First Day in Paris


The fulfillment of my dreams
The fulfillment of my dreams

On our first day in Paris, we landed at the Charles De Gaulle airport at 6:30 am after an almost 11-hour trip from Baltimore (with a stopover in North Carolina).  We didn’t have any problems picking up our luggage and going thru Customs.  That whole process was orderly.  But once you’ve passed that, CDG is one of the busiest airports I’ve been to.  Good thing I am not one to shy away from asking strangers for directions so we were able to weave our way among the throngs of crowds to get to the airport’s Metro vending kiosk.

The kiosk is where we got our Paris Visite Travel Pass which we can use for 5 days.  The pass gave us unlimited rides on the buses and the Metro and also the RER train.  And so with my Google Maps on, we were able to manage our first train ride out of the airport onto our hotel!  Our first day in Paris has finally begun!

Breathe Paris in. It nourishes the soul.  – Victor Hugo

We took the RER B train from the airport to our stop at Gare du Nord.  The RER B is one of Paris’ five lines in their RER rapid transit system. This line runs from the northern termini Aéroport Charles de Gaulle and Mitry-Claye to the southern termini Robinson and Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse (Wikipedia)  That was a 30-minute ride up to Gare du Nord (North Station).  From there we rode the Metro Line 5 heading to Place d’Italie to Oberkampf, our final station.  That was a quick trip because there are only 4 stops from Gare du Nord to Oberkampf.

The Paris Métro Line 5 is the 8th most used line of the 16 metro lines.  It runs from Bobigny to Place d’Italie.  We walked up from that underground station to what was to be my first view of a Paris street.  I. Am. Here.

Right away we love the place where our hotel is in.  We passed by a long park along Boulevard Richard Lenoir where there was a flea market going on that day.  We also noticed a patisserie, a boucherie (butcher’s store), a lot of interesting restaurants.  All these in the 3 minute walk from the Oberkampf station to our hotel.  It was a sight to savor and this was just our first day in Paris.  No wait.. just our first 2 hours in Paris!

I did tell you that we found a hotel at the 11th arrondissment. Once we got to Hotel des Metallos and completed our registration with the desk clerk, we were asked if we want to wait because they could have our room ready in a few minutes. While waiting for our room, we took this time to take a rest and had some breakfast which they offered for free for our first day.  I do not have complaints with the hotel – the staff were so pleasant and we never had any problems with our accommodations.  During our whole stay we always came back to a clean room with our bed made and our towels clean.

Since we took a red-eye flight that arrived early morning on our first day in Paris, we had to be awake while the whole of Paris was up and about.  After freshening up, we headed out again to start exploring our new world for the next 7 days.  I wanted to go to Sainte-Chapelle so we walked back to the Oberkampf station and took the Metro 5 again going to Bastille.  From Bastille we took the Metro 1 to Chatelet and walked towards Sainte-Chapelle.  We were able to buy a 4-day museum pass so that we can enter our selected museum without going thru the lines for the tickets.

The Church of Sainte-Chapelle

Sainte Chapelle's real facade inside the compound. The very first place we visited on our first day in Paris.
Sainte Chapelle’s real facade inside the compound. The very first place we visited on our first day in Paris.

 

The altar of the church of Sainte-Chapelle.
The altar of the church of Sainte-Chapelle. It isn’t a church anymore, but rather a museum with these stained glass windows as its main attraction.

So first, we wanted to go to a former church which used to house Jesus’ Crown of Thorns and 1,113 stained glass scenes from the old and new testaments of the Holy Bible.  Sainte-Chapelle or Holy Chapel is a Gothic-themed architecture within the Palais de la Cité.  This church was considered the most beautiful church in Paris. This was built during King Louis IX as a shrine for his holy relics, including, and topmost, Christ’s Crown of Thorns which was later hosted in the nearby Notre-Dame Cathedral.  This is one of the earliest surviving building of the Capetian royal palace on the Île de la Cité.  It houses 15 stained-glass windows soaring 50 ft to a star-covered vaulted roof.

