I’ve got to be honest: Paris was never on my “must see” list of destinations. It’s not that Paris isn’t a gorgeous place, I’ve just always been much more interested in visiting other places first. However, when you have some time off and a friend living in the city for the summer, you make sure and find time to visit. I’m so glad I did.
I arrived on a Friday evening and was staying through until Tuesday morning, so that was plenty of time to do a lot of the touristy things that you just can’t visit Paris without seeing, plus allowed for some not-so-touristy things. I really enjoy being able to see the parts of a city that aren’t all pretty and polished for the out of town spectators. It always makes a trip more real to me.
Without realizing it, I planned my trip for the weekend that the Tour de France went through Paris. When you stumble upon the finish line of something like this, you obviously have to stick around in the sun for the few hours necessary to see all the bicycles come through, even if that does mean suffering through a bit of a sunburn afterward.
While I wouldn’t trade getting to see landmarks many people dream about seeing, strangely enough, I think one of my favorite parts of seeing a new city is learning to navigate through all the public transportation. There’s just something encouraging about looking at a map and knowing exactly which three lines you have to take to get from point A to point B and being able to follow all the signs in the stations to switch lines. When you can fit in with the locals and not take out a map every time you try to go to a new place, there’s a huge sense of accomplishment that rushes through you.
Another thing I really enjoy about a new city is people watching. Well, if I’m to be completely honest, that’s one of my favorite activities period, but especially so in large cities full of tourists. Part of the fun is just trying to pick out who are locals and which crowds of people are visiting temporarily. In a big city like Paris, it’s easy. So search out the people wearing matching clothes, holding brochures and maps, or are weighed down by cameras and backpacks….you’re sure to pick out a group of tourists easily.
One of my favorite stops during this trip was getting to see the Louvre, and more importantly, the Venus di Milo statue. I have long enjoyed art museums, but the Louvre is one that requires at least several days of your time in order to cover all the rooms. Seeing as I only had a few days total in Paris, my friend I was visiting and I mapped out what we wanted to see before even attempting to navigate the museum. Top of the list: Venus di Milo, the Mona Lisa, and the Egyptian sections. Being able to see some of these masterpieces you typically just learn about in art class was an experience that I won’t easily forget.
After visiting a city as big as Paris in only a few days, it takes me a while to soak in everything I was able to experience. I still have hundreds of photos to sort through and (although I realize it sounds corny) emotions to absorb. I like to think that every new place I have the opportunity to see changes me little by little and helps me grow in ways I would not have otherwise. There is so much history and culture in a city like this that I want to be able to do it justice.
What’s next? I’ll hopefully be getting a “Paris in 4 days or less” post worked out while I’m in Lugano, Switzerland with the family I work for, and then I’m off for my first real vacation of the year to spend 12 days in Anchorage, Alaska. As always, instagram will have all the real-time photographic updates.
If you want to see the full collection of my photos, plus full albums of my trips to Berlin and Israel, don’t forget to check out my Facebook page! I’ve also got a board on Pinterest that I’ve been cataloguing all the things I’ve been able to experience, so you might want to see what all is going on over there as well.