Right at the end of August this year, we spent two days in Paris as a prelude to our summer holiday in the French countryside. While London was really fascinating, Bath was beautiful Delft was enchanting and Den Haag was awesome, I think that Paris takes first place in my heart with regards to European cities (after Helsinki of course, that’s another heart category altogether…).
We arrived very late on the Wednesday night after a good few hours of travel. We checked into our 3 star hotel, Pavillon Bercy. We got a great deal for our room by booking through venere.com. The location was good- not quite in the centre but for 30 euros a night each, we were definitely close enough to the sights. Price and location were probably the best selling points. The shower, TV and mini-bar fridge were all broken but perhaps we got what we paid for? But at least the beds were comfy and the view was not bad.
After unpacking, we headed out to find some dinner in one of the local restaurants and then had a quick walk around the neighbourhood.
The next day, we hit the ground running. Well, walking really. And boy did we walk and walk and walk! I am glad I packed in sensible shoes this time. We started with a stroll along an old aqueduct that has been converted into a pedestrian walkway above the city – Viaduc des Arts. There are lovely paths and gardens along this walk and nice views down into the city streets.One of the lovely buildings that we saw from the viaduct.
Ile de Cite and Ile St Louis
From there we walked to the Bastille and then over onto the two islands that are in the middle of the Seine river – known as Ile de la Cite and Ile St Louis. These are lovely with lots of really old buildings all jumbled together. On Ile St Louis, we stopped in a little Catholic church St-Louis-en-l’ile. The building of the church was started in 1664.
Ile de Cite is home to a far more famous Notre-Dame Cathedral. At first we were daunted by the queue which we saw there but after we realised that it was for the tower climbing, we found the other much faster moving queue into the actual cathedral. They had a service going on while we were in there. This is definitely in contrast to the London Cathedrals where you are not allowed in if they are having a service, unless it is to attend.
After the Cathedral, we wandered along towards the Musée d’Orsay. It was late afternoon by this time so we thought we would have a quick look around and then move on.
We were pleasantly surprised to find that the museum is open for longer hours on Thursday so we were able to spend about 5 hours there. The museum has a great collection of Impressionist as well as wonderful late 19th and early 20th century interiors and art. Unfortunately, we couldn’t take photos inside the magnificent building, but we could get a shot of the awesome view from their cafe’s terrace.
We left the Museum quite foot sore and weary at about 8pm and headed over to the Eiffel tower. It was a beautiful evening and we reached the tower just as it was being lit up. Then on the stroke of the hour, it started its lights show.