Vacation in Paris
I just came back from my vacation in Paris. Just thought of writing down my experience and what I did with my family while in Paris.
How to Reach Paris
We decided that we will drive to Paris. From where we are located, it just takes us a 6 to 7-Hour drive by car. On the way, there are plenty of rest places with sufficient facilities for food.
Where to Stay
There are tons and tons of options. I just found a hotel randomly at booking.com near Malakoff, and it is about 10 to 15 Minutes away (with the Metro) from the attractions in Paris (Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum). If you are planning a trip to Paris, better find a hotel that offers you a private car park. It is better to avoid using your car to explore Paris due to safety concerns, and the other main reason being that the Metro in Paris is one of the best and efficient ways to move around.
What to do
There are tons of places that you could visit when in Paris. You only need the time to do all that. For us, it was just 3 full days, so we nailed it down to a few spots like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, the Galeries Lafayette, the Parc des Buttes-Chaumont, the Moulin Rogue, the Cathédrale Notre-Dame. That is optimistically ambitious to visit all these places in a span of 3 days.
With 2 full days and one half a day to explore Paris, we thought of doing two attractions every day, but man we were wrong. It was so crowded everywhere due to the holiday season, and we had to wait hours together to get into the attractions. Soon after my first experience on day 1 at the Eiffel Tower, I realized that all the 6 places that I shortlisted is indeed not doable in 3 days. So we decided to do the Eiffel Tower, Galaries Lafayette, the Louvre and of course catch a glimpse of Tour de France.
The Eifel Tower
Our first stop was the Eiffel Tower, one of the world wonders. I was unable to secure any online tickets before my visit, so we had to wait at the queue to secure an entry, and we had to wait for about roughly 2 Hours to get to the ticket counter. I thought everything after that would be quick, but I was wrong again. We had to wait for another 30 to 45 minutes to get into one of the elevators that would take us to the second floor. Once in the second floor, we spent some time gazing at the city of Paris. Again here getting access to the view point was a challenge because of the huge crowd. However, after a few minutes of struggle and changing positions, we were able to secure a spot to view the cits of Paris.
After clicking some snaps, we moved to the lift to take us to the summit. Again some waiting time! Once at the summit, it was more or less the same situation as on the second floor. If you are fear of heights, the summit is not for you. We clicked some snaps and tried to locate the other attractions in Paris. We were able to spot a few of them. Overall, we enjoyed visiting the Eiffel tower minus the huge crowds. We came down to the second floor, and we decided to take the stairs. It was fun doing so!
We were so tired after the drive, the wait and the visit to the Eiffel tower. We went back to our rooms to retire for the day. It was so warm, sultry and hot the entire day.
The original plan for the day (was a Sunday) was to visit the Louvre museum, but somehow I decided to visit the Lafayette. I had to fight a migraine that had set in because of yesterday. We started from the hotel around 9:30 and reached Lafayette in about 30 minutes. We fell in love with the Metro in Paris. It was easy to get by yourself with little to no help. After reaching Lafayette, we realised that it opens only at 11:00 on Sundays. But never mind, we went into the McDonald's nearby and had our breakfast.
The shops nearby started to open, and we headed directly to the Lafayette. It is quite a big shopping complex, kind of like a "Open Office" space for shopping where you can see lots and lots of brands having their presence in a shared space. At the ground floor you can find those big names (quite expensive) retailers. I even saw a Leica shop. Knowing that I will not be buying anything from them, we headed to the upper floor. There were quite a few reasonable shops selling at reasonable prices. After spending a few hours, we decided to move on, given that the "Tour de France 2022" is happening.
Tour de France
We took the metro from a station nearby Galaries Lafayette and headed towards Champs Élysées where I understood is the Sunday's venue for Tour de France. The metro station at Champs Élysées was blocked, and we have to get down at a station before, and we had to walk towards Champs Élysées. The day was so humid and sunny, but we defied all that and headed towards a safe spot from where we could watch the race. It was so crowded that finding a spot next to the race fence along the street was almost impossible. But we nevertheless took refuge over a bridge from where we had a clear view of the cyclists. It was the closest that I could get. We spent around 2 to 3 Hours and then started to walk towards the Metro to retire for the day.
The Louvre Museum
This place is a mandatory visit for every tourist to Paris, for the obvious reason that the world-famous Mona Lisa art is hosted there. So our third day in Paris is dedicated to visiting the Louvre Museum. As usual, we did not have any online tickets purchased and that meant that we had to wait in the open queue for hours together. It took us almost 2 hours wait in the queue to enter the Museum after which we headed to the ticket section which was to my surprise not so crowded. After purchasing the tickets, we refreshed ourselves at the restaurant located inside the Museum. The Museum is divided in 3 sections called wings. Without any hesitation, we first went to the Denon Wing where the Mona Lisa is housed. Seems everyone at the Museum were also interested to see the Mona Lisa, and we ended up again standing in the queue. As we had our chance to stand in front of Mona Lisa, I just starred at her for a few minutes, clicked some photos, and we were told by the security personnel to move on. What a stunning painting it was!
It was not only Mona Lisa, but the other massive paintings that were on display really caught out attention. I could not imagine how such art were produced few hundred years ago and even more surprising, how they have been preserved till date. We then went to the other wings and had a nice time exploring all the artefacts and to get to know about its history. No wonder why the Louvre was so crowded. It felt like an endless place for historic art paintings, sculptures and antiquities. Other than the crowd, our day at the Louvre was indeed spent well.
Since this will be ouf final day at Paris before we head over to Strasbourg, we decided to finish the day with a boat ride, and we already have selected a place (Pont Neuf) and an operator (Vedettes). Again we did not have any tickets, but we just headed straight to the ticket counter and booked a ride that would start in an Hour. It is a round trip with live explanation of the history of some buildings along the way and the main tourist attractions. It was a nice opportunity for us to get to know about some history and to click some beautiful pictures. The ride lasted for about 50 minutes, and it was well worth it.
We headed back to our hotel with such fond memories of our days in Paris. The memories will be etched forever in our thoughts. May be, we come back once more at some point in the future. Do visit Paris if you are still deliberating to do so! It is worth it.