On 22 August 2016, I embarked on a 2-month trip to Europe. Exactly four years ago from today, I left my home and travelled to New Zealand alone. It was a life-changing decision. Today, I am travelling to my dream destinations – Europe. I chose the same date because I hope the trip gives me as much inspiration as I had four years ago.
This is a 2 months backpacking trip. I am carrying the same backpack that I used in NZ a few years ago, as well as a small day pack for important belongings. I was very nervous because I heard many stories about the pickpocket and how unsafe it is especially in Paris. I knew I will become the target easily because I am an Asian lady travelling solo, but well, you can’t really worry too much right? 🙂 If it happens, it happens!
My first stop is Paris, France.
After 16 hours of flight (including transit), I arrived in Paris. A man from the private shuttle company (Easy Go Shuttle) was already waiting for me at the arrival hall and holding a paper with my name written in it, so it is impossible for me to get lost! I do not usually ask for such service as it is ‘too pampering’, but I was worried about my safety in Paris. It costs €55 for one way – if you want this service, you should book online before you arrived.
The distance from my hotel to Eiffel Tower is about 5km (1-hour walking). Although there are other quicker ways to get to Eiffel Tower, I chose to walk to there because it is a good way to explore the city.
When I reached Eiffel Tower, I was moved to tears. How many people dream about seeing Eiffel Tower in their life? And it is right in front of me. I am so lucky. The Eiffel Tower is a symbol of love and romance, only if you are travelling with your love. 😫 Anyway, I like this place because it is very iconic and the view from the top is magnificent; it is also a good place for you to sit down and relax.
There are 3 main floors at Eiffel Tower. The first floor has the biggest area and the top level has the smallest area (as you can imagine from the shape of Eiffel Tower). The view from the top is stunning, but I don’t quite like it because it is too crowded. It is perfect for taking photos.
I went back to the first floor and spent a lot of time here. Personally, I love the first floor the most, because it has fewer people and the view is still amazing. There are benches for the public so I spent a lot of time sitting here listening to music and dreaming. 🙂
I ended up spending more than 5 hours at Eiffel Tower, alone. I took UBER back to my hotel. The driver told me that I should stay till night because the view is very different in the night. Unfortunately, I can’t stay up late so I will come back here next time in the night with someone. 🙂
Queue at Eiffel Tower: It takes about 10 minutes to go through the security (on weekdays), you can’t skip this queue. If you want to skip the queue to enter Eiffel Tower, you can use stairs to the first/second floor instead of the lift on the ground floor. There are too many people queuing to take the lift on the ground floor, and the queue is 10 times smaller if you take stair instead of the lift. There are about 30 floors (669 steps) to walk to the second floor, but you can do it at your own pace (good exercise too!). Look for Escaliers / Stairs in the entrance which is nearby the security control area.
Toilet at Eiffel Tower: Female toilet is always a disaster. I went to the toilet on the ground floor (before entering into the tower) – about 15 people are queueing under the sun. I gave up and entered into the tower, surprisingly there are toilets on every floor. I went to the toilet on the first floor for a few times without a need to queue. The toilets are very clean. However, quite a few people are queuing for the toilet on the second floor when I was there – but still better than the ground floor!
Ticket at Eiffel Tower: Don’t get caught up! I saw many people get caught up because they did not have the right ticket – I think they did not make it clear enough. There are two types of the ticket to get to the second floor – either through stair (€7) or lift. Then, there is a separate ticket (€6) to get from the second floor to the top of Eiffel Tower (usually people buy this ticket from the ticket booth on the second floor although I think you can buy it on the ground floor as well). So, if you start queueing for the lift to the top of Eiffel Tower and realised you did not have the right ticket, you will be asked to buy ticket and queue again, what a frustration!
Food at Eiffel Tower: There are plenty of food available on the ground floor/ first floor or second floor at an affordable price (not cheap but reasonable for a popular attraction). I bought a meal set on the ground floor for €13. The hot dog is almost as long as my thigh which is more than enough for me. I ate a lot at Eiffel Tower, including fruits and ice cream – eating a meal and relaxing here is not a bad idea although it could be difficult to find a seat.
Remember: Louvre Museum is closed on Tuesday! Louvre Museum is closed on Tuesday! Louvre Museum is closed on Tuesday! Originally I was planning to go on Tuesday, luckily Google Maps warned me that it is closed. I came on Wednesday morning instead.
