If I were to write down my desire to visit Paris, only plain words seem to be unjustified. I believe that we all have a special love for Paris, being here just makes the heart grow fonder.
Not in a million years that I would imagine myself gazing at La Tour Eiffel from just across the Seine River. Even the sight of the pedestrians along the scenic Pont d’Iena was glamorous. Endless crowds of people were pouring into the immense lattice structure of the French capital.
A day in Paris only started at noon and all the way into midnight. And every moment of it made up the most glorious summer in my life.
It didn’t feel like I was in Paris until the smell of freshly baked croissants pervaded my actual reality. So I kept chasing the scent of it till I found myself wandering on the Parisian cobbled boulevards, into many narrow alleys that are embellished with the neoclassical balcony, and I never felt so happy heading towards the unknown.
My hostel is located just a few blocks away from Gare du Nord, one of the main metro stations connecting to Central Europe and UK. I love the urban Parisian life, but its metro gave me a mixture of feelings.
It was rather shocking when I stepped inside an overly packed train. Men in suits, women on high heels, couples in matching outfits, travelers with closet-sized backpacks, hipsters with their bicycles and skateboards leaning against the handrails, musicians performing with their saxophones, dogs taking their naps underneath the seats, all of them made up the most unique underground society that I’ve ever experienced.
The metro signs oddly got me thrilled, though. From one place to another, I traveled the distance of 20km from 8am till midnight everyday. And that was really not enough to see everything.
The weather was bitter cold and the skies were all gloomy, but even in the darkest days, Paris was still beautiful. As I caught a glimpse of Arc de Triomphe, I knew that I would never fall in love with any other city the same way.
I would imagine myself standing right in the middle of the two wide lanes, with the streetlights forming an endless road leading to the heart of Paris. I couldn’t help but smiled at the enormous view and watched countless of visitors capturing the monument from exactly where I stood.
The aerial landscape of Paris from up high was particularly my most favorite. I stood there for a good one hour just to absorb the entire city vibes. And it was not just me, everyone else who had a chance to experience such a rewarding moment would never want to leave either.
I found contentment wherever I was in this gigantic city. It didn’t have to be about the must-sees, it was more about living the Parisian way of life. Hot coffee was never my thing but a cup of creamy cappuccino suddenly became a treasure during those chill summer days, and road side shops have never been such an indulgence the way they are in Paris.
Once the sunlight hit the city, everything was coated in gold, especially along the Seine River. I woke up that day without any plan and all I wanted to do was to see a different side of Paris. The train would take me to any random destination, and I always ended up at the right place.
There was a French guy who I met in a local coffee shop suggested me to visit Jardin du Luxembourg, which I did. He was among those Parisians who were surprised that I was on a solo backpacking trip around Europe. The random conversations with the French were as memorable as the city itself. A single ‘bonjour’ could go a long way.
What I enjoyed most about traveling alone in Europe was that it allowed me to change plans, in fact, to go without a plan. I could just cancel my trip to Sacré-Coeur for a night out with strangers. It was those spontaneous moments when I joined a new friend for a walk that made this trip even more wonderful. I met a Finnish girl right at the doorstep of the hostel and we decided to have dinner together that night. We eventually joined a group of French at a small pub around Montmartre, and we continued to share our stories, our affection for Paris, and our desires to travel. And that was how I fell even more in love with the thought of being a solo traveler.
I had a chance to talk about the art scenes in France to an actual French artist. He shared with me how the Parisian vibes shaped an individual aesthetic approach and their perspective on everything, which somehow formed the very distinctive culture. How exciting it was to belong to such community.
On the third day, I headed to Musée du Louvre (at last). Every single step around this significant museum was like a walk into the past. It was impossible not to feel overwhelmed by the world’s greatest paintings displayed vividly right in front of my eyes. Countless of untold stories could only be unfolded through the relative explanation of each stroke of the brush, those that have been shared across the planet but one could only imagine how spectacular it could be.
That and the Musée d’Orsay both left me with an abundance of wonders. I could spend the rest of my life studying but to fully explore the momentousness of the European art movements would take me another lifetime. It was haunting to me how those sojourns came to reshape the history as I knew it from school, and changed my views on many aspects.
2 years ago, when I witnessed Germany raised their World Champion Cup in Brazil over the TV screen, I promised myself to make it to France for their next tournament. And I did.
My actual European dream was formed as I became a fan of the Germany Football team, which was exactly 12 years ago. And more so when I started traveling.
I worked my way to obtain that precious visa to Europe. But I wasn’t entirely alone during the whole journey, my friends were a part of my dream-come-true story. Thank you to those who have made this trip possible. It meant a lot to me.
7 days in Paris – 7 days with constant surprises and breathtaking views. The beauty of Paris is indeed indescribable, something that has to be felt rather than seen.
Many people think that the French are unfriendly to foreigners, I found them to be the opposite. They are just as kind and charming as Paris forever is.
If you have lost your faith in humanity, visit France. A country that has been suffering from many terrorist attacks is where everyone is most united. It could be just a random smile that made someone’s day, and I could really feel how passionate the French are about love.
Among the things that I’ve encountered, I would never forget that time when I saw a young man, about my age, approached a homeless man to give him a brand new pair of shoes. They shook hands, talked for a few minutes and even after the guy walked away, the homeless man was still smiling at the shoes on his hands as it was to him a pure happiness.
People would help me when I looked puzzled and lost. They would run after me just to return a five euro note that slipped out of my pocket. Or just simply asked if I needed help taking a photo in front of the Eiffel Tower.
There were many other things that I experienced beyond any travel stories that have been told before. And perhaps you will find mine in between that tangle when you are in France.