I had only one day to spend in Paris due to my last minute booking onto a tour leaving from Dublin the next day. No matter, I would make the most of it. I arrived at 8:40am on the overnight train that left Barcelona at 8pm, and despite sleeping on what amounted to a reclining chair, I think I managed quite a lot of sleep because I had enough energy to see me through one packed day of sightseeing.
After eating a tasty bagel and coffee at the train station cafe, I took the metro to my canal-side hostel to drop my bags. I then headed off to the Cathedral of Notre Dame: the first stop on my Rick Steves audio walking tour of historical Paris.
This tour proved to be the best thing I could have done (and it was free!). It took me outside the Cathedral of Notre Dame, inside the Cathedral, with detailed commentary the whole time.
I then paused the tour to grab a delicious Croque (not Monsieur or Madame, but one that had chorizo, onion and cheese on it) at a cafe right nearby on the corner. I so enjoyed this Croque on its toasted brown bread after the refined white bread of Italy and Croatia, and I didn’t feel disgusting afterwards.
The tour then took me around the side to view the Cathedral, then around the back. I was meant to go into the underground Holocaust memorial, but it was closed. I then heard commentary on what was on other side of the Seine river there. The tour also took me across a bridge to a square area with cafes in it, and to check out a couple of small parks.
The tour walked me over down a couple of streets around in the Latin Quarter, including to the Shakespeare and Company bookstore. It took me to Place Michel (or similar), a historical meeting place for Bohemians.
It took me then to and inside the Sainte Chapel, built by Louis IX to house the supposed Crown of Thorns. I was initially confused by what the audio guide was pointing out, and why I had paid 8.50 to get in, until I realised the main floor was upstairs. I admired the large stain glass windows with the help of the explanatory commentary.
The guide then took me into the Conciergerie, where individuals supposedly against the French Revolution were killed by guillotine. This brought to mind long forgotten elements of my French Revolution history studies. I was then taken across the river to the charming Place Delphine, shown an interesting statue, and as the tour explained, it ended where Paris began: with the River Seine.
The Louvre museum was in sight across the river, so I crossed and stopped at another corner cafe for some gateau au chocolat and a coffee, listening to an audio discussion of Paris’ cafe culture. Making my way to the Louvre, I immediately noticed a man cooking crepes in a stall nearby, and elected to purchase a ham, egg and cheese one. Although I was pretty full, it was very delicious – not at all like the one I had in Nice.
I then made it to the Louvre and admired the outside of the building complex. It was closed on Tuesdays – something I hadn’t counted on until I looked it up that morning – but I walked around and through the large beautiful garden.
At this point, although my phone had mercifully clung onto battery life until the audio tour finished (I wasn’t sure it was going to make it.. it took over four hours!) a quick attempt at using Google Maps thoroughly drained it. I was going to have to head back to the hostel to recharge it when I noticed the Eiffel Tower’s spire peeking over the buildings. It didn’t look far so I walked towards it, through the beautiful garden and among the statues.
The Tower proved quite far in actual fact, but I eventually made it, walking along the Seine. By this time my feet were thoroughly tired so I sat for a while and took the requisite selfie. I could not, however, muster the energy to queue or go up in the tower. Instead, after about six hours of walking, I went back to the hostel, had some delicious Mexican chicken salad at the bar, and went to bed early in preparation for being up at 5:20am to catch a morning shuttle bus and then flight to Dublin!