For some strange reason, I can’t write my travel blog posts as soon as I get back home. I always have a strange sense of fear when I think about writing them. Anyhow, this October we decided to see two cities at once, to get the most out of one travel I guess. We went to Paris for 3 days and right after that to Brussels. Not gonna lie, it was quite scary, but I’m very adventurous with my traveling. I wonder if I’m adventurous enough to go hitchhiking. Definitely not from Moldova I think.
Today, I’m going to share with you my Paris experience, and we’ll get to Brussels a bit later (hopefully this year).
I flew to Paris full of enthusiasm and a tiny pinch of skepticism. Why skepticism you ask? Because everybody and their mothers, who never went there, have been saying that this city is overhyped, filled with dangerous immigrants, filthy, and many more devastating epithets which I’m not going to mention. But I wanted to see for myself and make my own conclusions. This is what I always advise – never rely on someone else’s, subjective opinion.
We landed, took the bus from the airport to the city, turned on maps.me and our journey had started.
As soon as we got out of the bus, I’ve felt how big is this city. I’m not sure how to explain this feeling, but you just have this sense of huge space around you, and it felt incredible.
As I suffer from a light version of topographical cretinism, I for some reason thought that our apartment was 15 min away by foot from the bus station. Looking at the map at home, I was genuinely baffled by the fact that the host of our Airbnb (who is Parisian by the way) said we would need to switch 2 metro lines. The nerve of her! Would you imagine? 40 min later and we finally arrived.
First things first, we went to see the tower itself. We took the metro, which was surprisingly very easy to navigate in, taking into consideration that we never used one before. I advise maps.me for this or Paris Metro by Mapway. These apps give you tips on how to get to certain places.
We saw many popular attractions but l’arc de Triomphe. I can’t tell you exactly why. Most probably we were plain lazy. I would definitely say that Paris needs at least 4 days of intense sightseeing.
Notre-Dame de Paris
Paris turned out to be quite a spendy place. They do say that it’s not the best adventure when you worry about money on holiday, but in some places, it is not an option. So, instead of telling you how wonderful was the Eiffel tower, because I’m not going to invent a different description from everybody else’s, I will tell you how to experience Paris and not file for bankruptcy when you get back.
How to enjoy Paris if the only thing you have in your pocket is a hole?
1) The place to stay
The era of Instagram makes some believe that if you don’t have a place with a view, then you’re better off staying at home. This is simply ridiculous! You can get by the metro anywhere and very fast. Try hostels that start from around 20euro per person or, for more privacy, an Airbnb somewhere a bit further from the center.
We stayed in the 17th arrondissement. The place was not a luxury boutique but was quiet and safe. It was good enough for 3 days of sleeping.
2) The food
Here is where the bank can break. Two coffees and tarts were almost 20 euros. And it was not a fancy coffee place. I’d like to add that we haven’t found a good coffee spot there. Should have gone to Starbucks, but we wanted to be ‘authentic’. Yeah, I know how that sounds.
Get a baguette or croissants at a bakery for a few euro, and grab some cheese for breakfast at a local supermarket. The cheapest one turned out to be Franprix.
We ate lunch at an Asian buffet, Le Cercle Du Moulin. Don’t let the ‘not so fancy’ looks of it fool you. For 24 euro per two people, we ate anything we wanted and it was delicious. It works until 15:00 and opens again at 19:00.
Another lunch/dinner option is cooking by yourself if this opportunity exists. Here my recommendation is the Picard supermarket. It has the best French dishes cooked and frozen. Here you can buy anything from escargot to quiche Lorraine. This is not the cheapest place but a lot cheaper than a restaurant. Unless you are ordering a full-blown meal, with starters, dessert, and a wine bottle, then you are not welcomed in the restaurant by the waiters.
There is not much that I can advise here. Don’t go to places just because they are named a “must see”. Go only if you are really interested in it. An example for me is the Louvre. I’m more fond of architecture than art. Thus I didn’t feel the urge to get inside. If we’d had more days, most probably I would end up going, but it was not a priority.
Buy tickets online or go the harder route. This goes to visiting the Eiffel Tour. We opted to use the stairs, not the elevator. Our cheap souls saved 9 euro each with this decision.
With the metro, you also have a chance to spend less. If you will take many trips, then a day pass or a week pass might be your option. This was not the case for us. We planned our daily journey so to be able to get to most places by foot and used the metro only to get to the point of departure and on the way back home.
Overall, I did enjoy Paris a lot. It is a beautiful city, worth visiting, and all those things stated by the people I mentioned above are not true. This is not the place I would imagine me living in, but I, for sure, would visit it again.