Being a super duper keen traveller, you’d think Paris would have been ticked off my travel bucket list years ago – Sadly not! Apart from my toddler-adventure to Disneyland (which I am not discrediting by ANY means – It is the place of dreams), I’ve somehow never got round to exploring Paris despite it only being a cheap flight/Eurostar train journey away. It may have taken me 20 years, but it’s better late than never, right?
My fellow languages classmate/peruvian travel buddy/other half, Vicki, has just started her year abroad studying at Sciences Po in Paris, so of course it seemed fitting to visit her. What can be better than free accommodation and a free tour guide? (The favour will of course be returned when she visits me in Spain next year). I gotta say, I was quickly inspired by how well she’s settled in and how much of an effort she’s made to be speaking french almost 24/7 – just the reminder I needed to make sure that I embrace ALL the opportunities that my year abroad throws at me! Plus, I am super grateful that despite her busy schedule of studying and working, she still found the time to show me all the top spots – I love ya, Vicks!
Upon arrival into Paris Gare du Nord station, my first impressions were not so positive. I was hassled by a lot of gypsies, begging for money or trying to distract me whilst others attempted to unzip my bag. But these kinds of things happen in all major cities and as long as you stay alert it’s usually always fine! Vicki quickly came to my rescue and I was introduced to the Paris metro system – super efficient, not too expensive and a great way to get around the city! Her apartment is just outside of the centre but the ‘Paris-feel’ is still totally there. The architecture, the dessert shops, the people – as soon as I saw a man running down the street with a huge baguette I knew I was in the French capital.
We ate lunch in the gardens by the Sacre Coeur, found all the languages we could speak on the ‘I love you’ wall, admired the Arc de Triomphe, strutted down Champs-Élysées, saw the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, read books in the park, met up with friends by the Notre Dame at night, pretended we were rich enough to shop at the Galeries Lafayette, learnt all about French art at the Musée d’Orsay, climbed the Eiffel Tower, relaxed by the Seine, rented Velib bikes, cycled (dangerously) around Paris and most importantly, we ate LOADS of fondue.
Paris was everything that I imagined it to be. Sometimes, when I have expectations about a place, the reality doesn’t quite match up but even on a grey, rainy day Paris still somehow manages to shine!
I know that’s the quickest summary ever, but I wanted to emphasise just how much we managed to squeeze into 4 days. I’m not quite past the tourist stage with Paris yet, my terrible French contributes to that too, but I’m so glad that I got to see all these amazing landmarks. Hopefully next time I visit, my knowledge of french will exceed ‘Bonjour, je voudrais un coca cola’ and I’ll be able to explore a bit deeper and stay a little longer.
Until next time, Paris! 😘 Now, where’s next on my travel agenda? (I’ll give you a clue…. I’m already in Russia!)
Stay tuned for my first blog post about my transition into russian life…. До свидания!