30 December 2016

Paris, France is without a doubt one of the most popular tourist destination in the world. It is a city full of museums, art galleries and other top attractions. So we thought, it's never a complete trip to France without visiting the City of Lights! With the help of Trainline Europe (Captain Train) app, we were able to reserve a two-way ticket ride from Gare de Toulouse-Matabiau Station to Gare d'Austerlitz in Paris and vice versa for more or less 80 EUR (4,000 PHP) each person.

Our scheduled departure from Toulouse is at 12 midnight and I was ecstatic to find out that we're riding on a train with couchette compartments rather than the normal reclining seats. This is an advantage since we'll be able to get enough sleep and wake up refreshed for next day's adventure.

Parc Du Champ-de-Mars

My family and I rarely travel with any set itinerary, maybe we did once in Ilo-Ilo but that's about it. In my opinion at least, spontaneous travel is really the best way to see the city. However, this is not the case in cities like Paris. If you're not one for joining group tours with very strict itineraries, at least find time to research about the city you're visiting; its tourist spots and how to get there. Spare yourself from the stress specially if you only have less than 24 hours to explore the city. This was definitely a lesson learned for me since I honestly got carried away with excitement on just seeing the Eiffel Tower, that I forgot to realize that there are more to Paris than that.

From Gare d'Austerlitz in Paris we took another train to Gare du Champ de Mars Tour Eiffel metro station, the ticket doesn't cost much but make sure to bring change with you. Some automatic machines only accept coins or credit cards as payment.

The Eiffel Tower was a lot bigger than I thought! I can still vividly remember how I felt the first time I stepped out of the metro station and seeing it in front of me. Of course, I can't help but get teary eyed.

It was one of those rare moments when I can really say, "DREAMS DO COME TRUE."

Anyway, if you're planning a trip to Paris with only a day to explore the area, the best way to get around is by foot. Just beside the metro station is a beautiful park overlooking the Seine River. If you walk further you will see famous bridges such as Pont Alexander III, Pont Neuf and Pont Des Arts also known as the Love Locks Bridge. Parc Du Champ-de-Mars, a large green space where you can see the Eiffel Tower up close is only a 10-minute walk away from the metro station.

They say, summer is a great time to travel in France (June to September) but expect high temperatures and crowded places. If you live in a tropical country like here in the Philippines. I don't recommend traveling to this city around these months. Our trip to Paris would have been pleasant if only the heat wasn't sweltering! I guess, my brother's face says it all.

Paris is not everyone's cup of tea, I've come across a couple of blog posts that said their experience was a mix of good and bad. There are also those who said they would never go back because of many different reasons. Well, everyone has their own opinion, so you really just have to see to believe.

If you want to enjoy Paris and not end up getting disappointed, you should not expect too much because just like any other other normal city, it is a densely populated place with beggars and garbage around. It's not all glitz and glamour, they also have some less desirable parts.

Here are 10 simple things you should take note before visiting the French capital: 

1. Beware of pickpockets or the "gypsies."
2. Parisian drivers are notorious for refusing to stop at pedestrian lanes so ALWAYS BE ALERT when crossing the streets.
3. Create an itinerary. It doesn't have to be detailed, just make sure to familiarize yourself with the place.
4. As much as possible, bring a jug, bottle or any container filled with water.
5. Bring a map or simply download an app from your phone.
6. Always carry change/coins with you.
7. Learning and speaking basic French phrases will make your experience easier.

8. Walking is one of the best ways to take in a new city. So the number one item that you should bring to Paris is a comfortable pair of walking shoes.

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel

 The Louvre

9. Book yout ticket to Louvre in advance! Link here. We didn't have enough time to get inside the most famous museum in the world but just seeing it is incredible.
10. Bring EXTRA everything. Extra memory card, extra battery, extra charger, extra power bank or even an extra camera because believe me, you will need these. You won't want to miss any picture perfect moment!

Paris is not like how it is in the movies - don't go there expecting mimes everywhere, men in beret saying "ooh lala!" and even French women all dressed up in high heels or you'll just end up getting disappointed. Although, I believe Paris is a really interesting city and it is definitely well-worth visiting. There is a certain je ne sais quoi about it and like Toulouse it is incredibly beautiful in every turn. I'll be sure to bring someone special with me the next time I come back :)

Stay Sassy! 

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