Travel Log: Paris, France

view from Pont de Bir-Hakeim

In Mid-October, I travelled to Paris. As this was my first time traveling alone, I was very nervous. But after I bought my train tickets and booked my hostel, I started to become excited to visit all the places I wanted to see.

In this post, I will talk briefly about my hostel and what I did each day. If you want to read about my decision to travel alone or need some tips on solo travel, read my other post here. If you need Paris recommendations, read here.


Hostel

I stayed at Trendy Hostel which is outside of the city but it wasn’t really a problem because the metro was right next to the hostel.

Staff: The staff members were actually very nice and extremely accommodating. The first night, I asked a staff member what type of transportation I should use and he said a carnet of 10. He also offered that he can go with me after his shift to the metro to buy the tickets. I was really surprised when he offered because I think this is something other people wouldn’t normally do. As promised, we walked to the station and he helped me buy my tickets. In addition, when I was a bit confused on how to get to Versailles, another staff member gave me advice on how to get there. Without the staff, I wouldn’t have been able to navigate my way. They’ve definitely helped me on my solo journey.

Other people at the hostel: Most of the people there didn’t talk to each other but on the first night I did make some friends with a guy from Copenhagen and a guy from Germany. We added each other on social media and talked about our lives. I stayed in an all girls room in the hostel but I didn’t really talk to them. This didn’t really bother me because I started every day early and came back late.


Day 1

view from Champs des Mars

Eiffel Tower: The first morning, I headed straight to the Eiffel Tower. The view from Pont de Bir-Hakeim was beautiful in the morning. I then walked to Champs des Mars and honestly seeing the Eiffel Tower in the morning light is a mystery. The morning light on the Eiffel Tower makes the tower shine in gold! During the day, the Eiffel Tower is gray and not as beautiful as the gold.

I stood in line for the Eiffel Tower starting at 9am because the website said that it opens at 9:30am but the lady came out and said it would open at 11am. So, I ditched the line and went to a boulangerie to eat a baguette. The baguette was so yummy and filling. After, I walked across to the Arc de Triomphe. It’s a bit of an uphill and far from the Eiffel Tower but I thought it was a decent walk. If you don’t want to walk, just take the metro, it will save time.

view from Arc de Trimophe

Arc de Triomphe: The Arc de Triopmhe is definitely a beautiful place. The view from the top is amazing. You can find all the main spots: Eiffel Tower, Sacre Coeur, Notre Dame, La Defense. The tour up was free for EU students.

Laudrée and Musée de l’Oragnerie

Ladurée: This is the macaron house not too far from Arc de Triomphe. It is a bit overrated because you can buy their macarons in the U.S. as well. But when in Paris, I just had to you know? The inside is unique and there are many flavors to choose from. The caramel and pistachio flavors were excellent.

Musée de l’Orangerie: From Ladurée, I walked to Musée de l’Orangerie which was a bit far but I did not think it was a terrible walk. The museum is very small. The only thing you see are the two 360 rooms of Monet’s water lillies. It’s a bit hard to enjoy the rooms because it is a touristy place. However, I went back into the rooms multiple times to just sit and enjoy Monet’s work. This museum was also free for EU students.

Musée d’Orsay and Notre Dame (from the back)

Musée d’Orsay: Musée d’Orsay is right across the bridge from Musée de l’Orangerie. This museum is pretty big and contains interesting art. Musée d’Orsay is touristy but I did enjoy this museum. The top floor had a clock silhouette and Monet’s paintings. I also took pictures of the bottom floor and enjoyed the furniture section as well. The museum is free for EU students.

Notre-Dame: Next I walked to the Notre-Dame. There are so many people here, even when I went later during the day. I didn’t think it was that impressive for some reason. It just looked the same as other cathedrals.

Ile de Saint Louis: Next I crossed over to Ile de Saint Louis which I enjoyed. You see Notre-Dame from afar and on the bridge there are musicians singing and playing. I had ice cream at Berthillon. I think I had some nougat flavor and it was yummy. Unfortunately, you cannot try flavors.

Pantheon: After, I walked to the Pantheon. Sadly, it was closed. I really wish I went in but even being in that area was really nice. The University of Paris is there so you’ll see many students.

