As many of you may know, I went back to Paris this summer with my parents, younger brother, and Ben. I had the absolute best of intentions in blogging about our trip, but… well… you know what they say about good intentions. Now that I’m on winter break from work, I’m finally catching up on life, and am so happy to be finally sharing details from the trip! Since we did so much, I will have to break this up into several posts, so be on the lookout for more!
After we landed in Paris, we navigated the craziness that is the Charles de Gaulle airport. For those of you who have never been here before, a “zoo” is putting it lightly. While the rest of the family relaxed after the long trip, I took on the role of Chief Executive Communicator and found us a taxi who would take us into Paris.
This time, we stayed in the 4th arrondissement of Paris- one of my personal favorite neighborhoods. For those of you unfamiliar with the neighborhood “structure”, Paris is divided into 20 administrative districts- each with their own unique culture and crowd. The 4th, while being one of the most historic neighborhoods, is also home to both the Jewish and LGBTQ quaters of the city.
One thing I love most about the 4th, is how friendly and welcoming everybody is. Paris tends to get a poor reputation for their “customer service”, but I have never found that to be true in the 4th arrondissement. I have only had wonderful experiences here, and always recommend this neighborhood when friends ask for advice on where to stay.
After we all got settled in, we walked down the street and across the bridge to Notre Dame. Although I’ve been here several times, it never ceases to amaze me just how beautiful this church really is.
One thing that has been on my “Paris bucket list” for quite some time was to take a picture with Ben at Paris Point Zero. While it may seem somewhat insignificant as just a plaque in the ground, it is actually considered the center of Paris, and is the point from which all distances throughout France are measured in relation to Paris.
One thing that often surprises many Americans during their first trip to Paris is the openness with which guards carry their automatic weapons. Conversely in America, while it’s quite common for people to carry handguns, you would never dream of seeing an officer guard a monument with an AK-47 or similar weapon. Not a political statement- just simply a fact. (As a side note, I didn’t intend to photograph this officer, but wanted to explain for those unfamiliar with this policy)
As it started to get dark, we made our way back to the Airbnb. Since we arrived in Paris not too long after France won the world cup, the city was full of national pride and the French flag was displayed everywhere!
The next day we woke up early to head to the Eiffel Tower. Since I was in charge of all communications, being fluent in French, my brother took on the role of helping with Ben while I was busy buying tickets, etc.– he was so helpful and I was so thankful for him!
After navigating the metro system, we finally arrived at the Eiffel Tower! For me, seeing the Iron Lady is what signaled to me that I was finally home- in the place that I feel happiest and most “me”, and I was so happy to be able to share it with the family.
Thankfully, it was a beautiful day, and wasn’t “too” crowded. That’s the thing about the Eiffel Tower- it’s always going to be crowded, so you may as well go when the weather is nice.
One thing that was different this time, were the new security lines at the tower that we all had to go through in order to access the monument. When I went up the Eiffel Tower back in 2011 with my dad, none of these were here, but since then, due to the unfortunate rise in terrorist attacks, the city is on high alert for any suspicious activity.
Once you get through security and are officially on the grounds, you’re free to walk around as you please, or queue to go up the tower. Being the adventurous family that we are, we chose to walk up the first two segments as opposed to riding the elevator.
Once you reach the first “level”, you’re able to walk about the observation deck which has food kiosks, gift shops, and all sorts of great stores. While I chased Ben around, who was experiencing severe jetlag, the rest of the family hung out and enjoyed the amazing view.
While we were in Paris, the city was under a massive heat wave, so what would have been a beautiful, grassy lawn in the Champs de Mars, was actually more akin to scorched earth. 🙂 In the picture below, you can see just how bad it had gotten!
After a nice little break, we continued to the second level where the views just kept getting better and better.
If you look carefully in the picture below, you will see a building with a gold dome. This is Les Invalides- a military museum where Napoleon’s tomb is located.
One thing Ben was most excited about was to take a picture with France’s Statue of Liberty! If you look at the very end of the island in the middle of the Seine, you might be able to see her!
Be sure to check out my next post, where I cover the rest of the tower, visiting the memorial to Princess Diana, and our river tour down the Seine!