Paris

France, Paris

An overview of my time in the most romantic city on Earth. Photos, stories, and bucket list successes. 


Summer 2012

Paris is an entire world in itself. Visiting this city is like visiting a country. It has its own culture, its own architecture, its own art. Modern mixed with classic.

Odd building seen in Paris

Odd building seen in Paris

Through the streets at night

Through the streets at night

Speaking of art, one of the first places we went to after tossing our bags into our hotel room was

The Louvre

Louvre court yard

Louvre courtyard

The courtyard itself was worth visiting, with the regal set of buildings surrounding the fountains and the glass pyramids. This was also where we got our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower.

The Eiffel Tower from the Lourve

The Eiffel Tower from the Louvre

We began taking pictures immediately. Looking back, this was one of the least impressive views.

Finally, we entered into the Museum itself. We looked up at the glass pyramid from below. We ran our bags through security, and looked excitedly at the exibits awaiting us

A room in the Louvre, seen from the baggage check

A room in the Louvre, seen from the baggage check

Running through the Louvre

Running through the Louvre

We roamed through the museum’s cavernous interior as fast as we could, stopping only briefly to admire the more famous or more stunning works.

Winged Victory of Samonthrace, circa 200-180 BC

Winged Victory of Samonthrace, circa 200-180 BC

Of course, as universal law dictates, you can’t stop at the Louvre without visiting Mona Lisa.

Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa

Of all the huge, ancient, incredible paintings, the Mona Lisa struck me as one of the lesser impressive works. This was heightened by its tiny size, the fact that it was placed on its own wall, and the fact that a grimy layer of glass was placed in front of it. However, the Mona Lisa’s fame definitely made the visit worthwhile, and I got to cross the painting off my bucket list. The huge crowds swarming Mona Lisa amused me greatly, and I had to include the picture with the front row of her admirers.

The Louvre

The Louvre

Visiting this amazing, enormous museum was definitely worth the small amount of time we spent there, and I would absolutely have spent hours more if I had had the chance. You can read my extended story here.

Paris La Defence West

A good portion of our trip was spent on the bus, driving back and forth to landmarks and points of interest. At one point, we stopped for a quick view at Paris La Defence West, a courtyard overlooking the Eiffel tower.

In front of the Eiffel Tower

In front of the Eiffel Tower

Every time I saw the Eiffel tower, my stomach dropped and chills went up my arms. Pictures do not do her justice. Pictures make the tower look clunky, or small, or grey. I have yet to see a picture that captures the delicacy while also showing the enormity of the tower.

La Seine

Because Parisian law does not allow buildings to overshadow the Eiffel Tower, Paris is one of those cities that has grown out instead of up.

Parisian views from the Eiffel tower.

Parisian views from the Eiffel tower.

The sprawl of the buildings is broken into fragments by the rivers that run through it, and the city is all the more beautiful because of it. Bridges are almost as abundant as the city streets that they connect.

The famous bridge, Pont Alexandre III, from La Seine

The famous bridge, Pont Alexandre III, from La Seine

At sunset, the bridges are the best place to view the Eiffel tower as it begins to sparkle.

Boat on La Seine river in Paris, France

Boat on La Seine river in Paris, France

In general, the bridges are just beautiful and fun to cross.

Parisian Bridge

Parisian Bridge

There are also a lot of famous “love lock” bridges.

Love Lock Bridge, Paris

Love Lock Bridge, Paris

Lovers from all over the world come with locks, old and new, with names and dates written on them. They put the locks on the bridges, and often throw the keys into the river. I thought the concept was very cool and romantic, and wanted to search the bridges for old locks with dates from the 60’s etc, but soon learned that the bridges were cleared of locks every couple of months, so that the bridges weren’t weighed down.

Love Locks

Love Locks

This seemed really sad to me, and the locks suddenly seemed less special. What is the point of putting a lock with your name and your lover’s name and the date if you can’t return to Paris in old age to visit your lock? Or, even if you never returned to Paris, it’d be nice to think “my lock is still hanging on strong to that bridge.” You can’t do that. It just seems sad, I don’t know. Just personal opinion. Either way, it was fun to look at all the colorful locks on the bridges. At one point, we got to ride on La Seine in a boat. It was definitely one of my top moments in Europe.

Parisian river ride

Parisian river ride

Eiffel tower from La Siene

Eiffel tower from La Siene

We passed by Notre dame, went under bridges, and waved to tourists and locals dangling their feet above the water. You can read about my full experience here.

Notre Dame

I was especially excited to see Notre Dame in Paris.

Notre Dame against the blue Parisian sky

Notre Dame against the blue Parisian sky

I had seen Notre Dame a day or so before, during my boat trip on La Seine,

Notre Dame in all her splendor

Notre Dame from La Siene

(Sometimes I forget that the Cathedral is more than just those two front towers) but I was still excited to be close up and personal with this beautiful and famous star of Paris.

