This vacation was less about Paris and more about getting to Africa, but we were going to take advantage of our one-day layover by doing the fastest one-day tour of Paris in Parisian history. Our flight was a red-eye that left at 7ish at night Boston time and arrived at 6ish in the morning Paris time. I didn’t sleep a wink on the flight, but instead watched the Hunger Games on my little plane tv while everyone else slept around me. It could have been worse.
We dropped all of our things at our day room at the hotel. I changed into a summery dress (because you have to look cute for Paris pictures) and we were off. We took a 30-minute train into the city, passing little French villages on the way. Suddenly we stopped, we climbed out of the tunnel, and before I could realize it, I was standing in front of Notre Dame along the River Seine with the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Hello, Europe!
We started our Parisian day with a croissant and a cappuccino and a peek inside Notre Dame. As we walked through, an echoey chorus started singing “Amazing Grace” in French. I’m not kidding. It was that perfect.
We then trekked about three miles to see the Eiffel Tower. We were convinced it wasn’t that far away. Oh but it was. I didn’t mind the walk though, I was enjoying the sights along the river and the advertisements on pedestals and the little newsstands. I was basically living the Parisian dream that was created by my many years of watching tv and movies.
We finally got to the Eiffel Tower and took so many pictures. We would have gone up, but the line was approximately three hours long to do so. Kids, don’t go to Paris during tourist season. It was nice to see it up close though. And from afar. And from that balcony where Hitler’s picture was taken in front of it. We went there too.
We stopped for lunch at a restaurant with a name we made fun of… I’m pretty sure it was dirty somehow. I ate a really good pizza (clearly I wasn’t feeling too adventurous) and I remember Uncle Roger got a rare burger that was completely raw in the middle. Paris cuisine, everyone!
Our next stop was the Arc de Triomphe. This one didn’t have a long line, so we decided to go up. It had so many stairs! It was like hiking a mountain! But we finally made it to the top and saw a beautiful 360 degree view of the city, with the Eiffel Tower in the background. That’s why going up the Arc de Triomphe is better than going up the Eiffel Tower: When you’re on the Eiffel Tower, you can’t see it!
From our hike up the Arc de Triomphe, we began our hike to the Louvre. This was another long walk, but we got to make the trek along the Champs-Elysees: the Rodeo Drive of Paris. Then again…..I think Rodeo Drive is really the Champs-Elysees of America… What stuck out to me was the amount of car dealerships along this shopping street. I expected Prada, Burberry, and Chanel. I didn’t expect Peugeot, BMW, and Citroen. It started raining on this walk, but it was refreshing after such a long day of walking.
We made it to the Louvre, and since we were so exhausted, we really only had one goal: to see the Mona Lisa. Apparently it was the goal of many, because of the amount of signs that pointed us in her direction. “Mona Lisa, this way!” “Mona Lisa, up these stairs!” “Mona Lisa, on the other side of this labyrinth!” And it felt that way. Every time we turned a corner, we expected to see the painting, lit by the chorus of a thousand angels. But we kept walking through hallway after hallway, following the rest of the heard that was desperate to see the 1 foot by 2 foot painting of a lady with a weird smile.
Finally we made it into a crowded, well lit room. There she was, alone upon a wall, surrounded by tourists and flashes. Despite the painting’s small size, it was somehow captivating. Her eyes seemed to follow you as you moved around the room. It was creepy yet cool.
We made our way out of the Louvre and back onto the train. We had seen and done Paris in 8 hours. And then I fell asleep on the train. The end.