Paris!! The most cliched and common touristic destination in Europe. The city of love. The city of dreams. The city where most Hollywood romantic characters run to before the climax. Well, you get the picture. When I decided that I was going to take time off and do a solo European trip, there was no way I was going to leave out Paris, even though I've already visited and seen this city. It's a different thing when you visit with family or friends, and it's a completely whole other experience when you go alone. You wake up on your own time. You see the things you want to see, and eat exactly what you feel like eating and find the need to make conversations with strangers, even if the conversations are about asking them to take a picture of you, or directions to the closest metro station. The experience is just fantastic.
This Parisienne trip of mine, was planned to be a laid-back visit. I meticulously penned down what I wanted to do and see. I've already climbed the Eiffel Tower, so that was off my list. Of course visits to the tower was still in the programme. In fact I had to try so hard to not make this post on the lines of something like "50+ images of the Eiffel Tower from every damn angle taken during different hours of the day". I also planned to skip all museums, and pretty much walk all around the place. But if you do visit and love checking out museums, I'd suggest getting a Paris Museum Pass which entitles you entries to over 60 museums in the city and you don't even have to wait in those exhausting lines.
One of the things in my to-see list was the catacombs, and I was so excited to see it, that I sent my whatsapp group a very snarky message about how I was going to see it, and I also watched a horror movie the previous night that was set in the catacombs, because I'm weird like that. But, unfortunately, I didn't anticipate how many others also wanted to see the catacombs. So my morning went by with me standing in the line to enter for 2 hours, and I was so close to the gate, but had to leave since I was meeting a friend in half an hour and the catacombs tour would take at least 45 minutes! So that dream died right there. I was really disappointed since that was my last day in the city and there was no way I could wait in line and try again. But I treated myself to a fancy dinner to make up for it!
I found out that to get the view of the Eiffel Tower (not from it), the Montparnasse tower was the thing to go to. It's not hard to miss since it's literally the only skyscraper in the city and a lot of people claim it to be an eyesore. So to get that magnificent view, you have to take the elevator to the 56th floor of the tower for the panoramic view. However, I also found out, that the restaurant Ciel De Paris offers the same view. While you don't have to pay to enter the restaurant, the rates for the meals there were pricey. So my plan was to go to the bar, and enjoy the view, with a cocktail in my hand. So I was paying almost the same rate as the panoramic view, with the perks of a place to sit at the bar as well as a drink included. Seemed like a pretty great deal.
One thing I willed myself to refrain from was shopping. Immediately from Paris I had a budget flight to Pisa and I could only carry 20 kilos, and I was already pushing my limit. So, sadly, it had to wait. So while I did visit Champs-Elysees, it was just to window shop and revel in the beauty of the place.
One piece of luck was that I managed to stumble across an exhibit of Jean Paul Gaultier that had some of this ground breaking and some even never seen before designs. So I got to see Madonna's iconic conical bra from the early 90's as well as some amazing designs that were inspired by the city of Paris.
Another place that I spent some time in was the Shakespeare and Company bookshop that used to be frequently visited by Rousseau and Voltaire in those days. They place smelt amazing of books that were old as well as new and were also laced with a million signs that said "no photography" which I respected, but at the end, I had to get a picture of the vintage typewriter at window. I think every book lover needs to visit this place.
Lastly I would recommend a canal cruise on the Seine. The view from the boat is lovely and you get to see all the important sights along the Seine. The best time is during and after sunset, if you really want to get lovely pictures. I took my ride at around 8 pm, and the sun still had over 2 hours to set still. There are dinner cruises and multiple companies that run different packages, so it's better to look up these things before you book.
Throughout my trip, I had my camera in my hands and clicked a little too many images, but it turned handy, especially when it came to capturing perfect moments, like the just-married couple posing in front of the Eiffel Tower! And that time I happened to capture a train making its way over the bridge while I was in a boat. Or even that view of the Arc de Triomphe amidst crazy moving traffic. I'm pretty sure I was abused at, it French, by some irate drivers. Or that brillant view from the restaurant on Montparnasse tower where I got the lit up Eiffel Tower in action.