It’s been far too long since my last post, but, surprise, life happens. Recently I just moved and was simultaneously preparing for my CPA exam, which thank goodness I passed the first part. However, I told myself as soon as I finished my exam, I would get back on here, and thus, here I am, blogging about Paris. Cue the corny quote: EIFFEL in LOUVRE with this city.
Paris, France was number 8 on our stint abroad. We left Munich (click to read now) at 3:35 pm and arrived into Paris Orly Airport at 5:10 pm. While I did have some grievance with the airlines Transavia (detailed in my post about Munich), the flight itself was perfectly fine.
Transportation to the City Center
For those that are unaware Paris Orly is a not in the heart of Paris, but in about an hour you’re in Paris. At Paris Orly Airport, in the South Terminal, you can take the tram (located outside) to the metro stop Villujef. The tram ride costs 1 T+ ticket, which can be purchased at the Kiosk outside. At the time the T+ ticket was €1.90 each. Once at the metro stop Villujef, you can transfer for free onto a bus OR you can transfer onto a train for the cost of an additional T+ ticket. We chose the latter and spent the extra €1.90 on an additional ticket each.
PRO TIP #1: When you arrive at the airport, I highly recommend you inquire if there is a lift on public transportation fares prior to purchasing tickets.
When we were in Paris, there was a high level of smog and in an effort to reduce emissions the city declared that cars with certain license plates could drive on certain days, and others on the remaining days. Due to this, they lifted public transportation fares and the trains, trams and buses were free. I wish we had known this PRIOR to buying a stack of tickets – but oh well.
Paris certainly holds true to its stereotype of being expensive. The average cost of a hostel for a night was significantly higher than other cities we stayed in. The only affordable options were well out of the city center, so I opted to find a host on Couchsurfing to assist. We were fortunate in finding a great host in Merez, who graciously hosted James, Eli and me with a short times notice. As it turns out Merez himself had just joined Couchsurfing, and due to his location, he got tons of requests daily and managed to host a lot of people in his short time. Merez’s home was in an ideal location, just five minutes from the famous Arc De Triomphe, and Champs-Elysees. P.S. its pronounced along the lines of “shahn zay-lee-zey” and NOT exactly how it’s written (shout out to Eli for teaching me how to pronounce this). While at Merez’s home, he introduced James to a beer known as Grimbergen Blonde. According to James, it’s great, and now one of his go-tos.
Arc De Triomphe
Considering our host’s proximity to the Arc de Triomphe it was only natural that we checked it out the night we arrived and have a stroll down the Champs-Elysses. I was surprised by how close you can get to the arc, and never realized until that point how central it was in the road and traffic.
The following morning we visited the Arc de Triomphe again to see it in the daylight. Again, I was amazed by the level of traffic that surrounds the Arc. I truly have no idea how travel bloggers manage to get a photo with no cars in it – they must be doing some serious editing.
On our first night, walking through Champs-Elysses was fun – until I realized as we window shopped that I couldn’t afford a single thing. Even with the VAT options in France – I was still very much a broke college student. How my heart ached to bring a Louis home with me, but I just couldn’t justify the price. With it being Christmas, it was quite nice to see all the lights strewn down the street.
After our visit at the Arc de Triomphe, we made our way to the Eiffel Tower.
The Arc de Triomphe is a little bit out of the central area so it took us thirty minutes to walk from the Arc to the Eiffel Tower. I wanted to get to the Eiffel Tower early so we could be amongst the first in line to climb it. It costs €7 (adults), €5 (18-24 years),€3 (4-11 years). Mind you that’s 704 stairs and it only gets you to the second floor. All in all, it’s 1665 steps. If 704 steps don’t sound like your cup of tea, you can pay €11 (adults), €8.50 (18-24 years), or €4 (4-11years) to take you to the second floor.
Now if you’d like to go all the way to the top, you must pay an additional ticket of €5 for the lift to the top OR you could have opted for ticket option where you can take the lift from the ground all the way to the top at €17 (adults), €14.50 (18-24 years), €8.50 (4-11 years).
Whichever route you choose the view is still quite stunning and if you opt to only go as high as the second floor like we did – you’re still pretty high up. I can’t imagine the view changes drastically from the first floor – honestly, it’s probably a little harder to see everything down below from the very top. The view is still spectacular.
