Due to the delay in Dover-Calais, we reached Paris few hours later than expected. It was already twilight when we arrived at the city. Not much time for exploration. We’ll leave that for the next day.
Architecture – grand and elaborate structures and statues, meticulous and intricate, rich in historical significance or artistic relevance, could be observed almost everywhere in Paris. Most notably its museums and churches and other monumental structures : The Louvre, Notre Dame, Arc du Triomphe, Musee d’Orsay, etc.
People – Parisians have a reputation as being stuck up, snobby and rude, and they do indeed live up to their reputation! There are some exceptions of course, for a few friendly ones. There are also all sorts of people here in Paris, more foreigners than locals, it seems. Similar to the London scene. Or was it just because we were mostly in the “tourist trap”, which was the center of attraction for all the foreigners to come do their businesses.
Bohemian Paris – Sacré Cœur looked like a haunted white castle at night. Montmartre seems pretty interesting, the arts and the buildings in general. It’s where all the famous artists used to have studios or worked when they first started their careers, from the likes of Claude Monet, Pablo Picasso and Vincent Van Gogh. It is also known as a nightclub district, close to it is the Moulin Rouge, the famous and very expensive cabaret cum restaurant, best known as the birthplace of the can-can dance.
Eiffel Tower & Seine River Cruise – The queue at Eiffel Tower was simply too long to worth spending the time waiting. Queue to buy tickets, and then the queue to go up the lifts. So we took the Seine River cruise instead. For €14, you have a choice of either an open top sightseeing cruise with commentary, or a hop-on /hop-off one without.
Transportation – The Underground or Tube as what is called in London, is called Metro in Paris. The system looks complicated enough for a first timer, but once you understood how to interpret the map and the signages, they are not that difficult to navigate. A pack of 10 Metro tickets costs €14, with each ticket can be reused within the duration of 1.5 hours to any destination within the Metro system. Alternatively, you can opt to discover the city with a range of open-top sightseeing buses available in the city.
Food – Didn’t stay in Paris long enough to taste real French cuisine, but we had a nice little dinner in a busy little side street cafe in Montmartre. It was the nicest meal i had in Paris. It looks like a simple foot long hot dog spread on a long baguette, with salad and stuff, but the taste was incredibly delicious. Miam! C’est un régale! 🙂
Toilets – However, there was one thing i noticed about Paris, there seems to be very few public toilets around. Not when you really needed one, at least, that was the case for me. We have to walk all the way from Notre Dame to the Louvre and to the Jardin des Tuileries to find a bloody toilet which charges €1 for entry and don’t allow you to take your time washing hands or stand in front of the mirror for too long (there was actually a full-time staff positioned there to ensure of this). It was utterly ridiculous!
Parks & Gardens – Plenty amidst the city centre itself, they are spacious and well maintained, with plenty of benches for picnickers or tourists to hang out. They are also popular for Parisians to walk their dogs, family’s day out, children playing football, or youths to just laze around sunbathing.
Le Pont des Arts – This is a cute little story i would like to share here. We came across this pedestrian bridge over the Seine River in Paris, it’s called the “Love Padlock Bridge”. It’s supposed to be a romantic feature in the city known for romance. The story behind it is like this : A few years ago there was a very popular movie ( it has a mushy title but i’ve forgotten what it was), about a lovesick couple who decided to engrave their names and declaration of love onto a padlock, hook it onto a bridge, lock it, then throw away its key into the river to symbolise their everlasting love for each other.
This act has inspired lots of young lovers to do the same in Paris; there are even shops and vendors selling padlocks nearby, to facilitate your romantic endeavour! And so the crazy trend has continued up till today, and this Love Padlock Bridge ended up with hundreds if not thousands of padlocks now, in various shapes, sizes and colours. So many that the Paris city council needs to cut them off on a regular basis. But they will still leave the extra nice and unique ones there… they are still romantic Parisians after all….
First time putting my knowledge of the French language into practical use. Not really to converse, but just to read some signages, notices, instructions and labels, and most importantly, the menu….. Hmm, not bad for a half past six, at least my studies didn’t go into complete waste!