By Warwick Hattingh
We arrived in the city of lights on a Saturday morning in mid-February. It was freezing cold and we wasted no time finding the subway in seek of our hotel! Located near the Notre Dame Cathedral, the staff at Hotel Agora gave us a very early check in at six thirty in the morning for which we were very grateful. Before the rest of Paris woke up, we set out into the city in search of Miss Eiffel! We hopped out the subway at the Grand Palais stop. We wondered across to the River Seine and onto the beautiful the Pont Alexandre III where we watched the sun rise over Paris.
The Eiffel Tower
The magnificent structure can be seen from almost anywhere in the city and as we drew closer we were in total awe of her beauty. The only people around us were the joggers and dog walkers so we were able to appreciate Paris before the crowds gathered. Being that we were in Paris, we opted for fresh chocolate croissants and coffee for breakfast seated on a bench under the iconic Eiffel tower. The sun was out but the wind was crisp. We visited the Eiffel Tower twice times, once in the morning and once after the sun went down because those lights were simply magical! Definitely lives up to her title as the main attraction in the City of Lights!
Arc De Triomphe
Next stop: Arc De Triomphe! A beautiful walk with stunning views of the Seine and the monumental tower. As it was slightly later in the day the crowds had gathered and in anticipation of this we had paid for skip the line tickets! Always recommend booking online for tourist centric cities like Paris. After hundreds of steps, that felt like thousands, we made it to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. From there you can see all over Paris: stunning views of the Avenue des the Champs-Élysées, which was all the more spectacular in the sun shine. Such a beautiful full 360 degree panoramic experience of the amazing city. The traffic going around the circle below leads down all the streets and avenues that take you all around the city.
In search of the Paris London Eye, we sauntered through to the Paris underground to Tuilleries Gardens. The gardens were buzzing with activity as there were people from everywhere enjoying the sunny Saturday. We found a nice couple of green chairs alongside a pond that was home to some ducks and other small birds where we enjoyed a crunchy which we had to share with them! and had some lunch. The Eiffel tower peeking through the Ferris wheel, Fontaine des Mers and Fontaine des Fleuves, which also happen to light up at night! This spot was our favourite of the whole trip, really peaceful and so picturesque which is why we came back to watch the sun setting directly behind the Eiffel Tower.
We wandered down the path and were delighted to find the Louvre! Once again, we skipped the line with our prepaid tickets and began contemplating a route around the spectacular museum. Down below the ground level, the museum separates in to multiple wings, all offering their own theme of art. It is easy to see why the structure is so famous! As we explored the incredible paintings and pieces of art, we bumped into several expert artists who were replicating the paintings on the walls. As expected, we popped into Mona Lisa’s room which was, to no surprise, filled with people but we saw her. Before leaving the Louvre, we grabbed a must have macaroon, because “we were staying in Paris”.
After the museum — and some much needed lunch — we made our way back to the other side of the city where we visited the famous Notre Dame Cathedral which was yet another spectacular European church. It was here where we regretted our decision not to buy skip the line tickets and we missed out on going inside due to the incredibly long line! It was moving at a steady pace, so if you have the patience to wait then I am sure it is worth it! We wandered around Paris enjoying the sites and the beautiful architecture before we ended up in Tuilleries Gardens where we watched the sun set with some hot chocolate!
down we decided to move across to the more hilly area of Paris and have a look at the bright red Moulin Rouge which definitely drew a crowd! We had a pancake and yet another small hot chocolate while enjoying the atmosphere and music that echoed the streets outside the entrance. This was our last stop before heading back to the hotel for some well needed rest.
Palace of Versailles
Early Sunday morning after getting some well needed sleep we made our way to Versailles. It took a little while to get there but once in Versailles the Palace can be seen from afar! Due to a little lapse in direction we got lost a little on our way and therefore we were a little late to meet out appointment for the tour but the kind agency went out of their way to get someone to meet us ahead of the now very long line ad get us on our way. The palace itself is magnificent with blues and golds mixed in with incredible architecture. By no means a small place the Palace was massive building surrounded by huge gardens that can be explored for hours on end. An entire day could be set aside just to view the palace and it still wouldn’t be enough to cover all corners of the ground. Inside, the artwork, building itself and ornaments were outstanding. From the outside, the ponds, lawns and views were spectacular. The palace is a definite recommendation and buses and trains that leave every 15 minutes make it easy to get to even if it slightly out of the way.
This was our last major site and as we began our trips back to the Netherlands and the UK we reflected on how worthwhile the trip is, even for such a short time. The atmosphere of the city is incredible, from start to finish you feel like you are nowhere else, but in Paris.