Splendid Paris

Almost a month and a half ago, as the summer approached its end, I got the opportunity to visit one of the most popular tourist places in the world - Paris. And it did not let me down.

The trip was an extremely short one. I arrived into Paris on Friday evening, and checked out on Sunday evening. For anyone who wishes to see the majestic beauty of the city, a stay of at least four days is a must.

Paris is around 311 KMs from Brussels, the capital of Belgium. A ride on the high speed train - Thalys - took me to Paris in just 90 minutes. 

Little did I know about the high drama being played out the same evening on one of the earlier Thalys train, travelling from Amsterdam to Paris, via Brussels. A gunman with an assault rifle attempted a terrorist attack as the train entered France. Three brave men assaulted the man and immobilized him, before he could cause carnage in the train. The news left me in awe, wondering about the risks in train travel.

I reached Paris Gare Du Nord at half past 8. I had booked my hotel near Gare De Lyon. Nord to Lyon was a short journey of 10 minutes (to my pleasant surprise) on the RER line. I was joined by my sister at Nord. 

Paris is an extremely well connected city. Public transport includes buses, metros and the RER train line. It is possible to visit the entire city using public transport.

Next day, we started our Paris trip. Starting early from the hotel, we made our way to Nord. We got The Paris Pass, a two day travel card which offers visitors access to several monuments, museums, and the public transport system. It also includes a day of travel in the Big Bus, which takes you around the most famous landmarks of the mega city. Also included is a cruise on the River Seine.

First stop was The Cathedral of Notre Dame. After having read The Hunchback of Notre Dame almost two decades ago, a visit to this cathedral was a dream come true. The cathedral is majestic, vast and has been a witness to a history of more than 7 to 8 centuries. A visit to the upper towers of the cathedral got us the first opportunity to see the vast city of Paris, including the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur.

Notre Dame Paris
Paris City - From Notre Dame
After Notre Dame de Paris, it was Musee d'Orsay, on the bank's of river Seine. A brilliant museum, it includes various forms of arts and rich paintings, and is a must visit for anyone who loves museums. Recently, it was rated as the best museum to visit in Europe, ahead of The Lourve, which came at number 3.

Musee d'Orsay
At Orsay
The Big Bus then took us around the city. I got the opportunity to see places which I had read over the years - The Alma Tunnel, where Lady Diana had a fatal crash in 1997, the River Seine, the Champs-Élysées, and Arc de Triomphe.

The Arc de Triomphe stands at the intersection of many roads in Paris. A view from the top reveals the beautiful geometric view of the city, the tree lined streets and the Champs-Élysées.

Arc De Triomphe
The Champs-Élysées from Arc De Triomphe
Next stop was The Lourve. The Lourve is one of the most famous museums in the world, and houses one of the most talked about paintings - The Mona Lisa. Extremely vast and detailed, with brilliant paintings, Egyptian art et al, Louvre is a must visit destination on the list of every wanderlust traveler. Worth mentioning is the Pyramid of Louvre, which finds a mention in The Da Vinci Code, a blockbuster novel written by Dan Brown.

Next stop - The all so majestic Eiffel Tower.

Standing tall at 300 metres, with three main floors, the mega structure leaves you in awe. Getting a ticket to the upper floors of Eiffel Tower meant an hour wait in the queue.  The tickets were priced at 10 EUR for the second floor and 15 EUR for the summit. 

Two escalators and an hour and a half later, at the summit of the Eiffel Tower, the breath taking expanse of Paris city left me mesmerised. As the sun set in the west, and the city lit up in sparkling yellow, the majesty of this monument and the history it has witnessed (including two world wars) left me humbled.

Paris City - From Tour Eiffel

Paris City - From Eiffel Tower Summit
The Eiffel Tower
Back on terra firma, I spent a full 30 minutes admiring the beauty of Eiffel Tower. A light show, where dazzling disco lights brighten up the tower, every 1 hour should not be missed.

This was the end of day 1. From Notre Dame in the east to Eiffel Tower in the west, I had moved around the city twice. It amazed me how small the city actually was, considering its fame and population of 2.25 Million.

Next day began with a visit to Jardin Du Luxembourg (Garden of Luxembourg). The vast green garden, with a palace to the fore, was a good visit. Add the drizzling rain, it brought the beauty of the city to the forefront.

Jardin Du Luxembourg
Next stop, once again, was the Eiffel Tower. However, this was for a cruise on the River Seine. A one hour cruise on a boat takes you around the city, right till Notre Dame and back. The river Seine makes it way through the city and most of the historical landmarks are located on its bank - including the Orsay Museum, the Louvre Museum, Notre Dame, and the Eiffel Tower.

Tour Eiffel
After the Seine and a few more pictures of the Eiffel tower, we made our way to the north of the city. Destination - Sacre Coeur. As a child, I had a few notebooks with the picture of the Basilica of Sacre Coeur on the first page. Visiting this very place was another dream come true.

Sacre Coeur
Located on top of the hill, the Basilica is richly decorated from inside. It was extremely popular with tourists. A view from the courtyard of the Basilica offered another brilliant view of the city.

After Sacre Coeur, we visited a excellent Indian restaurant near Gare Du Nord. Located just outside the railway station, the restaurant offered authentic Indian food.

It was almost 3.30 PM and only 3 hours for the train back. A few more places had to be visited.

Next destination was Place De La Concorde. Place De La Concorde is a public square at one end Champs-Élysées and is the largest square in Paris. Once again on the banks of river Seine, it gives you an amazing view of the Arc De Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower too.

Place De La Concorde
Adjoining the Place De La Concorde was Jardin des Tuileries. This beautiful vast garden offers a relaxing resting place for the city dwellers. You could see them chit chatting at the edge of the ponds and under rows of trees. A walk through the garden illustrated how slow life can be in this fast city.

Jardin Du Tuileries
At the other end of the Jardin des Tuileries was the Louvre again, where I got this cool snap. 

The Louvre Paris
Walking back across the Seine, we made our way to the nearest metro station and then back to Gare Du Nord. Exhausted yet happy, it was a poignant feeling to leave the splendid city of Paris. 

A few days more and I could have been more content. But then, humans have infinite desires. Thanks to God Almighty for giving me an opportunity to visit this lovely city.
Splendid Paris Splendid Paris Reviewed by Vyankatesh on Sunday, October 04, 2015 Rating: 5

No comments: