I arrived in Paris the 2nd of November, just before noon. After I ditched my backpack in one of the lockers in the North Station, I decided my first stop would be Montmartre. A quick look on the map gave me a sense of where to go. I love the feeling I first get whenever I’m in a new place. You feel strange, a bit lost, but you just know you are somewhere different, slowly blending into the atmosphere.
My sense of direction turned out to be quite right, soon the many stairs towards the Sacre-Coeur started to appear. An overview of the city is the perfect way to start, and to eat my lunch while taking it in. I remembered coming here seven years ago on my schooltrip. It was way busier back then! I also recalled most of us posing for one of the many artists that could be found in Montmartre, and decided to go back to that place. I found it rather easily and strolled around a bit before making my way back to Sacre-Coeur.
Back to the stairs, this time going down, I strolled around many busy and less busy streets. My end goal was to get to Père Lachaise, the famous cemetary. Which, in my head, wasn’t far at all. Turned out I might have been a bit wrong about that. But that’s ok, no better way to explore then by foot. On my way I passed along Place the la République. A place that got mentioned in the news quite a lot after the attacks. ‘Marianne’ is located centrally on the square. She is surrounded by the personification of ‘liberté, égalité and fraternité’. You can tell that the square has a symbolic meaning to the citizens of Paris and France.
A bit later then expected I reached Père Lachaise. I immediately noticed that the cemetery is rather very big. Strolling around I kinda felt like I ended up in a movie scene… a vampire might have just shown up. I don’t know how the cemetery would appear in any other season, but the many leaves that fell down on the ground gave it an extra touch.
I ended my day by getting a bit lost. I was in search for La petite ceinture, but unfortunately I didn’t find it. I went back to the train station to get my backpack and walked towards the hostel. I didn’t really have a plan for upcoming days. A lot would depend on the weather and my mood. In the evening I saw the next day would be a sunny day, so I decided to go to Versailles.
The Castle of Versailles wasn’t that difficult to find. First impression: WOW. We’ve learned so many times about Versailles and Louis XIV and his rather fancy lifestyle, yet I was still amazed by its size and grandeur. I was so happy to find out that first of all, entrance for me to the Castle was free, and second, the gardens are also free off-season. At first I just located myself in front of the castle to take it all in. The interior turned out to be even more overwhelming. Gold…everywhere. The ceilings were absolutely stunning. Many Roman mythological aspects could be found back in the paintings that covered the ceiling. This shouldn’t surprise, considering Louis XIV liked to compare himself with Apollo. He is after all ‘Le roi soleil. ‘
I kinda get why the gardens were open to the public, for free. Statues were covered, to prevent damage, fountains were turned off…so I got another impression of it. I still liked it though, the further I walked away from the Castle, the more I found myself being alone. I saw the Apollo fountain, and Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette’s estate. Around Petit Trianon I was surprised to wander around in English gardens. It was a quiet place. I just sat here for an hour enjoying the autumn sun.
Going back to Paris I saw the train made a stop close to the Eiffel Tower. I got of there. I walked along the Seine, towards the tower, and then moved on to Trocadéro to get a better view of it, and a picture millions of people have. Instead of going to the top of the Eiffel Tower, I walked towards Arc de Triomphe, to get my daily sports over there. I was offered a beautiful view over the city, and at least from here you can see the Eiffel Tower.
The next morning it was pouring rain. Museums it is. I started in the Louvre. I knew in advance I had to make a selection, starting with the touristic things, hoping it wouldn’t be too crowded in the morning. Mona Lisa, Liberté guidant le Peuple, Le radeau de la Méduse… check! So far the plan, I found myself strolling around in whatever room I ended up. Egyptian art, roman art.. After a couple of hours I decided it has been enough. It’s impossible to see the entire museum.
After lunch I went to Musée d’Orsay. I’ve already been here with college, I liked it so much I wanted to come back here. I made a small detour first along Jardin des Tuilleries and Place de la Concorde.
I really like the impressionistic works displayed here. Also the building, a former train station is beautiful.
The weather was still kinda very bad, so I quickly moved on to visiting Notre Dame. I already explained before but, I love the architecture!
After checking out on my final day, I decided to do one more visit from my free in Paris list. I’ve never been to the Panthéon so.. let’s go there. It was a pretty building and interesting to know more about it’s history. The building had different meanings and functions. At times it was a church. Which stand in contrast with Foucault’s Pendulum. May famous people are buried underneath.
Nearby is the cosy Jardin de Luxembourg, which reminds me of Les Misérables, the mandatory reading when I was 15. I think it is mentioned in the book? I don’t recall but I always link that place to the story. I found this park really great! It was so cosy; you could see children playing with their boats in the pond. They put chairs all over for you to sit. A place where people get together.
I was getting cold, so decided to warm up in Galleries Lafayette…which is totally not for people with my budget. I finished my stay by making a walk along Canal Saint Martin. A walk I would recommend! Again, it’s very cosy here, not too many tourists, perfect way to say goodbye to Paris (for now). Au revoir 🙂
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