backpacking, chasingkm, Europe, paris, Travel

Eurotrip Part One – Paris

Paris, the city of romance, artists, inspiration and the setting to many a romantic movie. Is it all it’s cracked up to be? The answer is an emphatic yes, and no and maybe. It just depends…

We are finally on the adventure of our life time (up ’till now)! After resigning from our jobs teaching English in South Korea in February, we are traveling through Europe, visiting France, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, Czech Republic, Poland and Austria. We spent almost a year planning our two month trip to Europe which eventually evolved into a ten to twelve month journey that will see us crisscrossing Europe, hopping on over to Ireland and then onto the USA for a few months. South and/or Central America may also make its way (hopefully) onto our itinerary.

The way we have planned our travel is a combination of hostels, couchsurfing, workaway and friends. This means we get to experience regular life and meet locals in the places we visit as opposed to just being main stream tourists. It also means we can stretch our budget further and travel for longer! We’ve already met lots of people from all over, in Korea and along the way and always appreciate the tips, suggestions and insider information we get. As a result of this we are often adding new places and activities onto our list.

If it’s incredible architecture steeped in history, more museums than you can swing a stick at and just the sheer awe of walking down roads and alleys and avenues whilst craning your neck in every direction so you can look at all the beautiful buildings then Paris is the place for you. If you think you’re going to walk onto a movie set and it’s going to be moonshine and roses all the way, Paris can also be the place for you. It all depends on you.

It’s a real city, people live here. They deal with everyday life and strife and they have to put up with tourists. Some of them seem rude, some intimidating and some areas seem downright dodgy. The big tourist attractions are just that as well, they get busy, you have to deal with crowds. They also add up quite quickly if you want to go inside and up everything. Choose a few you absolutely can’t miss and just enjoy the others from a distance. If the weather is good and you’re physically capable, go for walks, have picnic lunches, enjoy the outdoors. There are parks all over and most of them have nice benches where you can sit and have a break and just people watch while chewing on your baguette. Most of the parks even have free Wi-Fi! If you were wondering about the baguettes, they are good, and available everywhere. They make a very easy and cheap lunch if you combine them with some ham and cheese from a small grocer, even a bottle of wine or some beers if you fancy. No need to feel embarrassed either as everybody does this. If you want to splurge there are loads of small cafes and restaurants everywhere that have lunch and dinner specials but this just wasn’t in our budget.
Here’s a brief breakdown of what we did

Day 1

We only arrived at our hotel at about 8pm after taking the RER from the airport. (Helpful hint – be careful of taking up too much space with your luggage on the AIRPORT TRAIN because some French people may get really mad at you and tell you off loudly in french for 2 minutes while you just stare at them with bright red cheeks.) For dinner we just got some supplies from a convenience store before exhaustion took over. Kayley just about fell asleep in bed with a beer in her hand. I helped her out by finishing it for her.

Day 2

We began our day at the Arc de Triomphe. It makes a great central point to start exploring in all directions. Our route went straight down the Champs Elysees popping into a few stores that we will never be able to afford things from, while heading towards the Luxor obelisk. Along the route there are lots of statues and some palaces to take in as well. The road ends here in a nice park with a pond and some lounger chairs where you can relax and feed the ducks. From here we meandered towards the Eiffel Tower with no intention of going up it. Just to enjoy the sight of it and have a late lunch in the park next to it.

Day 3

Walked from our hotel in the 13th arrondissement, through the Latin quarterto Notre Dame Cathedral. On our way, we passed the Pantheon and the University of Paris. Great area to walk through as it is filled with little shops, delicatessens, cheese shops and cafes and just oozes quaintness. Notre Dame is a must see, also it’s free to go inside, you just have to queue to get your bag checked. This left us the afternoon to go to the Louvre Museum. Word of advice, pick a few halls/displays you are interested in and skip the rest. It will take you weeks to do it all. Also, its tricky to navigate inside as some stairs/lifts are one way only, take a map.

