du Nord is very clear that we will need to take RER D. By taking RER D with destination Melun/Malesherbes, it will need approximately 7 minutes (2 direct stops) to reach Gare de Lyon. Following the direction, my husband and I make our way to RER wing. My first message is if you are looking for the romantic side of Paris, I guess that you will not find it in this train station 🙂 Gare du Nord is big, crowded and you will need to raise your awareness here. After we entered the station, we noticed that someone was following us, offering help to help us with our suitcase. It was a boy. That boy also was waiting for us when we bought the RER tickets. And as we went down to the RER waiting hall, it was really fully pack of people. And the smell, for sure it was not come from a bed of roses. It was my first impression about Paris, which will changed completely later on.
Things I remember about Paris
Bunch of nice people we met – Lost in our 1st day in Paris, when we are looking for our hotel was not something we want to. We have booked Mercure Gare de Lyon since from the map and lots of review, it is located really near the station – Gare de Lyon. We only mistakenly took the wrong exit in Gare de Lyon and it made us wandering around with our suitcase and backpack for around 1 hour in a cold weather! The hotel actually located in the station. In the main entrance of the station. During that time what surprised me was after years of hearing about the rudeness and snobbish of French people, I was expecting the worst. I was wrong. With condition that I only remember “merci”, “oui” and “je t’aime”, we met several people whom were helpful, friendly and warm. A lady who is not live in the neighborhood, accompanied us walk in several blocks away, in case we met someone who can not talk English. It was really nice of her. Then we met group of young boys who played soccer, he even lent us his GPS and called several of his friend, only to get information needed by us. Finding that there are still a lot of kind people is the beauty of travel.
City of fashionista – You don’t need to go to Paris Fashion Week just to know that the city is the capital city of fashion. Paris is packed with fashionista. You can see them almost everywhere. Women in all age – little girls, teenager to old lady – they effortlessly stylish. TRUE! I can not forget when I met a courteous nanna while we were waiting for bus. She wore red barret, stylish black overcoat and ankle boots. It was a stunner.
Not everything is too expensive in Paris – Yes, it is a pleasant surprise! Paris is the 2nd city visited by us after 1 night transit in Amsterdam. I did not buy much in Paris since people said that it will be expensive. I think I should not listen to people too much 😉 This will be my regret along the trip since consider to other city we visited in Europe, souvenirs or knacks or brac in Paris is much cheaper (exclude Prague in this comparison)! Even an umbrella sold by street seller in Champ Elysses is cheaper than an umbrella sold in Bern train station (again it is my regret). Or maybe I am not too good in bargaining. 🙂 Anyway, montmare area is a great area if you are looking for cheaper Parisian knacks.
The most delicious ‘Kebab’ – I am a moslem thus finding ‘halal’ (kosher) eatables in Europe is a little bit challenging for me. The safest option would be ‘Kebab’ usually sold by Turkish. So I ate this kind of food along my journey and surprisingly I always can find ‘Kebab’ in all cities visited by me. And the most delicious one with biggest portion (with the same average price) would be ‘Kebab’ in Paris. Try ‘Istanbul’ kebab near Gare de Lyon, it was a real treat!
Paris is a romantic city – The answer for me is yes. Strolling under tree in Paris’street, surrounding with Europe architecture or sat in a street cafe while seeing people passing, it was undeniable romantic. It is not my favorite city so far but for sure it offers genuinely romantic ambiance.
As has been mentioned earlier, getting lost in our 1st day to find our hotel location is not something we are expected. The weather is cloudy and windy. Our hand is full of suitcase and map, while our shoulders are full with other bag. With an additional note that I had pain in my feet, so walking around would not be my thing to do at that moment. Being negative is my option, but I did not choose that. To discuss, to do communication, to listen, to be patient, to understand, to compromise and the last would be to put your believe and faith in your partner are my choices. And then when we found our hotel, is was a relieve and a victory for me to overcome a little barrier together. Watching his back while he walked in front of me, I know that this is the person who will always try his best to protect me and make my life easier. So…yes Paris is a romantic city.
Paris, je t’aime!
“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world” – Freya Stark
How to reach Gare de Lyon from Gare du Nord -> http://www.seat61.com/Paris-metro.htm#.ULL8k5F5eLI