Our second day in Paris was a dream. We we riding high after seeing the Jay Z and Beyoncé show on Saturday night, so Sunday started bright and early with pastries and fresh juice from the patisserie…
We ate in our apartment then hopped on the metro towards central Paris – first stop, the Arc de Triomphe.
Just like every other monument I’ve seen in Paris, the sheer scale and skill of construction of the Arc de Triomphe is breathtaking. It’s quite hard to comprehend how long and intensively people must have worked on this structure to create such intricate detail on such a large scale. Walking through the arch is a beautiful experience, with heads swivelling everywhere to take it all in.
We started walking towards the Eiffel Tower, and I kept squealing every time it peeped over the top of a building or appeared through the trees until finally, it was right in front of us. There’s something really overwhelming about the Eiffel Tower… it’s just so completely beautiful. It genuinely made me feel a bit awestruck, which could’ve been down to the potent apricot mojito I drank at 2am, granted. But even New York – which has an iconic structure on literally every corner – didn’t give me this level of goosebumps. And I know it’s very uncool to love such a stereotypical representation of Paris, but I couldn’t tear my eyes away. I even bought a so-tacky-it’s-amazing bright gold Eiffel Tower from a stall at the base, which is also very uncool.
We wandered around the base of the tower for quite a while, drinking cold cans of Orangina and just taking it all in. I was obsessed with the carousel and desperate to go on but was of course pretending to be a proper Parisian in my navy culottes and striped Breton, so restrained myself. It was one of my favourite spots to snap the Tower, though, with the tinkly music and intricate carvings.
After making our purchases from various dodgy stalls and stuffing our plastic Eiffel Tower keyrings out of sight (sorry, couldn’t resist), we joined the queue to climb to the top of the real thing. I’d read that the queues for the stairs move much faster than those for the lifts, so being four young spritely things that’s where we headed. In about 20 minutes we were buying our tickets (€5 each if you’re over 25 and look it, which I clearly do) and heading up.
It’s tough but not killer and you get a break at level one, where you can choose to pay more and take the lift the rest of the way or battle on to level 2. There’s also a summit, but again that costs more and the views from level 2 are spectacular enough, anyway. We walked round the full 360, taking panoramic shots of the city spread out below. For less than a fiver (if we’re back in sterling), it was a brilliant experience and meant the gigantic bowls of pasta and bottle of wine we consumed after felt more than well-deserved.
With a few hours left before our flight, we wandered along the Seine towards Musée du Louvre. We didn’t have time to go in – yet another trip to Paris without a look at that infamous half-smile (it was closed last time I tried!). Next time, for sure.
With the sun still blazing down and a few Laudrée macaroons in our bags, we strolled back to the metro through Jardin des Tuileries, where the flowers were still blooming despite the leaves falling from the trees. A truly glorious end to the most wonderful trip!
My Central Paris Recommendations
Eat – La Poule au Pot, 121 Rue de l’Université
Drink – Any of the outdoor cafés in Jardin des Tuileries – pull a chair up to the lake and enjoy the view
Shop – Fragonard, Carrousel du Louvre, 99 rue Rivoli
See – The Eiffel Tower. Forget any notions of ‘hidden Paris’ and just go look at it.