They say getting there is half the fun. In this case I disagree. When you’re occasionally prone to motion sickness, getting there can be no fun. At all. Such is the case with the 12 hour overnight bus trip from Munich to Paris. But, boy was it worth it. I can happily cross Paris off the list of famous European cities that everyone should visit. Three days didn’t seem like a lot of time, considering we dedicated one of those days to Disneyland, but we made the most of it and saw everything we wanted to see.
The overnight bus had one advantage. It arrived bright and early in Paris at 7am, giving us head start to the day. After dropping out backpacks off at the hostel, we heading out for a day of sightseeing. First up was the beautiful gothic church of Notre Dame, currently celebrating its 850th birthday. Cue a big tent to aid the celebration, which was erected directly in front of the church, obscuring any potential photo ops. Luckily inside there was nothing blocking the gorgeous stain glassed windows in what is an otherwise rather plain interior (in comparison to other gothic churches at least). After an hour or two exploring the surrounding area, we boarded a train, destination; the Palace of Versailles. The line was intimidating, but as we soon found, if there’s one thing the French can deal with, it’s lines. We were waiting less than half an hour and then we were in. And for free too, which was a pleasant surprise that was repeated at the Louvre and Musee d’Orsay, all because we were under 26 and studying at a European University, all we had to do was show our passports and relevant student visas/cards.
After we’d seen all there is to see of the palace, we headed back into the city for the next mission; the Eiffel Tower. In truth, Paris’ most recognisable landmark is actually kind of ugly. Don’t get me wrong, from a distance, at night when it’s all lit up it’s rather pretty, up close it’s an industrial brown metal thing. Overcome by laziness, we took the elevator rather than the stairs to the second level. It was a good idea, considering the view wasn’t as jaw dropping as you might be led to believe. The Eiffel Tower is the thing to see in Paris, so when you’re on it there aren’t many other things to look at. Although punctuated by old famous landmarks, Paris is still a modern city of grey, nondescript buildings.
Day two found us on the other side of the river. First stop the area of Montmartre, home to the Basilica of Sacre-Coer. The area closest the basilica was probably my favourite part of Paris, it’s village-like atmosphere at the forefront of its appeal, complimented by the cafes that lined the streets and the music that filled the air as a band struck a light-hearted tune next to a crepe stand. A square filled with artists offering portraits topped off the experience. Admittedly, it was still shoulder season, so I can only imagine how many tourists crowd the area in summer, considering the copious number of souvenir shops.
Next stop the museums. First the Louvre, mostly for the Mona Lisa. Probably one of the world’s most famous museums, the Louvre is huge and to fully appreciate it you’d have to spend at least a day wondering through its corridors. We didn’t have a whole day, and neither of us were that into the styles of art the Louvre offers. I could’ve spent longer at D’Orsay though, home to works by van Gogh and Degas. Unfortunately, we arrived a mere hour before closing time. To finish off the day we walked down Avenue des Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe, stopping in at the shops that hadn’t closed yet.
The last day found us in Disneyland enjoying the rides and all things Disney. Excluding the roller coasters, because while I normally love roller coasters I was dreading another bout of motion sickness on the trip back that night. Luckily that didn’t happen, but the bus did break down leading to a two hour delay.
All in all, it was a productive trip but I can say if I do go back to Paris one day, I won’t go in summer because the crowds would be overwhelming. And contrary to belief, Paris can be done it two days, although if you had more time I’d recommend dedicating a whole day to the Palace of Versailles, and another to whatever museums tickle your fancy.