My Summer’ish European Experience – Paris

By Liso Donaldson    31-May-2013 16:03 UTC+02:00

Go, see, write: Paris

[and] I don’t believe that anybody feels the way I do about you now…. [I said] maybe you’re gonna be the one that saves me and after all you’re my wonderwall – Oasis. “Wonderwall” describes “an imaginary friend who’s gonna come and save you from yourself”- according to the band’s guitarist and main songwriter, Noel Gallagher.

Paris is my wonderwall. It saved me from my dull and dreary life which is why I have decided to dedicate this entire post to my day spent in the city of Love. Kanye West and Jay Z would agree with my executive decision.

Our day began with a 08:30am breakfast of croissants of course and lots of coffee followed by a 9am departure for our full day in the city. We had 3 drop offs- the 1st was at the Musee D’Orsay (where we would get collected from at the end of the day), the 2nd(where I got off) was at the Arc de Triomphe and 3rd for those who didn’t go up the night before was the drop at the Eiffel Tower.

I decided to get off at the Arc de Triomphe for two reasons. No.1. it’s the Arc de Triomphe and No.2. the friends that I had made from the first night in London were also getting off there. The first rule of Contiki is that there are no rules, it’s like fight club.The second rule is very simple and if remembered will fend off all would be awkward situations for the duration of your tour: Be first, Be fast, Be with somebody! Thankfully I’m a quick learner and that is how I found myself with my group of 7 Australians,1 Canadian and me at Paris’ s second most recognised monument.

The Arc de Triomphe in all its’ glory stands at the western end of the Champs-Élyséés. Besides being a famous French monument,the Arc is also home to the largest busiest traffic circle/roundabout in the world, with a 12 car lane way.It was built in 1806 to honor those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars with the names of all the French victories and generals inscribed in its inner and outer surfaces.To access the top you will be welcomed by a spiral staircase of death, home to 284 steps. For the Disabled visitors,or those with prams, there is an elevator although only to the mid level thereafter there are 46 stairs to the top. Since I had no pram it was all 292 steps for this desperately unfit body, but the panoramic views of the whole of France were breathtaking, no pun intended.

After the Arc de Triomphe visit we made a leisurely stroll down the 1.91 km Champs-Élyséés. With its cinemas, cafes, luxury speciality shops and clipped horse–chestnut trees, the Champs-Élyséés is arguably the most famous street and one of the most expensive strips of real estate in the world.

We then stopped for a must have Kodak moment at the Pont des Arts which is a pedestrian bridge that crosses the Seine River. Over the years the bridge has become known as the lock bridge due to tourist couples attaching padlocks with their names written or engraved on it to the railing or the gate on the side of the bridge and then throwing the key.

Next was The Muséé du Louvre (The Louvre museum) which is one of the world’s largest and most recognizable museums, made even more famous thanks to the book and 2006 film, The Da Vinci code and because it is home to the Mona Lisa.The Mona Lisa is the Louvre’s most popular attraction and is shielded by bulletproof glass. Of course it would be my luck that by the time I found the Mona Lisa my camera battery had died I did however manage to get one picture with my trusty Blackberry.

With just 1 hour left we decided to try our luck at the Notre Dame Cathedral line. Notre Dame is a historic Roman Catholic cathedral and is among the largest and most well known churches in the world, think The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Unfortunately we weren’t able to go in as the lines wrapped well around the building.

That night to celebrate our last night in Paris we enjoyed a 3 course Tuscan dinner in the district of Montmartre which is primarily known for the white domed Basilica of the Sacré Coeur on its summit.

After dinner was an authentic cabaret experience at the Moulin Rouge (top-less can can girls and all). The Moulin Rouge is best known as the birth place of the can can dance. The house was co-founded by Charles Zidler and Joseph Oller in 1889 and is marked by a red windmill on its roof.

That, ladies and gentlemen, wraps up my day in Paris. Lastly in the words of The Lumineers, my true feelings on Paris: “I belong with you, you belong with me, you’re my sweetheart. ”

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