Finally Setting Eyes on the Eiffel Tower - Springtime in Paris
Updated: Jun 23
After a week of exploring the Emerald Isle with my family, Dustin and I decided to extend our trip so that we could visit Paris and London. Dustin, being the more frugal one of us, tried to reason with me that we had already spent enough money for Ireland but I tend to take more of a YOLO approach with my finances, especially when it comes to seeing the world, and somehow managed to convince him that we NEEDED to see Paris and London. I think the only part of my plea that appealed to his logic was when I told him that it was one less overseas flight he'd have to make in the future. He hates flying long distances because planes are so uncomfortable to sleep on! Plus, it was so cheap to fly to Paris from Dublin compared to flying there from the USA.
So after a fun filled week of exploring medieval castles, driving along jagged coastlines, drinking Guinness in jovial Irish pubs, and making some amazing memories with my family, we parted ways. My family headed back stateside and Dustin and I made our way to the Dublin airport. We chose to book an extremely early flight (and by we I mean me) which meant that we had to wake up at 2:15am to catch our plane, but we wanted to get as much time as we could in Paris that day. We slept most of the flight to Paris and woke up just in time to catch a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower from the airplane window. It was magical finally being able to see it with my own eyes! Although my body wanted to sleep, I had butterflies at the thought of finally being in a place I had wanted to visit for so long and I quickly snapped out of my brain fog!
After collecting our luggage at Charles de Gaulle airport, we took a shuttle to the train station. From there, we bought what they call a "carnet" which is a booklet of 10 tickets for the metro (Paris's underground subway) for about €14. We also purchased a train ticket for €10.60 each that would take us from CDG to the arrondissement where we would be staying. We got off of the commuter train at St. Michel station and then took the metro to Maubert-Mutualite. This was the closest metro station to Hotel Abbatial, where we would be staying.
When we arrived, we tried to check in early, but unfortunately the room was not ready for us yet. The concierge did offer to store our luggage for us until the room was ready though. Seeing how we had gotten up at 2:15am, I hadn't bothered to put on any make up for the flight. The hotel did not have a public restroom for us to use so I had to improvise. Not wanting to look like a sleep deprived ragamuffin in the once in a lifetime photos that we would take during our first day in Paris, I quickly and shamelessly turned the hotel lobby into my powder room and put my make up on and fluffed up my hair, which had gotten all wet from the drizzle. Plenty of people make fun of me for wanting to have make up on, but I prefer to be properly put together when I am out in public.
Anyway, it had really started raining by time we went outside so we stopped at a nearby pharmacy and bought an umbrella. It was just a short walk from there to the Cathedral of Notre Dame so we made that our first stop. The cathedral was very lavish and ornately decorated. It was a gorgeous example of gothic architecture. Since we only had a day and a half in Paris and were so short on time, we chose not to tour the cathedral but rather walk around the outside of it to take in the sights.
After getting our fill of this historic site, we headed to the metro for a short ride to the Arc de Triomphe. As we walked up the stairs from the subway, we realized that we were on the wrong side of the street. We went back down and walked up the other side but all that did was put us on the other side of the wrong side of the road. After several failed attempts to navigate underground, we finally chose the right set of stairs that took us under the busy street and up to the island where the Arc de Triomphe is located. We bought tickets and went to the top to check out the view. After what felt like a hundred million stairs, we finally reached the top. The sweat was worth it though because emerging out of the city to our right was the Eiffel Tower in all its glory. What a dream it was to see this view in person with my own two eyes rather than through a television screen or in a book!
After getting our fill of city sights from the top of the Arc, we decided to find a place for lunch. We found a cute Italian place called Pizza Vesuvio where we ordered the Parma Pizza and some €6 cokes! Did I mention that Paris is really, really expensive?
