I am no longer a Paris virgin.
When people ask me if I liked Paris, my general response is ‘ummm’. It’s not that I didn’t love it. I did. But circumstances were just not on my side. I was poorly: sore throat, cough, cold and then a stomach bug. By the end of the week I was ready to leave.
I stayed in an Airbnb just around the corner from Notre Dame, which ended up being a great idea. Cheap. Safe. Convenient. Cook your own meals. Being in ‘your’ own apartment makes you feel like part of the city. For example: I went supermarket shopping in France—something I probably would not have done if I had stayed in a hotel. Carrying my bags back to the apartment made me feel like a local.
I booked tickets for Disneyland the day after I arrived in Paris.
I don’t speak French. I just don’t. I’ve been one of those ‘English is my first and only language’ people my entire life, taking for granted that I can communicate with everyone I meet. Until Paris.
The answer to this? Disneyland. Some might call it ‘uncultured and commercial’ but I like to refer to it as ‘a pick-me-up for sick and jet-lagged Abbie’. Everyone speaks English and 90% of people around you have familiar accents. It made me feel comfortable again and allowed me to regain my faltered confidence. Disneyland made me happy to be in Paris.
The next day was what I like to call ‘The Walking Tour of Paris’. Over 24,000 steps later and, my god, I wish we had just caught the Metro. However, the weather was beautiful and there’s something about seeing a city by foot. You get to see the little side streets and cafes, the people running to catch trains, the fellow tourists who you can spot a mile off because of the highly inappropriate footwear. When you walk everywhere, you feel like a local. You’re all like: yeah, I live here, I’m Parisian. Just don’t ask me anything in French.
First stop on the tour was the Eiffel Tower. The Eiffel Tower is beautiful, iconic and just when you’re about to have your ‘Hollywood picture perfect moment’ there are a hundred street sellers behind you, trying to get you to buy a souvenir whilst also trying to steal your wallet.
But hey, that’s kind of the charm?
Construction work meant no climbing the tower, so it was back along the Seine and HELLO Adele bridge. At least, I think it’s the Adele bridge. You know, the one where she shot this video.
Next stop: Champs-Élysées. And it’s time for a croissant. It’s true. The croissants are better in Paris. Even the cheap, corner bakery provided me with one of the best croissants I’ve had ever.
After food it was time to actually climb something in this city. And when on the Champs-Élysées…You guessed it, the Arc De Triomphe. Now here’s something I didn’t know. That beautiful road the Arc De Triomphe stands in the middle of? You can’t cross it. So how do you get to the top of the Arc De Triomphe?!!? Luna voice: You fly, of course.
No. You don’t. Although that would be a great money making business if someone could invent a way to do it. Instead you following a handy little sign and walk UNDERNEATH the road.
(I realise this discovery is probably common knowledge for most people but for me it wasn’t the biggest revelation of the day.)
I paid my ten or so euro and then faced the next challenge. No lift. Lift broken. Only stairs. Hundreds. Of. Stairs. On a normal day stairs are fine, in fact I prefer to take the stairs. But remember what I told you earlier? 24,000 steps. I’ve done about half at this point. But it’s stairs or nothing, baby, and I’m going to get to see Paris from the sky if it’s the last thing I do.
So after climbing the stairs, and nearly dying, this is the view I received.
Not too bad, Paris. And definitely worth the hike.
To be continued…