Paris is less than 6 hours drive from where the parents live, and sometimes there are amazing deals from Geneva to Paris – my sisters have travelled on less than €20 tickets.
This Paris trip started off with my middle sister having a dance lesson. It was located basically at the border of 10th, 11th and 3rd Arr. While she was dancing, it gave us a great opportunity to explore this area.
We first went to Musée des Arts et Metiers (National Conservatory of Arts and Industry) (also works on Street View). My favourite “room” was the one that housed Foucault pendulum…my first thought was this looks awfully like a church…turns out that the entire museum is situated in an ancient monastery! Priory of Saint-Martin-des-Champs. The surviving buildings not only hold valuable pieces of scientific history, the buildings itself are considered treasures of medieval architecture.
Foucault pendulum was the first simple proof of the rotation in an easy-to-see experiment. There are Foucault pendulums in display in science museums and universities all over the world, but the one in this museum is the original!
There are other cool things in the building too – cars, trains, planes. Hands-on-exhibits.
Walking around 3rd, 10th and 11th Arrondissements made me realise how different each of them are, and made me want to explore all of the Arrondissements individually and thoroughly among many visits.
3rd Arr. seemed quite trendy; my gauge was the restaurant scene.We sat in 2 cafés during our exploration – I will not be able to remember what they were called though. In 10th Arr., we walked along the bank of Canal Saint-Martin, which had lots of really interesting independent boutiques. In contrast, 11th Arrondissement, including the street my sister’s dance class, on the border street was a lot more densely populated.
My dad knows 7th Arr. quite well because that’s got a lot of the UN buildings, and it’s also where the Eiffel Tower is. He has a favourite restaurant very close to UNESCO where we went for dinner that night. There has been a management change since it became his favourite, and unfortunately that’s made some rough edges crop up. But there’s a range of options between the set menu prices, and walking distance from Eiffel, for a post dinner walk.
The next morning we started back from 3rd Arr. We had breakfast in Café Republique, and then walked towards La Seine, and followed the bank to the Louvre. On the way, my parents introduced me to Picard, which sells only frozen food in sooo many varieties (some of which can be microwaved: hint hint for those staying in hotels and wanting to save a little bit of money each day; possibly one meal).
This route let us see Notre-Dame, Hotel de Ville, Sainte Chapelle, all before walking in to the Louvre under the arch of Colonnade de Perrault and through the gardens before the iconic glass pyramid finally appeared through a doorway.
We had researched about the hidden entrances to get into The Louvre where there isn’t as long of a cue and all of that, but when we got there we realised that the line wouldn’t take too long so we just stood in it.
We realised why it didn’t take too long once we got inside – there were so many ticket booths inside the pyramid, that is was hard for them not to be efficient. There are “skip the line” tickets (which cost money), but because 3 out of the 4 of us who were either under 18 or under 25 from an EEA country, we didn’t need a ticket, just proof of age/residency, another reason we stood in line.
This was a really great time to come to The Louvre because even my youngest sister had something to contribute. She had been learning about Hammurabi’s Code, one of the first forms of law, so our first order of business was to locate it! I think this is the best way to visit a museum, trying to find things you already know about/know a little bit about so you can expand your knowledge/because you already have interest in it.
We also did the most popular thing to do:
Top tip: Be really short, you can squeeze into the front of anything.
At the Little One’s request, we also had to find “The Coldplay Painting”
(I have to admit, she knew the actual name of the painting, but to get us to agree to seeing it, she had to call it The Coldplay Painting. It was in the same wing as the Monalisa, so we agreed.)
I recommend this café, at the end of the same wing. One of the museum guards recommended it to us, and we had a peek into the other cafés later on, and we agreed that this was a really good decision. The Louvre’s cafés come in all price ranges, this is near the bottom of the ranges, it’s the most laid back and relaxed, it’s like a terrace café but with the perks of being indoor. And there were veggie options, which made me really happy.
We went to the Notre Dame afterwards, and then to the Spanish Quarters which are right next to it. But The Little One (as I have baptised her in this post) wanted to go home, and my phone was dying, so I had to switch SIM cards with her, so all my pictures are with her.
The SIM cards switch was a story: I have a thing with asking women wearing hijabs for favours, first there’s the driving license story, and the second one – I knew that this young girl would have a pin, which I would be able to use to open our SIM pockets with…so I asked her for it (this qualified as an emergency so I actually spoke French for it).
I unfortunately had to speak French again this day…We were having a great time together, my mother, my middle sister and I. And we even convinced mum to spend some money on clothes, we got to the till…and mother couldn’t find her purse anywhere. There had been a little commotion with some clothes falling off a rack, and our only explanation is that’s where it could’ve happened.
Finding a police station was the most difficult thing. Finding police/security guards were easy, but it was like no one knew where the actual police station was – they were all like “maybe it’s there,” and this was another time that Google Maps also didn’t know what it was doing. This was where Prachi’s phone and the SIM switching came in sooo handy. I left my mum and Priya to look around the shop while I went on a French speaking adventure, and fortunately all those years of what my mum calls unused schooling was used. I have just checked, and the Commissariat of the 5th Arr. is marked now, and even if you search “police station” it comes up.
Then we went to a dinner party at a family friend’s place.
Then we went back to the hotel where this was my midnight entertainment:
It was set out in the lobby, a huge touch-screen table-tv thing…probably for younger kids than me…but it was past their bedtime, so I had it all to myself!
The next morning we did some of the clothes shopping we couldn’t do the day before…and with my dad’s credit card instead of mum’s cash 😀
We ate breakfast outside in the sun very close to the Sacré Coeur area. I haven’t been inside the Sacré Coeur yet, but because it’s up on a hill, it can be seen from everywhere in Paris.
This was during Easter Break, so all the plane tickets were in the €120s, but Eurostar cost €20 at the time that I bought it. When my parents moved back to Europe and I had moved to the UK, I had expressed interest to travel on the Eurostar to see them/to return and it was met with a reaction that could only mean: impossible, unaffordable. But I showed them!