After lunch we set out to get an up close view of the Eiffel Tower. We had already booked a city tour for the following day that included admission to the Eiffel Tower, but when we arrived and saw how short the line was, we decided to just pay and go up in it right then and there. Our tour only included admission to the second level and we wanted to go all the way to the top so that's exactly what we did! On the first level, there is a gorgeous restaurant and see through floors! It was so high up and very cool to see below our feet as we walked! Up on the top level, there is a macaroon bar so we toasted with champagne and macaroons to celebrate finally making it to the City of Lights. On the very top of the Eiffel Tower, there is an apartment that Gustave Eiffel had built for himself when he designed the tower. This was the main reason that we paid extra to go to the top, so we could see the apartment. What a view it had!
When we got back down to the bottom, we crossed the river so that we could get a different perspective on the Tower for our photos.
We had done a lot of walking that day and had been up since 2:15am so after seeing 3 of the most famous sites in Paris, we decided to call it a night and headed back to our hotel for the evening. On the way back, we walked past a Louie Vuitton store that had a line wrapping around the block. I've never understood the draw to that particular brand or why one would want to blow hundreds and thousands of dollars on accessories so it made me giggle to watch them all drooling over it. I've always preferred to collect experiences over things, but to each his own I guess.
Dustin suggested stopping at a nearby deli to get some wine and snacks for the room so we picked up some cheese and crackers, cookies, and wine before turning in for the night.
The next morning we were supposed to get up early to meet our tour group. When my alarm went off, I rolled over and asked Dustin how much he cared about going since we had already seen almost everything that was included on the tour and he said he didn't care at all. Our sleep deprivation was finally catching up with us and it felt way too good to be sleeping to worry about frantically getting across town. Instead, we avoided the hustle and bustle and slept in for a couple more hours. The tour company was even kind enough to give us a refund for our tour so everything turned out perfectly in the end!
Once we got up and around, we decided to check out the Louvre. Neither of us are huge art buffs but one cannot visit Paris without going to the Louvre, at least to see the Mona Lisa. On the way there, we found a street vendor near the Cathedral of Notre Dame who was serving freshly made crepes and cappuccinos. I had a crepe with strawberries and Nutella that was so delicious that I dream about it now! It might've just been because I was eating it with a front row view of the cathedral while the bells were ringing and it kind of felt like we were in a dream, but that was a seriously memorable crepe!
We walked along the Seine River until we came to the Louvre.
The building itself is an incredible work of art before you even go inside. It was absolutely gorgeous, as were most of the beautiful buildings in Paris. Inside, we first went to see the famous Mona Lisa. I have to say, I was kind of disappointed. The painting itself was very small and encased in a glass box because of how valuable it is, and there was a huge group of tourists just like us, eagerly awaiting their turn to snap a selfie with Miss Mona. It was not at all what I expected for such a world renowned painting. We sped through most of the rest of the museum, eager to explore more of the city, but thoroughly appreciated the incredible works of art while we were there.
Louvre from the Exterior
The Mona Lisa:
Inside the Louvre
We strolled through the Jardin des Tuileries before making our way to the embarkation point at Pont Neuf for a sightseeing river cruise on the Seine.
While we were waiting in line to board, Dustin disappeared for a few minutes and came back with a bottle of wine for us to enjoy during the cruise. He was loosely holding onto our tickets and a gust of wind knocked them out of his hand and nearly into the river! He was luckily able to retrieve them at the last second just before they would've fallen into the river. The tickets were relatively cheap at €12 each so we could've easily replaced them but the ticket booth was about a 20 minute walk away so we would've definitely missed the cruise had the tickets floated away! Thankfully we made it onto the boat and we had a beautiful spring day for the cruise! The sun was shining and the flowers were starting to bloom all around us, enhancing the beauty of the city. We cruised under countless ornately decorated bridges, right past the Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, and many other notable landmarks.
After a perfect hour on the river, we made our way to Luxembourg Gardens. We found a cute little café with outdoor seating in the park called Pavillon de la Fontaine and had dinner there. Nearby there was a pond with a fountain and we sat and watched as children raced their toy sailboats there.
That night, we sat out on the balcony of our hotel and enjoyed a glass of Prosecco, marveling at our short time in Paris, but knowing that one day we would return!