Paris by Night

Paris. It was a city I’d dreamt of visiting my entire life, and as I stepped of the TGV onto the platform of Gare du Nord, I felt a shiver of excitement. I was here at last. Dad rounded everyone up, and reminded us once again to be mindful of our belongings, and we were off through the winding metro system that would deliver us within a few blocks of our hotel. All I can say about that, is I’m glad Dad knew where we were going! To anyone planning a visit to Paris, do your homework and research the metro in advance!

We rose from the metro station onto a busy sidewalk, far from the only ones dragging luggage behind us as we walked. I couldn’t help but gawk at the buildings rising up on either side of the street, and made a mental note to come back later and photograph some of the more interesting storefronts and balconies.

Hausmannian Buildings in the Ninth Arrondissement of Paris, France

After a brief walk, we arrived at our hotel for the next two nights: the Hotel L’Orset Opera. The staff there were very kind and polite, and even humored us with a little English while checking us into the hotel. We took the elevator up to our rooms, which were absolutely gorgeous – you can certainly expect a full review post at some point! Many of the rooms looked out over the street, allowing many opportunities to people watch or just plain take in the beauty of the area. The room I shared with Michelle had a lovely view of…the wall across the way. We laughed, but couldn’t be too upset by this development. After all, the room itself was beautiful, and moreover, we were in Paris! There could be no complaining. After settling in, we strolled to a nearby creperie for lunch, then went for a quick walk around the area.

Scooters Parked on an Avenue in the Ninth Arrondissement of Paris, FranceSiblings Enjoy Lunch at Creperie d'Opera in Paris, France

The closest attraction to us was the Opera Garnier. We didn’t have enough time to take a tour, although I would have loved to see the inside of this beautiful building. Tourists clustered on the steps, cameras in hand, and musicians played along the sidewalk, collecting applause and donations for their art.

Group Photo in Front of the Palais Garnier in Paris, France
Thank you Dad for taking group shots wherever we went! Our hotel couldn’t have been more than a couple blocks away from the Opera Garnier.

Architectural Details on the Exterior of the Palais Garnier in Paris, France

The Main Entry and Staircase of the Palais Garnier in Paris, France
Click to expand image

After the Opera, we visited our first Parisian cathedral: l’Église de la Sainte-Trinité

l'Église de la Sainte-Trinité in Paris, France

Beautiful Columns, Domes and Frescoes Inside l'Église de la Sainte-Trinité in Paris, France
I recommend clicking any one of these collaged photos for greater detail.

Artwork, Chandeliers and Stained Glass Inside l'Église de la Sainte-Trinité in Paris, FranceArchitectural Details and Walls of Stained Glass Inside l'Église de la Sainte-Trinité in Paris, FranceThe Crisp, Clean and Beautifully Decorated Interior of l'Église de la Sainte-Trinité in Paris, FranceTwo Beautiful Statuettes and a Painting Inside l'Église de la Sainte-Trinité in Paris, France

Jennifer Posing Creepily with the Crypt Sign at l'Église de la Sainte-Trinité in Paris, France
The crypt was closed when we visited, but I imagine it would have been quite the sight!

On our way back to the hotel, we wandered in and out of various boutiques, struggling to keep in mind the conversion rate between dollars and euros. At this point in time, the euro was equal to approximately $1.33, so the 100 euro camel-toned leather jacket I fell in love with would have taken up most of my remaining spending money! We did stop at a nearby liquor store to pick up some souvenirs, and somehow walked out with a bottle of wine each. At 3 euros a pop, how could we refuse!?

Living it Up With Wine and Fluffy White Robes in our Hotel Room in Paris

Back at the hotel, we donned the fluffy white robes hung in our closets, and retreated to Jennifer and Jared’s room to toast to our first day in Paris. Night fell as we finished one, two, then all three bottles of wine. Feeling pleasantly buzzed and completely delighted to be together in this beautiful city, the three of us set us for a quick stroll around the neighborhood. Just a quick walk…just to clear our heads before resting up for the following day.

We couldn’t have walked too far. After thirty or so minutes of aimless walking, we arrived at the Jardin des Tuileries, complete with sparkling amusement park attractions. We walked past the rides and into the garden, admiring the statues and the neatly trimmed grass, until I saw something that made me shriek in delight and disbelief.

Our First Super Blurry Glimpse of the Eiffel Tower from the Jardins des Tuileries in Paris, France
Lesson learned: never trust digital zoom on an iPhone. It may not look like much, but this is a sight I’d waited years to see in person.

The Eiffel Tower was right there, winking at us from a distance. Despite our wine-heavy bladders, we resolved right then to walk to the Eiffel Tower. I had waited my whole life to see it in person, and I couldn’t wait even one day longer. Thus began one of my favorite memories from the entire trip.

Map Screenshot Showing Our Hotel Location in Relation to the Eiffel Tower
We had no idea just how central our hotel was. It still blows my mind that if we had just continued down the main road, we would have stumbled right onto the Louvre by night. What a sight that would have been!
The Ferris Wheel and Obelisque, Both Seen from the Tuileries Gardens in Paris
The Jardin des Tuileries on the left, and the obelisk of the Place de la Concorde on the right. The Arc de Triomphe can be seen further up the Champs-Élysées.

It turns out that the Eiffel Tower only looked like it was nearby. In reality, it was a little over two miles from the gardens, and it felt much further away as we strolled along with no guide but the glittering tower itself. We had absolutely no sense of direction, but trusted that we would get there all the same. Our walk took us alongside the Seine, over the Pont Alexandre III, and through an endless maze of postcard-worthy Parisian neighborhoods. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Jared and Jen Relaxing in the Tuileries Taking Silly Photos With a StatueJen and Jared Posing at the Place de la Concorde in Paris, With the Eiffel Tower in the BackgroundPont Alexandre III With the Eiffel Tower in the Background, 2014

A Playground on the Banks of the Seine, and Jen's Bruised, Swollen Fingers
The playground along the Seine where Jennifer jammed her pinky in a climbing ring.

Jen, Jared and I Exploring Paris by NightLooking Up at the Eiffel Tower at NightJared, Jen and I at the Base of the Eiffel Tower, 2014Looking Up into the Center of the Eiffel Tower at Night

It was amazing to finally see the Eiffel Tower in person. Under the tower itself, street vendors roamed around hawking cheap souvenirs for upwards of one euro. We waved them off and debated going up to the top of the Eiffel Tower right at that moment. Jennifer’s pinky was really starting to ache, however, and we still had a long walk back to the hotel ahead of us. I purchased a single postcard from the gift shop, and we made our way back through the neighborhood in search of our hotel. Not that we knew where we were going. At one point we did stop to consult a cell phone, which was of very little help, and eventually found the place on our own.

Collage of the Obelisk, Fountain, and a Statue at the Place de Concorde in Paris, France

It may not have been the brightest idea to go for a lengthy midnight stroll the evening before two days of nonstop sightseeing, especially in a city where we knew neither the layout nor the entirety of the language. Still, it remains one of my most cherished memories of the trip, and it is one of the few moments when we really got to explore an area, taking in its neighborhoods rather than the major sights alone. I have so many wonderful little stories from this adventure, but most of them are hardly appropriate for general audiences! Suffice it to say this is an adventure that I will never forget!

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