france Travel

24 Hours in Paris & Versailles

January 5, 2018

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” -Ernest Hemingway

I’m not very quiet about my love/hate relationship with Paris. It’s not my favorite city, but I also think that I need to give it another chance. Both times I visited, I was on a very tight schedule. We only had a day, which isn’t enough time… especially when you factor in trying to navigate the Paris Metro. My hatred for that Metro is unyielding.

My first visit was on a big trip to Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam. We had a very limited amount of time because the hostel needed us back by 1PM to check in our bags. So our group went to the Eiffel Tower and then immediately hurried back to the hostel. The main thing I wanted to do was see Versailles. Meridia and I got there about an hour before they closed and rushed through, taking in as much as we could. It’s a truly glorious place, even if I only got to visit for an hour. Marie Antoinette is one of my favorite historical figures. I was in Fangirl Mode for the entirety of our visit. Suffice to say, I need to go back. I didn’t even get to see her private chateau.

Palace of Versailles
Hall of Mirrors

We ate at some cute cafes, which was honestly a huge highlight. The bread is fantastic and so are the sundaes. I was shocked at how easily I found stuff to eat (because I’m extraordinarily picky). All in all, I had a very pleasant experience in Paris the first time. All the logistics of the trip were pre-planned, and we traveled by bus, which saved a lot of time and stress. It was the perfect way to travel to a very overwhelming city for the first time. As much as I love planning my own trips, if you can find a good group trip where they book everything… do it.

Unpopular opinion: I don’t think the Eiffel Tower is very pretty. From far away, with some good scenery, it can be really beautiful. It was foggy during our first visit, and you couldn’t even see the top. Strangely, that eeriness was breathtaking. But up close the Eiffel Tower is, dare I say, ugly? It’s a giant iron tower. The color and material are not attractive. Honestly, what makes it beautiful is the geometric design and size. But aesthetically, it’s not pretty. The one exception is night time. The Eiffel Tower is stunning at night.

My second trip to Paris was with my sister, Laura, and my dad. It was nice, and we saw lots of good stuff, but there wasn’t nearly enough time. Our hotel was beautiful and located right next to Notre Dame, which was a great location. We flew into CDG airport, and that’s definitely where the stress part came in. This trip was completely planned by us, so we had to navigate everything on our own. Getting from the airport into the city was not the easiest. None of us knew French, and no one really wanted to listen to my advice on which train to take (even though I was the only one who had actually been to Paris before). My advice? Do your research and always have a plan!

Once we finally got settled into our hotel, we went to the Eiffel Tower. From there we walked… and walked… and walked. We walked a lot, but we didn’t really do anything. It was a little frustrating.

My biggest tip to anyone who visits Paris for one day: Go see the Eiffel Tower. Then pick one thing and go do it. Walking around for hours, but not actually going inside or seeing anything is a bit useless. I would suggest doing the Eiffel Tower and then going to the Louvre. If you have time, go see the Arc de Triomphe. The bridges along the River Seine are also a great location to stroll around. Just make a plan! That is my #1 piece of advice for traveling anywhere, but it’s even more vital when you have a super limited amount of time in a massive city like Paris.

Obviously there’s going to be a lot of walking, but make a plan with specific things you want to see and experience. If you want to see Versailles, that will easily take up an entire day.

I don’t want this post to be all about my distaste for Paris. I don’t hate it. But it’s not London.

I’m not going to sugarcoat my thoughts on a place. My experiences weren’t the best, and I think it’s super important to convey that and give my advice to other travelers. I will be the first to voice that I think Paris is dirty, overhyped, and the Metro is one of the worst forms of underground transportation I’ve had the misfortune of riding. However, there are some amazing aspects of Paris that I do genuinely love. They just don’t necessarily outweigh the stressful circumstances of my two trips. Time constraints were a problem. That’s unique to my experience. So if you want to enjoy Paris, make more time and have a plan. Also, take taxis if you can. The metro was the bane of my existence.

My future goal is to return to Paris for at least three days. The Louvre, Notre Dame, Moulin Rouge, and Versailles are definitely at the top of my list.

Have you traveled to Paris? What did you see and do? Did you like Paris?

Marie Antoinette’s bed. This was a huge fangirl moment for me.

The Hall of Mirrors

Pont de Arts – They have recently started removing the padlocks and closed the bridge.

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