Due to a train strike and gate changes that happened because of it, the journey from Munich, Germany to Paris, France ended up involving a lot of sprinting from train to train. We didn’t even have seats on the first train to Strasbourg and ended up sitting on the ground/stairs. By the time we arrived in Paris, it was pretty late at night and we needed to find a hostel because we had originally planned to arrive the next day and we couldn’t get into the apartment until then. So we asked someone working at Gare de L’Est where we could find the nearest hostel. He informed us that there was one just a couple blocks away so we made our way there and booked a private room because it was the only room available. Once we got into our room on the top floor, there was a window that swung open vertically so I opened it. The view was exciting and exhilarating for me; I was hanging out the window laughing at how we were in Paris! It just looked so utterly Parisian to me… like nothing I had ever seen before:
The next morning, I snapped a few more pictures of the Parisian view:
First things first, we had to check into our Quincampoix Apartment in the 4th arrondissement so while we had trouble finding it, we found it eventually. The location was great and the apartment was really cute and perfect for us. Then when headed off to the Metro on our way to Notre Dame Cathedral. I had Rick Steves’ Pocket Paris which I really found extremely helpful. In this little book there is a great walking tour that goes from Notre Dame to Pont Neuf while hitting a lot of sights along the way. So we took the Metro to Les Halles (I think) and walked across the Seine. We passed a bakery and the smells enticed us so much we had to go in and buy some bread. So we bought some bread — it was warm, like Kyla specifically specified — and it warmed us up in the chilly weather.
It was pretty surreal seeing Notre Dame. I feel like this was probably the most iconic thing I had seen on the entire trip so I felt sorta starstruck. As we waited in the line to get into Notre Dame, we had our first run-in with gypsies. They were doing that whole clipboard thing where they got you to sign their clipboard and then give them money. I did a pretty fantastic job at ignoring them. There was also an sweet old man feeding pigeons and then making the pigeons land on kids’ heads and shoulders and stuff. It made me smile and laugh so genuinely, especially because he wasn’t asking for money. The square was pretty chaotic overall. The highlight for me — I was pretty stoked — was seeing the bored little gargoyle with his chin in his hands that people say inspired Victor Hugo’s Quasimodo in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. After 30 or 45 minutes of waiting in line (we didn’t get there early or anything so it was our own fault), they let us in. The ceilings were sooo high and the stained glass was stunning, magical, and so intricate. I especially enjoyed the prayer candles that were all over the place because they just made the aurora of the cathedral that much more beautiful:
We walked around the main area of the cathedral, but decided not to climb the towers (because we were lazy) but walked around the perimeter and admired the exterior architecture. The buttresses were a highlight for me. I just had never seen a church like this in the States.
We then crossed over the Seine and walked along the banks. There was a lovely view from the bank across from Notre Dame:
After crossing over to the the left bank, we walked along Quai de Montebello and viewed all the green little stalls selling photographs, paintings, and books, among other things. We then stopped at a beautiful little park called Rene Viviani Square and admired the flowers. The apartments around the park were so cute. This whole area of Paris is just so hard for me to explain in words besides calling it so Parisian. It was exactly what I thought Paris would be.
We continued walking through the Latin Quarter and saw the narrowest house in Paris:
Next, we made our way back to Île de la Cité (Island in the Seine) to Sainte Chapelle which was absolutely gorgeous. I had never heard much about Sainte Chapelle and I walked in and what I saw amazed me. Stained glass lines every angle of the church that is a bit on the cozy side — in the best way. It is definitely a must-see in Paris. Essentially right next to Saint Chapelle is the Concierge which (as far as I know) is best known for being a prison during the French Revolution, among other things. This is where Marie Antoinette was held before she was beheaded. We got to see her cell which was pretty interesting. If you are curious to know more about the Concierge, click here because I really do not know enough of the history behind it but find it very intriguing. Yes, that link will send you to Wikipedia… Forget what teachers say about it, Wikipedia is the best! (If you have more accurate historical references to what the Concierge’s purpose throughout time was, please feel free to comment with what you know or a link!)
Alas, our trip to Paris is not over yet! We still had a couple more days in the City of Light!