Paris Day 1: Believe

The only train that serves London to Paris route is Eurostar.  The trip was fast, smooth and comfortable.  Before you even finish your dream, you’re already in Paris.  Just after two hours, everybody is speaking a different language and using a different currency!  I know I shouldn’t compare two different places rather find their own uniqueness but I can’t help myself from comparing London’s St. Pancras to Paris’ Gare du Nord train station.  St. Pancras is modern, spacious, and clean while the latter is dirty and overcrowded.  I guess St. Pancras raised the bar really high.  I’ve read a lot of reviews saying that Gare du Nord is a haven of pickpockets so be very careful.

Gare du Nord
Europe's busiest train station

Luxembourg Metro
From Gare du Nord, we took the metro, specifically the RER line to reach our hotel. It took us just a few minutes to reach the Luxembourg stop which is a short walk from our hotel.  The obvious difference between Paris and London is its architecture.  French buildings are mostly made of marbles while in London buildings are made of bricks (I later learned that the French find bricks cheap). Both are beautiful in their own way. However, the thing that caught my attention the most was the wet streets.  It must have been raining here like in London. We had enough of the rain. It makes a place gloomy and sad, not to mention cold!  All our pictures in London are dull!  I would not let it ruin Paris for me. 

Where to go next?

I was waiting to feel the charms of Paris but it did not hit me.  No accordion music in the background, no mimes in the park, people aren’t wearing berets and where the hell is Madeline?!  I refuse to believe that those are just stereotypes!  To make it even worse, our hotel room isn’t served by the lift so my sister, Nicole, and I carried our 5 luggage weighing 20 kilos each up 3 steep flight of stairs. Welcome to Paris!  

But I did not give up on this “City of Love”.  My sisters and I joined the evening river tour of Discover Walks.  I’ve read a lot of good reviews about it and it’s solely based on tips so I said why not.  We were really desperate to experience the magic of Paris.  We hoped that this tour will bring it and it did!  We met Alex, our tour guide in front of Charlemagne’s green statue in front of Notre Dame.  He was very kind, knowledgeable and proud of his city.  He grew up in Ile-de-Cite near Notre Dame.  He is an authentic Parisian so he knows what he is talking about.  He tried to get to know everyone in our diverse group made up of Indians, Chinese, Paraguayans, Spanish, and Americans.  The tour starts at Notre Dame down to the River Seine and ended in one of Paris’ most romantic spot “the Titanic”, as how Alex called it, in Square du Vert-Galant.  Two hours definitely was not enough. We wanted more!  He told us secrets, mysteries and legends surrounding Paris. Everything started to make sense.  Before we knew it, it hit us.  We fell in love with Paris!  

The beautiful Pont des Arts

I'm finally in Paris!

The River Seine has salmons in its waters

Oh la la

Our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower!

Cafe Le Depart-St. Michel

Touristy Rue de la Huchette

Leafy Chestnut trees in Place Dauphine
For a moment, I felt like a local here

Happy sisters

Savoring the moment

"Smile and wave boys, smile and wave"

Chilling on the riverbank
My sisters and I sat by the banks of the River Seine and savored our state of euphoria. Parisians come to River Seine to party.  They gather there and bring beers, wines, cheese and whatever they can eat and just let time pass by.  For fun one can always wave at the tourist on the boats that cruise the river.  I manned up and waved and to my surprise people waved back!  The feeling was priceless.  Words cannot explain how we felt that night.  While having a chat with my sister, I heard this sound that is so familiar, so distinct.  I know I heard it somewhere.  Then I realized, it was the sound of an accordion.



1. Train from London to Paris: Eurostar Website

2. Be vigilant.  Gare du Nord is not the safest place in Paris.  Read here.

3. Buy the metro's carnet (10 tickets per pack). 

4. In Paris, green light for pedestrians doesn’t always guarantee a safe crossing.   Based on my experience French drivers tend to ignore that rule. Be careful when crossing the streets.

5. Join a free tour and thank me later: Discover Walks, City Free Tour,  Sandeman’s New Paris Tour.

6. Always ask the French first "Excusez-moi. Parlez vous Anglais?" (Excuse me. Do you speak English?) before speaking English.

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