This weekend I had the pleasure of visiting Paris with my two friends Melanie and Justin. It was my first time traveling to mainland Europe and it was a blast! Getting there involved an 8 hour bus ride that boarded a train under the English Channel. Though the ride was long, we were lucky to meet a Portuguese guy named Philippe who told us about Paris and even helped us buy the proper metro tickets once we arrived.
Notre Dame La Fountaine Saint-Michel
Our hostel had a pet cat; meet Jesus.
I had always heard that Paris was dirty and that the people were unkind of foreigners. While the metro wasn’t as clean as the underground in London, it wasn’t nearly as dirty at the subway in NYC. Most of the people we met were extremely nice and helpful too! I think it may have helped that I could initiate a local in conversation in French and then ask him or her politely if they could speak English. My basic knowledge of pronunciation came in handy as well. It’s much easier to ask for directions if you can understand the name of your location.
The life-blood of France.
We arrived around 9am and navigated the metro system to our hostel. The Woodstock Hostel on the Anvers metro stop would be our home for the next 4 days. I highly suggest this hostel to anyone who is thinking of visiting France. The location is right next to Sacre Coeur, a huge Roman-Catholic basilica, as well as many cafés and shops. After settling into the hostel we promptly procured 3 bottles of wine from a corner shop. In France, it is not illegal to drink in public and the drinking age is younger. Just so readers rest easy, we are all over the age of 21, so we can legally drink in the states, but drinking nice wine on the metro and while walking down the street was fun.
Out first stop was to a pastry shop on the corner of a street. The shop employee didn’t speak English, but was very nice as Mel, Justin, and I ordered 3 delicious pastries. The French don’t mess around with their dessert confectionary! After a quick snack we headed to the Cathedral of Notre Dame, which was absolutely beautiful! Many tourists look around the church and then go through the catacombs, but we opted to just tour the main church. It was really cool checking out all of the artifacts, especially because of my Catholic faith. After a few pictures and a quick prayer we left Notre Dame and browsed the shops around the cathedral.
Mel, Justin, and I were a little tired after the 8 hour bus ride to Paris and the day of walking around Paris, so after a little more wine we decided to have a quick dinner and hit the hay. We found a nice Japanese restaurant and had our first dinner in Paris. While Japanese isn’t quite the expected culinary adventure in Paris, the food was very good. I think as a general rule, all the food in Paris is good. After dinner we retired to our hostel, where we were joined by 3 other people. A couple from Brussels was already a asleep, but our third roommate, from Oregon, was awake. We got to know him a little over some wine and eventually went to bed. Over all, a good end to our first day in Paris.