Being Touristy in Paris - Bucket List


Posted by khrishan on 2016-12-04

So at the beginning of September, I tweeted the following tweets :

Those tweets were posted on the 3rd September 2016 and the 6th September 2016 respectively. Ermmmm....... :|

Also the second tweet kind of proves I had the idea of a bucket list way before I actually implemented it on my website. ;)

But nevertheless it is currently the 29th November 2016 - nearly 3 months later. Ah well, better late than never... :P

This blog posts completes a few bucket list items, so for that purpose (and for the fact I am recalling this trip by looking at my photos), I've put a contents where each section will link to a bucket list item.

Enjoy :)

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Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Arc de Triomphe
  3. Mont Marte
  4. Eiffel Tower
  5. The Lourve
  6. Palace of Versaille
  7. Final Thoughts

Introduction

Whilst working at Lilly (on placement), I lived with a someone who was from my university (even though I've never met him on campus), who was half French, half English, living in Paris - but studying in Kent. He proposed the idea of some of us coming over during the holidays before we all went back to University (I was still working but hey ho). We thought this was a great idea and took him up on the offer.

The group of us were the same group as the 'Speed Dating' group, so I'll use the same code names (#leanIn15, Frenchy and #lanky).

Frenchy was already in France, but the rest of us met up in Guildford (this was where #lanky was for Uni) - stayed the night before getting on the Eurostar to Paris.

(Off topic) That night, we had a Wagamamas. The food was notoriously salty, but I had a 'Lucky Buddha' drink. I only bring this up as I loved the bottle it came it (image below). Afterwards, we decided to get some junk food and watch a film called Grimbsy. Absolutely hilarious film and I would totally recommend. It's a weird sense of humour and not for the 'non dirty minded'. Quality Film!

Lucky Buddha Bottle

We left #lanky's house at 3am in order to walk to Guildford train station to get the first train to Waterloo. From there we'd get an Uber to St Pancreas (probably a waste of an Uber but we couldn't afford to be late) - and then the Eurostar.

This was my first time on a Eurostar and the 'check-in' system was like a 'shit airport'. It felt strange going through all this 'airport procedure' just for a train. (but we all understand why we go through this procedure)

We got to Paris for about 10am (9am our time) and met up with Frenchy. He took us on the metro (tube) to where he lived and we got ourselves settled. Paris have some weird (but blunt) safety messages. (see below)

Lucky Buddha Bottle

His house was amazing! It was three stories (One story above and one below) with loads of different rooms that seemed never ending. He also had an outdoor table tennis table (I'm awful at table tennis - end of discussion ;)).

Frenchy knows about my website (and my blog) so if you are reading this, Thank you for inviting us, letting us into your home (that part of the thanks goes to your parents as well), and taking us around Paris being our translator :)

In addition, French bread is incredible! Also, French Almond Croissants are incredible

Now, onto the touristy parts of the trip...

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Arc de Triomphe

By far the best view of Paris there is. What was ever better? it was FREE! (well it was for under 25s and foreign people ;))

We got the metro to central Paris, and we then walked to the Arc de Triomphe. What a beautiful arch it is.

Arc de Triomphe

To get to the top of the Arc de Triomphe, we had to walk up a huge spiral staircase. This then led to a comment from Frenchy when we reached the top saying 'Great thing about those steps, no fat American tourists at the top!' (or to that effect).

Arc de Triomphe Staircase

Then the view at the top was amazing!

Arc de Triomphe View

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Mont Marte

Now, this place isn't/wasn't on my bucket list - to be honest I had no idea what this place was! (I can only apologise).

Mont Marte (in literal terms) is a hill. But it has Roman Catholic church on the top. We went inside and mass was taking place. We walked around whist the congregation sang hymns and were praying.

What was more interesting was what was going on outside.

Mont Marte

All four of us sat down to eat our sandwiches, about half wasy up the hill, and saw what we can only describe as an 'army' of con merchants. There were loads of 'illegal' street merchants that were selling tourists 'junk' essentially but they would just sit there and would try and get you to buy their stuff - just like any market stall owner would.

These guys were drilled. There were about 15 of them and I don't know exactly what they were selling. But it looked like they were selling some cloth that they would wrap around the unsuspecting tourists' hand. If the tourist wasn't interested, the con artists would be 'insistent' and 'forceful'. That would be scary if we were in the tourists' shoes. But the ribbon was a decoy.

When someone was getting ribbon tied to them from one of the con merchants, another one would appear and picpocket them! In broad daylight! Then the unsuspecting tourist would go on their merry way!

