I fell in love with Paris instantly! My boyfriend and I did a last minute plan to visit Paris in August 2017. Since we had just one day, we tried to do the best of the little time we had, enjoying every single moment in this beautiful city.
Places we covered: The cathedral of Notre Dame, Arc De Triomphe, The Eiffel Tower, Pont de Bir-Hakeim (The ‘Inception’ bridge) and the Sainte-Chapelle.
Places we missed and are a must on our list: The Louvre Museum, Watching the fireworks at Disneyland, Palace of Versailles, The Catacombs of Paris and a walk through Montmartre.
Did you know that, if you are under the age of 25 and an EU resident (this includes EU students), then most of the places in Paris including the Louvre museums, entry to the bell tower of the Notre Dame and the Arc De Triomphe are free?!! Yes! It’s true. Even the ticket to the summit of the Eiffel Tower is discounted!
Before I begin, let me mention that this trip was the luckiest trip we have had so far. Luck struck us not once but thrice in a single day! I have included our little luck stories throughout the article. That morning we were supposed to board the 6:00 a.m. train from Munich. We made it just in time to realize that the train had already left an hour earlier!!! On inquiring at the information point we found out that there was a change of schedule that we were not notified of. The representative at the counter was sweet enough to offer us another equivalent ticket on the next Inter-City Express (an upgrade compared to the ticket we had bought) departing to Paris! That’s when we got lucky the first time.
We reached Paris (Bahnhof Paris-Nord) around 1:00 p.m. and stopped for lunch first. All the streets leading to the main station were filled with restaurants. After having a nice meal we checked into the Airbnb, freshened up and were out to explore Paris by 3:00 p.m. The weather was perfect and was not too hot. We took a walk through the streets leading to the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Having watched the Disney movie ‘The Hunchback of Notre Dame’ all through my childhood, I knew each and every corner of the cathedral and couldn’t wait to see it in real.
Even though the line to enter the church was quite long, it was moving fast. The cathedral is known for its Romanesque nave of extraordinary dimensions and a transept topped by five Gothic styled towers. We took our time to adore this remarkable UNESCO listed masterpiece. After seeing the inside of the cathedral, we wanted to climb the bell tower (‘The bell ringer of Notre Dame’, Quasimodo, spent most of his time here!). The entrance to the bell tower is situated to the left of the cathedral when facing it from the front. There was a was a massive queue to climb the bell tower and required prior reservation online. Disappointed, we were about to head back when we got lucky again! There was a couple with a reservation who decided to leave the queue. Since we were right there talking to the volunteers we were given their spot. And up we went with no wait and no reservation!
Climbing up that bell tower would cost 10 € but is free if you are under 25. You start by climbing the north tower until you reach the open gallery and then cross over to the south tower via a narrow walkway. After climbing a total of 387 steps we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the sprawling city alongside the gargoyles. More than a hundred gargoyles adorn the Cathedral of Notre Dame from all sides. ‘Gargoyle’ is derived from Latin which means gullet or drain. These half man, half beast looking creatures carved out of stone contain a passageway inside them to carry rainwater from the roof, which comes out of the gargoyle’s mouth.
After enjoying about half an hour at the top of the tower adoring the view and clicking pictures, we started off to the next stop, Arc De Triomphe. On our way to the metro station we passed by the Fontaine Saint-Michel. We had to wait patiently to get a picture as the place was filled with tourists.
When it came to traveling via metro, we counted the number of times we would need to enter the metro and bought passes accordingly. Each pass costed us 1.90 €. It is cheaper than buying a day ticket if you do not need to travel via metro much. Luck followed us the third time as we reached Arc De Triomphe. We got there just in time to be the last two people to be given entry to the Arc after which the ticket counter closed! At 6:30 p.m, we watched the torch of the eternal flame being rekindled, and veterans placing floral wreaths next to the tomb of the Unknown soldier which was decorated in colours of red, white and blue. This ritual is performed everyday to recall the sacrifices of the unknown French soldiers who lost their lives during the First World War.
There is a spiral staircase to the top but an elevator is also available for those who have difficulty climbing. The view from the top of Arc de Triomphe is quite different. Twelve avenues merge around the Arc and you will be amazed to see how well planned the symmetry of the city is! You can also get a very nice view of the Eiffel tower alongside the rest of the city. We spent almost an hour relaxing and enjoying the cool evening breeze brush against our faces.
Next, we took a walk towards the Eiffel Tower and bought a bottle of wine and take away dinner on the way. We chose a nice spot on a lawn overlooking the tower to relax and spend the next three hours. A lot of people gather here to spend the evening watching the tower. The evening was truly romantic as we sipped on our wine and watched the Eiffel Tower change shades as the sun set over Paris. Once it’s dark, every time the minute hand strikes 12, the Eiffel tower glitters and the view is just magical! After watching it glitter at 10 p.m, we headed back home.
The next morning we were up early and had to be at the Eiffel Tower by 8 since the tickets to be reserved online were sold out. If you plan to visit Paris in summer and want to go all the way to the summit then it is advised to make a reservation online at least two weeks earlier. You can check and reserve here. On the way we made a quick stop at Le Pont de Bir-Hakeim.
This is one of the most interesting bridges over the Seine. On the top deck runs Metro train line number 6 which makes the bridge appealing for skyline photographs. The bottom deck is for motor vehicles and for pedestrians. The bridge itself is picturesque, allows for an interesting crossing as well as great photos of the Eiffel tower. If you have watched the Hollywood movie ‘Inception’ then, a walk through the bridge will definitely remind you of the scenes from the movie.
After crossing the bridge, we hurried to join the queue for the Eiffel Tower. We had a waiting time of 30 minutes before the security check. Make sure to not carry any sharp items as the security check is very strict. If you reach any later than 9:30 a.m. the line can get really long and you may have to wait for hours. We got the discounted ticket of 8 € to reach all the way to the summit through an elevator. The view of Paris from the summit was just incredible. Just the perfect amount of sunshine to get fantastic views of the French capital!
By the time we climbed down, we realized we could only cover one more place on our list before heading back to Munich. We decided to visit the Sainte-Chapelle. There was a wait of just ten minutes and the entry for us was free. The spectacular glass stained windows give the inside a surreal atmosphere.
With this, our ONE day in Paris came to an end. We packed a take-away Subway sandwich and boarded the train back to Munich at 2 p.m. There is so much more to be explored in Paris and we will definitely be visiting this city again!