Two nights in Paris on foot – A whirlwind romance with the city of love

Chandan France, Popular Posts 0 Comments

Eiffel-different

What would you do if you had two nights to explore the city of Love? With so much to see, feel and taste, things might get out of hand pretty quick. In this post, I will be writing about my two nights in Paris on foot. A 2-day whirlwind expedition of this beautiful city, on foot with loads of local guidance.
As I said in my previous posts, I am fortunate to work amongst a crowd of diverse nationalities. There is always someone local to the destinations we plan. Paris was no exception, except this time, I found my comrade after landing in Paris. I was so relieved to have found someone working in Paris for the last 2 years that I dumped all my planning to her. The Pirate was snoring noisily after outsourcing his work. It was November, chilling to the bones and vagabond me, disguised in my white collar suit decided to brave the wind and explore Paris on foot. Off course the Metros and subways were there to assist.

A gothic Eiffel at night during my two nights in Paris on foot
Teaser: A gothic Eiffel at night 😉

Going ahead, this post will be filled with a lot of Pro Tips. So make sure you read them before your trip planning.
Pro Tip 1: Mumbai standard warm clothes do not work here in winter. You have to have a minimum of two layers to trap enough air to keep you warm.
Pro Tip 2: Taxis are expensive like hell especially when you are traveling on INR. Metros are a life saver. I paid about INR8000 to get from Charles-de-Gaulle to my apartment. Didn’t hit my pocket as I was on an official tour, but if you are on your own then do plan accordingly. You can pre-book an airport shuttle or take the shuttle bus or train to Paris.

Getting down to my Two nights in Paris on foot voyage, first let me ask you one quick question – if you are given a chance to visit only one place in Paris than what would be it? Yes! I hear the unison. From our childhood, we have been seeing this piece of amazing architecture and engineering in textbooks, magazines, TV shows even wall calendars. Like Taj Mahal symbolizes India for tourists, Eiffel tower symbolizes the city of Love. As a travel writer, we all want to be different in our approach when writing about a place. But not keeping Eiffel as my first priority would be a profanity to the tourist inside me. An approach too risky to consider. So here I was planning Eiffel as my first priority while my partner was busy finalizing the two nights in Paris on foot itinerary.

Two nights in Paris on foot – Day 1

Our accommodation was at La Défense. I sneaked from work at 5 pm to start my Parisian voyage. As advised by my comrade I took a RER from La Défense to Charles de Gaulle Étoile metro station. The ride is about 30 minutes. The plan was to change to a Metro from Charles de Gaulle Étoile to Eiffel. I had my friend waiting at Charles de Gaulle Étoile.

Outside La Défense-Metro-Station-Paris
Gangnam Style outside La Défense metro station. Paris is a happy city 🙂

Pro Tip 3: RER and Subway/Metro are not the same. RER (Réseau Express Régional) is a part of the metro system that connects Paris city with the Paris suburbs. The Metro system is confined to the city only. If you are staying in the suburbs then the best way to get to the city is to take a RER and then change to a Metro to get around the city.

Incidentally, Charles de Gaulle Étoile is also the closest Metro station to Arc De Triomphe which is one of the famous monuments in Paris, standing at the western end of Champs-Élysées. Since we were already there, we decided to visit this monument and walk the Avenue des Champs-Élysées, which itself is a must visit location in Paris. Packed with high-end restaurants, amazing nightclubs, super luxury boutiques and branded stores there’re a lot of things to indulge into here. But for us, it was mere window shopping. The avenue is crammed with tourist and locals. Champs-Élysées also has a lot of museums. I am not a museum guy and neither my friend was, so we skipped that part.

Champs-Élysées during my two nights in Paris on foot
Walking Champs-Élysées
Mercedes-Showroom-at-Champs-Élysées during my two nights i
Almost bought this beauty at Champs-Élysées 😉

Pro Trip 4: you can visit Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe while on your way to Eiffel.

After a long walk down the Champs-Élysées and taking lot of blurry photographs at Arc De Triomphe, we took a Metro to Eiffel tower. You can walk from Champs-Élysées to Eiffel too, which is about two kilometers. The most beautiful part of this walk is that you will cross the Seine, but we preferred to preserve our energy for the mega walk later.

Arc de Triomphe during my two nights in Paris on foot
One more blurry pic at Arc de Triomphe
The nearest Metro station to Eiffel tower is Bir Hakeim. The ride from Charles de Gaulle Étoile to Bir Hakeim is about 10 minutes and a further 10 minutes more to walk from Bir Hakeim to Eiffel. The glimpses of Eiffel from the Metro is so enticing that the 10 minutes ride seems to stretch forever. As we walked towards the Eiffel tower a lot of street vendors approached us with Eiffel miniatures and souvenirs. We decided to skip that part. We expected a huge queue at Eiffel as usual, hence hurried our way. My friend on his last visit skipped the Eiffel tour because of the crowd. We were shell shocked when we approached a near empty Eiffel. The queue had less than 50 guys. We literally counted the queue just to believe.
Empty Eiffel during my two nights in Paris on foot
An empty Eiffel tower behind me

Pro Tip 5: You can find Eiffel empty too especially on a weekday during winter.

