Paris, the city of love, is one of the most sought out adventures of the world, with girls daydreaming of a picnic under the Eiffel Tower and art lovers puzzling over the entire collection at the Louvre. We visited Paris for our first time from Saturday 2nd March til Wednesday 6th March 2019 and well, reality is a bitch.
On Saturday, we flew in from Oslo, Norway and after departing the plane, we were met with a long queue that had no signage or instructions as to why we were lining up. We later learned it was the queue for the border control officers. They only had 2 booths working at 3PM, like wtf, so inefficient 😑 It took us over an hour to get our passports stamped and our luggages.
Afterwards we had to catch a one hour train ride to the city. There were a few encounters of thievery we experienced along the way (mentioned in the next text). Originally, we had planned to reach Novotel Paris Les Halles by 16:00 but it was 18:00 when we finally checked in. Then we collected our 2 day Paris Pass from the office, took some snapshots and did our laundry, finishing a stressful day with dinner at Le Paradis du Fruit. The food was alright but nothing too spectacular for its own post.
Thieves are very common in Europe, especially in Paris. Being Asian with large luggage meant we were easy targets. We felt eyes watching us and an uneasy feeling in our stomachs during our entire transit from the airport to the hotel. It started with the airport station where we noticed a few suspicious people.
One dude was standing very close behind Mick on the escalator and he would follow Mick's body movements so if Mick took a step to the left, he would do the same. We realised he was casing Mick's backpack, looking for the opening or a pocket to squeeze his hand in. Luckily we wore anti-theft bags.
On the train to the city, we noticed 2 different people who appeared to be "sleeping" but would move a seat closer to us every 5-10 minutes... we realised they were in cahoots, trying to steal our luggage ⛔ This was another common scam I had read about so I was on high alert, with one hand and one foot on all our luggage for the entire hour.
Moral of story: trust your gut. If something seems odd, most likely, it is and they're trying to rob you. These two incidents occurred on our first day but in total, we had 6 encounters during our 3 days in Paris, which I've mentioned throughout the post so our timeline makes sense 😂
The next morning we left at 9AM, walking along the river, soaking in the fact that we had reached Paris. It was always one of my bucketlist goals to visit this city. We went to a random bakery and got some croissants and a pie for breakfast. Both pastries were crispy, flakey and delicious.
Afterwards, we headed to the Notre Dame, coincidentally during Sunday mass.
From the Notre Dame, we hopped on the bus tour to maximize the value of our Paris Pass. More pics HERE. The tour would have costed us €35 if we had purchased it separately. From the bus view, Paris was very scenic and beautiful, despite the gloomy weather.
After lunch, we headed to the wine tour at Les Caves du Louvre HERE. This was €55 separately so we had to do it seeing as our Paris Pass was €125 pp. We got a little tipsy and went back to our hotel so Mick could nap while I took more photos LOL.
We ended our Monday with dinner at Chez Fernard, thanks to Mike Chen's recommendation.
Monday was full on. We had panned to visit all three major icons of Paris so we left at 8AM, stopping near Elise Saint Eustache to get some breakfast. This was where it got a little weird.
A gypsy came up to us while we were eating and asked for money with her 6 year old girl. They had an outreached hand so we gave them some spare change. But then they pointed at our food. A French woman and her daughter were eating nearby and yelled at the gypsy to basically fuck off. Then she turned to us and shook her head, as if to tell us not to show kindness to the gypsies. It was a culture shock for us.
We walked 10 minutes towards the Louvre on Rue de Rivoli street and saw a lot of homeless people along the way. Each person was about a metre from the next, with their belongings and sleeping bag all thrown around. There was also a large turd on the footpath and it was definitely human shit. The smell of piss was intense. To see so many homeless people in a first world country was absolutely shocking.
Anyways, we spent about 3 hours at the Louvre, more pics HERE.
For lunch, we headed for Le Comptoir de la Gastronomie and had an amazing lunch with two delicious truffle foie gras pasta. Seriously, read the review and go try it. It was so good!!!
Arc de Triomphe
We headed to the Arc de Triomphe afterwards and got our first taste of the French subways. If we thought the smell of urine was intense on the footpaths, the smell in the subway station was intolerable. It was strong, and this is coming from a nurse. There was no public toilets for the homeless to use, and with the constant gloomy Parisian weather, it meant everyone was crowding underground in the subway stations, pissing everywhere. It was really unfortunate to see such a corrupted system.
We spent about an hour at the Arc, climbing to the top with our Paris Pass HERE.
In the afternoon, we did a bit shopping, heading for the luxury boutique stores. I purchased my first luxury item, a Chanel classic cardholder in black lambskin. Oooft, my wallet cried and it was only a SLG LOL. We had a negative experience in the Chanel store, with the assistants ignoring and snobbing us off but I was on a mission to leave Europe with one luxury item so whatever, haters gonna hate 😝.
We headed home to drop off our stuff and headed closer towards the Parisian pride, Eiffel. We had done some research and decided to chill with a bottle of red wine at the Trocadero for some sunset photos HERE. We stayed until 7PM, getting KFC on the way home for a relaxing night in.
A thing we observed under the Eiffel Tower and at the Trocadero was that there were lots of people trying to sell €1 figurines and some suspicious people attempting the bracelet scam. If you did not know, a common European scam is when they grab the victim's wrist or shake their hand, under the pretence of being friendly, and secure a bracelet on the victim. This forces the victim to pay the scammer a few euros to remove the bracelet. Beware! Run away from them.
On Tuesday, we woke up late and had a chilled hour in our hotel's igloo with some morning cocktails. It was very cold this particular day so it was really nice and warm to sit inside this plastic globe.
Then we headed off to one of the "most happiest places in the world" HERE. It was raining when we got to Disneyland (always our luck) so we bought another €15 poncho, only for the rain to stop 10 minutes after our purchase TT_TT Another poncho to add to our Disney collection HAHA.
Another memorable scam happened when we were at the station, trying to use our train ticket from our Paris Pass. A girl came up to us while we were waiting at the help desk, flashed her ID really quickly, and asked us if we needed help. We noticed she eyed both of us up and down and then tried taking us to the ticket machine. We told her we already had our tickets and then she left, as if suddenly uninterested. We watched as she disappeared back into the crowd to a group of people, who were watching us. We realised this bitch was casing us so the group could rob us 😤
In the evening, we headed to Fauborg street to do some window shopping. I bit the bullet and purchased a beautiful Yves Saint Laurent medium Kate bag in smooth black leather with gold hassle from YSL 32 Fauborg 😭 The sale assistant was really friendly and helpful and it was such a different experience from the rude Chanel staff. I will always cherish this bag and this memory 💕
The next day was uneventful, other than an uneven luggage weight scare at the airport, as we flew out of Paris to Barcelona.
Overall, we were both amazed and shocked by the state of Paris. As beautiful and scenic as the monuments and buildings were, it was more terrifying knowing we were potential victims to a scam or at risk of being robbed. Is it bad to say we felt relieved when we left? It was also very saddening to see so many homeless people in such a rich first world country. Our visit pushed Paris really low on our re-visit list and it made us hesitant to see the rest of France, although we hope Bordeaux and Lyon will change our minds.
Thank you so much for reading. Au revoir!