Day 4

Back to Notre Dame so we could climb to the top for some great views of Paris, the Eiffel Tower and of course the gargoyles from up close! It’s 10 euros per person to do this. Also, its 387 narrow, steep, spiral steps to the top. Be prepared, it will leave you breathless. From here we walked to the Pere-Lachaisecemetery, the largest cemetery in Paris. It has the graves of Oscar Wilde, Jim Morrison and Chopin to name a few.

We also moved accommodation to the Montmartre district in the 18th arrondissement to spend a few nights with a Couchsurfing host. He took us on a walk through the neighbourhood. Pointing out all the landmarks like the Moulin Rouge, Sacre-Coeur Basilica, view points for the Eiffel Tower, the square where all the artists gather and interesting shops along the way.

Day 5

We started the day with a trip to Galleries Lafayette, a big department store. The have a viewing deck/ terrace on the top of the building that is free, and offers good views of the city, including the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately it was a bit hazy and bright, but a nice excursion nonetheless. The afternoon was spent in Bois de Bolougne, a huge park with trails, woods and lakes. After walking though some of the numerous forest trails, we found a nice spot near a lake for a picnic and just relaxed. The park was filled with joggers, walkers, runners, families, dogs and ducks! We enjoyed another french lunch of baguettes, pate, cheese and wine, followed by a delightful nap on the grass in the sunshine. We walked back up to Sacre Couer for some festive sundowners to end the evening.

Day 6 and 7

We spent two days just in and around our hostel, St Christopher’s Inn Canal. We needed some time to relax, catch up on photos and blogging and to give our feet a break! It’s a large hostel with a decent breakfast, lots to see in the area and some nice outdoor spaces along the canal. The promenade gets very busy on the weekend. It was nice to have a beer and watch the locals play boules.

Day 8

We headed back to central Paris for some better photos of and with the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe now that we had a better understanding of the layout of the area.

Overall Paris was a great experience. You can get a lot done in just a few days, especially with the central area being easy to walk through. The subways work well and will get you anywhere you need to go, Google Maps will do the rest. We were lucky to be there during the off season and nothing was very busy. Paris is also a great city for runners, lots of outdoor spaces, big sidewalks on most roads, the drivers where quite courteous and there are people running everywhere and at all times of the day. There were also lots of armed guards/army patrolling all over which is a little unnerving but it keeps the beggars and tricksters at a minimum.

You could do Paris in a weekend if you plan carefully and are prepared to spend just a short time at each attraction. 4 days would be more reasonable, pick the day with the worst weather to see the Louvre as it’s all indoors. If you want to head to The Palace of Versailles, you will have to set aside a whole day for it. Do your research on what will appeal to you and what you can skip. Most importantly just enjoy the city – go get lost in the alleyways. Paris has beauty everywhere.

Also, Paris is the only place I’ve seen a homeless person drinking sparkling wine.

Have you been to Paris? What did we miss? What did you enjoy the most? For us it was the buildings, famous or otherwise, the parks and the baguettes.

20 thoughts on “Eurotrip Part One – Paris”

  1. Oh most definitely the cheese and baguettes were my favourite! Such a simple yet romantic lunch when you have it in Paris. We also had a lovely time exploring the architecture and historic sights. Versailles needed a day, but worth the trip if you're interested in that side of history. Paris definitely worth another visit.

  2. Oh wow you guys babe seem so much of Paris in one go! I'm very impressed by your photos and stamina for tourist attractions. We're so glad to hear how much fun you two are having, and seeing your pictures. It's good to know what perspectives and observations like-minded people have about a place before you go yourself an "swing a stick" at all the museums and beautiful sights.

  3. You guys really got around in Paris! Great photos all around but I especially like the Moulin Rouge one. Good eye! I've been meaning to get to Paris for the longest time but somewhere else seems to always take its place when I'm planning vacations. It looks like you guys walked around a lot. Is everything really that close together? I'm looking forward to my own Paris excursion some day soon! I hope!

  4. Great photos! I especially loved the ones around Notre Dame.

    It's been a long time since I've been to Paris, but this brought some memories. Specifically, drinking absinthe under the Eiffel Tower and laying on the grass to watch the sky spin!

    I'd love to go back and do a food tour. When I went there, my friend and I were on an uber-strict budget, so it'd be nice to go with the intention of splurging and eating whatever the heck I want. Because food.

