Let me start by saying that if you have more than one day to spend in Paris, don’t do what we did. Seriously, DON’T. This was an incredibly unplanned, on the fly kind of day for us and while it was fun, it really doesn’t give you the best experience in Paris. Also, it was absolutely exhausting.
Kaylah, Kayla, Rhia and I decided to explore together since we were all pretty chill about where we wanted to go and when we wanted to see it. None of us felt like lining up for any museums either, which meant we’d be able to see a lot more sights, and we had a Seine River Boat Cruise later that day together, so it worked out perfectly. We grabbed a map from the lobby and decided on this plan of attack:
- Notre Dame
- Napoleon’s Tomb
- Arc De Triomphe
- Eiffel Tower
It all looked very doable based on the map. Nothing looked too far apart and I reckoned we’d even have time to go up the Eiffel Tower before dinner at 7pm. But see the thing we didn’t realize, and as you’ll soon read, is that things on the map aren’t exactly as close together as they seem. Pia and Sarah (my Paris roomates with Rhia) and Brett also decided to come along on our adventure.
We got through the Louvre and Notre Dame quite easily. The real trouble began with the gold-topped Napoleon’s Tomb.
I wouldn’t exactly call myself a map expert. I use Google Maps all the time at home, but let’s be honest, it really does all the work of figuring out routes for you. From the physical map I held in my hands, it looked like it was about 10-12 blocks away. No problem, right? WRONG.
Streets in Paris are remarkably long in real life. So long that we didn’t get there in 15 minutes at a leisurely pace like I’d hoped- instead it took an hour. We practically crashed on to the steps when we got there since we were so exhausted. At this point, we didn’t even want to go in anymore. I managed to sneak a peek through the door and while it looked spectacular, it wasn’t worth standing in a line for and wasting time in.
We were hungry now, so we tried to make our way out of the gardens, but found our way blocked by a 20-foot drop into a pit. It took us over 20 minutes to get find the way out (luckily there was a Tourist Information booth beside Napoleon’s Tomb). Our frustrations started to mount and in our hurry to get away we almost didn’t realize that we had ended up in the nearby Hotel Des Invalides, which was like a war museum. This ended up being great because it gave us a direct route over the spectacular Pont Alexandre.
After a short stop for lunch and a quick picture at “Canada Place,” we hopped on our Bateaux Mouches Seine River tour of Paris. This ended up being a nice 1.5 hour rest for us and thankfully the weather was gorgeous, but not a very interesting cruise as we’d already seen everything up close and personal.
We made our way to the shop-lined Champs-Elysees afterwards, which led us directly to the mighty Arc De Triomphe. The thing about the Arc is that while it is an amazing sight, the fact that it is in the middle of one of the busiest and largest roundabouts in Paris, makes you look more at the traffic than at the actual attraction before you. We probably stood there for a good 10 minutes, just watching people try to get out of this seemingly dangerous piece of land. A taxi driver even almost caused an accident when he blocked two lanes of traffic in an attempt to get out of the madness. We were mesmerized as we watched 2 police officers yell at him for being a traffic hazard.
There is an underground pedestrian crossing that takes you to the Arc, but we only had less than an hour left to get to the Eiffel Tower and take pictures before our picnic dinner.
So as you can see, we saw a lot of sights based on what we did, but we also missed out on a lot of things. I didn’t get to see Trocadero or go up the Eiffel Tower, but it’s definitely incentive to come back to Paris someday with a better gameplan…and maybe a Metro ticket.