I think if I had to take a poll on how many people would list a trip to Paris as their must-do, I wouldn’t be shocked to know that more than half would like to visit Paris at least once in their life. For me, Paris has never been on my must-visit list. My reasoning had more to do with the naysayers who made me believe that it was overrated, expensive, crowded, had a big city attitude, and was a tourist trap.
While I may have believed the stereotypes about Paris, other parts of France seemed absolutely magical to me. In 2013, I found myself in the south of France traveling through Provence-Alpes-Cote d’Azur, which includes beautiful locations like the French Riviera, Cassis, Nice, Cannes, Grasse, and other charming little places such as Saint-Paul-de-Vence. I had a wonderful time in the south of France, it was beautiful, the food was great, and I felt like I belonged there. I was made to believe that Paris would have the opposite effect on me. The truth was, I let the cynics deter me from forming my own opinion about this place. Regardless of what I believed about Paris, I knew if the chance arose, I wouldn’t deny myself the experience, so in January 2020, the opportunity arose, and I took it for 48 hours.
Hotel Le Petit Paris
Location: 214 rue Saint Jacques, Paris 75005
I booked a stay at a hotel called Hotel Le Petit Paris for two nights at about $155.44 per night for an average room. The hotel is in a section known as the Latin Quarters, which was an 18-minute walk to the Cathédrale Notre-Dame. Hotel Le Petit Paris provided breakfast to kick start my morning adventures, and a comfortable bed in a small but clean room. It was a charming place that served its purpose for those two days of getting in late and leaving early. There were a few memorable things about this hotel that seemed unmistakably French. The first was the smell of freshly baked pastries and bread coming from the patisserie down the street. On my first morning in the Latin Quarters, I woke up and instantly was prompted to look out the window. When I did, my olfactory system came to life as I inhaled the sweet aroma of baked goods. It was such a beautiful smell, after only having McDonald’s for a late-night dinner. Little happenings like this reminded me of my school days of attending catholic school and smelling the goodies baking at the bakery across the street from my school. The second thing that will stay in my memory is the sound of the church bells ringing on Sunday morning. This reminded me of home, as early Sunday mornings in my village, the church bells tolled for Sunday service. I recall looking at the street that morning in Paris and feeling like I was on the cusp of two worlds, one that was distinctly French and the other pointed to my pass.
First Stop Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris
My first stop was Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris; unfortunately for me, I was about nine months too late as it caught fire in April of 2019, which left it temporarily closed. Regardless I was only too happy to see it in person. At Cathédrale Notre-Dame, I was met with a number of tourists who continued to patron the location, supporting the local shops and cafes next to it.
After leaving the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, I walked to a place called Centre Pompidou, which has a public library, a center for music, research, and the most significant modern art museum in Europe.
Here is where I spent most of my day looking at art. I spent more than 3 hours looking at every piece of art on display in this museum. The collection was extensive, ranging from classical pieces to modern-day architecture.
Here is some more pieces…
The first morning I walked the streets of Paris; it was lively with people going and coming. The one thing that stood out was the many street arts that popped up on almost every block. Walking from street to street of Le Marais area, I came upon many boutiques, bars, galleries, and cafés, small restaurants, public attractions, and many street art.
Paris la Nuit
Spending all those hours at the Centre Pompidou and knowing I only had a few hours in Paris with little to no concrete plan, the next step was an early dinner at a small café.
Taking so much time at the Centre Pompidou didn’t offer me enough time to go to the Palace Versailles or Louvre museum. Since it was Saturday night, I headed off to the Champs-Élysées and then walked down to the Arc de Triomphe.
Using Google maps, I mapped my way towards the Eiffel Tower as midnight approached. I knew very little about Paris and the Eiffel Tower, but it wasn’t hard to find since it was lite up.
Lucky for me, my timing was perfect as by the time I got to the tower around midnight, I was lucky enough to see it light up with glimmering lights.
At first, I assumed that the light-show only happened at midnight. I later learned that the tower lights up every hour from sundown until 1 a.m. Regardless, I felt very special to see it light up shortly before I headed back to my hotel to settle in for the night.
Walking back to my hotel I saw this official building lite up with the national colors
Paris, oh, Paris!
While I felt like I only got a morsel size experience, it did enough to make me understand why Paris is often listed on so many of our must-visit list. Presently I can say that I am a Paris convert and will never pass up another opportunity to visit this place. I could feel so many things in this city, the romanticism, frustration, passion, overwhelming air, beauty, suffering, and, more importantly, the life that moves it forward.
Paris, I do hope to see you again!