After a super early start to the day, we left our last hotel in Rome and made our way to Rome airport. As we were only going to be in Paris for a couple of days and had to come back to Rome to get our flight back to Sydney (long story), we decided to just take a little carry on bag each and leave our suitcases at the luggage storage. Honestly the best decision I have ever made. It was so convenient not having to worry about our luggage when we landed in Paris and we could instead just focus on trying to get into Paris from the airport. My friend Nat lives in Paris (lucky girl) and she said it was easiest for us to take the train from the airport. So after carefully studying which station was closest to our hotel and working out how to buy a ticket, we hopped on a train and we were standing on Boulevard Saint Germain within the hour. We managed to find our way to our hotel, which was a cute little building with a red facade, tucked in between two restaurants. We were a bit early for our check in, but we were allowed to put our bags into a luggage area for safe keeping. We arranged to meet up with Nat after lunch, so mum and I wandered off to find somewhere to have some lunch. Thankfully it wasn’t hard to find a place, and we sat down outside at a nice little cafe for our first meal in Paris.
We took our time with lunch and people watched for a while, then made our way back to the hotel to check into our room. Once that was done, we set off to meet my friend, and didn’t get lost once thanks to Google maps again (if you remember it was very handy for us in Rome). We were to meet her at the Saint Paul metro station, which is in the neighbourhood of Marais. It was about a 15 minute walk (25 if you’re a tourist and are stopping to look at everything) and to get there we had to cross a couple of bridges over the Seine and pass by Notre dame Cathedral. We only saw the back of it at this time, but managed to get back later for a better look. We found Paris so much easier to navigate around than Rome and it was difficult to take a wrong turn. Before we knew it, we had reached our meeting place and had found my friend! I was very excited to see Nat as I hadn’t seen her for a couple of years since she had moved to Paris. Aside from wanting to see Paris, the main reason for stopping here in the way home was to catch up with her – we were just lucky it was in such a beautiful city!
We went with Nat and a couple of friends she had with her while they went and got falafel’s for lunch and then sat in a park to eat. It was quite cloudy and we were hoping that we wouldn’t get rained on while we were out and about, but at least it wasn’t too cold. We then said goodbye to Nat’s friends and went off together to see the sights. The first stop was to be Notre Dame. I was really excited about being able to see it as The Hunchback of Notre Dame is one of my favourite books of all time and Victor Hugo is one of my favourite authors. While I knew I wouldn’t see a hunchback, it was amazing just to be in a place that held such literary significance. On the way there we went past the city hall, Hotel de Ville – a ridiculously impressive building in itself. I had thought that it had once been the palace of some king or other, or the home of some great noble, but after googling it, it turns out that this building was built for the purpose of being the administrative centre of Paris.
A few minutes later, we were at Notre Dame. We took a few photos outside and then got in the line to see inside. The line was really long, but moved quickly so it was no more than 10 minutes before we were inside. There was a service being held there at the time we went in, and we got to hear some monks singing which was wonderful to hear in that big space. The big round stained glass window which is a highlight of the cathedral from the outside, was even more beautiful from the inside with the light coming through, and the space itself was massive. The mind cannot comprehend such a huge and impressive building being built centuries ago without the technology of today. There are also plenty of little nooks and crannies to see things, including a wooden scale model of the cathedral.
From Notre Dame we headed towards the Pantheon and unfortunately got stuck in a torrential downpour on the way. We took shelter underneath a construction awning, but we were a bit too late for that and were already soaked. We were standing for what felt 10 minutes before it eased enough for us to leave. We finally ventured out underneath umbrellas and soon reached the Pantheon and got a couple of photos. Then we went to, of all places to go in Paris, an English pub for a drink and to dry off a bit.
It was getting quite late by then and mum and I were exhausted from our early morning start. It was strange to think that only hours ago we were in Rome, and now we were sitting in a pub in Paris. So we finished our drinks and started to make our way back to the hotel. Nat was heading out to meet up with some friends so we parted ways once we figured out where we were and stopped on the way to grab something small to eat. Then it was off to bed for a big day tomorrow to see everything else!