Once upon a time, I had a whirlwind romance with Paris. Our romance was a hasty one, and also one with terrible timing. I had only five hours to spend with Paris before I had to return by bus back to my true love Brussels (it’s complicated – read more about Brussels here). Nonetheless, I loved every minute I spent with Paris, from strolling around the Tuileries Garden to enjoying rich Parisian food. While I did have to take a taxi back to the bus station before I was ready to leave, I knew in my heart, I would come back. If you are visiting Paris with little time to spare, I recommend you do some planning before you go. Paris has so much to see it’s impossible to see everything in five hours, let alone a day or two. However, you can take some inspiration from a non-planner like me and see how my whirlwind romance with Paris played out.
I know most people talk about Paris in the springtime, but I think Paris in the fall is where it’s really at. The Palais-Royal and its beautiful gardens were a dream to stroll through during a beautiful fall day. The historic Palais-Royal was finished in 1639 and today it’s a gorgeous palace of arcades and shops with a lovely courtyard with beautiful gardens (how many more adjectives denoting beauty can I fit in this sentence?). Romance was certainly in the air when I strolled through the Palais-Royal, as I saw couples holding hands and even ran into a wedding.
2. Take a picture of the Louvre and tell your friends you visited
The Louvre is one of the most well-renowned museums in the world and is famous for housing works of art like the Mona Lisa. If I had a planning bone in my body I probably would have bought a ticket to the museum in advance. However, I do not and the line to get tickets was way too long. If you’re like me and don’t plan ahead, then just take a picture of the Louvre pyramid. You can prove to your friends that you were in fact at the Louvre. It’s up to you to decide whether you tell your friends if you actually visited or not.
While I had already done my fair share of strolling around beautiful gardens, I ran into the Tuileries Garden, which is located near the Louvre, and it just beckoned me to take another stroll. Tuileries Garden is the oldest park in the city and is considered the Central Park of Paris. On a beautiful day, you can find tons of Parisians strolling around the green space, and couples lying in the grass. It’s a beautiful place to stroll and linger on a beautiful day. The gardens also house beautiful sculptures and museums, including the Mussee de l’Orangerie which is a gallery of impressionist and post-impressionist paintings, including works by Claude Monet.
The Eiffel Tower is the iconic symbol of Paris and it was one sight I knew I couldn’t miss. You can see views of the Eiffel Tower from all over the city – it’s kind of like the moon in that it moves around in surprising ways. However, the closer I got the more excited I was to see this impressive tower. Again my lack of planning meant I didn’t buy a ticket to go appreciate the views from the top of the tower, but I did explore the Eiffel Tower’s bottom parts (that doesn’t sound right). I strolled around the Champ de Mars, the green space in front of the Eiffel Tower, and took pictures of the tower from all angles while also being harassed by street vendors who wanted to sell me selfie sticks. It was a beautiful sight.
Besides not planning and having a penchant for getting lost I am also terrible at picking restaurants when I travel. I once had the worst calzone of my life in Rome and years ago I had the worst waitress at a Chinese restaurant in London who ignored my cries for more water. This time I did prepare and asked for some foodie advice from a glamorous foodie and former Parisian resident with high standards named Michelle. Michelle recommended a café near the Eiffel Tower called Les Cocottes, so named for the little pots they cook their casseroles and other dishes in (I also found out while writing this article that Cocotte used to refer to a fashionable prostitute). Unlike a fashionable prostitute, Les Cocottes did not turn any tricks on me, instead serving up delicious and reasonably priced (especially for my intern budget) French food.
By the time I finished my fine meal with Paris, I had to leave. I couldn’t miss my bus. I admit it was hard to say goodbye to such a beautiful city, especially when I wanted to stay, but I knew one day I would have my second date with Paris.