I visited Paris for a few days over the summer, and found an amazing city with no shortage of famous sights, historical buildings, and great food. It was difficult to see everything during the three days we were there, but we managed to visit all the key attractions, as well as spending some time in the districts of Montmartre to the north of the Seine, and the Latin Quarter to the south.
Here are a few things I discovered whilst there:
1. Distances are further than they seem
On arriving in a new city, I enjoy walking around and seeing what I can find. However the tourist maps can be misleading; something that looks a short distance away is probably much further. We spent a great deal of the first day wandering around the city, which we enjoyed, but may not be ideal if you have time constraints.
2. No vegetarians allowed!
Well, obviously not true, but it is very difficult to find vegetarian food in Paris! This probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise to most people, as Parisian cuisine traditionally features meat, but very few restaurants have a vegetarian option unless they serve pizza or other Italian dishes. Saying that, it can be found; there were some great crepes and croque sandwiches, along with French patisserie. The macaroons are possibly the best ever.
3. The Mona Lisa is tiny
The Louvre has roughly several million paintings and works of art on show, but the most famous and popular of these is Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. The museum takes security very seriously when it comes to this painting, by placing it behind bullet proof glass and employing staff to watch it at all times. However, the painting itself is tiny. And very difficult to see because of the hordes of people in front of it. Also, it probably doesn’t help that it’s positioned near a giant floor to ceiling canvas overwhelming it somewhat.
4. Basic French
I studied two years of French at school, but this was a while ago now and I’ve pretty much forgotten all of it. It would have been helpful if I’d revised a few phrases beforehand; even though the majority of Parisians can speak English, I’d have liked to be able to understand the French.
5. The Metro
Very easy to use, hardly anyone on it, and you can get pretty much everywhere. The ticket machines have multiple language options, and you can buy tickets for one, three or five days. The Metro will take you all over central Paris and to the districts north and south of the river.
Look out for more Paris posts coming soon!
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