It has taken me a while to get started on this post because Eamon and I are frantically searching for a new home. (This in itself will probably have its own post due to the sheer willpower it is taking for us to manage it!) But for now, Paris!
Eamon and I, have never taken a European holiday together. Besides moving to London, we have never ventured outside of Cape Town together. So, as soon as I realised our 5 year anniversary was coming up, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. We chose France because they are quite relaxed with the length of visas they give to tourists. I was able to get a longer visa if we chose to go to France compared to other Euro countries. This means that for an extended period of time, I won’t have to reapply for a visa each time we want to travel within the Eurozone. We chose Paris because we wanted somewhere we could explore for a weekend and be happy to go home after a short stay. Any longer in Paris and we would have tired ourselves out.
We started off in Paris with a bit of a wander around the train station. This is partly because no one could or would speak English and give us directions to the nearest bus stop. We then decided it was time to rely on ourselves and invested in a sim card. Lifesaver!! Having data when you get there is an absolute must! Find your nearest shop and get yourself an Orange Holiday package sim card. It is the best thing you can invest in! As soon as we had access to Google Maps and Citymapper, we were good to go. Our hotel was just a little budget hotel in Bagnolet. Because you can spend so much time exploring the city and can stay out so late at night, it didn’t seem worth spending tons on a better hotel.
The first activity we decided to do was a boat tour along the Seine. After the long walks through the busy streets, I cannot stress enough how good it is to put your feet up. The views of the sights that you see from the river do not compare to anything else. You get such a different vantage point from the river that you would not get from the streets.
We happened to be on the boat with a rowdy bunch of school kids. So, under every bridge, we had them yelling at the top of their voices to hear the echoes along the river. This may have been annoying for some. It definitely wasn’t peaceful, but we enjoyed the happy crowd and their crazy antics. This was by far my favourite thing that we chose to do in Paris. The best part of the whole tour was going past the Notre Dame de Paris. The views that you get, of the Gargoyle-clad cathedral from the river, are so different and left me completely in awe.
Once the boat tour was done, we ventured off to see the Eiffel Tower. We bought treats on the way to eat at the foot of the tower. We were extremely lucky to be there at a time where the crowd was at a minimum. We sat in the garden and relaxed completely unhindered by street vendors or other tourists. It was such a random and unexpected bit of peace. Until someone decided to start yodeling (he was surrounded by beer bottles too!). We took that as our queue to leave and search for another point of interest before dinner.
We took a stroll down the banks of the Seine towards the Metro station to get back to the hotel. Along our path was the memorial for Princess Diana. There is something so beautiful but creepy at the same time about standing above the point exactly where she lost her life. It was horrible to think about what happened to her, yet so beautiful that people have
embraced the monument and added their own little touches as a tribute to this well-loved woman. It was definitely a memory for the books.
After all of the walking around Paris, we had definitely earned our dinner and found a quick bite to eat before heading back to the hotel. Here ends my first day in Paris. Keep reading for the rest of the trip 🙂