“If you think adventure is dangerous,
try routine, it is lethal” – Paulo Coelho
This is a short story of a simple personal adventure…
Every year atleast twice I get this itch to go on a vacation and I start prodding my friend to help me plot our next expedition. And Jan’15 was no different. I kept harassing her to close down on one place and plan everything, yes I am that lazy and yet proudly pestering.
Then one fine day she called and said she has a conference coming up in Reims, France and I can come along too but it will be just for 3 days. Hmmm… France + trip + just 3 days didn’t seem to add up well, so next came the suggestion “Why don’t you travel alone and go see Paris and nearby villages/ towns on your own for 6 days before reaching Reims?” My reply – “aaaa whaaa?!” ” OF COURSE I won’t travel alone! What if I got bored with myself?”
Yes, Yes even though I know that I am pretty awesome but still that came out of my mouth, may be I was afraid of going to Paris alone because you’ve heard all these mugging stories or because this was something I had never done before, out of my comfort zone like WAY OUT OF MY LEAGUE o_O. A lot of people said that it will be foolish to go all the way to France and visit just a few small towns here and there. But if my life had background tracks, then this would have been playing then ” hai apna dil to aware, na jane kis pe aayega” and so it began – 10 days 1 big city & 3 small towns/ villages in France 🙂
Whatever thought went behind my decision but yes I borrowed a Lonely Planet, downloaded offline maps for Paris, Reims, Amboise & Strabourg , Paris subway app with routes/ train durations/ schedule, found a friend’s friend staying at Paris, booked my first hostel experience, got all my required belongings under 12kgs packed in a backpack, put on my first pair of colourful gum boots and off i went Woot Woot!
So here is your small little pictorial tour to a small part of France – Paris, the city of love 🙂 On the way you might also realise the level of happiness you can get while traveling solo :
DAY 1 of figuring out life in Paris
Landed. Checked in at my hostel – St. Christopher’s Inn, Gare Du Nord. Bang on the subway/ train station of Gare Du Nord. Dumped my luggage under my bunk bed and started walking with Emilien, the friend recently introduced by my other friend.
While I was trying to fit that pillar and me in a selfie, Emilien who was helping me get acquainted with the streets and subways, was trying to tell me quaint little stories about these places.
Yes! I like Paris at night way more than in the daylight 😀 specially when I am at a place called the ‘Rum House’.
And that is how Day 1 ended for me 🙂
Day 2 of everything colourful & vibrant on streets
This was by far the best day of my trip – Flea Market, street art, Salvador Dali and Jim Morrison – all in one!
By now I had realised that subway will become a part of my life in Paris, so every morning started with plotting stations nearest to my planned spots of the day but if the places are close to 3-5 kms apart then of course WALK, because there is no other way to know a place better than talking with people while walking on the streets and eating the local food 🙂
Get down at Porte de Clignancourt and start walking towards the Paris Flea Market – Marché aux Puces St.-Ouen de Clignancourt.
All the time I was at Marché aux Puces and when I was walking towards my next stop – Montmartre, the artists’ village , this big grin won’t leave my face 😀 Guess others noticed it, may be that’s why I received friendly hellos & smiles on the way 🙂 I was getting comfortable…
The thing I loved about museums in France is that every piece has a story and they won’t shy away from telling you that story with the same passion over and over again through texts, through voice, through sound or just visually.
From Clignancourt take the subway to Pigalle station and you arrive at the largest Paris cemetery – Père Lachaise Cemetery
You can read more about the story behind each of these larger than life tombstones, here – Is France obsessed with graves?
Ofcourse it got late and of course I was escorted out by the cemetery guards as I kept asking them to let me see just one more grave (psst…freak alert)
And if you are wondering how my hostel St. Christopher’s Inn was 😉
Day 3 of Shakespeare & Love Cruise
Started off on the day’s first subway journey to St. Michel station to visit Notre Dame but after disembarking from the train so quick was my decision to go towards Shakespeare & Company bookstore that I felt dizzy with joy (floating in the clouds, visualising ‘Before Sunset‘ ♥♥)
With my content filled heart I did visit Notre Dame but it didn’t give me the same exhilarating feeling as did this bookstore 🙂
So I walked a few kms in search of the next best thing to books – FOOD! Suggested by a friend of mine who spent quite a few years in Paris, I headed towards Berthillon, supposedly the best ice cream/ sorbet in the world at Ile Saint-Louis island.
During the river cruise in Siene, the guide said “we will be passing under the bridge of love now. Make a wish and kiss… And blah…” They have a bridge of love too?!! how much love is there in this city?
And so this day came to an end too.
Last day in Paris : Day 4 of Louvre stories
Subway to Palais Royal – Musée du Louvre, a pre-bought pass and a sneak away non-crowded entry to Louvre B-) Thanks to Emilien again for showing me the cheat path to avoid standing in line for 2 hrs atleast!
It is said that you need around 3 days to walk through and see Louvre Museum, so don’t forget to again mark what all you want to see there and listen to each and every story behind that piece of art. Get involved, get to know it, live those moments.
So ended my trip to Paris, and I took the train to Amboise then Reims and last but the most beautiful little town of more than 5 Michelin Starred Restaurants, Strasbourg.
Hope to give you that nudge to just pack your bags and walk 🙂
What you should know?
Not everyone gets mugged in Paris
People are friendlier than expected here 🙂
Always have a hearty breakfast before starting your day
Keep an offline map of all the planned cities pre-downloaded with you
Stay at some place near a subway station
Always carry enough change for subway tickets
Stand on the right if you are not planning to walk on the escalators
Buy comfortable, light and warm gum boots for all those long walks
Get to know the stories behind everything you see to live the moment
Don’t waste your time visiting the touristy places only, get to know the city even if takes a day or two more
WALK & WALK & WALK & EAT!
P.S. Thanks a tonn Bhooshan, Niyanta & Emilien for everything 🙂
All the pictures were taken by me so don’t use them without giving credit. Pliss 😛