Europe 2017 Travel Diary: Arc de Triomphe, Paris France

After spending some time admiring the Eiffel Tower, we then moved on to see another famous structure in Paris — the Arc de Triomphe.

The triumphal arch is in honor of those who fought for France, in particular, those who fought during the Napoleonic Wars. Engraved on the inside and at the top of the arch are all of the names of the generals and wars fought. There are inscriptions in the ground underneath the vault of the arch which include the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I where the Memorial Flame burns and have made the Arc de Triomphe Parisa revered patriotic site. -arcdetriompheparis.com

It was a 30-minute walk from the tower to the arch and we needed a little break from all the walking we had done since the morning, so we opted to ride an Uber instead — the fare wasn’t too bad and it was a very convenient way to get to where we wanted.

We got dropped off by the driver right at the side of the arch, but for those walking to the monument it is said that there is an underground tunnel on the Avenue de la Grande Armee side of the roundabout/circle (where the monument stands central). This tunnel can be accessed from the Wagram exit of the Metro.

There was a short barricade surrounding the monument and a queue of people waiting to get inside. The fee to get in is 8€ for adults, 5€ for students and free admission for kids and teens below 17.

Like the Eiffel Tower earlier, we opted not to line up and were content to remain on the outside of the barrier. Then, after spending a bit of time gazing at the arch and taking some photos, we decided to leave and head off to Champs Élysées — Paris’ famous avenue lined with restaurants, shops and bars which was just across to where we were.

I cannot remember how we managed to cross the busy roundabout/circle… but somehow we did! When we got to the other side, we took some more photos of the arch at a distance and while doing so we observed that there were people who were standing (and taking photos) in the median strip of one of the pedestrian crossings of the avenue which was in front of the arch.

We decided to try it out as well to see if we could get some decent photos with the arch as our background. It was a bit scary at first standing in the middle of the street with cars going past to our left and right! But there were other people with us and the cars kept a bit of a safe distance so we were able to get our photos without any untoward accident and crossed back to Champs Élysées all in one piece!

Europe 2017 Travel Diary: Eiffel Tower, Paris France

It’s Paris’ most famous landmark… there was no way we were going to miss it while we were in the city.

We had started out our sightseeing that day at Fontaine Saint-Michel. We then crossed Pont Saint-Michel to go to the Notre Dame Cathedral then made our way back down the Seine River, after which we crossed the Pont des Art bridge to get to the Louvre and Jardin des Tuileries then continued on walking to the Eiffel Tower from there.

It was a blistering hot day and it was quite a walk considering where we started from. Halfway between the Louvre and the tower, my feet were starting to get quite sore from walking since the morning (I *may* have not been wearing the best footwear for walking all day.. my fault.. hehe..) and I was starting to feel a bit of tiredness creep in (as I said in a previous post, I had just landed in Paris that day at 0700 and went straight to exploring the city). It came to a point where I was sorely tempted to ride a bike taxi when one passed by until the driver told us how much it was going to cost (20 euro per person) and we decided it was not worth it.

So we continued on walking… The top of the Eiffel Tower already within our view at this point — SO NEAR YET SO FAR!!! It was another 15-20 mins of walking until we finally arrived.

We did not go up the tower as we felt like we did not have enough time. We made do of enjoying its splendor while viewing it at its base. However, for those wanting the experience of going up and enjoying the city view from up top, you can visit toureiffel for tickets and prices.

There are also different “skip-the-line-tours” available (some including tours to other famous sites in Paris) — just look it up in google and compare prices.

It felt a bit surreal to be standing there in front of this very famous structure, seeing it in person for the very first time. It was an amazing moment, really… I mean, you get so used to seeing some things in films and photographs that when you finally see it with your very own eyes, there’s this few seconds of just being completely in awe of what’s right in front of you because it looks exactly the same but at the same time just so very different — no matter how good photo quality is nowadays, nothing will ever compare to the real thing.

Europe 2017 Travel Diary: Louvre Pyramid, Paris

As we were (unfortunately) only in Paris for a day… we really did not have time to explore the Louvre Museum. Known as Europe’s largest museum, it contains thousands of works from all over the world and would take days to fully explore.

“In fact, there’s so much to see that it would take at least 3 days to experience all that the Louvre has to offer.” uk.france.fr

We did, however, still pass by the main courtyard to get a glimpse of the Louvre Pyramid — the large glass and metal structure which now serves as the entrance into the main Louvre buildings.

