I had a full Sunday in Paris, and I had made a plan of what I wanted to see.
I am not that big a fan of old buildings, I am more interested in modern architecture, which is why my first goal was the La Defense, where they have the biggest Arch of them all: Le Grande Arch. And wow is that a big arch (here is a detail of it). La Defense is a very new area, it reminded me a bit of Canary Wharf but it’s better designed. There are skyscrapers and there is colourful art like this
The thing I do like about Paris is how everything is connected. The Grande Arch is on the same line as the Arche de Triomphe and if you continue the line you’ll end up in front of the third smaller arch which is located near the Louvre museum.
When you look down from La Defense you can actually spot Arc de Triomphe. I would definitely recommend a visit to La Defense, the metro brings you to the heart of it, it was very quiet and there is enough to see.
Of course I had to snap the Eiffel Tower, and after that I went on to find Centre de Pompidou. I must say, that this was another challenge as somehow I had big trouble finding this place! While wandering towards it, I spotted this beautiful head and I did eventually find Pompidou’s centre and was glad I did as I loved the building. It looked exactly as I remembered it from 20 years ago, colourful and different.
In the small pool beside it they had this beautiful heart and a lot of other colourful artworks.
After this I went to see the pyramid at the Louvre museum (which featured in the Da Vinci Code film with Tom Hanks). And decided that I could not absorb any more so I sat down and enjoyed the sunshine for an hour or two before I made my way back to Gare du Nord and the Eurostar home.
My new Panasonic Lumix TZ4 (10x zoom) did an absolutely fantastic job, it certainly has its limitations, but as a travel fit-in-your-pocket camera it is hard to beat. I love it.
Tips if you are going there:
- Buy a tourist unlimited transport card for Paris. (It was €14 for two days but might be cheaper if you are going longer). You will need it, it is a big city and walking everything will exhaust you.
- Even though the metro is fast and convenient, you’ll see more taking the bus. It’s easy they are well signed and give information about which stop is next etc.
- There is free wifi in every MacDonalds – should you want to send an email home for free.
Things that I noted:
- the enormous amount of grafitti litterally everywhere in the city. Beside the metro tracks, on buildings – everywhere. London looks clean compared to this.
- Music on the Metro. On several Metro trains musicians just started playing music (guitar, accordeon, flamenco) in the hope to get some money for their effort. Some where good – some where not so good.
- No “Mind the Gap” or “Mind the closing doors” on the Metro. Nothing.
- Remember to take your ticket from the ticket machine as you will need it for the next ride. You feed it to the machine but the machine feeds it back to you, don’t leave it behind.
- You don’t need to touch out (as we need to with our Oyster card)
- The Metro is fast and has a high frequency, I never waited for more than a couple of minutes.
- Your mobile phone works on the Metro, there seems to be a signal throughout the whole network. This is not neccesarily a good thing!
- In the area around the Eiffel Tower there are at least 50 blokes who try to sell you a mini Eiffel Tower. Unbelievable, they nearly did not leave you alone, and they must have a truck load full of Eifel towers with them.
- Some French people refuse to understand you, even if you try to speak (tourist pocket book) French to them. Very annoying.
- London can learn a lot from French cafe culture. We need more cosy outdoor terraces in London! And more cosy cafes!
Will I go back? Yes, next time tv-2 plays there.