This was my second trip to Paris. In 2014 I visited Europe for the first time, and Paris was my first stop. I researched. I had lists. I ticked off those lists like the completion freak I am. I had a great time but I hadn’t really stopped to smell the roses enough and I was keen to go back at a slower pace. Spoiler: it wasn’t actually much slower, but the list was shorter and more about experiences than sites.
My first day was huge so I will cover it in a few posts.
I woke up in Paris. Kinda. I really struggled to sleep at all. Instead I did a lot of first day planning overnight, got out my map to get my bearings and run through how my day would look.
I should go back a little for a moment. Two days before I departed home I had an exam. I’d spent the last three months studying two heavy law subjects while running a large family. My planning had happened in parallel with the study so my very tired brain wasn’t completely ready to hit the ground running. My sleepless night was actually helpful.
I had two things booked for the day. A bakery ‘behind the scenes’ in the Marais district and an evening concert. My plan was to wander in between.
My hotel was only a short walk from a really well connected metro station, Le Peletier. It had perfect connections for what I wanted to do. I wanted to walk along the Seine early so I took the metro to Pont Neuf and started from there.
The Paris metro is a public transport system you could fall in love with, if such a thing were possible. It is engineering and planning genius. My advice to anyone visiting Paris for the first time is to use the metro as early as possible in your trip. Get comfortable with how it works and then the city is yours. You can go anywhere, very quickly. Paris is a fabulous walking city, but it is also huge. Combining a love of walking with using the metro makes every corner accessible to you.
I hit the Seine at Pont Nuef at around 7am and had a couple of hours to make my way to the Marais. So I simply wandered and took photos, people watched and stared at the wonderful architecture. There were a few joggers and other hard core early risers around but it was mostly quite peaceful. At one stage I caught a glimpse of the towers of Notre Dame across on Ile de la Cite and took a moment to reflect on what had happened there just a couple of months before.
A bit more walking and I was in the Marais district for my bakery tour. I’ll save that for another post. The Marais is one of the oldest parts of Paris and home to the Jewish quarter. It has stunning architecture and wonderful food.
After the tour I wandered through a bit more of the Marais, now late morning and more people around. On the advice of the bakery guide I went to Place des Voges, a lovely park, in one corner of which is the Maison de Victor Hugo, which was unfortunately closed.
I then headed back along the Seine and took the metro back to my hotel for a bit of a rest. A good start to my trip.