Day 1 of #KateKimEuropa2015
My sister and I arrived in Paris yesterday morning. Paris is cold in October. We booked an Airbnb in the 6th Arrondisement, also known as the St. Germain-des-Pres neighborhood. After settling in, we rested for a few hours, then made our way a few blocks down to a French bistro, to have our first dinner in Paris.
Although it was cold, we thought it would be fun to sit outside to have our meal, in casual Parisian style. We had French onion soup and split a salad. We had some baguette, too, since we were in Paris after all. It was a laid-back Sunday night, and many of the people around us were American students studying in Paris. It seems like they were enjoying the experience; to me, studying abroad is one of the best thing any student can do before graduating.
Day 2 of #KateKimEuropa2015
Even though we were slightly jetlagged, we knew we needed to start the day early since there were so many things to see in such a limited amount of time! We signed up for a walking tour of Paris through Sandeman Tours. It was a good way (both cost- and time-efficient) to see the western part of the city.
We saw a lot of things, from fountains to churches, to parks, to rivers and bridges. We also got to experience riding the Paris metro to Palais de Chaillot, where we’ll get to see the Eiffel Tower!
Getting lost in our journey toward the Eiffel Tower: We didn’t know where to go, and had to go through some trial and error entering the wrong turnstile for the line we needed to take. Between asking our tour guide and train station employees, as well as having our maps around, we arrived at our destination: the grand Eiffel Tower.
It was actually thrilling to get lost for a period of time, because as you are trying to find the right direction, you remember certain train lines and stops which comes in handy later on. You also get to talk to locals such as train operators, passersby, sometimes store owners, all of whom help the city operate the way it does.
The Eiffel Tower is breathtaking. More than a massive structure, it is a symbol of Paris, a beacon seen at a distance in the city centre. It carries so much history, from its creation for the World Expo 1889, to its siege during WWII. On top of the Eiffel Tower, you get to see all of Paris. It is certainly the best viewpoint of Paris: Haussmanian buildings, parks in the French style, the Seine and the many bridges that intersect it, the sprawling palaces.
View from the Eiffel Tower
After we’ve had our fill of the Eiffel Tower, we walked across the street and sat by a park area behind a mechanical carousel for kids. We saw couples sitting on a bench, kids running around, women taking a stroll, men jogging. Some dubious looking set who passed by each other in the streets to shake hands and walk away — it was odd to us that they just encountered each other, made eye contact, shook hands, and went their separate ways. We looked at them, puzzled, since even acquaintances would stop by to chitchat for even a few seconds. One of the guys looked at us suspiciously, and we realized it’s best to leave the area since it’s getting dark.
We had dinner at a Les Cocotte, as suggested by our Eiffel Tower tour guide and local Parisian Violet. It’s owned by Christian Constant, a renowed French chef who has garnered the Michelin star. The restaurant is very small, and can only accommodate a handful of people. We came at the right time and were seated by the door– not the greatest table, but at least we got one! The ambiance is casual, yet modern and sophisticated. Food is pricey, but delicious and top-notch even with its proximity to the Eiffel Tower and its tourist traps. Perfect for a dinner with friends, family or even for date night.
Here are some of the sights we saw in our walking tour, which is a typical tour for first time Paris travelers:
- Fontaine St. Michel
- Notre Dame
- Palais Justice
- River Seine
- Pont Neuf
- Academie Francaise
- Axe Historique
- Henry IV Statue