(This might be sad enough to admit) But we watched these guys work for a good 45 minutes, they had about 4 wallets, 3 watches and some more stuff as well. We watched them all scatter when the police arrived, where the 'ring leader' would stand higher on the hill and watch the police like a hawk. When the police out of the way, the con merchants would go back to work.

We watched a couple walking down from the church and the ring leader would try and tie the ribbon to the guy. He was having non of it. Then some other con guy would start tying the ribbon on his partner's hand. The original guy was obviously pissed off with his partner, THEN he would be the one who get pick pocketted!

It was like watching art happen, watching these con artists work. This was their living, this was how they were feedign their families. But even still, they were bastards!

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Eiffel Tower

Now this was the big deal for me.

I've always wanted to walk up the stairs of the Eiffel tower, to the very top. I saw it as a huge challenge. It turns out this isn't actually possible. The Eiffel tower is made up of three floors. It is possible to walk up (or down) the first two floors, but to get to the top, you have to take an elevator. This was annoying to me cause I really wanted to climb to the top - but I can understand why not just anyone can climb to the top.

We got near the Eiffel tower and it was still light. I was amazed with how tall the tower actually was. 1063 feet is bloody high! Pictures do not do it justice (but here is one anyway...)

Eiffel Tower Huge

First, we went on a boat tour along the River Seine. It was interesting - but I think it woud have been better if it wasn't freezing outside on the boat.

One of the Eiffel towers features (that I had no idea that happened) was that the whole tower would 'sparkle' at the start of the hour. This is probably why #leanIn15 wanted to see the Eiffer tower in the dark. Good choice :)

We then approached the tower. First thing we noticed was the massive about of security that was there. Frenchy told us that when he was younger, he was sure that anyone could walk under the Eiffel Tower at any point. But with the recent Paris Attacks, and the Eiffer tower being a national treasure, we could see why the increased security was necessary. It was annoying, but we get why it was there.

Now, we were going quite late like 9pm but they closed the stairs to go up the Eiffer tower! I was gutted! The only way up was elevator. In addition, the queue was massive! I will happily go on record and say "If you want a great view of Paris, go to the Arc de Triomphe".

Here is the view of from the top of the Eiffel Tower :

Eiffel Tower View From Top

(In my opinion) Not as good as the Arc de Triomphe, but still an amazing view!

What did make the whole event better was that after we got the elevator from level three to level two - the steps down to the bottom of the tower were open! So we walked down the steps of the Eiffel tower! Now I know that wasn't exactly what I set out to do - but it was still an adventure - still tiring - still fun.

I'm sure I will be back to Paris at some point in the future - so when I get the chance to climb the stairs up to level two - I will do so, but for now - this is more than enough :)

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The Lourve

Frenchy decided we should get the train to Paris today and I saw something I didn't think ever existed. Apparently, these are a very common thing in Europe - but they haven't caught on in the UK. IT'S A DOUBLE DECKER TRAIN! Its nothing to ride home about (excuse the pun), and it was no different than being on a normal train, but I can now say I've been on a double decker train. ;)

Double Decker Train

I'm not a very artsy person. I don't appreciate it as much as I think I should, but the one thing I did notice was thus. Some of these paintings were painted on MASSIVE canvases - like HUGE canvases - how would one paint on a massive canvas? Do they have a ladder? Or did they have the canvas flat on the floor then painted on it?

^ That is as far as my interest for art goes ;)

Here is my picture of the Mona Lisa :

Mona Lisa

Here is also a picture of the statue depicting the original selfie :L

Selfie Statue

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Palace of Versaille

The Palace of Versaille. The palace that Louis XIV built just to show off because his old palace wasn't big enough for his liking. This was an amazing place, and also free! We also got a free audio tour guide that we could listen to as we went around.

Palace of Versaille

The best bit of the whole day was the gardens. THEY WERE HUGE and BEAUTIFUL! Here are pictures :

Palace of Versaille Gardens

Palace of Versaille Gardens

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Final Thoughts

I left on the Friday afternoon and missed my initial Eurostar, well when I say 'missed' I was 25 minutes early BUT they didn't let me on because I wasn't 40 minutes which is what they asked. This lead me to spending €40 to 'upgrade to the next train' - so word of advice - GET TO THE EUROSTAR EARLY!!!

So that was my trip to Paris :) Thanks again to Frenchy and his family for putting up with us. Thanks to #lanky for putting us up in Guildford before the Eurostar. Thanks to #leanIn15 for being #leanIn15 (and for drawing money out for me when in Paris.

Thanks to all those who have read this blog post. Speak to you soon :) x

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