On to Part 3 of my Europe Photos Diaries. You can catch up on the previous posts here. Today is an exciting one: Paris!!
There are no words that can describe my love for Paris. I know it’s cliche to love Paris but it’s loved by so many for good reasons – it is amazing, and beautiful, and exciting and there is just so much to see and do!
We stayed in Paris for four nights in an adorable little loft apartment down the road from the Eiffel Tower. We could literally see the top of the Eiffel Tower from the skylight above our bed! So naturally we went out at night to see the tower all lit up. It flashes with fairy lights every hour until about 1am I think, but it is so hard to capture it in a photo! You can see the fairy lights in the photo above. It really is quite cool to see it all lit up and flashing!
I’d been to Paris once before (for four days) and Stu had been to Paris a couple of times when he lived in England so we could skip over some of the things we had done before (similar to London). We arrived fairly late in the afternoon on the first day we had there (we caught the Eurostar from London) so we spent our first evening there wandering around the neighbourhood we stayed in and eating!
We love walking around a city, it is definitely the best way to see things so we did a lot of walking in Paris. It’s just such a beautiful city and there is so much to see!
Our first full day in Paris was a big one! We started off walking from our apartment along the Left Bank of the Seine up to Île de la Cité and Notre Dame. It’s a long walk but a worthwhile one!
Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris is beautiful (but absolutely full of people!), and make sure you head around the back to get this lovely view! The architecture is just amazing and all the stained glass windows inside are worth a look.
We walked back along the Right Bank and visited the Musée du Louvre. I’d been to the Louvre on my last visit to Paris but Stu had never been so I insisted we go. It really is so huge and you would need to spend almost your whole trip in Paris just to see a decent amount of it.
If you want to see the Mona Lisa, be prepared to wait behind a large crowd of people to get to the front (and don’t be that person who uses a flash and ruins everyone else’s photos by having a flash or little dot of camera light reflected in the glass – like the annoying green dot in my photo!!)
Stu described the Mona Lisa as the anti-Jurassic Park. He said that when Jurassic Park came out everyone talked it up so much that it could never live up to the hype when he saw it. Everyone had told him how small the Mona Lisa is, and how disappointed they were when they saw it. Consequently his expectations were quite low, so when he saw the Mona Lisa he was actually surprised that he liked it a lot!
We went to the Moulin Rouge while we were there and I so recommend doing it if you can! It was a really great show and there are no bad seats in the theatre. It was definitely entertaining, and so much better than I expected it would be. The girls are occasionally topless and do wear fairly revealing costumes but it definitely wasn’t in a seedy way. It was a great experience and it’s one of those things that I could not recommend more to do in Paris. (This photo was taken after the show at about 12.30am so I was exhausted and it’s not the best photo I’m afraid!)
The next day we visited the Musée d’Orsay, where you aren’t allowed to take photos. It was a great museum (more of an art gallery) and is built in the interior of an old train station so the museum has a great atmosphere. They had a Van Gogh exhibition on while I was there which I was so excited about, as I love Van Gogh.
I’m always a bit torn about museums where you can’t take photos. As a ‘museum professional’ I get why they do it, but as a visitor it is so frustrating as I love taking photos. Some people will tell you to be more in the moment and not to see the world through a camera lens but I firmly believe it is possible to do both. I actually think that taking photos makes me see things more as I’m looking for an unusual angle or some beautiful light to make the photo something special.
We wandered up the Champs-Elysées and did a bit of shopping! The Arc de Triomphe unfortunately had some scaffolding on it (I think at least one tourist attraction per city had scaffolding in Europe!!). It is almsost impossible to get a good (and car free) photo of the Arc de Triomphe as it is the centre of what is essentially a very large roundabout so there are constantly cars driving past!
While I was on the Champs-Elysées I took the opportunity to visit Ladurée – makers of the iconic macaroon. Stu couldn’t believe I was lining up to buy macaroons and went to look in some stores while I waited. The choices of all the amazing desserts was so tempting, but I bought 6 macaroons and they were delicious! Definitely the best macaroons ever.
On our last full day in Paris we were due to go on a bike tour to Versailles but the weather was so awful we decided not to go. It was a great decision as it ended up pouring down rain on and off for the whole day. That would not have been fun on a bike!
While we were wandering around we stumbled upon some local markets. It was so incredible! Flowers, cheese, bread, pastries and meat everywhere! We ended up buying some bread, cheese, rotisserie chicken and smoked sausage and had a picnic lunch and the leftovers for dinner.
We also went to Montmarte and visited Sacré-Cœur Basilica, which is such a beautiful church. We took the stairs to the top and the view from here makes you realise just how low-lying Paris is as a city. Those photos of the exterior of Sacré-Cœur (overcast and rainy to sunny and blue sky) were taken about an hour apart. The blue sky didn’t stick around for long though!
We visited Musée de l’Armée, I think this is Stu’s favourite museum in Paris! It is their military history museum and backs onto Napoleon’s Tomb (the gold domed building). They cover medieval history (and have a huge collection of armour – to Stu’s delight) as well as modern conflicts. They had a really interesting exhibition on Musketeers while we were there – it was mostly in French though so we couldn’t read the panels!
We absolutely adored staying in Paris and would stay there again in a heartbeat. I feel like we’ve only scratched the surface of this beautiful city and I would love to see more!
So that’s it for Paris (although it feels like a lot rereading this, it was nowhere near enough time there!). Next up is Amiens, in northern France.
Have you been to Paris? What was your favourite part?
I’ve broken my Europe trip up into easy to manage pieces, otherwise I’ll be drowning you in hundreds of images at once! So you know what’s coming, I’ve prepared a list of the 24 parts of this series:
Part 1: London
Part 2: Cambridge
Part 3: Paris
Part 4: Amiens
Part 5: Battlefields
Part 6: Ieper (Ypres)
Part 7: Amsterdam
Part 8: Berlin
Part 9: Prague
Part 10: Cesky Krumlov
Part 11: Vienna
Part 12: Salzburg
Part 13: Venice
Part 14: Pesaro
Part 15: Amalfi Coast
Part 16: Pompeii
Part 17: Rome
Part 18: Florence
Part 19: Tuscany
Part 20: La Spezia
Part 21: Lyon
Part 22: Loire Valley
Part 23: Normandy
Part 24: Mont St Michel
Let me know if there is anything in particular you want to know about any of these places and I’ll try to include it in my post!