Let’s put it this way: I definitely got my daily steps in…
So I only had two full days in Paris to cover what I could. Needless to say, I completely tired out my family as I powered through my list but it was very much worth it.
We began the day with croissants and coffee at a little cafe in the 2nd arrondissement. We then wandered down to the Seine past the Louvre to the Ill de la Cite, an island which houses both the Notre Dame and Sainte Chapelle.
Ever since I was little I have always wanted to see the Notre Dame. It’s a well known fact that this cathedral draws a large crowd but as we arrived early there was no waiting to enter the historic site. In short, the Notre Dame de Paris will leave you in awe. To really understand the magnificence of this site you need to take it in from every angle. We took in the entry view first before making our way inside. Photos were allowed as long as you don’t use flash and are respectful of the fact that it is still a working cathedral. Afterwards, we made our way out and around to the other side to take in the view of the intricate buttress work around the back.
Following the Notre Dame we next ventured to the Shakespeare and Company bookstore. It is a beautiful little bookstore that you could easily spend an hour wandering through. This multi-storey bookshop has something for everyone, not to mention close access to a variety of river front cafes.
We next had a wander through the 6th arrondissement, meandering through endless back streets, past busy cafes and shops. Eventually we came to the Luxembourg Gardens. The Luxembourg Gardens is a beautiful place to sit still and people watch. There is a splendid series of sculptures and fountains and I am certain the greenery is spectacular when it is not the middle of winter. One handy tip though is to pay attention to where the entrance and exits are or you might have to walk in a few circles. Also, don’t get in the way of the runners or their regular tracks!
After a morning of heavy walking we stopped for a cafe lunch. We avoided the particular touristy spots and opted for something a little more local. My handy tip: when in Paris – enjoy the bread! I know it is such a simple food but believe me, it is an absolute must to eat as much bread as you can when in Paris…..not to mention it was a free add on for the table.
After lunch we wandered along the Seine walking past notable bridges such as the Pont Neuf and the Pont de Arts. It is along this walk that we could take in a better view of the Louvre from a distance, albeit whilst dodging many scooter and bike groups.
The Pont Alexandre III is the most beautiful of all bridges in paris, beckoning you forward to take it in with a closer look. This was also one of my favourite spots to take photos of the Eiffel Tower and a greater view of the river Seine from. From here we wandered to the Champs de Mars to get a closer look at the Eiffel Tower.
After stopping to pick up some much needed pastries we made it to the Champ de Mars. We set up our little picnic in the park and for the first time studied the Eiffel Tower in close detail. It didn’t feel real at first. As we had arrived at Paris late into the evening the night before we had not yet had the time to venture to this magnificent site. It becomes a relaxing yet highly enjoyable activity to sit and gawk at the tower, debating with yourself on whether you will make it up there on a cold January day but by that point we were all less than willing so we began the long walk home.
By the time we got to the Place de la Concorde we had to play a game of tetris to get back to our hotel. Due to the yellow vest or ‘Gilet Jaunes’ movement, we had to zig zag our way back to the hotel. We were never in an unsafe position and any protester we encountered was more than friendly but the event did serve as a reminder to always be vigilant when travelling and always have a plan B in place.
After a very long day we made it back to our street. We opted for a simple French dinner, a few glasses of wine……and more bread. Day one was a very busy experience for us but with good walking shoes and an overcast sky we had a hassle free day around the city. To be continued…