We had a shaky start by missing our train to Brussels :-0 but somehow made it to the Eurolines bus terminal in the last minute. We reached Paris at around 11.30, got down near a metro station. Our hotel was only one stop away from there; we took a metro (Metro Line 3) till Porte de Bagnolet station. We spent almost half an hour searching for our hotel there. No one spoke English; we had a tough time locating the hotel.
The hotel which we stayed in was – “La résidence internationale de Paris, 44 rue Louis Lumière, Paris”. It was relatively close to Eurolines bus-stop; which made things easy for us, so we were able to rush and dump our baggage in hotel soon and have a quick bite there. We had a nice experience here, [we were even served free (Veg) breakfast in the morning & the hotel was situated in a convenient and decent location].
We got a free Paris map from the hotel and started off exploring Paris right away.
Travelling tips in Paris:
Firstly, of course the accomodation: There are huge amount of hotels, hostels or budget dorms available in Paris city centre. And the best way to book hotes is through http://www.hostelworld.com
Regarding mode of transport, Metro is a cheap and best option. And metros run till 12 midnight, I guess… It may be difficult to identify a metro station (for the 1st time), since most the stations are underground and difficult to find them. It’ll be fun travelling in Paris metro, implementing shortest path algorithm :-)…and I suggest travelers to buy 1.5 Euro metro tickets (Don’t buy daily/weekend pass).
Foods are generally expensive. However, backpackers can always buy foods and drinks from the local supermarkets which are a lot cheaper.
Purchasing gifts is a little costly, you can buy Souvenirs, books, posters (Specially the Mona Lisa and Moulin Rouge ones), perfume bottles from gift shops which are at almost all corners of Paris. You can also buy Eiffel Tower replica keychains from vendors who keep barging on you just next to the tower at a lot cheaper price.
Our 1st place of vist in Paris, The Louvre Museum- Undoubtedly the finest of all art museums, one of my dream destinations of Europe, especially after I read ‘The Da Vinci Code’. Louvre is actually a palace, which has been converted to a museum. The palace has a Louvre pyramid made of glass in the centre, which creates a magnificent view. Entrance to the museum is right below the pyramid.
Louvre is divided into different departments for display. There are eight displaying departments. These are paintings, prints and drawing, sculptures, decorative arts, Greek and Roman, Islamic Art, Near Eastern and Egyptian antiquities. It has a display of over 35,000 sculptures and paintings belonging to various civilizations.
——————Me in front of the Louvre Museum——————
They provide us a free direction map of the museum at the ticket counter. My travel-mate guided me well insdide the museum, since he had been to Louvre before, but even then we were able to explore only about 70% of museum, covering Egyptian section (Egyptian mummies), Greek and Roman art, sculptures, paintings….
You can see display of Vases, bronzes, ceramics, glass works, of different civilizations all over the museum. And we dint miss the most famous of all ‘Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa’.
We spent about 4-5 hours in Louvre museum and off we headed towards, the wonder of the world – The Eiffel Tower.
The Eiffel Tower:
We colud see it standing tall to the west of Paris, (infact while travelling n bus, when I woke up and looked around, I could see Eiffel Tower from bus window, only then I realised that we had reached Paris.. :-))
I walked in that general direction, coming upon the Champs de Mars after a few blocks from the metro station. The Champs de Mars is a large park that is built to one side of the Eiffel Tower, with long grassy areas. When I came upon the Eiffel Tower I was struck by the size of the crowds, and the amazing structure. The line was a lot shorter for stairs so we opted for it , stairs is much cheaper, and gives you a bit more freedom to move around . We bought tickets for 3,10 euros, and started the ascending. Hmm, the Eiffel Tower is a lot taller than it looks. By the time we hit the first floor we were exhausted. I wandered a bit around the interior portions and came across a interesting motor, which is used for the lift. The view from the first floor was impressive. Its well above tree-line, and most buildings in the city. You could see for miles in every direction. Particularly clears were Sacre Coeur and the Arc de la Defense. After about 10 minutes we continued up the stairs. Higher, and steeper, getting more and more tired, but we dint feel the tiredness as we felt more and more excited. We kept counting how many stairs as we climbed along the stairs. Till the second level, it’s around 660 steps.
The second floor was just as amazing as the first. Buildings were a bit smaller, but you could see even further. We were lucky as it was a clear day. From the second floor I could clearly see the Arc de Triomphe, something I hadn’t been able to see on the first floor.
————View of Arch de Triumph, from Eiffel Level2———-
From the second floor, we again had to buy elevator tickets to go to the top level. The line was not a very long one, lucky for us..And as we reached the top floor of Eiffel………………………………………………………………
Wooow!! You just cant describe in words, a superb breath taking panaromic view of amazing cityscape of Paris, we just looked on and on and on… We just looked down to see the tower, such a marvelous tall architecture and a truely wonderful construction, u just cant imagine it was built more than 120 years back. We saw the sunset from Eiffel top, spent about an hour on the top level. The descent was a lot better than the ascent, but I was surprised to see how far we’d gone. And then as walked back on the Champs de Mars, we saw the Eiffel sparkle and it twinkled for a while, fabulous it was..
———-Eiffel Tower at Night——–
It was already 11 PM and we had to have dinner yet. I had read in blogs about some nice Indian restaurants near Eiffel, so we tried searching one..soon we did find an Indian restaurant ‘Taj Mahal’, we had mouth watering delicious North-Indian cuisines. And headed back to our hotel in the metro rail.