  5. Beautiful photos, you two! I know you're having a blast but we miss you guys! Really glad you are making time to post photos and write about your travels so that we can follow along on your adventure! Stephanie and I have always wanted to tour Paris, so you're just adding fuel to the fire with this kind of stuff.

  6. I love Paris! I visited back in 2011 after I finished my semester abroad in Florence. My sisters visited Italy and we traveled the country and also did France. Paris was a no brainer but I remember feeling a bit intimidated by the experiences some friends had there aka rude french folk haha. However, my experience was far from it. I don't know if it was influenced by the fact that my sisters and I spoke Spanish the entire time and we had a few friendly locals come over to help us with directions when we were totally lost and failing miserably at making sense of our map. We spent 3-4 days and I do wish I would have had longer. I hope I can visit again in the future. I'm glad you guys enjoyed your stay. I'm jealous you had over a week to soak it all up!

  7. Wow, that first shot through the out of focus Eiffel Tower with the blossoms in the foreground is simply stunning! I can't stop looking at it! I've had a long love-hate relationship with Paris/France after two not-so-wonderful trips during my childhood one of which consisted of a scary drunkard harassing my mother and I with my brother who was barely a year old at the time. Anyways, in my more formidable years, I'm trying to muster up a courage to return to a place shrouded in such dark memories for me and ironically this place is one of the most iconic tourist destinations in the world. I feel like if I followed your trip itinerary, I would have a really splendid time so thanks for helping me try to face my fears:)

  8. I was a teenager when I last went to Paris. I saw many attractions, but also missed quite a few. I do want to return, and I think your week long trip sounds about comfortable for my pace. What kind of budget would you recommend taking in Euros? I'd definitely include a visit to Versailles. I had never really considered doing picnics in the parks while on holiday. I have to remember that for next time! Also, I thought it was great that you managed to get pix of yourselves beside the Tour Eiffel with no-one else in the background! It pays to visit in the off season! Nice blog 🙂

  9. Ahhh I'm going to Paris in July for the first time so your post and pictures got me super excited!! Picnics in the park sound like a great idea, and choosing what attractions I want to see in particular to try and save some money. Can't wait to see the iconic Eiffel Tower in real life, thanks for sharing your tips and recommendations.

  10. Paris (Europe as a whole) is still a dream destination so reading through your post is a dreamy experience hahaha. Filipinos need to have a schengen visa so traveling to Europe means maximizing as many countries covered by the visa. That would translate to a day or 2 per country. Yours is a weeklong experience so it's great to see all these amazing photos.

  11. How nice of you to finish her beer, while she is falling asleep, I would have promptly woken up – haha. I'm so happy to see your images from various places at night, because when I visited Paris 2 years ago, I only had about 1.5 in the city and didn't get to see the lit up streets of Monmartre and The Louvre from a higher perspective. I hope you are having a blast!

  12. We hear you on the visa story – We're South African and require a detailed Schengen visa application too! It's possible though, with some organisation! It really has been amazing so far, I encourage you to do it!

  13. Paris was our first week in Europe so we were kind of frugal with our budget as we didn't really have any idea how much it would cost. We ended up spending 40Euros per day, including accommodation, food and transportation. We didn't eat out at restaurants, but rather had our picnic lunches in the park and cooked at our hostel in the evening if it permitted!

  14. Oh no! That sounds awful, I must admit…I got shouted at by a man on the RER from the airport into the city for taking up too much space (I think – i couldnt understand him) and it kind of made me a bit iffy towards paris from the get go! Thanks for the photo compliment! I'm pretty excited about it – I'm still learning and getting into this whole photography thing!

  15. Ah, I also had a rude French man who reprimanded me on the airport train into the city! I just about burst into tears haha!

  16. Because food! HAHA – me too! We were also on a bit of a budget because it was our first week in Europe out of eight, and we needed to exercise caution to see what our actual budget would be!

  17. This stick swinging makes me LOL everytime i read it! Paris was busy and we did a lottttt of walking. We don't have that kind of stamina a few weeks on ahha

Comments are closed.