Paris is the capital of France and the largest city of the country. A lot has already been said by many, what else can we say about this mesmerising city of art, architecture, culture and fashion. It is indeed the fashion capital of the world. We planned this trip for March of 2010. People might ask why at this time of the year, when its still chilly and spring has not been able to leave its mark on the cold wintery days. It was very cold in Paris at that time but we had our own reasons, not one but two. We had already booked April for the tulips in Netherlands and in May the sun sets late in the evening and we would have to wait too long to see the city of lights.
We had our flight from Hannover to Paris on 12th March 2010 and a return flight on 15th March. It was a four days trip but we thought we should have planned it for few days more.
12th March, Friday : We had a late evening flight from Hannover and reached Paris nearly at 10 o’clock in the night. We bought the tickets for the train from the Airport and boarded the train. We got down at Luxembourg station. We had to take a bus from Luxembourg station for our hotel, so after getting down from the train we started searching for the bus stop. There were many people hanging around in that area, we were surprised by their sheer number at 11.30 in the night. We found it to be true that Paris never sleeps. Upon asking a few people for the bus stop and finally getting there, we found that the last bus had gone. So we took a taxi and reached the hotel.
13th March, Saturday : We took a tourist map of Paris from the hotel and went out for the first day’s excursion in Paris. We took some cakes, snacks and fruits from the nearest supermarket and headed towards the metro station. We took two day passes from the ticket vending machine in the metro station and boarded the train. After getting down in the station ‘CITE’ , we came up with the stroller by the stairs as there was no elevator in the station. Here we would like to suggest that if someone is planning to visit Paris with baby then try not to take heavy stroller, as one would have to carry it most of the time in the metro stations. Best is to use buses as much as possible. We were in front of ‘Palais de justice’ when we came out of the metro station. The golden gate was huge and beautiful. We did not go inside and watched it from outside. We asked the guards of the building for the direction to Notre Dame cathedral and headed towards that.
Notre Dame is a catholic cathedral and a finest example of French Gothic architecture. It was near to the Palais de justice and we easily found the way. There were some places to sit in front of the cathedral and we preferred to sit on one of the benches to admire the beautiful architecture. There was a long queue to the entrance and we waited there for the rush to reduce. There was no entry ticket and we went inside. The sculptures and the huge stained glasses were amazing. It took time to walk around the cathedral and then we came out to take a walk from the outside. The weather was not so good that day and it was quite cold but we decided to walk by the river Seine and see all the faces of the cathedral. We were surprised by the view of the back of the cathedral by the river and could not resist to take snaps.
After taking a long walk around the cathedral we came back to the front. We asked a lady about the route to the Louvre museum and she suggested us to take a bus from the bus stop in front of the Palais de justice. We took a bus to the museum of Louvre. The museum courtyard is a vast area. Louvre is one of world’s largest museums and contains antique sculptures, paintings, royal household things and many more. The glass pyramid in the centre of the main courtyard is the main entrance to the museum. There was an elevator, operated by the stuff only for the needy people. We had to use it because of our baby’s stroller. We came down to the ticket counter only to find thousands of people. We took the tickets and waited in a queue for the information counter. It was not possible to visit all the sections of the museum in one day, so we asked the person over there about the most important sections, those that we should not miss. He pointed out the suggested route with a pen on the map. Louvre has an outstanding collection of paintings and sculpture which we did not miss. We spent only three hours there, that also included ‘ Mona Lisa’.
We got a bus from Louvre to the Eiffel tower. We saw the tower almost from everywhere in the city but the experience to see the Eiffel tower just in front of us was something else. This 324 m tall tower is the tallest building in Paris and an icon of France. When we were coming by bus, it was already dark and we had seen the illuminated tower but what caught us by surprise was a sudden glittering of the tower lights. We had a plan to go up to the top of the tower but it was too cold for our baby that day as we needed more warm cloths. So we settled down in the park and cherished the night in front of the Eiffel tower. Two guys were talking about the glittering of the lights and we came to know that the lights were glittering in every hour for five minutes. We waited for the clock to turn 8 and then saw the glittering.
We stayed there for another hour and moved back to the hotel.
