I took the train from London to Paris. I was pretty excited to take the train because I knew the train went under water which I was slightly freaked out but also incredibly intrigued. The train was so quick that before I knew it I was pulling into the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris.
When I exited the train I tried to not look like I didn’t know what I was doing and head straight for the taxis. I had been told not to get sucked into gypsy cabs and such; but this young man came up to me and said “Taxi?” I responded “Oui, Taxi” and then he motioned for a friend and he gestured for me to go with him. I followed of course a little confused and we headed for the elevators. I was now getting thoroughly confused and a little panicked. I said in broken French and then in English that I thought the taxis were out front. He didn’t answer. We had ended up in the parking garage and I said again, “Why are you down here? I thought taxis were upstairs?” He just goes. “Uber.” I was incredibly uncomfortable but I sheepishly got into the car. The entire time I was very worried but he was incredibly friendly, and when we got to the neighborhood where my airbnb was I couldn’t find the place and he helped me find the right building. I will say it was incredibly expensive I know now that a taxi ride from the train station or even uber is hardly any money so I did get screwed a bit by going along with him, but I will say I didn’t have to wait in line for a taxi, and I got there very quickly. Would I do that again?? NO! Do I reccomend getting into a car with someone that gives you an uncomfortable feeling? Absolutely not…..didn’t your mother ever teach you not go with strangers? but I survived 50 euros later. 😦
The area I stayed in was the Montmatre which is in the 18th district of Paris, Which many artists came to call home in the early 1900’s, and I can see why. It is truly spectacular and very Parisian. There are loads of tourists and when I chose my space via Airbnb I honestly didn’t know much about the neighborhood; in fact I didn’t know much about Paris at all except the main locales like the Louvre, Eiffel Tower etc. Where my flat was located was on the top floor of a 5 story walk up, it was a great little space, slightly dirty but I didn’t really mind and the view was truly lovely, I could see the windmill of the Moulin Rouge from the window and out the kitchen window was even more stunning. Each view gave a grand expansive view of the city and I did take photos but I can’t see to find it. There were days I stayed in for a few hours to write or do some homework ( I was taking online classes) and I would position my self on the sofa with the windows open so I could take in the view but there was someone who played the piano everyday and it was the perfect accompaniment to my mornings or afternoons.
I wanted to choose a place to stay in Paris that put me in the city and allowed me to emerse myself with the city rather than be a tourist. However I came to found out I was in fact a tourist and not a local…..obviously.
I will admit I was so turned around and lost and alone; which is what I wanted, but it sort of threw me for a loop so I didn’t get out and truly explore like I wanted to which really just means another trip to come 🙂
While I was there I probably should have taken advantage of using the train more but I was so nervous I would get lost (and I did on my way to Versaille….Thanks Google Maps) so I either walked everywhere or took a taxi or Uber. I was really pleased with Uber in France they were always incredibly friendly and helpful and it was never to expensive which was great. I also took this trip with very little money so I made sure when I spent my money I was spending it on things like museum entries, lodging and transportation and for food I mostly picked things up and had them shoved in a bag and I could sneak a snack or else I really didn’t eat much. There were days I only ate a granola bar and drank a good deal of water so I didn’t get to get myself into the food during my travels which, again, means for another trip. Every now and again I would splurge on something.
After a couple of days in Montmartre I decided I wanted to stay in a different area of Paris just to get a feel for another neighborhood so I left and found a hotel via Hotels Tonight app (which I used almost everywhere) in the Bastille area. It was a bit more quiet than the Montmartre district, at least where I stayed. The hotel was a very small boutique hotel that offered free breakfasts and I think only had maybe 20 rooms. It was fairly modern, all white and the rooms were tiny but perfect. The bed comfy and the windows opened onto this small patio. I was again on the top floor and I really lucked out.
One of the days there I pre-purchased tickets to see Versailles, I have been dying to see Versailles since I was little so to finally go to Versailles was incredible. However getting there? No so much. I am sure and have been told it is very easy to get to so I punched in where I was going into my google maps and was on my way to God only knows where. I walked down to the subway station, got my ticket and proceeded down to the landing. I got turned around a few places but found my way to the proper location. However as I am sitting on the train I get to final stop where it says to get off so I get off make my way up and I am absolutely positively lost. I am now at a bus station and Versailles is still a good 45 minutes away. I was so beyond confused that I just called for an Uber and paid 45 Euros to get be there. I got to Versailles fairly early around 9:30am I would say and already the tour buses were unloading and the line wrapped around a solid 3-4 times. I had pre purchased my tickets but when I got there it said I had to print the ticket, well of course I don’t carry around a printer I went into the ticket line to be told to go to customer service who told me to wait in line and security can print the ticket for you when you get there.
So, here is a tip: If you pre-purchase your ticket for Versailles and there is a wrap around line? Stay in the line and security will print your ticket that you can just put in your pocket because evidently it was never needed again.
The line took about 1-2 hours I think, but it was such a stunning day that I didn’t mind the line. Once inside you can wait in another line to get the audio tour but I passed and decided to just wing it and explore on my own. I was in Paris in September, and from what I was told is that September is the high months of travel time which is why everywhere was so incredibly busy. Versailles was hard to truly see the history and beauty because it was so busy and I kept getting knocked in the head or face with a selfie stick. However what I could see was glorious. Truly magnificant. The gardens were my favorite. I am still in awe when I think about the size and beauty of the gardens, I didn’t go all the way down and walk but I wish I had because further down was a cafe I was told and Marie Antoinette’s little secret cottage. Again, for another trip.
The town of Versailles is also gorgeous and I would love to spend a couple days there too.
When the day came to leave Paris I was pretty sad, I knew I was on my way to Germany and then I would see family so I was quite excited but I was truly beginning to enjoy Paris. The museums, history, culture, language everything. But I am so lucky to have been able to go to Paris and I will for sure be going back.
If you want to see more of my travel photos you can on my instagram I have a few more from Paris on there and many more from Italy and new York. This particular Instagram is mostly my attempt at photography.