Damn! This was our golden chance. It was freezing at that time, and maybe that’s the reason crowd was sparse. Whatever be the reason, for us it was our golden chance to take over Eiffel. We did two quick tickets. There’re a lot a sign boards around saying – beware of pickpockets. Thankfully the crowd was too thin to expect them but we were holding onto our wallets just in case! We walked along with the crowd past the first two floors and then took the elevator to summit. As we went higher, Paris became smaller in size but majestic in appearance. We rallied our way to the open top just to get the first-hand experience of being at the top of Eiffel and were awestruck at the view. Once the initial burst of emotions fizzled, we started to feel the cold wind on our face. We realized we were shivering and could clearly hear our teeth chattering.

Freezing at the top of Eiffel tower
Freezing at the top of Eiffel tower
But it was not enough to stop us from spending our next 45 minutes on the top of Eiffel. The view from the top is incredible. The beauty of Paris dazzling in neon and tungsten is hard to describe in words. It’s something that should be felt rather than said. Apart from enjoying the view, we helped few couples on top take pictures and got some generous word of thanks. When we reached the point where we could no longer feel our nose attached to our face, we decided to call it a day and take the elevator back to base. Watching Paris from the top of Eiffel was a highlight of my two nights in Paris on foot itinerary. Once on the ground, we recharged ourselves with cups of double espresso and pizzas before starting on our walk to Louvre.
Seine from top of Eiffel during my two nights in Paris on foot
Seine from top of Eiffel

The walk from Eiffel to Louvre is about 4 kilometers which took us about an hour at our pace with a lot of photo stops. We walked by the Seine and the ambiance was wonderful. Our entry to Louvre was very musical. Met this guy at the entrance playing a clarinet, totally creating a warm mood with his symphony. I stopped there and sat down for a while. The tune perfectly matched the cold night and we missed our better halves listening to it, while our legs healed. We enjoyed a full track there before starting our relaxed and slow tour of Louvre Palace and the Pyramid.

The musician at Louvre
The musician at Louvre
As expected after our Eifel experience, we found Louvre empty too with just a few mad tourist like us braving the cold. After loitering around Louvre for about an hour we decided to walk back to Champs-Élysées, from where we took our train back to La Defense.
Louvre during my two nights in Paris on foot
A shot of symmetry at Louvre

Two nights in Paris on foot – Day 2

On Day 2 we decided to explore the Parisian streets and do some pub hopping. Our walking tour started at one of the famous street market – Marché Montorgueil or Rue Montorgueil. This is a very lively street with lots of cafes, restaurants and boutique shops. Walking down this narrow street bustling with small shops on both sides, gave me a real Parisian vibe. This area was a very busy marketplace once and Rue Montorgueil is said to be the last remaining evidence of it. It’s a short walk if you do it at one go but walking slow browsing through the numerous shops gives you a different feel to this place altogether. We stopped on our way for some Kebabs and cakes. Rue Montorgueil happened only and only because of our Parisian comrade. You can consider this as a secret gem in Paris.

Rue Montorgueil during my two nights in Paris on foot
Rue Montorgueil in a cold rainy night
Walking the Parisian alleys
Walking the Parisian alleys

Pro Tip 6: Do visit Rue Montorgueil for an authentic Parisian experience. A lot of tourists miss this.

From Rue Montorgueil, our next stop was Hard Rock Café Paris which is about a kilometer and half away. We walked slowly through the narrow streets and alleys, photographing the Parisian architecture. I was completely lost into the Medieval French Gothic Architecture. Everything is so designed larger than life here. If you are doing two nights in Paris on foot, make sure to spend some time with these marvelous arches and domes.

Typical French-Architecture
Typical French Architecture

I make it a point to visit Hard Rock Cafes in every location I visit. There is a secret love bond I share with HRCs that even they don’t know 😉 . So Hard Rock Café Paris was my idea and we did enjoy our time there. It was very crowded, unlike our Phuket experience where we stumbled upon a completely empty bar. We had few quick pints standing before making our way out to the next bar.
Hard Rock Cafe Paris during my two nights in Paris on foot
at Hard Rock Cafe Paris
Some of my expat friends suggested an awesome pub by the Seine. The pub is below a bridge overlooking the Eiffel. We reached there after walking for about half an hour. The crowd outside was huge waiting to get in and we had to queue for another half an hour just to reach the entrance. It is here I had my first nasty and bitter experience of Paris. To cut it short it ended all our excitement about exploring any further and we made up our mind to return back. Little did we know there was one more disaster waiting to happen shortly thereafter. But since this post is all about the positives, do check my next post on the other side of Paris.

Pro Tip 7: All that glitters is NOT gold. Do check out my next post for some reality checks.

Two nights in Paris on foot was a very ambitious as well as an audacious attempt at exploring this magnificent city. A Pirate’s itinerary for sure 🙂 Do let us know about your experience in Paris.

Signing off for now……..

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