Europe Trip: Paris Day 1 – Paris, France

Europe Trip: Paris Day 1
Paris, France

We flew with Malaysian Airlines from Sydney to Paris. The flights were good, the best thing being with Malaysian that you get your own TV screen, movie choices and video games.

We arrived into Paris Charles de Gaulle (CDG) airport at exactly 6 a.m., and from the looks of it we were the first plane of the day. CDG was certainly an old airport with ugly, dated decor. It stood in stark contrast with the ultra modern and stylish airport in KL that we spent 3 hours in on the way over. The baggage carousel looked like it was on its last legs, and went about as fast as an old lady with a Zimmer frame!

We grabbed our bags, walked through a door and we were out – the easiest customs ever!!

We hopped in a cab and headed into Paris to the hostel we were staying at in Rue Moutard in the Latin Quarter.

Young & Happy Hostel was neither of the adjectives used in its name. It was however, conveniently located (only walking distance to Notre Dame) and cheap by Paris standards – at just 56 Euro a night, about AU$95.

We had a shower to freshen up after our 24 hours of travelling (those readers not from Australia, yes it takes that long from here to Europe – 9 hours Sydney to KL, 3 hours in transit and 12 hours KL to Paris). After the shower we left our bags in the baggage room, which happened to have 2 girls asleep on make-shift beds, and made our way out into the most romanticised city in the world.

Notre Dame
Notre Dame
We had a walk down to the Seine and headed to Notre Dame Cathedral. The walk was lovely, the cobble stone streets, the apartment buildings with their typical French Juliet balconies and pots brimming with the beautiful flowers of spring lined the streets.

On the way to the river Seine we stopped in for a coffee at a real French cafe – full of smokers and drenched in the morning sun. We were surrounded by wall to wall glass with a ceiling of glass; the sun beating warmed us through and relieved the weary limbs.

We dragged ourselves back outside into the cold wind and headed for Notre Dame. We reached the mythical cathedral and were impressed by the size and grandeur of this building. The flying buttresses are testament to the construction skills possessed those many centuries ago. The other remarkable part is the amount of gargoyles ‘patrolling’ the perimeter. If anything would put the fear of god into the uneducated superstitious people of the middle ages, it was the sight of these huge spires pointing upward combined with the sinister, predatory looking gargoyles that appeared to be leaping out of the building directly at you. Their suspicious eyes searching your soul to see if you were to pass, or to become their prey!

Inside was immense, but very sparsely decorated. We enjoyed the Gothic sense of awe that the huge vaulted ceilings and massive stained glass windows created. Sabrina thought that St. Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney was more beautiful.

Outside was a large square full of tourists and beggars, and also a huge statue of the Franko Emperor – Charlemagne on horseback.

Leaping Gargoyle
Leaping Gargoyle
From here we decided to walk along the left bank of the Seine and enjoy the view. We passed beautiful building after beautiful building with culmination of our walk being a trip up the Eiffel Tower. No trip to Paris is complete without a trip to and up the Eiffel Tower.

So, we did the obligatory trip up the 343 meter “temporary” metal structure. First was the angled lift that goes up the leg to the main observation deck. This level acts as the base for the tower giving amazing views with 360 degree views of Paris. After a walk around we obviously wanted to continue to the peak. To do this we boarded another lift that ascended directly to the top of the tower. The disconcerting part was that you were packed into a lift not too much bigger than a phone box, and the ceiling and walls were glass. If you looked straight up you could see how far you still had to go – I found this very off putting as I realised how far up in the air we were hanging by a cable in a structure that was designed to be pulled down over 100 years ago.

At the top there was another amazing view waiting. It gave the sensation that on a perfectly clear day you would be able to see forever. An interesting thing that I found was the perspective difference of that extra height over the lower platform. For example, on the lower platform I could easily make out the Sacre Couer on Montmatre, but at the top I couldn’t find it – that extra height really changes what you can see.

Once finally back on the ground we felt a surge of relief. Although millions of people have been safely up and down the tower, you always have some sense of fear being up there.

View from Eiffel Tower
View from Eiffel Tower
We decided that after our hectic and very long day that we would catch the Metro home. So we walked to the train station nearby and headed back to Rue Moutard. We had a crepe at the local creperie and then went to bed early for a deservedly good rest.

55€: Taxi from CDG airport to Young & Happy Hostel
15€: Breakfast: Croissants and coffees
15€: Afternoon tea in a fancy tea house
5€: Lunch snack: a pack of chips at Eiffel Tower
21.4€: Eiffel Tower Admission
8€: Dinner: two crepes
2.8€: Train tickets
1.2€: Toilet tickets
7.5€: Phone card
56€: Hostel
256€: Total

Young & Happy hostel ( Latin Quarter)
80 rue Mouffetard 75005 Paris
phone :01 47 07 47 07