Dates: 18th of June – 23rd of June
After London, I went to Paris with my mother. I don’t think I gave much backstory about why I’m in Europe in the last post, so I shall do that now. I have finished four and a half years of university and am travelling for five weeks before starting a job! I have also never been to Europe, except for when I was born in Switzerland and subsequently lived there until I was ten months old. I don’t really count that, though! (I currently live in Melbourne, fyi.)
Day One of Paris was terrible! Lol. It was though. We left London via the Eurostar, which was a great experience. Very easy. Nothing bad happened there. However, when we were waiting in line for a taxi, this professional looking man approached us, asked us where we were going, and said the line for ‘downtown’ was in another taxi line. Considering this was a new country to us, and as we never travel and are quite stupid, frankly, we just followed him. Also, we were super excited to be in France!!! Long story short, the driver scammed us out of 115 euros for quite a short journey. I keep thinking back to that moment and just wish I had given him like 20 euros because he wasn’t even running a legitimate business so it wouldn’t have even mattered! My mum and I both work minimum wage, so we felt robbed.
That day, my mum and I were super angry. We even went to the police station. However, we quickly learned that guy was just one asshole out of many nice French people. The police were friendly and so was our hotel receptionist, and they helped us even though there wasn’t much they could do. (I’m still waiting on an email from the police!!!)
On our second day in Paris, we visited the Louvre. We got there via the train system. Paris’s underground metro is much better than London’s (sorry London)! It could use some more escalators, though.
Before going into the Louvre, we got a French breakfast. This consists of bread, butter, jam, a croissant, orange juice and a coffee. I had this for almost every breakfast, as it is cheap(ish) and really delicious. But too much of it is no good. I do not need another croissant for a long time.
As we got the Paris Pass, we got to skip the line and go straight into the Louvre. We bolted it right to the main attraction, The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. She is quite clearly smiling.
This is what my mum and I are like at museums: okay, cool, next, next! We were out of the Louvre in like twenty minutes. We then went on yet another Hop On Hop Off bus, where we just cruised on the bus for a bit. We were going to do a walking tour of Montmartre, but I did not see it on the brouchure, only online, and I didn’t want to risk getting off and having to wait for it, so instead we watched a movie about Paris. I know, what a dumb thing to do on our first day in Paris. Well, it was free.
We started off this morning with a visit to the Pantheon, which is church turned mausoleum. The architecture in France is very extravagant. The entire city has very stunning old buildings. The addition of flowers and cute cafes makes the city even more extraordinary to look at!
Speaking of great architecture, we then went on a tour of the Palace of Versailles. There were many people on the tour, so we were given little radios to listen to the guide with. It is great having a guide because they actually explain what each room means and the history behind it. Learning about the kings and queens who used the rooms was very fascinating.
For dinner we got pizza, which was really good. By this point, we were learning how expensive it is to eat out in Europe. I think the pizza was 14 euros. I would never spend that much on food back home (it would be about 25 Australian dollars).
On our fourth day in Paris, we went on a full-day tour to Champagne, Reims and Mumm for champagne tasting. It took around two hours to firstly drive to Mumm, where we visited a traditional champagne cellar underground. We walked around and the guide explained how champagne is made in this specific cellar, which is done all by hand! I found that interesting. The process the employees have to go through is insane, such as turning over 50,000 bottles each per day.
We then visited Reims and looked at the Saint-Remi Basilica. After lunch, we went to Epernay for more champagne tasting at Nicolas Feuillatte. This champagne facility is much more modern than the first and uses machines to do the work. Both the champagnes tasted good, but I preferred the taste of Mumm’s better! Overall, it was a great tour, and I loved getting to see the French countryside.
This, sadly, was our final day in Paris. We did not really do much except go to the Eiffel Tower in the afternoon. Rather than go up it, we decided to go on the River Seine cruise because the lines for the tower are very long and it was a hot day. (Also, I hate heights!). It was a great day for photos of this iconic structure. Like a lot of things about Paris, it is very traditional and old-looking.
Thoughts on Paris
Going to Paris was a strange experience because the only other time I’ve been to a non-English speaking country was Thailand, and my father’s girlfriend did all the ordering food, buying things etc. I thought I’d give some thoughts on a few areas of the city that might impact the travelling experience.
People: The stereotype that French people are rude is not true. I met many nice French people.
Language: I was surprised that people knew I spoke English before I even said ‘bonjour’. I couldn’t figure out how they knew. But, once you incorrectly pronounce ‘bonjour’, the French people who can speak English will most likely speak English to you without you needing to say ‘Parlez-vous anglais?’.
Food: The food in Paris is exactly how I expected it to be! The baguettes, croissants and strawberries are amazing! I must admit, though, I found ordering food slightly terrifying.
Transport: Like I mentioned earlier, the train system is pretty good. However, I still found the trains to be pretty small compared to Melbourne’s trains. On the way to Paris Gare du Nord (the international train station), we caught the train from Place Monge to Poissonniere with our luggage, which was fine because not many people were on the train. But, if the carriage was full, it would have been difficult. Also, I think the transport prices are quite reasonable, so definitely consider it over taxis.
I am currently writing this post from Amsterdam, Netherlands. I am only here for three nights, so expect an Amsterdam post soon 😉