We had a rather round about route to Paris from Bruges! We had booked a train from Bruges to Lille and then a bus from Lille to France. However, the snow in the night turned our route into a train ride…then another train ride…then a 45 minute wait in the snow…then a bus to Lille! We had planned on having a couple of hours for a coffee inbetween travel but wound up having only just enough time to make our bus to Paris. We made it in the end though and had eight days in a cute little apartment in Montmarte. (We are really loving Airbnb – our whole apartment was less each night than two dorm beds would have been!)
On our first full day, we set off to do a self guided walking tour. (Every now and then we go online and find a free walking tour to guide us around a new place). This tour started us on the Ile de la Cite at the beautiful Notre Dame cathedral (much to Reuben’s sadness, we didn’t see any hunchbacks!)
The tour then guided us out the back of Notre Dame to see the Holocaust memorial…unfortunately the banks of the Seine were extremely high and had flooded the memorial – so no visiting or walking along by the water for us! Our next stop was the Left Bank of Paris, where we visited the very cool Shakespeare and Company bookstore, where writers like Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce used to hang out.
We explored around the Left Bank, visiting Place St Michel and St Severin before wandering back to the Ile and past St Chappelle, the Palais de Justice, Place Dauphine and across Pont Neuf. We saw lots of locks with couples’ initials on them on the Pont Neuf and other bridges for Valentines Day- a sign of one’s enduring love…(that eventually get cut off with bolt cutters because they weaken the bridge! Maybe not the best sign?!)
We walked across Pont Neuf to the church of St Germain before finishing outside the Louvre with a stroll in the Jardin de Tuileries. Here we also saw the mini Arc de Triomphe, which I had remembered as being much bigger – I was most confused until we worked out that there were actually two of them and this was the little one! Despite the grey day, this was a great first day of wandering around Paris.
Our next day in the city was mostly taken up by a visit to the famous Louvre museum. We managed to skip the lines and buy our tickets underground before arriving, but we couldn’t escape the mobs inside! We spent hours here exploring – some of the highlights were the Egyptian wing and the ancient statues. We saw some of the highlights here, including the incredibly underwhelming Mona Lisa. Not only is the picture somewhat small and dark, the mob that was 10 people deep was pretty off putting. (On a side note, does anyone else think it’s odd to take photos of yourself with a famous painting? We saw a lot of this!) You could spend days at this vast museum but we were pretty happy with what we managed to sample in our time there.