Paris is one of those places I dreamt of going to all my life. Books, movies, music, people, photographs, poems, songs, and ‘Sex and the city’ have all contributed to this ever brewing longing in my heart. So finally when I did visit for the first time, Audrey Hepburn’s words rang true – “Paris is always a good idea!”
Any place as hyped as Paris has to feel immense pressure living up to expectations. But not Paris. It stands confident in the belief that anyone who visits WILL fall in love! For me, all of it was a sort of “firsts”. Even today, snuggled up on my couch a few months later, moments spent in Paris feel like smooth jazz playing in the background. Sappy, I know. Untrue, absolutely not. Here are 7 “first-times” in Paris.
- The first time you travel on the Eu-rail to come stay two blocks from the Louvre. The grandeur and extravagance of the Louvre Palace and the unabashedly entitled lives of its then inhabitants Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette remind you why revolutions take place – both yesterday and in today’s times alike. Feels apt then that the Royal Palace is now ‘Musée du Louvre’ and is open to the people of the world. With exhibits, sculptures, paintings, and archaeological finds spanning the mystical Egyptian Hieroglyphics to the modern impressionists era, it is estimated that it would take you 100 days to spend 30 seconds on each exhibit if that is what you were doing all day, every day. I spent a mere 6 hours on my favorite pieces with a couple to spare for the outer courtyards, the glass pyramid, and the Tuileries gardens. Full Disclosure: The Mona lisa is a lovely painting. The hype is lost on me. Expert tip: Make sure to get your Louvre tickets in advance to get into the faster lanes!
- The first time you sit at romantic Parisian cafés indulging in the six C’s all day. Champagne, Cheese, Crepes, Chocolate, Coffee, and Croissants. In no particular order, these comprise most of what one would consume in Paris. Crepes (both sweet and savory) became all three meals with generous dollops of cheese, caramel, and chocolate. Inadvertently, every coffee accompanies a buttery croissant. Culinary heaven and laid back is a subtle way to describe it.
- The first time you meet your childhood friend in her lovely Parisian home with her fabulous French husband. In a foreign place, it is often comforting to meet an old friend who will ease you into ‘Nuova’ cultural experiences. Especially a truly French experience, with intricately picked meats, cheeses and wine, homemade quiche and an array of desserts from a traditional French patisserie! It sure was a night to remember. Reliving old memories and making new ones.
- The first time you drench in Parisian rain without an umbrella and make it up to the quaint town of Montmartre. I think the sparkling wonder that is the Eiffel tower is not appreciated enough from afar at night. Parisians would disagree however. You want to hike up to the town of Montmarte in order to do this. The glitz of Paris will leave you behind revealing the non-touristy version of French charm. The majestic cathedral, winding hilly lanes, stairs crisscrossing little pastel townhomes, numerous cyclists in berets and quaint cafes will take you back in time. Don’t forget a big black umbrella!
- The first time you amble down Champs-Élysées hand-in-arm with a lover. One of the biggest fashion capitals of the world, Paris’s Champs-Élysées houses some of the luxurious fashion labels. A quirky mix of luxury and high-street brands lure you in to lighten your purse-strings. Ambling along the stretch with beau in one arm and french onion soup in the other headed towards Arc De Triomphe is mesmerising. Built to honour those who fought and died for France in the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. Like most historic structures, the Arc de Triomphe is humbling and offers a passageway into the past.
- The first time you clocked more than 30,000 steps each day on a vacation. The best way to really know a city intimately is to walk the streets and lanes and take public transport like the locals do. In the process, you live the life of the city professional who takes the train to work, the florist headed back home for the day, the young couple headed to a popular bar in town and numerous others. It is satisfying to see your destination rise up from the horizon as you walk towards them. Like the popular Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, translating to “Our Lady of Paris” will transfix you with its exquisite French Gothic architecture. Watching the evening and night take over this beautiful church is a fabulous reward after all the miles of walking. Hopefully also burning of some of the 6 Cs!
- The first time you ‘Hollywood kiss’ under the Eiffel tower. Some moments in life will be etched in your mind forever. Walking along river Seine, across bridges to arrive before the iconic Eiffel tower is surely one of them. Built by Gustave Eiffel as the entryway to the 1889 World’s Fair, it is the most recognizable structures in the world and so very hard to not photograph well.
Many other ‘first-times’ in Paris didn’t make the cut. The first time I almost missed my flight due to the longest lines ever and Paris Hilton holding them up further at the Charles de Gaulle airport are not ones i regret leaving out!!
Jokes aside, ‘First-times’ are pure magic. And for good reason. Paris will always be a magical First-time. I invite you to think about the last time you did something for the first time. If you had to think too hard, it’s been too long.