A number of controversies previously surrounded the building of the Louvre Pyramid. There were many who were unhappy that Chinese-American architect Ieoh Ming Pei, was tasked with the project by then President Francois Mitterand without a competition being held first. There were also those who criticized that its modern style did not fit in with the classic French Renaissance style and history of the Louvre.

Fast forward to the present time… the initial contention it received from the general public has now somewhat subsided and it is now considered as one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions and a Paris landmark in its own right.

Europe 2017 Travel Diary: River Seine, Paris.

The River Seine — one of Paris’ many important landmarks. It flows right through the heart of Paris and borders 10 of the city’s 20 arrondissements, thus we were able to pass by it a couple of times throughout our day in Paris.

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My first good view of the river was while we were crossing Pont Saint-Michel bridge on our way to the Notre Dame Cathedral. I had just landed in Paris 0700 that morning after a 30-hour flight from New Zealand. I should have been feeling tired…but I was too excited that I didn’t feel the least bit tired at all. Paris! What was once something I used to only see in photos and movies, I was finally seeing with my very own eyes!

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Of course, we couldn’t resist the photo opportunity that presented itself so we quickly snapped some photos when there weren’t a lot of people walking over the bridge.

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We saw a couple of boats leisurely going up and down the river — most of them boat tour cruises allowing tourists a different take in exploring the city.

On our way to the Louvre from the Notre Dame, we went down a set of stairs by Quai des Grands Augustins near Pont Saint-Michel to get closer to the water.

From there, we continued on walking by the riverside… passing under both Pont Neuf and Pont des Arts bridges.

“The Pont Neuf is considered to be the oldest stone bridge in Paris. Henri IV ordered it to be constructed in 1578.” – Parisinfo.com

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“The Pont des Arts, also known as the Arts Bridge, is a work between the Institut de France and the Musée du Louvre. Built between 1801 and 1804, it is the first iron bridge in the capital.”  Parisinfo.com

Europe 2017 Travel Diary: Notre-Dame de Paris

The setting for Victor Hugo’s novel: The Hunchback of Notre Dame, which was made into a Disney animated film in 1996 with the same title.

I grew up watching the Disney film. I had a soft spot for poor Quasimodo… hated the evil Frollo… and loved Esmeralda’s kind and caring nature. 
Having watched the movie (many times) when I was a kid, I could not pass up the chance to see the famed cathedral in person.

Unfortunately, we did not have the time to see and explore the inside of the cathedral. The line going in was pretty long and we were only in Paris for a day. Nevertheless, I was still quite happy to have been able to at least admire it from outside.

Hoping one day I will be able to come back…❤ 

Europe 2017 Travel Diary: Work It

May 27, 2017 at Jardin des Tuileries.

Three girls with a camera and a tripod. There was bound to be lots of photo op moments. This was one of many. 

We were walking around the Jardin des Tuileries when Rea suddenly exclaimed, “This is it!”. “This is what?” Glaire and I asked. “I think this is where Heart Evangelista took one of her Paris photos!!!”. 

Heart is a famous female celebrity back home in the Philippines. Rea wanted to recreate a picture of her in Paris that had more or less the same background — a long pathway with tress lined up on both sides.  

“Abtik! Abtik!” — Rea’s favorite expression when she wanted us to hurry up, prompting us to start doing some poses. Glaire and I settled for walking towards the camera while Rea clicked away.

We look quite serious here, but it was actually pretty difficult to keep a straight face while doing this. Few seconds after this particular shot, we were all doubled over laughing out loud. 

Some people near us and some who were walking by gave us funny looks, probably thinking we were very weird. We did not care one bit. Haha! 

EU2017 Travel Diary: Outset

 

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May 27, 2017 — Arrived in Paris, France. It was bright, sunny and REALLY WARM.. such a contrast from the cold and windy winter weather I left behind in Wellington (NZ). I had just come from a very long flight — 12 hours from NZ to Hongkong and another 12 hours from Hongkong to Paris, but I was too full of excitement that I didn’t feel the least bit tired.

This photo was taken just as we were setting out to explore the city. To my left is Glaire, a friend of mine who I’ve known for 8 years now. We met while volunteering in one of the rural hospitals back home (Philippines). The lady a little bit to the back is Rea. She’s Glaire’s friend (both of them are currently living and working in Singapore). I had just met her that morning, but we hit it off pretty quickly and it felt like we’ve been friends since forever.

Together in our next two weeks in Europe we would be chasing after trains, walking ’till our feet got sore, and drinking lots of wine! — details of which are going to be for later stories. For now, we’re going to start from the very beginning… Bonjour Paris!