I have long dreamt of going to Paris, never having had the chance to go because living on the other side of the world meant awfully costly plane tickets. Living in St Andrews, this situation has finally changed. Upon seeing how reasonable the price of traveling to Paris was, I decided to join two friends on a five-day trip to Paris during Spring Break.
Paris was beautiful. From the neat rows of trees planted along the road, to the little cafes by the street, from colourful stacks of macaroons in display windows, to the aroma of bread wafting out from bakeries. The city was exactly as expected: Parisian.
We managed to visit most of the places I wended to see, none of which disappointed me in the slightest. Nothing could compare to the instant I first saw the Eiffel Tower with all the anticipation in the world. The incredible view of the city from the top of the Tower left me in awe, though it would have been nicer if only it wouldn’t have been cold! Walking away from the Eiffel Tower, we saw locals jogging in a park nearby, not once glancing at the Tower. It is fascinating to think how normal it is for these people to carry on with their normal life doing normal things being right next to THE Eiffel Tower. Maybe what makes visiting a monument so special comes from not usually having a chance to see it. When you do, it simply becomes a part of the mundane backdrop of your daily life, which is quite a pity, really.
My favourite part of the trip was going up to the top of Arc de Triomphe at night. The view was breath-taking. The multi coloured lights from cars, buildings, and landmarks lit up the streets of Paris, sketching out the city in glowing patches of light in the darkness. The top of the Arc was high enough for a good view without being so high that you have to appreciate it in freezing cold and insane wind. The view also comprised of an iconic landmark impossible to see from the top of the Eiffel Tower – the Eiffel Tower itself. Adorned with golden lights, it looked amazing at a distance. Plus, climbing 284 steps up a narrow spiral staircase really does make you appreciate the view at the top more.
What I did not expect though was the sheer difficulty in navigating the winding streets of Paris. Perhaps living in a town with essentially only three parallel streets has caused our inherent sense of direction to deteriorate significantly, or perhaps we could’ve done better than simply rely on the somewhat simplified free map from the airport tourist information centre. Either way, we more often than not finding ourselves standing confused at crossroads, trying to figure out which street we were on and why on earth it wasn’t on the map. If you visit Paris without knowing where you are going, I would advise you to arm yourself with a good map.
It was definitely one of the best trips I’ve ever had and I would very much love to visit Paris again. There was so much to see and barely enough time to rush through them all. Grasp your chances to travel. You won’t regret it, because I certainly did not!
Photo credit: Kelsey Swintek