… is still Paris!
We arrived in Paris in April and stayed for three weeks, it was wet and grey the entire time. We had expected sunshine. What do you do when you are assured warmer temperatures and little to no rain? Turns out you just go with it, because, no matter what the weather, you are still in Paris, and it is amazing.
A childhood dream come true
I have wanted to visit Paris for as long as I can remember. I grew up on old movies where Doris Day, Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire and Audrey Hepburn (among others) dance and sing their way through the streets of Paris, falling in love and having ridiculous adventures. How deeply I wanted to be them. It has taken me nearly 40 years to finally get myself onto the streets of Paris, and nothing, cold weather, rain, floods, I repeat, nothing was going to get in my way or dampen my spirits.
On the flight from New York I began talking myself down. Telling myself not to get my hopes up, the world never lives up to ones expectations, to the glittering dream you create in your imagination. Turns out, I was wrong. Paris was everything I had dreamt it would be. OMG! The history. The majesty. You couldn’t walk a step and not see something breathtakingly beautiful or historical.
Food glorious food
Let me get this out of the way right up, we ate snails today. They were buttery and garlicy and a little on the gritty/chewy side, they were okay, (note – I’ve had better since), Pip, on the other hand, chickened out and ate “French Fries”.
We arrived early in the morning and took that first day to settle into our apartment, get to now the neighbourhood a little and basically recover from the flight, I do not count this as our first day in Paris. Our actual first day, we got up early and headed out into the world.
Our apartment was in the 20th arrondissement, located between three train stations and a half dozen boulangeries (french bakeries) and a wonderful collection of tiny, specialised shops ranging from fresh fruit and vegetables, from age, wine, cured meats and even fresh made pasta. It was mouth waveringly special (and easy to see how we put on a few extra kilos). We wondered into the closest boulangerie to us and devoured croissants, coffee, hot chocolates and little pastry balls full of gooey chocolaty goodness, before putting together a picnic from the various specialist shops as we made our way to the train station and into the city proper.
We slowly discovered that fresh food in France was plentiful and preparing home cooked meals was cheap and always delicious, but eating out was expensive and usually disappointing.
Spend a day just walking to city
Armed with a picnic gathered from the specialist food shops in our street, our initial stop on our first day in Paris was, of course, the Eiffel Tower. We had visions of a sunny, warm picnic in the park, the iconic tower looming above us. Unfortunately, it was cold and grey, but the food was amazing and the tower impressive. You can’t grasp the size of the tower until you actually stand beneath and look up her skirt, huge, actually deserving of the words titanic and monumental.
We didn’t brave the view from the top as the crowds, even in the off season, were huge, the lines long and boring and it was enough for us to just stand at the base of this grand old lady and marvel at how strong her legs were.
After the tower we ambled through the streets and over the bridges just marvelling at the architecture, the shear age of, well, everything. Paris is more than 2,000 years old. I come from a country where any any western architecture is a sneeze older than 200 years. You can see why I was in complete awe of this iconic city. I love the sunburnt country of my birth, but it has never satisfied that lust in me for western history the way Europe can.
You can do and see so much in Paris in just one day. We even braved a pedicab (which I do not recommend and if you do decide to hire one, be very very careful of how much they charge you). It was nice to see the streets of the city moved passed you and less than the zooming fast pass of a car, but much nicer to simply walk. The cab took us to the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Paris which is cool, and creepy, and beautiful, and old. There’s art and treasure, and crypts and relics (like the leg bone of a dead person said to be a saint), there are even bees. It’s well worth paying the little extra for a audio tour, its full of really interesting information on everything inside and I also recommend coughing over the dough to go into the super special reliquary and take your time explore the treasures within.
Final thoughts on April in Paris
It doesn’t matter what time of year you go to Paris, what the weather is or how long you have to spend there, it is an astounding city soaked in history and beauty that is so worth the visit. This was the first day of our three week stay and I could have left at the end of the day feeling satiated, but ready to build my hunger for a return visit.
About the Author:
Tracey Ambrose, writer and digital nomad.