If you choose to climb, like we did, there are fun facts posted along the stairwells, and a nice little counter on the stairs to help you keep track. I learned a lot of cool things about La Tour de M. Eiffel while walking up the stairs, however, sadly I don’t remember any of it.
I must say, I did feel quite embarrassed huffing and puffing up the stairs, while little tots were running past me up the stairs. I blame it on the heavy winter jacket I was wearing, but then again I guess they were wearing them too, so that excuse is gone. Let’s just go with the fact that they were younger and in better shape that I was… However, I am always eternally grateful for James in moments like this, because he is a dear and graciously pulls my dead weight up the stairs.
Fun fact, in winter, there’s an ice skating ring in the Eiffel Tower! Forget Rockefeller Center, how cool would it be to ice skate there!
PRO TIP #2: There is a bathroom on the stairs so if you need to use the potty – you can!
You should definitely get a smooch on the Eiffel Tower, because why not?! There are convenient little spots to kiss on the tower as well that make for a nice photo!
Did you really go to Paris if you didn’t have a picnic on the lawn in front of The Eiffel Tower with a French Baguette? Yes, yes you did – because we certainly didn’t get an opportunity to do so 🙁 The lawn was fenced off for maintenance, and was surrounded by the Christmas Market. We still made sure to grab a photo next to the lawn, so it still counts right?
Place du Trocadero
Behind the Eiffel Tower is the Place du Trocadero which houses the Palais de Chaillot.
More notably with tourists, it’s a great spot to get a photo of the Eiffel Tower. I’m sure everyone has seen a photo of the Eiffel Tower from this location. Here’s mine!
Just near the Place du Trocadero is an adorable carousel with the Eiffel Tower in the background.
Pont Alexandre III
We managed to take a stroll along the Seine River and came along this famous bridge. It truly is quite an ornate and beautifully constructed bridge and makes for great views of the city.
FYI there is nothing more romantic than strolling down the Seine River, holding hands with your boyfriend on a nice afternoon in Paris.
The Big Wheel at Place de la Concorde
Whether it’s Myrtle Beach, Scotland, London, or Paris you’ll be sure to find a Ferris Wheel. The Big Wheel in Paris certain did not disappoint. The Big Wheel is on the way to the Louvre and the park by the Louvre. Check out this cool fountain we came across as well.
PRO TIP #3: Check it out at night, the reflection over the lake made for a perfect heart shape. How fitting in the City of Love.
The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel
While the Arc de Triomphe is a must see – don’t forget to check out this bad boy. I love the sculptures carved into the stone, it’s truly quite impressive. Plus it’s right in front of the Louvre so it’s killing two birds with one stone.
The Louvre costs €9 but highlighting another great time to be young – if you’re under 26 it’s free! Bare in mind, you will wait for quite some time to get into the Louvre. Waiting in the freezing cold, in the middle of winter, is not that fun, but I can only imagine the line is much shorter than in the summer. Yes, by the way, I DID take my winter jacket off so I could make James take this totally not posed candid photo of me.
Obviously, you go to the Louvre to see the art – but like myself, many tourists go to see a specific piece. The Mona Lisa. Let me tell you something about her. She is in a massive white glass case – I assume for both security and preservation and it’s impossible to get up close to her. Now I was not waiting for an hour just to see the Mona Lisa from afar. The New Yorker in me certainly bared its head and I pushed and nudged my way to the front – and truthfully I didn’t really feel bad because everyone else was doing it.
Later on in the night, we happened to walk by the Louvre and I am so glad we did. Not only was it deserted, it was beautiful with the triangles all lit up at night!
After the Louvre, we mosied on over to Notre Dame. At this point, I had seen so many Churches and Cathedrals from the outside it didn’t bother me that I didn’t go inside. Even though it was free to enter Notre Dame – I chose not to mainly because of the massive line in front of it. We had already spent an hour of the day on line for the Louvre, I wasn’t dying to see spend another hour on a line just to see the inside of Notre Dame. However, if you are dying to see the inside, it is free so that’s always a plus.
James made sure I took a photo of him hunching over in front of Notre Dame. Remind you of anyone?