14th March, Sunday : We started the day with a visit to “Le Petit Palais”. This is a museum and looked beautiful from the outside. We reached there quite early in the morning but still had a long queue to the entrance. The weather was not so good that morning and we did not want to wait in the queue. We crossed a beautiful bridge on the river Seine and reached near the “Les Invalides”. This is a complex including hotel, hospital, retirement home for war veterans, museum and monuments. We saw the huge building from outside and did not enter. We kept walking by the river Seine and enjoyed the beauty of Paris. We took some rest in front of the “Assemblee Nationale”. We could see the Egyptian Obelisk from there and headed towards “Place de la Concorde”. The place was nice with the obelisk in the middle of the square and the fountains on both the sides. The obelisk was taken away from the Luxor Temple in Egypt, we have seen the missing portion in Luxor on our visit to Egypt. In a sense the place was magical, we could see the Eiffel tower, the Assembly and the “Arc de Triomph” from the the square.
We took a bus from there to the Opera, but unfortunately there was some trouble at the entrance and the place was flooded by the police. We asked them whether we could go inside but they said it was closed for some reason. We took another bus and returned to the “Palais de Chaillot”. This place is the best for a great view of the Eiffel Tower. The tower looked mighty from that site. We decided to take photos of the illuminated tower from there. But there was plenty of time for that hence we thought it would be better if we could see something else in the mean time. So we walked towards the “Arc de Triomphe”. We knew it was not so far as we had seen the Arc while coming by the bus.
It was a 20 minutes walk from the “Palais de Chaillot” to the “Arc de Triomphe”. We took the subway and reached the ticket counter. There was an elevator for the needy people and we used it for the baby stroller. The top of the Triomph was full of tourists and we had to jostle with the crowed to get a place by the railing. But the view from the top was spectacular. We got the amazing view of Paris along with the Eiffel Tower. It was getting dark and we had to go back to “Palais de Challiot” soon, so we again took the elevator and got down.
We came back to “Palais de Challiot” and took a suitable position for taking pictures among the huge crowed. As the surrounding became darker, the tower become more illuminated. We took many shots of it but none were comparable to what we saw. We had the plan to go to the top of the tower that night, so we started getting down and went to the foot of the tower. That was the longest queue we saw in our life and we waited there for nearly 2 hours. There were different kind of tickets one can buy. One can walk up to the second level and then take the lift to the top level or can take the lift from the ground level to the top. We had our baby with us and of course the stroller, so we took the lift for the entire way up. There are restaurants on the first and second level and no prize for guessing that they are expensive.
We got out from the lift in the first level and saw the view of the city, then changed the lift to the second level and again got out to see the view. We were able to locate the monuments from there and they looked very beautiful in the night. We took the lift to the top level and finally got out to the place we wanted to. From there we took few stairs to the final place and opened our eyes to the city of lights. It was magnificent and spell bounding. We were speechless and forgot to take snaps for some time. We took a round and cherished the view, then started clicking the photos.
We were there for an hour and our hearts denied to get down to the earth but we got down and looked up again at the mighty tower.
15th March, Monday : That was our last day in Paris. We had half of the day to spent in some of the interesting places and then had to catch the flight in the evening. We planned to enjoy the time in beautiful areas of Montmartre. We had to walk a long way to experience the beauty and culture of that place. We had to walk through the winding, narrow, hilly streets. There were small restaurant, cafes, bakeries and other shops all over the streets. We found the steep steps to reach “Sacre Couer” and asked a local person for an option to go up with the baby stroller. He suggested the easy way to reach the Basilica was by the funicular car. We walked little more to find the entrance and bought the tickets to go up but before boarding the car we looked up to the Basilica from the front and it was beautiful. There were also steps to reach to the place and we saw most of the tourists were climbing those steps. We used the funicular car as we had the stroller with us. The sun was shining and the weather was nice to walk a long way comfortably.
“Sacre Couer” is a Roman Catholic church and dedicated to the sacred heart of Jesus. We heard “Sacre Couer” is built of some stone which constantly exudes calcite that helps the basilica to remain white even with weathering and pollution.
The dome of the basilica is open for tourists to see a magnificent panoramic view of the city. We could not do that for shortage of time. There were some musicians playing harp and other instruments, it felt heavenly. After an hour we moved back to the funicular car to get down and took the same way back.
We came to the city and had our lunch. Because of the good weather we liked to walk around and explore the city. After an hours walk we took a bus and reached the Eiffel Tower for a last visit. We stayed there for rest of the time and took the bus back to the hotel. We took our luggage and came to Luxembourg station to take train to the “Charles de Gaulle” airport. We saw the Pantheon from a distance and the Luxembourg garden standing by the gate. It was the time to say good bye to this magical city and we boarded the train.
Though the trip was short and weather was cold but we enjoyed a lot. We know that we had missed a lot of interesting things but truly enjoyed what we saw.