Paris, the city of love, high fashion, and various beautiful main attractions. I took a flight from Amsterdam to Paris for just under £25 with Transavia. If you are curious how I’ve been flying so cheaply, the answer to this secret is to book through Skyscanner. There are certainly different and millions of websites out there that offers cheap flights but I must say that I’ve been quite impressed and loyal to Skyscanner for most of my trips. The beauty of Skyscanner is that it allows you to choose a specific month and gives you a price point for each day of the month in order to help you choose the cheapest day to fly. In addition, Skyscanner also allows you to type in “Everywhere” for your destination and it will give you the cheapest city to fly to on the date of your choice. I would also like to give credits to Mahesh, my friend who was also on the UBC Go Global Exchange program here with me at the University of Warwick, who did all of the planning and finding the deals on Skyscanner. Mahesh must have created our Europe Tour (Amsterdam, Paris, Barcelona and Milan) through this “Everywhere” system in order to help us find the cheapest flight and planning it in a way that would allow us to visit all of these cities in just one week.
In order to travel cheap, we stayed at a hostel again. In Paris, we stayed with St. Christopher’s Inn Gare du Nord. I stayed in the Standard 10 Bed Female Dorm (15-16 Euro per night) which was great for me as a woman who wanted some privacy. I was very impressed with this hostel because it was quite extraordinary. It was super professional and I’d never seen a hostel quite like this one (bare in mind, this was my second time staying in a hostel) so I was stunned to see a big bar and restaurant below the hostel. The hostel was also a pretty large building so I thought it was similar to a hotel. The reception was large and there were a lot of people staying in this hostel. We were given tickets to one free shots and also free drinks for a limited amount of time from 6PM to 7PM at the restaurant downstairs.
This was the hostel’s hallway; super clean, quiet and spacious. For some odd reason, I find myself enjoying walking along these hallways and admiring the decorations and things that were printed on the wall. I managed to have a couple of meals at the hostel’s restaurant. It was definitely not cheap but it was not expensive either. However, I do think it tasted quite decent. One thing that I was also impressed by the hostel was that they had a meal deal promotion during dinner time which was 10 Euro per person and it was exclusive for the hostel’s guests. Basically, you buy the coupon with the designated person at the restaurant and they give you a coupon. You enter the room just behind the restaurant and you will find a room full of variety of unlimited drinks and salad. You give the staff the coupon and they will give you the meal of the day. The night that I did this, I had spaghetti.
Getting around Paris was very convenient and affordable. We didn’t have to take any buses while getting from one destination to another. Our main transportation was the train which took us directly to the main attractions. The ticket lasted the whole day and it was 12.10 Euro per person. When we first landed in Paris, we also took the train from ORLY Airport directly into Gare du Nord where our hostel was and it was only about a 10 min walk away.
On our first day in Paris, I was quite nervous because it was my first time in a country where I could not understand or speak the language fluently. Although I took French in high school for five years straight, my skill was still at level 1. It was scary but it was absolutely exciting at the same time. For our first meal, we stopped at an Indian restaurant called Naina; we were just super hungry and just went to the first restaurant we came across. Naina would also be my first encounter with a language barrier in Paris. Our waitress could not speak English at all but I was proud to say that I managed to speak some French to her and got our messages across. I ordered the chicken Biryani and it looked quite different from the usual ones I get in Canada.
218 Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis, 75010 Paris, France
Our first stop in Paris, of course, was the Eiffel Tower. We woke up at 8AM to get here in order to beat the crowds and I was glad we did that. We got on the metro at La Chapelle (a 10 min walk away from our hostel) and after about 15-20 mins, we got off at Gare du Champ de Mars which was right next to the Eiffel Tower. Just when it became 10AM, there were more people surrounding the tower but we were lucky to have escaped the rush right on time.
Just before we got to the tower, I was hungry. I found a little cafe nearby and ordered crepes and hot chocolate. Believe me, I was excited to speak French with the locals so the first French I said in Paris was “Un chocolat chaud s’il vous plaît.”
Our next stop was Musée du Louvre, we took the metro and got off at Louvre Rivoli; again, the museum was right next to the station and it took less than 10 mins to get here by the metro. I was stunned to see the Louvre in real life because I did not expect it to be so aesthetically pleasing. I mean, I saw pictures online but I never thought that it was this cool. Unfortunately, we didn’t go inside the museum because it was closed on a Tuesday.
After the Louvre, we headed to Notre-Dame de Paris Cathedral. It was stunning, I loved the detail on the building; however, I have to be honest and say that I do hate how it’s situated so close to the roads so taking pictures of the cathedral was quite a challenge for me. Going inside the cathedral is free and it’s beautiful inside.
For lunch, we somehow got lost and ended up in Le Marais, which is a historic district in Paris. Long the aristocratic district of Paris, it hosts many outstanding buildings of historic and architectural importance. We witnessed various high end clothing department stores and there were a lot of restaurants nearby. One thing I found to be very unique in Paris was that the restaurants set-up was very odd. They had a dining area outside of the restaurant with all of the chairs facing the sidewalk. At first I found it awkward because why would you want to eat and face the people who are walking by? But hey, it’s their culture and tradition and I gave it a try.
After walking through countless of restaurants, we found Le Ju’ and decided to take our lunch break there. The waiters spoke English and the food was delightful. I couldn’t fully read the menu but I could guess what some of the items were. I had this poached egg appetizer with truffles and an odd-shaped pasta stuffed with cheese. I believe that my bill came to about 20-25 Euro, which wasn’t too expensive for such a high quality food and superb service. I just loved how friendly and energetic the waiters were and that was probably the reason why we chose Le Ju’ as our first place to try French cuisine.
16 Rue des Archives, 75004 Paris, France
Photo courtesy of Google.
By the end of our day in Paris, we headed to our last attraction, L’Arc de Triomphe. The moment we got out of the metro, it started pouring rain and I was disappointed by the arc because it was meh… I’m glad we chose the arc as our last trip because we were blessed with the sun for most of the attractions until the very end. I managed to get this sad photo of the arc in the rain and this concluded our day in Paris.
One misconception about Paris that I would like to bring to attention is that a lot of people have told me that nobody speaks English in Paris. I have to disagree. I managed to get around in Paris mostly because a lot of people responds to me in English. I remember on my last day in Paris, I ordered another hot chocolate at Gare du Nord. I said, again, “Un chocolat chaud s’il vous plaît.” The barista responded to me, “That would be 5 euro, please.” Yes, in English instead of French! I was a little a bitter because I was hoping that my French was decent enough to start a proper conversation, even if it was getting hot chocolate at a cafe. Everybody spoke perfect English at the hostel and when we got into the main part of Paris, there were a lot of English speakers. So, for those who are scared of not understanding French, fear not, for I was able to overcome this fear and got along just fine.