We’re on board easyJet flight 6954, Paris to Edinburgh after 3 nights in Paris itself (we stayed out in the ‘burbs for Disneyland). I’d arranged an inner city apartment on AirBNB which is a website that lets people rent out their rooms or whole apartments for short stays. It was our first time using AirBNB so I was a little nervous but it all went very smoothly. The apartment was fantastic, just a block from the Louvre and nice and close to a couple Metro stations and a RER station with a direct service to the airport. It couldn’t have been much more convenient… returning our hire car was another story! I’ll be happy to never drive in that city again.
I was feeling pretty confident after a few weeks on the wrong side of the road, so I decided to try and return the car somewhere reasonably central. Gare du Nord seemed like a good choice… one of the major train stations easily accessed by a major road. Well, that road was closed the day we arrived. Back home when the authorities close a road they plan a detour, not in Paris. It was just mayhem, hundreds of cars, trucks and motorbikes all arriving at the closed street and having to find their own way through the back streets with no indication of how far to go before the main street was accessible again.
On top of this we had to navigate the crazy Parisian roundabouts where you give way to traffic entering the roundabout. It’s absolutely ridiculous… Anyhow, we were incredibly relieved when we made it to Gare du Nord and the Europcar drop-off area. Elyse was a great navigator assisted by CoPilot GPS for iPad.
We saw the main sights as you’ll see from the photos, but the weather was a bit hit & miss. It changes really quickly and caught us out a few times, on the first day we weren’t prepared and got completely drenched walking the Champs Elyseé, culminating in minor marital dispute, and a rather disappointed Elyse (who’d always imagined Paris to be perfect) bursting into tears. It was that stage of our holiday 😉 I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t take a photo but Elyse definitely would have killed me.
Some highlights from Paris:
Louvre – turns out it’s open late on Wednesday nights until 9:45pm! We didn’t have to queue for long, which meant we could see more (Monet, Renoir, the Mona Lisa of course, and Liberty Guiding the People). The place is absolutely enormous.
Eiffel Tower – this was Elyse’s favourite, we loved climbing this! Initially, we thought we would skip climbing the tower, because we were more interested in being photographed with the Eiffel Tower in the background… Something changed our minds though, so we got to the tower 40 minutes before opening and lined ourselves up. We took the stairs to the 2nd level and the elevator right to the top. Another tourist even took a cracking photo of us at the top. Got lucky on that one!
Des Invalides – amazing collection of arms & armours, ornate suits belonging to the French kings and a Napoleonic collection that I really enjoyed. Visited Napoleon’s tomb too. I’m working on convincing Elyse that we should name one of our children Napoleon Bonaparte Haynes.
Catacombs – this was my favourite thing in Paris, a visit to the tunnels & ossuary underneath the city. It was a little bit of a wait, but it was worth it; they only allow 200 people inside at a time, so you can be all but completely alone down there at times.
Notre Dame & the Seine – we walked along the river and visited Notre Dame. They were holding mass at the time which I found interesting as I’ve never actually been to a catholic church service. They love the incense which made for a nice photo.
Jewish Museum & monument of the holocaust – not far from Notre Dame and a worthwhile visit.
We also spent a bit of time looking around the shops, Elyse had her heart set on a pair of Louboutin’s (the Louboutin store and design house was in the same building as our apartment!) but our budget didn’t stretch that far.
We had a great meal at a Moroccan restaurant (I figure Moroccan food is to France as Thai food is to Australia), a few glasses of Cotes du Rhone at a great little wine bar and some dodgy brasserie food during the Greece vs Poland soccer match.
We also stumbled upon a cute little cafe specialising in tea and sweets, which we loved. Elyse had a chocolate and vanilla flavoured tea, and I had a green tea. Beautiful!
While we don’t love Paris in the rain, we certainly still had an amazing time. Paris is a beautiful city.