Notre Dame Cathedral

Notre Dame Cathedral

The line of tourists wound back and forth in the courtyard in front of the majestic cathedral. The long line was a bit daunting, but it went fast, and gave us a few moments to stop for pictures. The birds surrounding Notre Dame had learned to rely on the flood of tourists for some afternoon meals, and people were feeding them bread crumbs straight out of their hands!

Feeding the birds in front of Notre Dame

Feeding the birds in front of Notre Dame

This is one of my all-time favorite photos. The building itself was regal, with a simple color palate that emphasized its age.

Notre Dame

Notre Dame

You could stare at the front doors of the Cathedral for hours and still find new details and stories in the intricate carvings

Front doors of Notre Dame

Front doors of Notre Dame

Eventually, we made it inside the cavernous cathedral. The immediate reverent quiet hit us as soon as we stepped past the doorway.

Prayer candles in Notre Dame

Prayer candles in Notre Dame

Prayer candles were lit throughout various locations, and you could pay a Euro or two to light one. We were lucky enough to see the cathedral while monks were going about their routines. They sang in haunting melodies, which echoed throughout the cavernous cathedral so that you couldn’t tell which direction the music was coming from.

Monks singing in Notre Dame

Monks singing in Notre Dame

The stained glass windows were, of course. gorgeous.

Stained glass windows of Notre Dame

Stained glass windows of Notre Dame

Notre Dame Stained Glass Window

Notre Dame Stained Glass Window

I’m so lucky that I got to see the Notre Dame. It’s one of the first images that comes to mind when one thinks of France, and now I get to say that I saw it in person. Another item crossed off my bucket list!

Les Invalides

Les Invalides was one of those buildings that could be seen from many areas in the city. The golden dome shined in the sunlight.

Les Invalides

Les Invalides

The dome is covered in a thin layer of solid gold. Les Invalides is a very large network of museums and famous buildings, but we only took a very brief tour.

Exploring Les Invalides

Exploring Les Invalides

“Don’t you just hate it when horses use you as a hoof rest?”

Napolean Statue

Napolean Statue

Another stop on our bus tour worth mentioning is the Arc de Triomphe, which could be seen from various places in the city.

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe

Underneath Arc de Triomphe

Climbing up the Eiffel

The Eiffel tower sparkles in one of its on-the-hour displays of splendor

The Eiffel tower sparkles in one of its on-the-hour displays of splendor

Climbing to the top of The Eiffel Tower was the number one thing I wanted to do when coming to Spain and France. And that’s on top of a very long list. You would think that, after seeing probably hundreds of different views of the tower, I would start to be less impressed. Not the case. Not the case in the slightest.

Eiffel Tower Framed by Dandelions

Eiffel Tower Framed by Dandelions

Every time I looked up to suddenly see the tower before me, I gasped. I couldn’t control it. No pictures could ever do the tower justice. All pictures that I’ve seen or took just look chunky or scrawny or matte. None of the pictures capture the tower’s grace or airiness. Time and time again, I laid eyes on the feathery monument. Time and time again, it took my breath away. Finally, on our last night in Paris, our last night in Europe, we set out to climb to the very top.

From beneath the tower

From beneath the tower

We lined up beneath the tower, the magnificent lattice of shadow and metal hanging above us like some convoluted umbrella.

The Carousel underneath the Eiffel tower

The Carousel underneath the Eiffel tower

It was fun to watch the other tourists excitedly wait in the line winding towards the first steps. The carousel lit up as the sun began to set. We waited for it to get dark enough so that The Eiffel Tower would start its first set of twinkling lights. Every single light-twinkle performance that we saw in Paris made me squeal.

Underneath Eiffel

Underneath Eiffel

After a few minutes in line, we finally began to make the climb. Eventually, the lights turned on, and we were washed in golden light. The white lightbulbs flashed on and off all around us, and the perspective was amazing.

Looking down from within the Eiffel tower

Looking down from within the Eiffel tower

Heights are not a fear of mine, and so I was full of energy and excitement the whole way up.

Making the 704 steps up to the top of the tower

Making the 704 steps up to the top of the tower

Others were not so fortunate. Some of my friends began to shake the higher we went. A few tears were hastily wiped away. Panic slowly set in, but everyone pushed on.

From Atop the Eiffel Tower

From Atop the Eiffel Tower

Higher and higher we climbed, with metal netting surrounding us, bathed in golden light. It got darker and darker, and the lights of the city began to turn on, turning Paris into a starry sky.

Parisian views from the Eiffel tower.

Parisian views from the Eiffel tower.

Eventually, we made it to the top. All of us, even those who were shaky.

View from the top of the Eiffel tower

View from the top of the Eiffel tower

By this point, it had gotten very dark and difficult to take pictures, but I can assure you that the views were stunning.

Parisian view from the very top of the Eiffel tower

Parisian view from the very top of the Eiffel tower

This was one of my all time favorite items to cross off my bucket list. I’m so glad that we went at night instead of during a hot day, and I am so glad that I got to experience such an amazing moment that will live with me forever. A great ending to an unforgettably amazing trip.

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