May 2014 - All photos at the end of the post.
When I arrived in Paris you couldn’t wipe the grin off my face. Leaving the airport I took the metro line to Gare du Nord (Gare = train station), which was just a couple blocks from my hostel: Smart Place Paris. Since I was too early to check-in, I was able to leave my bags with them and then head out into the city to explore.
First, after stopping at a café for an omelet and a latte for brunch, I decided to explore the Montmartre area and visit Sacre Coeur since it wasn’t too far away from my hostel. I just started walking in the correct direction and loved meandering through the streets.
Sacre Coeur is a Roman Catholic church built on the top of a very high hill in Paris. It’s quite a climb up there, but they also have an elevator near the church if needed. At this point I hadn’t been anywhere touristy so I was shocked at how many people were up there!
We were able to walk around the church (for free!) and there were areas where you could donate and light a candle (which I did), or buy souvenirs.
After leaving Sacre Coeur, I walked through the more touristy area of Montmarte. It was filled with tourists, stands selling things and SO MANY men walking around with pencil and paper offering to draw your portrait. Haha it was quite a struggle to keep saying no over and over again and trying to walk away!
After going through Montmarte I decided to head back down off the hill and take a look at the Moulin Rouge while also stopping at a Starbucks for an ice coffee (remember I’d been up over 24 hours at this point…), some internet, and to rest my feet.
Can we please note that 1) it was a struggle to get an iced coffee (not a normal drink in Europe) and 2) a Venti in Europe is much smaller than a Venti in the US… and more expensive.
Next up I decided to start walking towards the Seine, which is the river that runs through the middle of Paris and where many tourist destinations are located. I just walked in that direction and luckily passed a lot of cool buildings until I reached the Jardin de Tuileries.
Here I saw a carousel which I just had to ride… I mean come on, it was my first day in Paris! Unfortunately the man running the ride made the whole thing a little uncomfortable by flirting with me and waving at me every time I passed him… Awkward.
At this point I was exhausted, so I grabbed the metro and headed back to my hostel for a quick nap. After my nap I headed back out for dinner at a café and then walked along the Canal Saint-Martin. This was probably one of my favorite moments of the trip. It had been an absolutely gorgeous day and the canal was lined with people my age, all hanging out with friends, drinking and eating. It had such a great energy and I walked up and down the canal then sat for a while to take it all in.