The magnificence of the Sainte-Chapelle altar as you climb up the winding stairway
The magnificence of the Sainte-Chapelle altar as you climb up the winding stairway

I cannot tell you how much the place overwhelmed me with all the stained-glass windows, the structure on how these windows were supported, the sculpted entrance and the color of the whole place.  I saw this video on youtube and thought it might show you what it is like inside.  To give you an idea of what the stained glasses were about, you can check this site which give you an archive of almost all of the pieces of the windows.

The opposite end of the altar where the rose stained-glass window.
The opposite end of the altar where the rose stained-glass window is.

The entrance to the church was a little inconspicuous. You won’t see the entrance of the chapel from Boulevard du Palais.  We had to enter a short passageway to get to the main doors. The only reason we knew it was Sainte Chapelle was because of the banners outside a building.  From the chapel, we exited to a Palais de Justice courtyard.  Maybe I was still groggy from the flight or the change in time, I didn’t realize that the Concierge was beside us.  I never thought to look at my map to know that there was still much to see around the museum.  Instead we went out the golden gates and headed out to the Notre Dame Cathedral.

The church's reliquary.
The church’s reliquary that was used to house the important relics of the King, including Jesus’ Crown of Thorns.

 

The whole reliquary which happens to be the church's altar.
The whole reliquary which happens to be the church’s altar.

 

Beside statue of King Louis XIV beside the reliquary in Sainte-Chapelle.
The statue of King Louis XIV beside the reliquary in Sainte-Chapelle.

 

The Palais de Justice.
The Palais de Justice, where we ended up going outside of Sainte-Chapelle.

The Cathedral of Notre Dame

The Cathedral of Notre Dame was just a half kilometer away from the Sainte-Chapelle.  Unfortunately, we came at the time when the cathedral was closed due to the recent fire.  The whole compound was baricaded but you can still take pictures nearby.

Despite not being able to see the interior of the church, it was still heartwarming just to see the structure.  Altho I have to admit it would have been a completion of the full circle if I could have seen Jesus’ Crown of Thorns considering our recent trip to the Holy Land.

As of last week, it is good to hear that they now restarted celebrating mass despite the constructions going on.

The restoration of the Cathedral of Notre Dame on-going
The restoration of the Cathedral of Notre Dame on-going

 

The Notre Dame Cathedral and the River Seine
The Notre Dame Cathedral and the River Seine

Shakespeare and Company

Paris’ Left Bank (Rive Gauche) is the southern bank of the Seine River.  The cathedral lies in the bank in the 4th arrondissement.   Strolling along the church’s Rue de la Bucherie, we reached the popular Shakespeare and Company bookstore that sells both new and antique books where a lot of great writers had once visited.  It’s bohemian-like quaint charm  attracted and still attracts a lot of English writers and book lovers.

The famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore along Rue de la Bucherie
The famous Shakespeare and Company bookstore along Rue de la Bucherie

 

A poet waiting for poem requests in front of the store
A poet waiting for poem requests in front of the store

 

With a quotation from Samuel Beckett
With a quotation from Samuel Beckett, the bench sits in front of the store with the chessboard inviting people to use.

The Art Pieces on the Left Bank

We crossed the street and started heading north along the Seine River.  Here, we passed by so many stalls selling interesting artwork.  It was very tempting to buy some artworks. But this being our first day in Paris, I was still a little hesitant to deal with the peddlers. But I still enjoyed browsing the different pieces, savoring the idea that I am wandering the streets of Paris.  With the Seine River as my background, the whole experience was so enjoyable.

After a few meters of walking, we started to feel the toll of the long flight and the time difference creeping up on us.   We decided to take a break and head back to the hotel for a quick nap.

A few of the interesting stalls along the Left Bank
A few of the interesting stalls along the Left Bank

 

Those wonderful Paris paintings...
Those wonderful Paris paintings…

 

A Paris' first day view of the River Seine
A Paris’ first day view of the River Seine

 

The Trocadero

 

From the many researches I’ve made of the Eiffel Tower, so many blogs and travel sites say that one of the more dramatic routes to reach the Queen of Paris is thru Trocadero.  It is in the 16th arrondisement, one of the most beautiful and attractive districts in Paris.  Right in front of the amazing promenade is the Jardin du Trocadero.