Luxembourg Gardens

Luxembourg Gardens: To finish the day, I strolled through the Luxembourg Gardens. It was beautiful and definitely what I imagined as Paris. People drinking and relaxing. I went when it was closing so I only stayed for awhile. It is a shame that they have to close the gates and kick people out.

Dinner: I ate dinner with my German friend I made at the hostel. We kind of lost each other but in the end found each other and a place to eat. The waitress at the restaurant was very positive and spoke English. The restaurant was a bit away from the main Champs-Elysée street which was also nice.


Day 2

Monet’s Garden: The next morning, I took a really early train to Giverny. It was pitch black dark when I arrived. Since the bus from the station did not operate yet, I decided to bike to Monet’s Garden. It was a bit far but it was beautiful to bike through the area. There’s not really a bike road after you cross the bridge but the cars will move so I didn’t think it was a huge problem. I thought the ride was very scenic and a good way to enjoy the village.

views of Giverny from the bike ride

The garden costs 5.5 euros for students which wasn’t terrible. I read reviews of going to the water lilies first. There were so many organized tours there so it was hard to enjoy and the path was narrow. Regardless, I took pictures and enjoyed the water lilies. After, I went back to enjoy the garden. I took some time at the gift shop too. My train back to Paris was early so I left in a rush to make it back in time. I pedaled fast to get back. I just missed the train but I was able to catch the next one by paying 5 euros. So, I went back out to the main city area. I went inside of the church and got a mille feuille from a boulangerie. I am actually glad I got to see around the city because it was a unique small town.

Monet’s Garden

Petit Palais: When I came back to Paris, I was pretty fatigued and was planning to visit Versailles the same day but knew going out of Paris again is a bit stressful. Instead, I just grabbed coffee from the market and went to the Petit Palais. It’s free and contains interesting art. It’s not as touristy as the other museums which was also very nice. The outside patio area for the restaurant has beautiful tiles. I honestly enjoyed the Petit Palais.

Petit Palais

Grand Palais: This place was a bit confusing because there were two lines for different exhibitions for the same building. However, I decided I wanted to see what was in there. I stood in line for the Irving Penn exhibition and paid 9 euros with the student discount. It was not free but it was fine because I actually enjoyed the exhibition. It was about an American artist who really connected with his subjects before photographing them. His photographs were stunning and the exhibition was well organized by separate sections into the different projects he worked on. I especially liked his project on small trades and cigarettes.

Irving Penn exhibition at the Grand Palais

Jardin des Tuileries: This area right in front of the Louvre is also a nice garden where people come to relax.

Jardin Tuileries

Louvre: I slowly made my way into the Louvre. There will be people trying to sell you souvenirs and tickets in the security line. Please ignore them. I think you should go if it’s your first time but it was not my favorite museum in Paris. This museum was free for EU students.

Everyone asked where the Mona Lisa and the staff seemed a bit frustrated so I would not recommend asking. I decided to just follow the flow of the crowd. It was kind of hilarious seeing everyone trying to take the picture. I enjoyed the castle area, the Egyptian art, and the room with the tiles on the floor. The main reception area was beautiful at night. The Louvre is connected to a mall. I wish I knew about this before.

Louvre

Sanukiya: To end the night, I went to go eat out alone. There was already a line outside the door and the waiter asked me how many and I said une (one). haha. Honestly, it was totally fine because I got seated right away while other people in line had to wait. It’s not too far from the Louvre and the staff were very nice. I got the karaage udon (katsu chicken and omelette) and it was so good. I was so sad when I finished. I would without a doubt recommend.

Karaage Udon at Sanukiya

Gift shop: Near Sanukiya, I stopped by a gift shop and bought some souvenirs.


Day 3

Versailles: My last full day, I decided to head to Versailles. There were lots of tourists going to Versailles so when I asked if the train was going to Versailles, they said “we’re going there too.”

Once we got there, we had to walk a bit from the station but it wasn’t terrible. I had to pay to view the Garden because they turned on the music and water for the fountains around the garden. The map was really useful because it showed which sections you should see in the day vs. afternoon.

