Paris: besotted by beauty, bewildered by crowds

On the 8 hours bus journey from London to Paris, it takes:

  • 2 hours on the road from London to Dover;
  • 1.5 hours on the ferry across the English Channel; and
  • 4.5 hours on the road from Calais to Paris.

Once in this city of enlightenment, I am besotted by its beauty, bewildered by its crowds. August is peak tourist season. The queues are immense.

long queue under the Eiffel Tower, Paris

Wisely, I purchase a 4-day Museum Pass, which allows me to skip the queues for numerous sites. I visit as many museums as possible – at least two per day - to make the most of the Pass.

people walking in a museuam garden, Paris

They include the Palace of Versailles, which has far too many people.

long queue outside the Palace of Versailles, Paris

Sainte-Chapelle with its magnificent stained glass.

stained glass windows at Sainte-Chapelle, Paris

And the iconic, Lourve Museum.

pyramid celining from inside the Lourve Musuem, Paris

Among the works being displayed is the painting, Mona Lisa. By far, it has the largest audience.

crowds photographing the Mona Lisa, Paris

Despite the crowds, changeover is quick. People take photos and leave. Within minutes, I move to the front.

large crowd surrounding the Mona Lisa, Paris

Standing in front of the Mona Lisa, she holds my gaze, looks at me. Her eyes alluring...

close up of the Mona Lisa, Paris

The museum that I enjoy the most is the less-visited but worthwhile Army Museum (Musée de l'Armée). It has an interesting exhibition of French military history and includes the tomb of Napoleon I. Highly recommended for the war history aficionado.

tomb of Napoleon I at the Army Museum, Paris

Paris is like an open-air museum. I walk for hours admiring the buildings.

buildings in Paris

Enjoying the views. This is from the top of the Arc de Triomphe.

Paris views from the Arc de Triomphe

At the end of each day, I return tired but full to a small, comfy room that I booked through the website, New York Habitat. This is my first time using their website. Their accommodations are worth considering.

window view from my room in Paris

Paris has been a whirlwind for ten days. Despite walking aplenty and staying in a local neigbourhood, I have minimal interaction with both locals and tourists alike. Perhaps it’s the sheer number of tourists, or my lack of French but I don't think the people are rude or arrogant. They have an extraordinary heritage. If I was French, I would be proud too.

May we meet again, dear Paris.