Paris, France

December 20, 2015


For a magical and romantic Christmas holiday, Paris seemed to be a pretty appropriate choice. My girlfriend and I arrived late Tuesday night at Charles De Gaulle airport just outside the city. We were amazed that our plane was casually driving on it's own roadway system that intertwined the regular traffic. The journey continued as we jumped into a taxi and headed to our hotel. Disappointingly, the only sights we could see were the less-than-impressive graffiti and large grey blocks of flats. This feeling of disappointment rolled over on to the next day even after we caught up on sleep.


Being in a city where people speak a language other than your own is a bit of a challenge and a little scary. Thankfully, we felt much more comfortable once we familiarised ourselves with the metro system and the Parisian way of life and once we reached the Louvre museum (a much more touristy location). The Louvre museum holds famous works of art such as the Mona Lisa and is even free for 18-25 year olds living in the EU!


I planned to return for some sunrise photos the following day, but I the interesting staircases you can see below took my interest at the time. My girlfriend and I also took a long walk beside the beautiful river Seine towards the Notre Dame, which is also very beautiful. We went inside the iconic cathedral, but we were too late to got to the top floor and viewing area. Therefore, we had to return another day!




The following morning, I returned to the Louvre for sunrise. I focussed on the incredible glass pyramid outside the museum and arrived early so the warmly lit building looked great against the blue sky. Amazingly, the glass pyramid is also the museum's main entrance but there was also a temporary building beside it for security and bag checks to take place. This was somewhat restricting but I worked around it just fine.




As the sun got higher in the sky, the clouds started to turn orange and pink - a perfect backdrop for the amazing archway opposite the museum. From this location, you can see the Eiffel Tower in the distance and enjoy a walk through the pretty gardens also opposite the museum. There were many friendly people and lots of runners doing exactly that.



After returning to my girlfriend at the hotel, we decided that the majority of the day would be spent shopping. We found a trendy area with lots of vintage shops but it wasn't long until we both got bored. There was just enough time to make it to the Notre Dame and find our place in the long queue to access the top. The long wait and hundreds of steps is completely worth it when you see one of the best views of Paris from above. It wasn't quite what I imagined but it was overwhelmingly high and seriously incredible. 


Next on the to-do list was dinner. We had a delicious meal at a nearby restaurant. The building opposite was lit with the colours of the French flag and the Notre Dame's bell was ringing. 





We woke up the next day to a cloudy sky and rain so the morning was spent in bed. However, once we left the hotel and made it to the souvenir stalls overlooking the river Seine, we were amazed to see the top of the Eiffel Tower hidden by the fog. Setting up for the photo below created quite a bit of unwanted attention but it was worth it.



It was recommended that we checked out the Christmas market close to the Louvre so that's where we headed. I couldn't believe it when, at the end of the road, was one of Paris' most iconic landmarks - the Arc De Triomphe! By the time we made our way through the Christmas market and up the Champs-Elysees (a famous road similar to London's Oxford Street), there was just the right amount of light for the photo below. There are traffic lights that allowed me to perfectly position myself in the middle of the road.



That photo was followed by a bit more shopping and another fantastic meal. For the fourth night in a row, we could relax back at the hotel with English television thanks to Netflix and the hotel's Wi-Fi.


The next morning I, once again, went to the Notre Dame. It was a nice, peaceful sunrise but was almost ruined by my rushing and running around looking for a good spot for a photo. This spot is in between the Petit Pont and the Pont au Double. As I took this photo, the sky behind me was turning almost completely pink so I rushed again to find another cool spot pointing in the opposite direction. The light was much nicer like this and I think the colours were to. I loved the cobbled pathway and shiny surface of the river.




After getting back to the hotel and dragging my girlfriend out of bed, we left for the Sacre Coeur. It is a beautifully designed church in the north of the city, just a few stops away from our hotel on the metro. Although it is an incredible piece of architecture, the area lets it down massively. The streets nearby are dirty and packed with people. The area is littered with souvenir salesmen and you will get unstoppable hassle from all of them. I went to this location with high hopes but came away being unable to recommend it.


Before we knew it, we were on our way to the nearest metro station and on the next train to the Eiffel Tower. The idea was to save the best until last and I think we did. Once the tower is lit, you can fully appreciate it's magnificence. The queues to go up go relatively fast and it isn't that expensive. At night, there isn't a whole lot to look at and you can't always go right to the top but it's still a must-do! Amazingly, there is an ice skating rink on the first floor of the tower and it looked a bit better than the rink below that my girlfriend and I went on. However, even the ice rink below is still pretty cool. The tower's light show lasts for five minutes and begins on the hour, every hour from sunset until 1am. The light show is definitetly something worth waiting around for and was the perfect ending to a fantastic trip!




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All content copyright Alex Stevenson (unless otherwise noted).

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