This is a very famous and well-built museum, but I am lack of artistic talent so I do not really know how to appreciate the museum. I spent less than 2 hours here. I think it is a good for people who are interested in art and museum.
Big queue at glass pyramid entrance – so do not use this entrance! Read advice below.
This is very interesting. A person with two genders! Also a bit creepy…
The most famous Mona Lisa smile. I don’t think you can smile and enjoy the photo because too many people are snapping photos here…
I don’t know why these guys looking at their penis…?
Queue at Louvre Museum: The best advice is… do not queue at the main entrance in front of the glass pyramid! There are other entrances with fewer people. Beware: I went to the ‘secret’ entrance Porte des Lions entrance stated on the internet, but I was kicked out because it was only for group. And then, I went to another entrance Carrousel du Louvre which is located in the underground, the queue is at least 10 times smaller as compared to the queue at the main entrance. So I recommend this entrance.
Ticket at Louvre Museum: Easy to get. Ticket price is €15. If you do not want to queue, please use the ticket machine.
Palace of Versailles
Palace of Versailles is all about history. I went to this place as it was recommended by the local (UBER driver). Many people said it is a ‘must-see’. It is an impressive and magnificent palace to visit. I took the train from Paris to Palace of Versailles which takes about 1 hour to get there.
It was extremely hot when I was there. The sun was so strong and then I saw some guys selling hats, so I asked for the price. It was €20 – which was quite expensive so I wanted to walk away, and then he asked me what was my price – I said €10. He said too low, at most €15. Then I wanted to walk away again and he said: “Okay, okay, €10!” I am a good bargainer, isn’t it? 😛
A lot of people mentioned on the internet that the queue is very long here, but it was not so bad during my visit. I went on Thursday and I did not have to wait long. I took about 5 minutes to queue for the security control and 10 minutes to buy the ticket (if you want to skip the line to buy the ticket, you can use the ticket machine so you do not need to queue).
I was very impressed with the audio guides. There are a few languages available, and the messages were very clear. Each time when I walk into a new area, I just need to press the number and it will explain to me. I can see and listen at my own pace. Quite an interesting place to visit!
I bought the full pass (€18) so I can enter all areas, but I didn’t, because it was too hot. I felt like my skin was burning – I just don’t like the heat. I did not visit Grand Trianon. The Royal Garden was nice and I took a few photos here, but the sun was killing me so I did not spend much time here too. Anyway, the palace itself is good enough! 🙂
Wandering around Paris city
I spent a lot of time visiting the famous attractions, e.g. Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, Palace of Versailles, but I enjoyed the most by walking around the city – having a coffee and a bread, and seeing beautiful women. Many women dress nicely here. They are so pretty.
I was walking around, along with the way there are bakery shops; the desserts look very delicious. I stopped at a café and bought a Pain et Chocolat (chocolate bread). The staff gave me a smile. At first, I thought they can only speak French, but then I realised their English is not bad, and I can communicate with most of them without a problem (basic communication). I heard that French hates people speaking English to them, so I learnt a few French phrases.
The buildings in Paris are beautiful.
Dinner? A delicious crepe 🙂 I can’t understand any of these words, luckily I have the translation app installed on my phone. I just take the photo and it will translate for me… so I am able to order a ham and egg crepe!! (but then I realised this guy can speak English)
Most of the people that I met in Paris are friendly except some people. For instance, I went to a souvenir shop and wanted to buy a bracelet. The staff gave me a basket but I didn’t want it because I just want one bracelet (1 for €6 and 3 for €15), and then the staff pushed me away (I meant it literally) while speaking in French loudly that I would not understand. Anyway, it was lucky that she did so because I was able to find the same bracelet at a shop that just a few steps away for €3.50 – almost half the price cheaper! So, if you want to buy souvenirs please walk around and check out the price.
About transport, I mainly walk to anywhere using Google Maps GPS. When I was tired, I just call UBER and send me back to the hotel. I also used UBER to send me to train station. It is common to use UBER in Paris. You can even use UBER pool (to share with another rider) so the price is cheaper.
Many people said Paris is the city of love. Well, I can’t feel the ‘love’ here (maybe because I am travelling here alone) but I did feel Eiffel Tower is quite a romantic place. If you are going to Paris, please do some research before you go, you will save a lot of precious time.
Next stop: Luxembourg City, Luxembourg