Some say Paris is overrated. To some extent it is, being overly tourist-y and given that there are other equally or more stunning cities in Europe. But there’s something about the combination of the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre Museum, along with a dozen other fabulous attractions that make this city irresistible for so many tourists, particularly the first time travelers to Europe (that’s us!). It’s an enchanting place perfect for the young and the lovestruck.
Our first stop, the Louvre! Wanting to have an amazing hassle-free experience, I scoured the web to get tips from the experts. The experts didn’t fail me. I was advised not to use the Louvre Pyramid Entrance. Avoid the insanely long lines by using these other entry points: Porte des Lions (east of Pont Royal), Number 99 entrance at the Rue du Rivoli, the Arc du Carousel, or go directly from the Metro Station when you alight at the Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre (this one we did).
As one of the world’s biggest museums, the amount of artworks in there is crazy. Its 60,600 square meter space is home to 35,000 objects, some dating back to prehistoric times! Louvre was originally a fortress built under the regime of Philip II. It was first opened in 1793, featuring only 537 artworks.
I read in one blog that Louvre is so big that some tourists would spend the entire day looking for the Mona Lisa and end up not finding it. No, that wasn’t going to be me. When we got there, we immediately inquired where Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpice was located. We were given a map and we followed the trail. The sweet smiling painting gave me goosebumps as I expected.
But more surprisingly, some artworks enthralled me more like the Wedding
at Cana by Paolo Veronese. I didn’t want to leave its side. I felt like I needed weeks to fully absorb the artwork’s detail and meaning.
Our next stop was the Eiffel Tower. I have so many photos of this mindblowing structure, it deserves a post of its own. And I’ll do just that later on. For now, let me tell you that we had the most awesome experience below, on top, beside, everywhere near this tower.
A little bit of trivia first. It was designed by Gustav Eiffel (Oh, so that’s where it got its name!) for the World Exhibition in 1889, a celebration for the French Revolution in 1789. It took 7 million nails to erect this 300-meter tall tower!
The place where we stayed, Hotel de Londres Eiffel was just a two-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower. We got there early in the morning after having authentic croissant (the best I ever tasted in my life) at a nearby cafe.
So we went up the tower not to the top floor because it was being renovated in time for the Valentine’s Day. It was around January when we traveled to Paris. And oh my, it’s like you’ve seen everything there is to see in the world when I got up there. It didn’t matter which side you turned, all the views took my breath away.
When we got back down, I stood below the enormous structure and looked up. I was just as mesmerized as I was on top. The incredible steel work left me feeling like a big simpleton. I can’t even construct the words to describe it.
After this, we walked the streets of Paris to get to the Notre Dame. We passed by the River Seine, where we found padlocks all over the bridge. The idea is that you write down your names on a padlock, lock it and throw the key into the river so you’ll be locked in each other’s arms for all eternity. How’s that for cheesy, er, romantic?
Construction of the beautiful Romanesque church began in 1163. After 182 years, it was finally over. The result? A 128 meter long building with 69 meter tall towers. Wow! And when you see the intricate sculptures around Notre Dame’s facade, you won’t wonder why this took so long to build.
Inside, I tried to take photos but my camera failed me. It was weird hearing upbeat contemporary songs inside a very old church. When our Notre Dame tour was over, we headed back again to Eiffel Tower to see it in a different light. It was all shiny shimmery like a giant Christmas tree.
I went home with a big smile on my face. We had the best time climbing the awe-inspiring eiffel tower, squeezing through the crowds to catch a glimpse of La Joconde, eating authentic flaky croissant, and saying bonjour and merci again and again.