In July 1999 (Friday to Sunday) I made my fourth trip to Paris. My boyfriend Volker and I went to visit my penpal Didier and his Mexican girlfriend Aida. On Friday morning we took the highspeed train TGV Thalys from Düsseldorf to Paris where we arrived at noon. All of us stayed at Aida's flat. On Friday and Saturday we visited Sacre-Coeur and Montmartre, the Eiffel Tower, the Arc de Triomphe, the Champes-Elysées, the Madeleine church, Place Vendôme, Place de la Concorde, the Tuileries, the Louvre (only from outside), Notre-Dame and the Quartier Latin as well as the Jardin du Luxembourg. I've seen many of these places before but it was Volker's first time in Paris, and anyway, it's always nice to see those places again. Saturday evening we did a river tour on the Seine which was romantic. Paris is very pretty at night when all the illuminations are on. There's a new metro line, no. 14, which is very interesting as it works fully automatically. If you sit at the front of the first train you can see the underground tunnels with the eyes of the non-existing conductor! On Sunday we also went to La Défense, the quarter with the big new high-rise office buildings, and to the Bois de Boulogne. We left Paris at 7 p.m. and arrived back home at midnight. In contrast to my first visits to Paris I was lucky weatherwise this time around with temperatures of up to 30 °C!
My first time in Paris was only a day trip from school in 1986 when I was on an exchange with pupils from Sully-sur-Loire. We went by coach and did the most famous sights like the Eiffel Tower, Sacre-Coeur, Montmartre, Arc de Triomphe and Champs-Elysées.
The second time was in September 1992 (Saturday to Wednesday) with my French/English friend Sophie. We stayed at cheap one-star hotels which we hadn't booked in advance. Therefore, for the four nights, we had to change hotels three times as nothing was available for more than one or two nights at a time. But apart from this it wasn't a problem to find a room, except for the first night which was a Saturday. We obtained a hotel guide at the train station and rung them up quite late but eventually we succeeded in finding a place. The following days we just walked around the area for the next best hotel that was available. We visited many places like Sacre-Coeur and Montmartre, Les Halles, Les Tuileries, the Opera House, the Place de la Concorde, the Arc de Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the Palais du Luxembourg and the Quartier Latin. We also went to the top of Notre-Dame, which offers a beautiful view over Paris, as well as to the Centre Georges Pompidou with the millennium clock. Besides we saw Monet's famous paintings of waterlilies in the Orangerie and the Palais Royal with its modern art. We also visited the Père Lachaise Cemetery. We didn't find Jim Morrison's grave though, and as it was getting late we weren't too keen on getting locked in!
The third time I visited my Belgian friend Lizzie during her stay at Paris University in June 1993 (Thursday to Sunday) and I stayed with her at the Cité Universitaire. While Lizzie went to her classes, I went to see the Place de la Bastille, the Place des Vosges and the Place Vendôme. Together we visited the Louvre (be prepared that the Mona Lisa is tiny!), the Cimétière Montmartre with the graves of Stendhal and Zola and the flea market (Marché aux Puces) of Montmartre. In the Faubourg Saint-Germain we saw the world's oldest café "Le Procope".
Tips for Travellers
For travelling in Paris I recommend to buy a booklet of 10 metro tickets instead of a day ticket unless you intend to hop on and off the train all the time.
You can get a good view over the city without paying a penny from the top of the Samaritine department store.
If you intend to visit the Eiffel Tower, be prepared for a long wait, especially if you want to take the elevator. If you don't mind climbing the stairs, it's actually quicker and cheaper, even though more exhausting! You can't get right to the top unless you take the elevator from the second platform. But in my opinion this isn't really necessary. You already get a great view from where your feet can take you. If possible, go on a weekday!
The artists' quarter at Montmartre right behind Sacre-Coeur is very interesting but expect to be asked to have your portrait painted at every second step. The restaurants there are quite touristy. Maybe you should better head for the Quartier Latin.
You don't have to tip the waiter when you buy only a drink.
What I'd still like to see but missed up till now is the copy of the Statue of Liberty somewhere in the middle of the Seine.
Gaité du Cimetière
Avis aux amateurs de la gaité française:
Avec son air vieillot, son charm surannée,