I came to know Paris from romantic movies, where people dance under the Eiffel Tower; I saw Paris from fashion magazines where designers and models gather at the fashion capital; I learned about Paris from history classes, where artists and writers linger to accomplish their famous works; I heard about Paris from dreams of others, in which they desperately want to visit the city of love.
Do I want to go to Paris? Heck yes! Even before visiting, Paris already occupies a special place in my heart. After getting work and school in order, here I am in Paris, doing my first time solo backpacking trip.
No matter what people might say, it is impossible to come to Paris without seeing its landmarks. Wanted to see Paris from high above, I chose Arc de Triomphe and Eiffel Tower as my first destinations. From the Arc de Triomphe, the 360 degree angle presented the entire city under my eyes and went as far as they can reach. Besides the unbeatable city view, Arc de Triumph carries history. It honors those who fought and died for France in the French Revolution and Napoleonic War. Napoleon ordered its commission and wanted to march under the great Arc de Triomphe, but sadly he was not able to. However, after he died, his body was carried under. Unfortunately he would never know that, or would he?
Strolling along Champs-Elysées, a famous street filled with high-end stores and café, I found my shopping appetite was heightened. I did quite a bit of window shopping, or “window licking” as the French call it. But rest assured, there are stores like Zara and Gap for shoppers like me. If you do not wish to spend 10 euros on a cup of coffee, go to McDonald’s that is close to the end of the street, which was almost horrifying to see on Champs-Elysées.
From Champs-Elysées, Eiffel Tower was a pleasant short walk. I cannot begin to imagine Pairs without the tower, as it is more than a tourist attraction, it is a symbol of Paris. However wonderful the Eiffel Tower is during the day, it becomes phenomenal at night. I got up to the summit when it was still light out, but stayed until the city lighted up. It was a view that I can never have enough. The Eiffel Tower also gave everyone a treat every hour, on the hour after dark, a light show on the tower. Seeing that, I knew I had to come back at least one more time. Indeed, I met up with friends from the hostel with wine and cheese, and sat under the tower, like true Parisians.
Of course, Paris is also known for its museums and palaces, either paintings, sculptures or history. With numerous museums and countless pieces of art, Paris has something to offer for everyone. I am no expert on art or art history, so I will not try to describe in details of museums. I will list the museums, palaces,
• The Louvre
• Museé d’Orsay
• Museé l’orangerie
• Château de Versailles
• Notre-Dame de Paris
• Basilica du Sacre-Coeur de Montmartre
Sadly, there was not enough time to explore Paris (and there probably never will be), and I already started to miss Paris before my departure. On my last day, I experienced House of Prayers in Sacré-Coeur; walked under the colorful Le Village Royale; enjoyed mouthwatering three-course French cuisine, and kissed Paris goodnight unwillingly, under the Eiffel Tower.
Paris is a busy city. It is filled with tourists and its metro system can be rather confusing. However, Paris pulls me in and makes me want to stay. I love Paris. I love the window displays from small shops that show their own characters, food or clothes; I love the cafés that take up almost the entire sidewalk, where people sit at tiny tables side by side, however cold the weather might be; I love all the gardens and random places where Parisians picnic with their out of the world bread and wine; I love the benches where lovers hold hands and tell sweet stories, and I love Paris for its sandy and rocky roads that make my shoes dirty, but Paris romantic. I love everything that makes Paris Paris. Indeed, Paris is no longer a travel destination for me. It is a lifestyle. A lifestyle that is filled with history, art and fashion, and a lifestyle that I can smell the love in the air.