Paris in a Day (Crazy!)

Now on my way to Amsterdam and have time on the train to publish an update and to reflect on my trip to Paris yesterday and share some thoughts and pictures. I took a lot of pictures!

The purpose of this one-day journey was to become acquainted with Paris and get a feel for the general layout and perspective of what I’d like to do when there for a longer visit. The night before (excited!) I didn’t get more than a couple of hours of sleep. Was up at 4:30 a.m. to get the 9:05 train.

When I arrived at the station (Brussel’s Midi Station) was able to find my train and board without a problem. (Update: I found out that if you download the train company’s app on your phone, you can load your ticket on the app and they will accept that ticket instead of a paper copy.)  Since I was on a high-speed train, was able to get to Paris in a little over an hour. Along the way, I enjoyed watching the French countryside as we sped by – which reminded me a lot of the Willamette Valley, with fewer hills.

We arrived in Paris a little after 10:00 a.m. at the Paris Nord Station (or the Gare du Nord, “North Station”) which left plenty of time to check out Paris. And what a day it was!  Weather: Sunshine with only a few clouds and 70 degrees.

From my limited planning the night before, I saw that Notre Dame was kind of on the way to the Eiffel Tower, so I typed in: “Walking Directions to Notre Dame” into my phone (my usual modus operandi when I need to find directions to something). It was a good 45 minute walk and along the way I was able to see and experience some different neighborhoods. Interesting styles following a similar theme.

Paris Street 2

Paris Street 3

Paris Street 1

When I got to Notre Dame I saw the long lines of people waiting to enter the cathedral, so I took a few pictures and moved on. I saw Notre Dame again later in the day, but I’l add those pictures later in this post.

NotreDame of Paris 2

It was another 40 minutes to the Eiffel Tower and about half-way there I realized I needed to find a WC. Conveniently, Paris has added many of the public (automatic) rest rooms along some of the public streets – so I decided to give one a try. After fumbling with the door, some people came over to offer assistance. We laughed and they helped me open the door and secure it.

The Eiffel Tower seems to attract your attention. You can’t help but stare at it. (Or is it just me?) I took several pictures from a few angles, including one of just the feet at the base of the tower. Security was tight and you couldn’t stand under the base or go up the tower without a security check – and the lines were very long. I had investigated the night before getting tickets to ride the elevator, but the first available tickets were for 23 August!

Eiffle Tower 3  Eiffel Tower Eiffel Tower 2

I decided to get some lunch, so after I walked around the tower, I found a stand that sold crepes.  I ordered one with fromage and poulet (cheese and chicken) and shared it with some birds who ate with me along the Seine. While sitting there I saw that there were boat tours on the Seine so that’s where I headed next.

Generally, I don’t like formal tours and would rather self-discover. This boat tour seemed a good way to relax and let someone else do the driving so I could cover more ground – given I was in Paris for only one day.  The boat was about half full, maybe less, and I had room to spread out. The recorded narrative (in French, Spanish and English) only played every 5 minutes so we had some quiet in between and wave at the people who looked at use from each of the bridges we went under. The cruise was only an hour which was just long enough. This is where I saw Notre Dame again, but from a different angle.

Boat Tour 2

Boat Tour 3

Buildings Along the Seine

Buildings Along the Seine 1

Buildings Along the Seine

It was now time for some ice cream. While I was enjoying the ice cream (two scoops – one of chocolate and the other tiramisu) and walked around the other side of the tower and decided to go see the Arc de Triomphe – another 50 minutes away. Before I left the tower, I wanted to get a picture of its feet.

Base of Eiffel Tower Feet of Eiffel Tower

Have really enjoyed walking through the various neighborhoods. I haven’t checked how many steps I walked, but I’ll report later the final tally of steps for the day.

The arch is about the size I expected and its proportions to itself and to the surroundings, I think, really make it special. As I walked around the huge traffic circle that surrounds the arch, I wasn’t quite sure how to get to it. There were no traffic signals and just before I thought about making a run for it, I saw that there was an underground passage. I took several pictures from underneath since I hadn’t seen the dedications and the art before. Could have gone to the top, but the lines for tickets and then for the elevator were too long.

Arc de Triomphe 1 Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe 2 Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe 3 Arc de Triomphe

Under the Arc De Triomphe 1 Arc de Triomphe (Interior)

Under the Arc De Triomphe 2  Arc de Triomphe (Interior)

Under the Arc De Triomphe 3 Arc de Triomphe (Interior)

I had an idea to have coffee at an outdoor cafe on the Champs Elysees. Thought that would be what a French person would do after visiting the Arc de Triomphe. Also I think there was an episode of I Love Lucy where Ricky and Lucy along with Fred and Ethel had a scene when they visited France.  (But I digress…)

Coffee at Cafe' by Arc De Triomphe on Champs Elysees Coffee on Champs Elysees

So I had my coffee and watch the people on the Champs Elysees. Lots of shopping on that street – think it is like Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. A beautiful street.

Champs-Elysees Champs Elysees

From there I wanted to walk around the Louvre museum site. I saw it from the tour boat, but was in for a treat when I actually walked the grounds. The grand scale of the place – just had no idea. For today, I was happy to walk around and soak up the vastness and beauty of the place.

Louvre Museum 1 Louvre

Louvre Museum 2 Louvre

Louvre Museum 5 Louvre

Louvre Museum 3 Louvre

It was time to start heading back to Brussels and the train station was a good 45 minutes away. When I got there, I realized that I purchased the wrong ticket for the return trip so had to buy another – on the spot otherwise I’d had to wait for another train. I decided to take my time and just relax at a local street cafe, and have a beer, until the next train arrived. I happened sit next to a corporate professional recruiter and we talked about the world of recruiting and what it was like for her. Good chat. Her English was fairly good, was from Orlean and we talked about Paris and, of course, the U.S. elections.

Interesting Building Near Gare du Nord Random building found on walk back

I got back to Brussels at around 9:00 p.m. at Midi train station. I checked to see how much I walked and was surprised (but not really too surprised) that I walked nearly 34,000 steps – or about 17 miles. That is why my feet were tired! Fortunately, I was able to catch a metro train to a stop near my flat and was walking in the door a little after 9:30.

Felt good to get as much accomplished that I did. Very satisfied! Great way to finish the day.


5 thoughts on “Paris in a Day (Crazy!)”

  1. Not sure when I’ll be in Paris again. Probably not until next year – maybe in Spring. Fun to share and please keep sending along your ideas.

  2. You did absolutely all the iconic things I would have done with a day in Paris, including coffee on the Champs Elysees…thank you! I enjoy travelling the world via your eyes.

    1. I’m headed to Berlin tomorrow. Let me know if you have any sites in Berlin you’d like me to visit. If I can, I’ll post on the blog.

  3. Berlin, though interesting I’m certain, does not have quite the same draw Paris does as far as iconic sites. You seem to do very well on your own direction so I’ll just come along for the ride…thanks for sharing the fun of it!

    1. Wow. The Brandenburg Gate was something! I will go back to see again before I leave Berlin. Remembering the dark times after WWII and now Berlin is blooming – quiet a change. Though the memories…

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