Thursday, 4 September 2014
As a self professed cynic when it comes to love, I seem intent to completely surround myself with couples this summer. My first trip of the holiday was spent travelling with a friend around Malta (a blogpost about which will be appearing soon) while my second smaller trip - a weekend city break - was to the city of love itself. Paris.
Words can not describe how much I love this city. I have been once before when I was about 14 and on a school trip, but at that age you definitely can't appreciate it. Back then we did things like go to Disneyland Paris. This time we did EVERYTHING.
Well, maybe not quite everything. Anybody who has been to Paris would be able to tell you that there is A LOT to do. So much to see, so many chances to view the city from cool places, so many shops, so many little cafes and restaurants, so much architecture and culture and everything else in between. But we did manage to do a lot of it!
The top of everyone's list and the uber clichéd thing to do, is the Eiffel Tower. Now, I love this unique structure. I am not even sure why, it's not particularly pretty but there's just something about it. I think it's an incredible piece of engineering, particularly considering that it was only meant to be a temporary adornment to the city. However, the Parisians fell in love with the 300+ metre flagpole so it stayed. Me and my buddy Kim, decided to take the elevator to the very top which offered some breathtaking views of the city. And it provided us with the best map we could have asked for, meaning we could plan what we wanted to do next.
As I am a huge fan of architecture, I was in my element here, particularly around the Sacre Coeur in Montmarte Hill. So much of our weekend was just wandering around; through quaint little alleyways, becoming horrendously lost in the process but we got to see some truly beautiful areas. At one point our vagueness meant that we managed to misplace the Eiffel Tower, don't even ask how. I think we just got distracted and didn't look to the right. Duh. But every single building we came across, whether it was a world famous monument or just a street of houses, were such a delight. Obviously there are the famous Notre Dame and Sacre Coeur, the pretty Louvre and the majestic structures of the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower...But I actually prefer simply wandering the streets. Montmarte Hill was without a doubt the cutest part of Paris, with it's steep hills, stone steps and pretty houses.
But if you want to see some truly majestic architecture, you have to visit the palace of Versailles. As it was the home of several French kings, each one wanted to outdo their predecessors, and added wings, redecorated with plush furnishings and generally made sure it was one of the most beautiful palaces in the whole of Europe. And of course, the Hall of Mirrors is a very important historical location. It was pretty amazing to visit this iconic home at last.
Another iconic place that we did visit, although we were vastly underwhelmed by it, was the Moulin Rouge. Made famous by the popular film, travellers and fans have high expectations but unfortunately it is simply a tiny theatre, in one of the seediest areas of Paris. It was the only time that, as two females, Kim and I didn't feel completely safe so we didn't hang around long.
I was expecting the world-renowned Mona Lisa, housed in the Louvre to be similarly disappointing. In fact, it was a lot bigger than I originally imagined. This may come as a surprise but the reason for it was that everyone always stresses to you that it's going to be smaller than you think. So I had begun to prepare myself that it would be roughly the size of a postcard. However, it really isn't. It's just an averagely sized portrait. Compared to the rest of the paintings in its gallery, which are all about the size of a small house (and that's not an exaggeration, they are huge) yes it is very small. But ignoring that, it seemed about the right size for a portrait to me. And I was really glad that I had met this celebrity at last.
Paris is one of those places that everyone has to visit at least once in their lives. Preferably before you are 26 because then, on production of a European Passport or driving licence, you are allowed to enter all the main attractions/sights for free. But whenever you go and whoever you are with, you will be sure to have a great time. This is one of the most gorgeous cities in the whole of Europe and you would not regret your time here.