Every Wednesday (more or less, and lately much less), I plan to post a look back at some of my past travels. You can find the rest of my travel posts here.
I love Paris. I know, I know – what an original thought; there are only probably like five million other people in the world who would make the exact same statement. Though cliche my love for Paris may be, it’s nonetheless true. I’ve written about my more recent trips to Paris (in 2010 and 2011), but this trip, way back in 2006, is where it all began.
That summer, I was studying in London. While I spent most weekends exploring London itself, I also soon realized that all it took was an easy and quick Eurostar train to get to Paris. And when the City of Light is that close, who can really resist? Certainly not me.
So to Paris I went, and since it was my first visit to the city, I was determined to hit all the major sites. In fact, when I think back at everything I crammed into that weekend, I feel a bit tired. My sightseeing frenzy started at Notre Dame:
I then made the short walk to Sainte-Chapelle to admire the exquisite stained glass:
One thing I didn’t realize until I arrived in Paris was that I was actually visiting on Bastille Day! Every single building – like Palais de Justice, pictured below – was decked out in French flags. It was fun to be in the city when everyone was in such a festive mood.
In the evening, I trekked up to Montmartre. After a steep and somewhat sketchy climb through some of the neighborhood’s backstreets, I ended up exactly where I wanted to be: at Sacre Coeur. The white domed church was (and still is) one of my favorite spots in Paris.
I hung out on the hill below Sacre Coeur for a bit before heading over to the Moulin Rouge. I didn’t get a chance to go inside, but as a big fan of the movie, I pretty much just wanted to see the famous windmill.
And near the Moulin Rouge, the streets were filled with some…interesting stores:
As the sun was setting, I made my way to the Louvre. I didn’t go inside the museum (that would happen the next day), but I wandered around the courtyard for a while. What a pretty spot in the golden hour!
I also walked through the Tuileries, where I snapped one of my favorite photos of the trip, of this older couple embracing in the garden. It’s not necessarily a high quality photograph, but it always makes me smile.
The next morning, I made my way back to the Louvre and actually went inside. I’ll be honest: while the collection at the Louvre is incredible, I didn’t (and still don’t) particularly care for the museum. The crush of tourists was overwhelming and, in my opinion, really detracted from the experience of viewing the art. Plus, this was back in 2006 when the Da Vinci Code was still pretty popular and I saw way too many people making a beeline for the Mona Lisa and ignoring all of the museum’s other treasures.
After feeling a bit let down by the Louvre, I headed to Musee d’Orsay, which is much more my style. First, the museum’s space is incredible; it’s located in an old train station, so it has one of those gigantic, grand clocks and a high vaulted ceiling. Not to mention, its collection is amazing and much more manageable than the sprawling one at the Louvre.
After all that museum-ing, I decided to treat myself to something sweet. As I was young and naive back then, I had yet to learn of the magic of Laduree and instead headed to Fauchon, which my guidebook recommended. I bought a fancy box of chocolates, but I couldn’t help but ogle the array of brightly colored eclairs.
I ended my day with a trip to the Eiffel Tower. As I walked up to the tower, I saw a couple taking their wedding photos. I’m sure this happens all the time there, but I remember thinking it was just too cool. What a backdrop!
The next day, I started at the Rodin Museum, which turned out to be one of the unexpected highlights of Paris for me. The museum itself contains a lot of Rodin’s work, but the best part was found beyond the museum walls, in the garden. Various sculptures were scattered throughout, tucked away among gorgeous flowers and perfectly shaped shrubs. It was such a peaceful place to spend a morning.
I then walked to the nearby Les Invalides, where I popped in for a quick visit to Napoleon’s tomb (and paused for a while to admire the building’s beautiful, ornate dome).
In the afternoon, I hopped aboard a cruise down the Seine River. There, I met a group of very friendly Japanese tourists, one of whom was kind enough to snap the below photograph of me, taking special care to frame it just so I look like I’m sprouting the Eiffel Tower from my head:
And I finished my weekend in Paris with a stop at the Arc d’Triomphe, followed by a stroll down the Champs Elysee, where I grabbed lunch at a ridiculously overpriced restaurant (ah, my young, not-yet-travel-savvy self).
And that, my friends, was the beginning – but certainly not the end – of my love affair with the city of Paris.