The Good Eats
On our first night in Paris we were starved and at Merez’s recommendation, we dined at a local Sushi restaurant, YOYO, just near his flat. James and I got a platter to share, for just €12.80. Prior to our entree, we were given a free taster of miso soup and a crunchy cabbage like salad. You know how much I love those free treats 😉 The Sushi and service were great, and while it was super helpful to have Eli who spoke French, the employees were able to speak with us in English of sorts. At the end of our meal, we were also given free tasters of wine – which we made sure to have Eli verify was free. Since neither Eli or I drink, James got himself three free drinks that night. Needless to say, he was happy.
On our second night in Paris, we were exhausted after walking almost 15 miles through the city and were on the hunt for some good food. In a shop, a local recommended to me that we check out the French Quarter for some authentic but affordable meals. We came across Restaurant Le Marathon and decided to give it a try since it was offering a special. A three-course meal for €15. When you’re balling on a budget, specials are wonderful!
I ordered a french onion soup, followed by the salmon, and creme brulee. James started with escargot, followed by the duck, and finished off with an apple tart. I have to confess I was shocked when I read the Yelp reviews on this restaurant because our service was great, and the food was absolutely delicious. At no point did anything we try seem dry, or bland, and the waiter was quite attentive to refilling our water. The escargot was delicious, and tasted very much like salty mushrooms – I was quite shocked by how much I enjoyed them never having eaten them before. The Creme Brulee was absolute heaven and I melted eating it. I would definitely return to this restaurant if back in Paris.
The Street Eats
On our first morning in Paris, I made it my mission to find a bakery and get some croissants. Our host told us of a bakery, Le Gurmound Bistro, just a short walk from his flat, and I was in heaven. €1.05 later I had the most delectable, buttery croissant in my hand with the grin of a child in a candy store. Croissants are my undoing, I could quite possibly live solely off croissants.
We returned here on our last morning in Paris to get some breakfast before we left to go to the airport, and we got a nice little package of goodies. I walked away with two croissants, pain au chocolat, a croissant with almonds, and an eclair all for €6.4. I don’t know why people say Paris is expensive – I could live quite happily.
After we had hiked up and down the Eiffel Tower, we decided to stroll through the Christmas Market being held on the lawn by the Eiffel Tower. It wasn’t long until my eyes came across Crepes with Nutella. It didn’t take much to convince me to purchase a crepe. I had been itching for one since Italy and finally had succumbed.
Later that night we returned to Champs-Elysees to check out the Christmas Market, and I could not pass on an opportunity to have Macaroons in Paris. I got a variety of flavors of 6 macaroons for only €10. Oh, my goodness macaroons are just delicious. I did promise myself if I were ever to return I would treat myself to them again, but this time at Laduree.
Transportation to the Airport
Considering the transportation was free while we were here, our T+ tickets were wasted and though we did have the tickets to pay for the trip for the Metro to Charles De Gaulle airport – we didn’t bother to validate them since it was free. Hey, maybe I can use the tickets in the future if we make it back?! We took the M heading to Charles de Gaulle – Etoile and we were off to Amsterdam (click to read now).
Miles Walked: 18.8 miles
- Day 1 Miles Walked: 1.8 miles
- Day 2 Miles Walked: 17 miles
Total Cost James and I: $31.50 on prepaid flight, €87.05 in Paris
- Euros spent: €87.05
- USD spent on prepaid flight: $31.50
- Beginning balance of Euros:€438.66
- Total Euros spent:€87.05
- Ending balance of Euros: €351.61
Breakdown of costs
Prepaid Flight Cost:
***ALL 9 Flights Totaled Roughly $301 ea. per 7/17/16 conversion rates. This portion:
- Flights to Paris: $31.50 USD per 7/17/16 conversion rates
- MUC-ORY 15:30:-17:10
- €27.95 = $31.50 for James and I
Cost Incurred in Paris: €87.05
- Post Card: €1
- Food: €64.65
- Le Gurmond Bistro €6.85
- Croissant €1.05 ea, 3 total
- Pain Au Chocolat €1.10
- Croissant with almonds €1.10
- Eclair €1.50
- Crepe €5
- Macaroons €10
- Le Restaurant Marathon €30
- €15 ea.
- YoYo Sushi €12.80
- Le Gurmond Bistro €6.85
- Transportation: €11.40
- T+ Tickets €11.40
- €1.90 ea, 3 tickets per person, 6 tickets total
- T+ Tickets €11.40
- Attractions: €10
- Eiffel Tower €5 ea, total €10
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