The Elusive Eifel Tower- This Pic is Taken From About 1/4 Mile Away
France,  Paris

Travel to Paris with Me!! The City of Lights was Amazing!

I’m back in Albania after 6 days in Paris, the City of Lights. Let me tell you, it was a fan-fabulous trip! I can’t wait to give you the details, so cozy up with your favorite beverage, put your brain in relaxation mode and read on……

There’s so much to tell you so, after careful thought, I have decided on writing this initial article to give you an idea of my adventure in Paris and then over the next several days, I will be writing short, more detailed articles laying out each of the days and the attractions.

If you have visited the City of Lights before, I’m hoping this will trigger wonderful memories and inspire another visit. If you’ve not been, I’m hoping you will be so intrigued that you will be on the phone with your travel agent, booking your very own Parisian adventure!

And, using the term City of Lights, brings to mind something which I learned while in Paris….. I imagined a city full of millions of lights and yes, it was lit up, but not how I expected.

PARIS FUN FACTS:

Paris has over 296 lit buildings or structures which include everything from hotels and churches, statues and fountains, national buildings, and monuments. There are 37 major bridges in Paris, and a whopping 33 of them are illuminated each sunset. And, each hour after sunset, on the hour, the already illuminated Eifel Tower has lights that twinkle and sparkle for five minutes.

The City of Lights:

Apparently, I’m not the only person who had this thought as most people assume that Paris is called ‘The City of Light’ because of its sparkling boulevards and bridges, and it’s easy to see why.

The term “City of Lights” actually has a couple of historical implications such as :

1.) After a prolonged period of war and domestic civil strife, King Louis IV was committed to restoring the public’s faith in law and order. In an attempt to do just this, he quadrupled the number of policemen in the city along with taking the measure to install more lighting. The King ordered lanterns to be placed on almost all main streets. The residents were also asked to light their windows with candles or oil lamps.

2.) During the Age of Enlightenment, Paris was the first European city to have gas lighting installed. So, both the aforementioned reasons gave way to the term “City of Lights”, along with many other nicknames.

Much to See and Do :

There is so much to see and do in Paris that in 5 or 6 days, the possibilities are a bit overwhelming. My suggestion is to decide on what kind of adventure you are looking for….. tourist attractions, a foodie experience, a quiet relaxing, possibly romantic getaway, a shopping trip??? Or, a combination of all, which is what I chose.

Admittingly, a trip during a pandemic, adds a few challenges, but with resourcefulness and pre-trip research, you can reel that into a manageable and fun-filled adventure.

Day 1:

We arrived early to make the most of our time. Driving in from Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris looked like any other big city until right in front of me was the Arc de Triomphe!

OMG! I really was in Paris, after all! After checking into the hotel, I felt it was a good idea to get a “lay of the land”, so a walk was in the plan.  The West End Hotel was perfect! Close to all the sites which were on my list, shopping, the Seine River, and the Champs Elysees. Henrique, the perfect desk host, was more than helpful and quickly became my new best friend in Paris! Walking over to the Champs Elysees, a five-minute walk,  I needed a sim card for my phone for use while in France and then found a place to eat. This was the ultimate in sticker shock as lunch for two with wine was 64.50 Euros!

Paris Travel Tip:

Paris is expensive, just like any large city in Europe. Be aware of this and plan ahead. Don’t ruin your trip worried about the cost of your holiday! 

Is That Really the Arc de Triomphe?
The Hotel West End- My Temporary Home Away from Home

Arriving as early as I did, there was actually lots of time to have planned something but instead, I walked and walked, exploring as I went, stopping for coffee at an outdoor cafe and enjoying the sights and sounds. I have found that walking is always the best way to explore….. For dinner that evening, I wandered over to the left bank of the Seine and ended up at a quaint Italian restaurant (yes, Italian food in Paris… there’s a story behind this) which appeared to be at the foot of the Eifel Tower. The Tower is elusive, however, it seems to always be right around the corner, but it’s not!

Day 2

From prior research and planning, my entry into the Eiffel Tower was planned for 3:15 pm, and immediately following was a dinner cruise on the Seine River. So, what to do for the early part of the day? Notre Dame seemed like the logical choice since this would be an outdoor activity (Notre Dame is still under renovation from the April 2019 fire) and then Jardin des Tuileries. From there, it was time to wander over to the Eiffel Tower, which turned out to be 3.4 kilometers! But, during this walk, I stumbled onto Place de Concorde! What a day this had turned out to be!  A cup of afternoon coffee on the left bank of the Seine after the Tower and still ahead was the cruise!

The Elusive Eifel Tower- This Pic is Taken From About 1/4 Mile Away
The Elusive Eifel Tower- This Pic is Taken From About 1/4 Mile Away

Day 3

Another day of surprises and adventure! The tickets for the Arc de Triomphe were for 10 am. It was Christmas Eve and I really wanted to find a church that was open to the public and light a candle. Asking a police officer where the closest church was, he directed me to Sainte Honorine. Beautifully, understated, it was just what I had hoped for! A coffee (yes, I’m addicted to coffee) and what to do next? A plan was born which turned out to be almost wonderful…… but then by sheer accident, a better plan emerged!

The original plan was a Parisian scavenger hunt that I found on one of the travel activities apps that I have. Getting to the starting point was a bit of a challenge but the real challenge came when the game clues wouldn’t download onto my phone! Damn! That sounded like great fun!

But, I remembered that part of the hunt included Sacre Coeur, so off I went in search of the Sacred Heart Basilica located amid Montmarte, a village within the city limits of Paris! And right in front of the Basilica were thousands of “love locks” on the fencing! Montmarte has amazing views of the city! How lucky was I to be there!?! See, why walking is always best!

Sacre Coeur

Day 4

Christmas Day in Paris! Having done pre-trip research, I learned that a dinner reservation was absolutely necessary as most of Paris was to be closed on Christmas.  The reservation was at 8 pm, which left a full day of what? A walk along the Seine, a coffee, and another discovery? Of course!

As I walked the River talking in admiring the many bridges, I remembered that while on the River Cruise, the server (who also acted as a tour guide), mentioned that we were passing the tunnel beneath the bridge where Princess Diana had died in that horrific car accident in 1997.

A quick Google search and I was less than 500 meters from the spot – a few minutes walk! Yes, I know, it seems a bit morose to look for that deadly spot on Christmas, but I’m a sucker for Royal news and what I found was an unexpected surprise- the Liberty Flame, an exact replica of the flame of the Statue of Liberty! The Flame sits atop the entrance to the tunnel where the accident occurred and since, has doubled as an unofficial memorial to The Princess.

The Liberty Flame
Day 5

This was the last full day of the trip and just like the previous days, was fabulous! The Louvre was on tap and was so much more than I expected! Security to enter was very tight, the skies threatened to open up as the line for the “Skip the Line” entry was slowly moving but, once inside, there’s only one word to describe it- Overwhelming!

The Highlight of the Louvre- Mona Lisa

So, in a nutshell, there’s the trip! Over the next several days, watch for articles specific to the attractions of Paris. They will include more detail, travel tips, and fun facts. Also included will be my personal observations along with some pretty amazing photos! I’ve had the privilege of visiting some pretty incredible places and grew up dreaming of visiting Paris. Yes, my friends, it was worth the wait!

Until next time, friends, remember: “To Travel is to Live”!


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