Versailles Garden

I walked through half of the gardens and then went out of the gates to enter the park and Marie Antoinette’s estate. There, I saw no tourists and all French people: cycling, running, kayaking, hiking with poles. I thought this area was prettier than the gardens. It’s funny how all the tourists were gated in while the locals were out here enjoying the better landscape. It was peaceful to just walk and see how others enjoyed their Saturday with family. I saw many people on golf carts which is probably best to see the whole Versailles area besides the garden.

outside of Versailles Garden

I went back into the garden and took selfies because the lighting and background was perfect. I ate my sandwich in the garden and started to hurry back to the station.

Sacré-Coeur: Once I got back to Paris, I took the metro to Sacré-Coeur. The district is so beautiful and lively. You can hear music and artists painting on canvases. It was pretty crowded the day I went. Everyone was pushing and there were a lot of food vendors. I navigated my way inside the church and also paid for the tower. The view from the top is beautiful as well. It was a bit hazy so it was hard to find all the monuments but you could definitely spot the Eiffel tower.

all the people at Sacre Coeur :)
Sacre Coeur

Centre Pompidou: I then headed to the Centre Pompidou because I heard you could see the sunset from here. The security line took forever so I don’t know if I would really recommend. There were not that many people in line and I felt like it too long. There was a security line and a line for the admission once you got in and I got in for free so I felt like I wasted time.

Once I got in, I went to see the sunset at the very top to take pictures and then went to level 4 and 3 for the actual exhibit. There are very interesting artwork on display. I think level 3 is more interactive than level 4. I also wish I had more time because I went when it was closing so I felt rushed exploring level 3.

sunset at Centre Pompidou
Centre Pompidou: Level 3
Centre Pompidou: You get to step inside this cave

Dinner: For dinner, I went into a kebab place to maybe eat a shawarma plate but the owner said they do not serve that anymore (maybe only during lunch time). He recommended me something else with the ingredients he had left. I agreed even though I had no idea what he would serve me. The food was yummy and since I used the last of his ingredients, he had to turn away others saying he could not serve them. I felt bad but also special. The plate was about 9–10 euros so it was pretty decent.

Dinner

Souvenir Shop: I went back to the souvenir shop near Sanukiya and the Louvre to buy more souvenirs. There was a different counter person and he was a student. I bought lots of things here: sweaters, postcards, magnets, pens, key chains. The man asked me where I was from and said I was from the United States. He shared that he was from Morocco and we just talked for a bit. He was very generous by giving me free keychains and a nice bag to put all my souvenirs. It was a very sweet encounter.

Eiffel Tower: Since it was my last day, I wanted to be near the Eiffel Tower all lit up. I was a bit nervous to still be out alone but I knew I wanted to see it at night. There was a bus from the Louvre that went directly to the Eiffel Tower and there were other tourists there. So, I took the bus to the Eiffel Tower. It was beautiful and full of tourists of course. A girl and her mother from Chile asked me to take a picture of them in front of the tower and of course I agreed. I had no more space on my phone so the girl took pictures of me on her phone and agreed to email them to me. They were very sweet and I wished them a great rest of their time traveling Europe together.

LEFT: up close RIGHT: view from Trocadéro Gardens

Trocadéro Gardens: I then crossed the bridge to the other side to Trocadero Gardens. There were lots of young people drinking and enjoying each others company. It was really nice to see the Eiffel Tower from a far here. I wish I saw Trocadéro Gardens during the the day but it’s lively during night as well. I saw the Eiffel Tower sparkle at midnight and someone yelled: “Bonne Année!” (Happy New Year) haha.

After that I went straight back to my hostel. There was a metro stop at Trocadéro which was perfect.


Back to Bordeaux

The next morning I took an Uber to the station since my train was early in the morning. I came right on time so when I checked in and asked the man where my seat was he said: “dernier derniner dernnier!” (last, last, last). The train is really long, so I sprinted to find my seat!!! I finally found my spot and was fine.

I really enjoyed my time in Paris. I did not have any encounters with mean people. In fact, I felt like I met people along the way and when I asked for help, people were willing to assist. I am glad I was able to see so many sites in Paris. I definitely did not see everything but that just means I will have to come back some time in the near future. Merci Paris ❤

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