Paris

I had made a promise to myself that I would never go to Paris.  As crazy as that sounds now, I am glad I broke that promise.  Fancying myself as a traveler to smaller and more off-the-grid destinations, the third most traveled-to city in the world (according to Forbes) did not appeal to me.  I was convinced that I had seen all the city had to offer in photos, films, and other forms of media.  Before getting to Paris, I had seen hundreds of pictures of the Eiffel Tower, and will continue to see hundreds more. But, nothing can beat the actual experience of sitting in front of the tower from sunset to sunrise, listening to music and conversing with new friends you’ve just met from all over the world.  For me, Paris was a lot more interesting at night, and everything you see during the day looks a thousand times more interesting after the sun goes down.  When visiting Paris, be sure to visit your favorite spots at night, as they will surely leave a lasting impression on you.  After all, Paris is referred to as the City of Light, something that I found out after visiting, but it now makes perfect sense.  I only was in Paris for two days which is definitely not nearly long enough, but here is a small preview of what it has to offer until I go back for more…

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First impressions of the Eiffel Tower are interesting.  Most likely, you will first see it from afar because the city is planned and oriented to give it maximum exposure.  I was at first disappointed with size, thinking it too small, but of course as you get closer and closer, you will realize how massive it actually is.

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I first saw the Pyramids of the Louvre at night and was completely blown away.  I know it is not traditional European architecture, but as a work of art, it is amazing.  Be sure to get there before 10-11 pm though, the area is roped off after that, and you won’t be able to get close to them.  I was so impressed with them at night that I went back the next morning to see how they looked during the day – it didn’t even compare, I don’t think I even took a picture.  Can’t miss at night!

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The pyramids are surrounded by pools with fountains that are turned off at night, creating some amazing reflections.

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I like the aesthetic combination of the traditional architecture of the Louvre buildings combined with the modern pyramids and reflecting pools.

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More reflections.

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Had to include a picture of this guy, rocking out to his loud club music in shades and shirt, all while selling cotton candy in the middle of the night in front of the Eiffel Tower.

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Was very impressed by Notre Dame – the church was huge and the amount of detail was incredible.

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Pretty amazing – and you can see the gargoyles for all of the Hunchback of Notre Dame fans out there.

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I tried to visit the Eiffel Tower at all times of the day.  For me, the most interesting part of the Eiffel Tower was not the tower itself, but what was going on in the lawn that stretched out in front of it. The grassy space was packed 24/7 full of people picnicking, partying, sunbathing, and even sleeping.  Bring your own bottle of wine, blanket, and food (or purchase some from the many people walking around who would be happy to bargain with you) to enjoy the day or night in front of the tower, I think its a must do when traveling to Paris, especially if you are on a budget.

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Even outside of the main sights, I found that the city had a very distinct character.  This is just a normal street, but from the buildings and street signs, you can tell that it is in Paris.

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Beautiful park outside of Notre Dame

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Again, just a normal street, but there’s something beautiful about it…

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Surrounding the main lawn are some nice parks that also offer views of the tower.

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The impressive part of the Arc de Triomphe was not the arc itself, but the multiple lanes of traffic safely navigating the roundabout that is void of any signage or painted lines.

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Crazy lighting/clouds at the tower around sunrise.

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After sunset until a 1 or 2 am, there is a “Light Show” on the tower.  It’s not incredibly impressive, but definitely worth a look.  Small world – this is a friend from college I hadn’t seen in 2 years, but he just happened to be sleeping in the bottom bed of the bunk bed I was on in the hostel.

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