Ah, Paris. The city of lights, but it's still dark for most of its inhabitants. Our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man may have not made it to the Eiffel Tower to proclaim his love to MJ, but Tyler and I did and it's not all it's cracked out to be. Gossip Girl's Blair and Serena have enchanted us with sweet French croissants (which are actually really good) and macaroons, swindling us with Louis's french accent, and the occasional high class fashion, but it's not the tasty pastries that make a place. The people can really set the mood for the atmosphere, and Paris's people were not uplifting... or nice. The aesthetic of the city is enchanting, but the people are all but. You may feel like you're in a fairytale with the castle structures, the cobble stone roads that are hidden amongst the city, and the romantic boat rides on the River Seine; I sure did. Almost as easy as the illusion set in, you're taken out from the pick pockets, the scammers constantly parading you to come and sign a petition, or the old ladies who stalk you on the street claiming you dropped some "gold" ring (she will give it to you, then ask for money for her "generosity" and when you say no, she wants the ring back). I said no to this lady and I really wish I threw it across the street for wasting my time. The regular tenants of the city will clap back with an attitude so strong it's bound to ruin even just a bit of your vacation. Don't speak French? No problem, they hate any American even if you do. It's an equal opportunity city.
As I write this, we are going through a pandemic (COVID-19). For those practicing social isolation and distancing, you'll want to repeat this if you ever go to Paris. To be honest, they are always on strike anyways, so being able to actually go anywhere or do anything is limited. While Tyler and I were there, we really wanted to explore the catacombs. Well, there was a strike going on (what's new) and they were closed because the workers decided not to come to work. We were also to meet our great friend Paryn who was in France but he couldn't catch a train over because.. oh you guessed, a strike.
Now, Paris is my least favorite place I have gone, but it wasn't all pissy parties and disasters. A very nice and relaxing activity that doesn't break the bank is the cruise on the River Seine. I would be sure to only do this on nice days that aren't cold and it's not raining. Obviously this would make any cruise miserable. It was 14 euros for the trip and lasted about an hour. It's where I got a lot of cool photos and a rest from all of the walking. They take you up and down the river to view all of the landmarks and buildings, but also give you very interesting information on each.
If you're up for drinking, and of course we were, you can go to the nearest market, buy a couple bottles of wine for 2 euros and carry them over to the edge of the River. Sit, dangle your feet, and enjoy a couple of bottles along the water. Drinking in public is legal in France and that's enough of a reason to get drunk. I suppose Tyler and I have rather good luck, because whenever we explore Europe, the weather is beautiful and cooperates. If it rains, its for a few hours and it's still magical, but I will get to that later. When we had a picnic along the river, the weather was a nice 78 with a light breeze. This is the type of social distancing that makes Paris enjoyable. With the bridge to our right, the beautiful architecture to the front, and boats gliding past us on the water, it was the kind of moment you think you'd see only in movies.
Another favorite that required minimum human contact was taking another bottle of wine and sitting in front of the Eiffel Tower. The first time we went to the Eiffel Tower (we went three separate times, not including the cruise one), it was raining. It wasn't a downpour, but a nice sprinkle to cover the roads with a layer of reflection and make the grass muddy. I thought it perfect to see the Tower in rain and in great weather. We mostly took photographs that day, as sitting in the grass was not an option. There were also scammers walking about, but we pretended to not speak English. Ironically, we spoke French and they couldn't respond. The second time we explored the Eiffel Tower was during a beautiful day- clear skies, warm weather, and a bottle of wine in hand. Between the two of us, I finished a bottle. It made watching the scammers get turned down and yelled at all the more enjoyable. For more on the scams and what to avoid, click here. The third time we went was in the middle of a downpour during the night. We didn't spend but a split second there to grab some photos, but it was more beautiful at night than any other time of day. The absence of people and scammers fortified it's beauty and serene atmosphere. We watched as the light from the top bounced from cloud to cloud, exposing the rain as it glimmered as drops fell.
One of the nights we got off on a random subway stop. I wish I knew where we were, what stop it was, or even the street we ended up on. It was my favorite place in all of Paris. We found ourselves on a stone road, surrounded by small shops, brick buildings with elegant architecture, it was like a hidden gem away from tourists. Only the locals knew of this magical spot, and we were lucky enough to stumble upon it. It was near dinner time, and famished, we found a small restaurant outside of the subway exit. They offered outside seating underneath a green water proof tarp, and just as we sat and ordered drinks and food, it began thunder storming. No worries, the overhead roofing prevented any water. We ate dinner in a thunderstorm and I was in Heaven. After we had finished, the funniest thing happened. In the midst of the downpour, the roof began to retract and patrons started running, trying to escape the water that dumped on anyone beneath. Tyler and I gawked at the situation, and it made for an amazing memory. If you happen to know this area, please let me know.
A few monuments to visit would be Arc de Triumph, Place de la Concorde, Notre-Dame, Musee d'Orsay, and Le Louvre. While Notre-Dame had suffered a terrible fire in 2019, we got to see it and it was beautiful. However, it cost a good amount to explore inside, so we went without. I am sure restorations will be complete and visitors will be welcomed again.
Nearest Musee d'Orsay, is the bridge of lovers' locks. We of course etched ours and locked it. I am sure they continue to break them off, but knowing we were able to do something so cliche warmed my basic white girl heart.
In my opinion, Musee d'Orsay is better than the Louvre in regards to art, minus the Mona Lisa. There is so much to see in the Louvre that it's impossible to see everything in a day. Also, some areas are closed off based on the day of the week. Looking up ahead of time is ideal. The employees at the Louvre are also trash. We asked for help (in English and French) to know where the Mona Lisa was, and they only looked at us, then turned away and ignored us. Both times. So of course, I cursed the lady out. Also to note, they offer student discounts and other discounts for entrance. Keep an eye out for that, because it does cost a bit to go inside.
Our three day trip turned into four when our train came to a complete stop on our way to the airport (we traveled five hours before our scheduled flight). There were two sweet people that helped Tyler and I through that mess, since they announced everything in French, and while you would assume after six years of French I would understand it, I don't. It turned out that someone jumped in front of the train. Consequently, we had to take an Uber or another train (honestly I don't remember) and we missed our flight. We were stuck in Paris. The least favorite city, and this topped it off. With almost hours of sitting and searching for new flights that wouldn't break our bank, bitching at WOW Air via Twitter and Email, and sleeping on the floor (or in my case, not at all) of the airport, we finally found a new flight from Paris to DC for the next day. Exhausted, I convinced Tyler for us to get an air b and b close by and absolutely refused to take the train anymore. A long nap, shower, and delicious cookies later, we relaxed until our flight took off the next morning.
I consistently rant about how horrible Paris is, but it's still beautiful to visit. Just don't expect people to be nice to you, because they probably hate their lives and thus hate everyone.