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Paris, France: Where Wine Meets Cheese
by Amrihta Lahoti, India
Imagine this: The metro stops… you get off and take the stairs up to the surface… still wondering if you are at the right station… your friend taps your shoulder… you turn to look at her… eyes poping out and the finger is pointing towards the sky… you look upwards... your heart skips a beat… its just like the movies… a magnificent structure made from iron… standing tall on the banks of river Sine.
If you are still wondering, I am here to take you through the city of romance, lights, couture, art, wine and cheese. Its Paris folks.
Paris is a city where all girls dream to be. It's not hard to say why it attracts people. For some its heritage while for the others it's the glamour. Paris has something to offer to every age group and all kinds of people.
I begin my tour de François by taking the Eurostar from London to Paris. While booking the tickets for the Eurostar, I opted for the package which included Euro Disney tickets, metro & bus pass and a museum pass (advisable only if you like art) along with the return tickets. This turns out to be very cheap and help jump queues at all the tourist places saving valuable time. After a two and half hour train ride, we finally arrived at the Gare du Nord. Lucky for us, it was bright and sunny and considerably warm in the month of March. The hotel was booked in opera district and was walking distance from the station.
As soon as we placed our luggage in the room, we headed out to take a tour of the city. One of the best ways to travel around Paris is by the metro (especially if you don't speak French). We headed straight to Notre Dame. Notre Dame or Our Lady of Paris is a cathedral situated in Eastern Paris. According to me the best part of the cathedral is the entrance gate. Its intricate carvings show all emotions known to mankind depicted by God's angels. The inside of the cathedral is characterized by high ceilings and intricate carvings.
After a few moments of peace we headed across the river to Centre Pompidou. Centre Pompidou is a museum storing modern art mainly from the age of cubism. It is the home to several Picasso paintings like the moon faced wife along with several other artists and my personal favorite the guitar man. Centre Pompidou is situated in Chatelet Les Halles which is one of the major shopping districts in Paris.
A short metro ride away is Jardin de Tulleries or Tulip Garden. It's situated between Louvre and Concorde. It's the place we picked to sit down and have lunch. We got take away but one can also choose to have lunch in the café. Its one of a kind experience to sit and eat in a garden and I would strongly suggest not skipping it.
We then headed to Concorde. It's a obelisk surrounded by 9 statues of the leading ports in France. It's situated at the south end of the Champs Elyees. From here we took a scooter to L' Arc De Triomphe which is situated at the north end of the Champs Elyees. It was built by Napoleon and has all the great wars engraved on it along with the tribute to 553 generals who lost their life at the war.
The moment I was waiting for had arrived. After a short metro ride we got off at Lena. As soon as we climbed up the stairs, there it was - the Eiffel tower. My heart skipped a beat. Without wasting time we lined up to take tickets to the 3rd level. The view from the third level is spectacular. You can see the whole city. Ever wondered why Tom proposed to Katie there? Well all the questions are now answered.
Across the river, you can see beautiful fountains followed by an arc shaped building. It's the Trocedero. The stairs of this building provide the most clear and beautiful view of the Eiffel. We were lucky enough that it was dark by the time we reached here and the Eiffel was brilliantly lit up!
We didn't have enough of Paris yet, so we decided to take a stroll on Champs Elyees before we head to the hotel and prepare for the night tour. The main street of Champs Elyees is crowded with cafes but the street parallel to it is the home to couture in Paris. Right from Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Gucci, Vercase, Givency, Louis Vuitton to Karl Lagerfeld, Valentino, Alexander Mcqueen, Baleciaga, Galliano you name it and they have it.
The night tour of Paris is a must. The entire city is lit up beautifully. There are a lot of options for the tour. It can be booked on the same day in the morning at any hotel. The one we chose was a roofless bus driving around the city followed by Lido. According to me its better to pick according to the weather as it got very chilly and we could not enjoy the ride that very much.
Day 2: was dedicated to Disney. We started early to avoid the rush. Disney is the last stop on the RER / special metro line. It's best to finish the Disney studio 1st as the shows end at 1 pm. If you are done early enough, there are many designer outlets one stop ahead on the RER. It's known as Village Laffayte. It houses brands like Ralf Lauren, Burberry, Jimmy Choo, Diesel, Guess, etc. and prices are cut down to half.
Day 3: or as I called it museum day was one of my most awaited day. We started with Pantheon or the architecture museum followed by two French fashion history museums and finally the Louvre. Along with the museum pass comes a list of museums and their description in English. You can choose your favorite according to your interest.
Day 4: I went back to the Louvre while my friends went shopping. Louvre houses sculptures and paintings from BC to renaissance. It's famous for Leonardo's Mona Lisa. Along with Mona Lisa it houses some of my personal favorites Venice Di Mylo, Victory, Medusa and Leonardo's Last Supper along with his early work. The best way to get around Louvre is to take the audio guided tour. It allows you to move at a comfortable pace while grasping the knowledge and admiring the art and architecture of the palace. Louvre is open till 11 pm unlike other museums.
Day 5: As we had already covered everything on the wish list and had more than half the day in hand, we decided to take a walk around the city. Our path led us to the national academy of music, a place where students learn music. But the interesting part of it was that looking at the building anyone would be inspired. It's a belle piece of art. The city is full of tiny streets and every street leads to a new discovery. So go on get lost and forget yourself in the magic that's Paris.
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