Europe tour day 13: Paris, France

Paris, finallement!

Ever since I was in second year high school (which was roughly 13 years prior to my Europe trip), I’ve wanted to go to Paris to see the Eiffel Tower. Paris, to me, meant romance and walking on cobblestones at night, of muted lights and holding hands with the one you loved. It signified a rich culture, intricate details, and amazing architecture. It signified a certain dreaminess as you go about your day-to-day life.

I know people keep saying Paris isn’t like that…but for me, it was. Or maybe it was just the way I viewed it, despite all the mishaps that happened on our trip. After all, the amount of pleasure you derive in your experiences also depends on the way you view things, right?

And after 13 years of dreaming/wishing/hoping for it, I finally achieved it!

Kinda lost in translation
Kinda lost in translation at Gare de Lyon

We bought a different ticket going to Paris from Geneva because we couldn’t make a reservation (all train tickets to Paris need a reserved seat) and will pay roughly the same amount as a new ticket. And we would need to make the reservation on the same day prior to departure, and I was afraid we wouldn’t get a seat.

We took the TGV Lyria to the Paris Gare de Lyon, and after disembarking, we promptly got…lost.

By this time, my sister and I had gotten pretty good with figuring out the train system per city we went to, but Paris just overwhelmed us. There were so many floors and so many people, and everyone was speaking French. We were trying to find the store to buy the Paris City Pass, and I spent a good hour trying to find it, which I did, eventually, thru the help of Gare de Lyon’s free wifi, because the French people I asked couldn’t understand me, and I couldn’t make them understand me too. It was a pretty tense hour.

When I finally found the store, the lady only spoke French so I spoke French slowly. By some miracle, she understood that I was trying to buy the city pass and she seemed to appreciate that I was trying to speak French and she became so nice to me and was so kind, and I left the store with everything I needed. Whew.

The next step was trying to buy the train ticket to travel from Gare de Lyon to the train station near our accommodations. Thankfully, a French woman who just used a ticket kiosk saw that I was confused and helped pick out my ticket after asking where I’m going.

We followed our host’s instructions, got off the appropriate train stop, and with the help of my map, I found the right street. However, we arrived at 5pm and our host wasn’t there yet so we just waited by the street and took in our first taste of everyday life in Paris.

Walk on cobblestones -- check!
Walk on cobblestones — check!

Our apartment was cozy but super tiny, but for the price, I wasn’t going to complain. We were living with French locals, and there were cafes and stores right in the street, and we were at the bottom of the stairs leading to the Sacre-Coeur.

One thing I noticed about Parisians (and because I asked a lot of people and they kept recommending to take the train) is that they’re not very familiar with their buses. Apparently, there was a bus stop right outside the street but our own host didn’t know about it. I had to figure out how to ride it with the help of a lot of research and figuring out how to transfer from one bus to another. I get why they use the train, it’s much more straightforward without the app, but we didn’t have to walk as far when we used the bus.

I highly recommend for all tourists without a tour group!
Timesaver secret!

One of the things I highly recommend for DIY tourists like us is the Paris City Pass. It gave us unlimited train and bus access within the city of Paris as well as skip-the-line privileges, for which I was so thankful for when we visited the Louvre Museum. It also gave us access to so many museums of our choice, and we were able to avail of other freebies that came with it. Since we were going to be in Paris for 3 days but only touring the city for 2 days (the first day being the day we arrived), I only got the 2-day city pass, but without the Eiffel Tower access because with that pass, we would only be able to go up to the second floor of the Tower and not the topmost floor. Sadly, when I tried to pre-book tickets to the Eiffel Tower, all passes were sold out and I was advised to just take a chance and line up outside the Tower, which, according to all the blogs I’ve read, would take hours.

We chose the Paris City Pass because it was cheaper than Paris Visite. Plus, we loved that even though the train/bus (valid only within zones 1-3) and museum pass was only valid for two consecutive days, we were allowed to take the hop on-hop off bus and Seine River cruise pass on our 3rd day.

But oh well, we just slept and trusted that we’re going to have fun. 🙂

Read about my Eurotrip!

Rome day 1-2
Rome day 3
Florence days 4-5
Pisa day 5
Venice day 6
Austria day 7
Munich days 8-9
Zürich days 10-11
Geneva day 12
Paris day 14 – Louvre Museum
Paris day 14 – Seine River Cruise

Other links you might find helpful:

Getting ready for Europe  |  Preparing your Schengen visa requirements  |  Booking your hotel and plane fare  |  Filling out the Schengen visa form  |  How to apply to the Italian embassy thru Via  |  Cross-country train travel in Europe



One Reply to “Europe tour day 13: Paris, France”

  1. […] days 4-5 Pisa day 5 Venice day 6 Austria day 7 Munich days 8-9 Zürich days 10-11 Geneva day 12 Paris day 13 Paris day 14 – Touring the Louvre Paris day 14 – Seine River Cruise Paris day 14 […]

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