This is the fifth and final post of the series. Paris – City of Romance, Fashion, Art and illustrious history.
We started early morning as planned and reached Rome’s Ciampino Airport well in advance of departure time. We took Ryan Air flight FR9631 at 6.35 AM which reached Paris Beauvais airport at 8.45 AM. On landing the first thing we noticed was the weather. The sky was overcast with strong winds blowing and the forecast was of rains. But that could hardly dampen our spirits. From the airport we took a shuttle to Paris’s Porte Malliot . You can view the timetable of shuttle from here. We were to reach 13 Rue Auber for L’ Open Tour (Hop on Hop off tour of Paris). We almost lost our way inside the maze of Paris metro and RER trains. We could reach our destination with help from some kind hearted Parisians. We had six hours approximately to see Paris so we felt the best way make most of it is pre-book the one day Hop on Hop off tour and try to see most of Paris. The L’ Open Tour has four tour routes which covers the entire Paris. The routes are:
- The longest tour, the Paris Grand Tour lasts 2 hours 15 minutes and shuttles visitors around many of the city's most popular sites, including the Louvre Museum, Eiffel Tower, and the Arc de Triomphe.
- The Montparnasse tour lasts about an hour and covers some of the left bank's most storied places, including the Latin Quarter, Montparnasse and the Invalides.
- The Montmartre Tour lasts a little over an hour and gives visitors a good overview of the edgier, more modern right bank, with notable stops at the Sacre Coeur basilica, the Moulin Rouge cabaret, the Saint-Martin canal area and classic Paris department stores (Grands Magasins).
- The Bastille tour lasts around an hour and gives a good glimpse of Paris' dynamic center and Seine-side attractions, including the Centre Pompidou, the trendy Marais district, the Ile Saint Louis and Picasso Museum.
As you can see to do all the four tours it would roughly take six hours. However, due to our severe time constraints we decided to do only the Paris Grand tour, which would cover the most famous landmarks of Paris.
After reaching the tour company’s office we boarded the first bus that was waiting there. We were quite excited that we would soon see the iconic Eiffel Tower. But as I listened to the commentary I realized that we got into wrong bus it was the Montmartre Tour as we were in front of the famous Moulin Rouge. You should have seen the reaction on the faces of my friends when they realized that we were on the wrong tour. Well some pictures from the tour.
The bus then returned to the starting point and we waited for the right bus. This time before boarding we confirmed with the driver where were we going. The tour was quite long winding through the busy streets of Paris. It took quite some time to reach Eiffel Tower. Some pictures from the tour. You can get a glimpse of the dull weather as well.
Pont des Arts bridge on River Seine
An interesting news article in NY Times relating to flip-side of love locks on the bridge and bids to discontinue the tradition.
Palais Bourbon (seat of the French National Assembly)
Finally when the bus reached the west pillar of Eiffel Tower we were ecstatic. We rushed down to lawns below the tower for photo session. After all it was one of most iconic monuments of the world and we needed proof that we were actually there. After clicking pictures to our hearts content we picked up few souvenirs from a stall near the tower. We found people sitting and relaxing on lush green garden across the street. We decided to give some rest to our weary legs. I sat on lush green grass and gazed at the wonderful piece of architecture in front of me. Couldn't help but take a moment to thank the universe for granting me the opportunity.
Looking at pictures you might have understood that this Paris trip was just about getting a glimpse of city from a distance (only place we got off the bus was at Eiffel tower). What else can you do with just six hours in your hands? As we were leaving Eiffel tower the Parisian sun which was elusive all day started smiling indicating that probably it was not our lucky day weather-wise.
From the west pillar we took the tour bus to take us back to its starting point. From there we took RoissyBus (a bus service that connects Paris-Opéra with Charles de Gaulle airport). Time was ticking away for our Air Baltic flight BT694 / BT325 to Helsinki which was to leave at 18:35. We were holding our breath as the bus was winding its way through busy streets of Paris. In the end the bus took a little more than an hour to reach airport. On reaching the departure gate we realized that we did not have a proper meal through the day and would need some dinner to survive the rest of the journey. The day eventually turned out to be a very long day as we crossed three time zones without any sleep for more than 24 hours. When we reached our apartment in Pori, Finland we were completely drained out.
Looking back at the whole trip I felt it ultimately turned out to be a memorable one. We had covered so many iconic places in such a less time. However, ideally it should have been a nine days ten nights trip instead of four days five nights one. But in life rarely things are ideal.