Well Paris is a big city with lots to see in and around it, I’ll have to come back to do the rest of the things that I didn’t get a chance to do. It’s a city where the neighborhoods feel very different, some areas are filled with cool architecture, some have lots of cool little shops and restaurants, while some are covered in rubbish and smell like piss. But apart from that area I’ve had a fun time, the city has pretty much been invaded by football fans from all over Europe and it’s been a great experience being at the heart of a major international football tournament.
I arrived in Paris on the 10th of June just after midday, and after checking in and having a walk around the area of my hostel I caught the metro downtown. Exiting the subway station and walking up to the Siene river I got my first view of the Eiffel Tower, quite something to actually see it in person. France were facing Romania in the opening match of the 2016 European Championship and I was heading to the fanzone to watch the match with about 30,000 other people. I got there around 5pm and kickoff wasn’t until 9pm, so I spent the time wandering through this massive area. There is so much set up to do and watch that the time flew by: table football, futsel, dribbling challenges, pool with footballs, volleyball with footballs, FIFA and PES video games and virtual reality demos. That was just the stuff that I remember, there was probably heaps of other things around as well.
As kickoff got closer and closer the crowd began to gather and the excitement grew. By the time the match started there was a lot of singing and chanting going on. Really cool experience watching this game with so many other people in front of the Eiffel Tower, and the eruption of noise when Payet rocketed in the late winner was unreal.
I managed to force myself out of bed early enough to get to the Louvre quarter of an hour before it opened. The line wasn’t too bad at that time and I managed to get into the museum and 9:15. I picked up an audio guide, which I was surprised to see was actually a Nintendo 3DS. This device was absolutely essential in finding my way around this massive building, as it had an interactive map which marked where you were at any time. From this map you could play audio commentary for a piece and set a route for a particular exhibit or cafe. Definitely the best audio guide I’ve had from all of the museums and galleries I’ve visited.
I’m quite glad that I chose to come to Paris last, because The Louvre pretty much blows all other museums out of the water. I spent about 8 hours in there, and didn’t see nearly everything. I skipped an entire floor and didn’t look at any paintings apart from the Mona Lisa, just a mind blowing collection of art and historical artifacts. I spent most of my time looking at the Greek and Roman antiquities and the ancient Egypt collection.
I walked past the iconic sight of Paris a couple of times during my time there, the first being on my way to the fanzone and again on my last morning in Paris before my train. It’s quite cool standing underneath this giant metal tower and looking up at the giant football suspended in the middle of it. On my second visit I arrived about 15 minutes before opening, got through security and waited in the ticket office line for almost half an hour. With the opening time having come and gone someone eventually went and found out that the tower wouldn’t be opening that day because of strikes. Kind of annoying, especially considering that none of the staff that were there seemed to know what was going on either. So instead I filled the rest of my morning with some more walking and sightseeing.
One of my favorite other sights in Paris was the Notre Dame, a big gothic cathedral situated on the Île de la Cité. The front is impressive, with the two tall towers and the detailing around the arched doorways. But the inside and the exterior sides are my favorite parts, the inside contains lots of huge pillars and ornate stained glass windows. The sides are defined by the many spires as well as the flying buttresses, both of which are easily recognizable for anyone that’s seen the Disney movie Hunchback of Notre Dame.
Unfortunately I didn’t make it out to Versailles while I was in Paris. I did plan to do it on my last full day there but that fell on a Monday, and I didn’t realize that the Palace is closed on Mondays. So I spent the day walking the streets and sightseeing various places throughout the city. Some photos below from some of the places I found.