Claudio and I visited Paris the last 5 days in April, while Alex stayed home with Oma and Opa (C’s parents). It rained every single day (except for the few hours we had of the last day), but we were fortunate to have a few beautiful breaks from the rain and regardless of the weather, the sights were simply breath-taking. I’ll break down our trip based on the days and hopefully won’t bombard you with too many pictures.
We took the TGV train from Zurich’s main station to Paris (total travel time : 4 hours). We checked in at the hotel and were excited to explore the city. Since the hotel was situated within a few minutes walk from the Louvre, we headed there first. We walked through the gardens behind the Louvre (the Jardins des Tuileries) which were beautifully landscaped with many grassy areas, flowers, sculptures, and fountains.
I loved seeing children playing with sailboats in the fountains, which were guided by the wind and long sticks. The ducks didn’t seem to mind too much either.
The French are all about relaxing. Check out these laid-back chairs by the fountains!
After this moment, it started down pouring. Luckily we spotted a tour bus and were able to hop on to get a 90-minute overview of the city. By the time we were dropped off by the Seine River it had stopped raining and we walked to Notre Dame.
We came after hours, so it wasn’t open, but it was really something to stand next to this humongous cathedral and take in all of the Gothic architecture. We finished up the day by watching the sun set and by chance we walked through the Modern Art District (Centre Pompidou) and saw the Stravinsky Fountain.
The fountain is filled with sculptures made by Niki de Saint Phalle and Jean Tinguely. Interesting fact: Niki de Saint Phalle also made L’Ange Protecteur – the angel hanging from the ceiling of Zurich’s train main station, which many use as their “meeting point”.
We were off to see the Eiffel Tower first thing in the morning.
What a special feeling to be there! I kept thinking of those who stood there before me, esp. my grandmother (mom’s side) who visited Paris decades before and I never had the opportunity to meet.
One of the elevators wasn’t working, so the line to ascend the Eiffel Tower was very, very long. We opted for climbing the stairs, where we only had to wait 20 minutes.
We reached the first tier and were SO glad we took the stair route. Just look at that line (and that was only half of it!).
From the second tier
We walked to a restaurant on a docked boat where I had the most delicious piece of salmon with pesto sauce and spring onions (Claudio had the same and loved it too). My mouth is still watering just thinking of that meal! If you ever happen to be in Paris, visit this amazing restaurant. The prices are very reasonable, esp. for being located right at the foot of the Eiffel Tower!
With full stomachs we walked to the Palais de Chaillot, on the opposite side of the Eiffel Tower on the Seine. We took a few pictures and then took the metro to the Arc de Triomphe.
Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers from the first World War
One of the avenues leading from the Arc de Triomphe is Champs-Élysées, coined as “the most beautiful avenue in the world” and is lined with trees, stores, restaurants, and hotels.
As expected for France, we saw many motorbikes (mopeds, vespas, etc.), but one of my favorites had 2 wheels in the front (in my opinion, a bit like training wheels). 🙂
We also saw many, many vendors selling crêpes. I couldn’t get over the size of the Nutella jars!
Walking from Champs-Élysées, we were looking for a metro station when we met up with an avenue full of embassies.
Flower shop on a street corner
We continued walking to the Galeries Lafayette (3 buildings in total), filled with high-end department stores on each of the 8 floors (7 above-ground and 1 below). We went in the main building called ‘Lafayette Coupole.’
We spent the morning and early afternoon in the Louvre. There’s such a massive amount of incredible paintings and every square inch of every wall seemed to be covered. We managed to go through one wing, but would have needed much longer to go through all of it.
One painting I was very excited to see was “The Wedding Feast at Cana” (as it’s one of my very favorites from the Book of John) by the late-Renaissance painter, Paolo Veronese in the 16th century.
We decided to see the two big churches this day, since it tied in nicely with Sunday mass. We went to Notre Dame for mass and it was one of the most beautiful masses I’ve attended. The choir, in combination with the organ was fantastic.
We took the Metro to Montmartre to visit The Sacré-Coeur Basilica (Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). We were so happy to have beautiful sunny weather there.
Interesting fact: The highest point of the Sacré-Coeur reaches even taller than the Eiffel Tower, due to being built on a hill. It literally towers over the city.
Below is Rue de Steinkerque, leading from the Basilicia. This avenue was lined with souvenir shops, cafes, and swarming with tourists.
Gourmet candy/cookie/pastry shop.
We took the Metro from this point to Centre Pompidou, where we had been before but didn’t realize where we were (haha). This is where the National Museum of Modern Art of France is (pictured below).
For the evening, we had dinner near the Eiffel Tower and were able to see it by night, which really creates a much different atmosphere as opposed to in daylight. At exactly 11 pm the Tower’s lights blinked on and off for about 5 minutes.
The Louvre at night
Our last day we had a few hours to do a bit of shopping, and enjoy a few rays of sun outside, before heading back home on the train. Lucky for you, that’s the end of the pictures. 😉 We arrived back home in Zurich at around 7 pm and were excited to pick up Alex, who supposedly turned into a salad and asparagus eating, world-famous chef (from all the practice he had in the kitchen with Grandma) while we were gone.
We loved Paris!!