My First View of the Eiffel Tower
My first ever view of the Eiffel Tower from the Place du Trocadero. I am really here.

Once you get off the metro at St. Michael de Notre Dame, a very short walk leads to the first view of the Eiffel Tower.  I have to admit, my first sight of the Eiffel Tower made me teary-eyed.  There are some landmarks in the world that you only see in pictures and movies but never thought you’d see in reality.  One of those, for me, is the Eiffel Tower.  This is when I really believed a dream destination shouldn’t just remain a dream.

The Jardin du Trocadero
The Jardin du Trocadero

The Eiffel Tower, personally, is the symbol of what Paris is – glamour, art and romance.  I have always dreamed of someday seeing it.  So the surprising view from the Troca’ balcony was the most dramatic way that Paris could welcome me.

The Trocadero Square welcomes a lot of tourists and street peddlers.  But seeing the place buzzing with activity is still a sight to behold.  It surely is a happy place for me!

One of the carousels fronting the Eiffel Tower
One of the carousels fronting the Eiffel Tower

We took so many pictures and then decided to walk towards the Queen herself.

The Jardins du Trocadero is flanked by the Palais de Chaillot
The Palais de Chaillot flanks the Jardins du Trocadero

 

A view of the Eiffel Tower from the left and right side of the Trocadero
A view of the Eiffel Tower from the left and right side of the Trocadero

 

The grand Eiffel in front of the Jardin du Trocadero
The grand Eiffel in front of the Jardins du Trocadero

The Eiffel Tower

The Place du Trocadéro is on the North side of the Seine River while the Eiffel Tower is on the South side.  Cross the busy street of Avenue de New York toward the Pont d’Lena bridge and let the scene take your breathe away as you go nearer and nearer the tower.

Heading towards the Eiffel Tower
Heading towards the Eiffel Tower

 

Placing our names together under lock
Placing our names together under lock

We strolled around the base of the Eiffel.  This gave us a taste of the cool Champ de Mars park.  Of course, there was a thick line of tourist wanting to go up the Eiffel.  We decided to forego the crowds and just continued wandering around the base. It was as satisfying enough for me.  (I am a woman with simple enjoyments.)

Underneath the great Parisian lady
Underneath the great Parisian lady

Once we had our fill of the Eiffel Tower up close, we headed back towards Trocadero. Mid-way, we decided to stop by the Oh! Regalade de la Tour Eiffel kiosk. We ordered a banana and nutella crepe, a hotdog and coffee. With our food at hand,we continued to head to the Jardin du Trocadero and sat at one of the benches where we can view the Eiffel tower and everyone else. It was a good thing we decided to do so because we were in for a special surprise – the 5-minute Eiffel Tower’s Light Show!

Standing right in front of the iconic tower.
Standing right in front of the iconic tower.

The Eiffel Tower gave us a magnificent light show! It reminded me of the time I had my first taste of the Disneyland nightly parade. It took my breath away. We immediately took pictures and videos. Because of our enjoyment, we watched it for the second time the next hour!

Reaching up to the sky
Reaching up to the sky

After the show, we knew we’d had an awesome first day in Paris and it was time to head back to the hotel. My unforgettable first day in Paris, the City of Lights, seems to be a promise that there is more to look forward to in the coming days.

For now, I say au revoir.

À la prochaine, mes amours!

The beautiful lady at night
The beautiful lady at night


2 thoughts on “First Day in Paris”

  • As always .. excellent blog! Excellent travel blog .
    My heart was pounding as i was reading it ..
    It brings back my paris trip .. it will forever stay in my heart and mind ., charming left bank , shakespeare bookstore.. crepe.. saint chapelle.. trocadero, eiffel tower .. notre dame .. we were fortunate , we were there prior to the fire ..
    Thanks gigi ! Your blog is excellent and a good resource for anyone who will be visiting city of lights… ❤️

    • Thank you, Dith!!! You inspire me so much! Oh there is so much more to share and I hope you continue to read while you also remember your fond memories of Paris.

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