Finally on my last installment for Paris! Since I’m writing this in the middle of the night as I suffer from monthly lady pains, I’m just gonna make this a quickie post. Also, so I can proceed to writing about Geneva next. 😉
After our half-day trip to the Versailles, my husband and I quickly went back to the city to do some last minute shopping for souvenirs and sight seeing. We first dropped by the Palai Garnier which is the official home of the Paris Opera.
It’s definitely a grand building and a pleasure to look at. After exploring that area for a bit, we went straight to the Galeries Lafayette. Not to splurge or anything but to just stare and be in awe of the ceiling. Yes, we’re kinda weird. But just look at it!
We walked around, getting lost in rows and rows of shops till it was almost sunset. We made our way back to the Eiffel Tower so we can catch a river cruise along the Seine. We wanted to do the cruise at the right moment to maximise what we could get out of it.
Normally, we wouldn’t make much effort just to join a cruise but since the ticket was included in our Paris Pass, we decided that it might be a good way to end our trip.
The company they partnered with is the Bateaux Parisiens River Cruise. Each person would normally cost 13 euros for the hour-long cruise that covers the major attractions along the Seine.
You can ride the cruise from their station near Champs de Mars and the Eiffel Tower. Just walk towards the river, go down the steps towards the piers and look for Pier 3.
Most river cruises in Paris have the tendency to treat their customers like cattle. You’re cramped in a boat with a lot of other tourists. You’re left to scurry and find your own good seat as a tour guide tries to get everyone to settle down as fast as he could. I felt bad for the guide since some parents who brought unruly children with them were making the job a lot harder by not being cooperative and were not into instilling discipline.
Once you finally get a move on, the guide starts to ramble about the attractions that you will be seeing along the river. He will have to repeat each explanation in up to 5 languages, depending on the nationalities on board.
On weekends (during the late afternoons), you might be able to catch a glimpse of locals learning latin dances on the river bank. If we had more time, I would have dragged my husband there so we can learn. Haha!
Since the structures you want to see are built on higher ground, your view most of the time will be like this:
But all the other not-so-nice things about the cruise disappeared when we saw what we actually took it for. This view of the Eiffel Tower:
In conclusion: The best (and only) time to take the cruise would be during sunset. (IMHO)
It takes approximately 60 minutes so you will be back just in time for the Eiffel to light up and look as lovely as it does on the photo. Do come a bit early as lines tend to be long.
Just some tips before I move on to writing about our next stop:
Paris is expensive – when you don’t know where to go. For eating out, try to look for cafés and restaurants that are 2-3 blocks away from the touristy spots (especially the major attractions) to save on your meals.
In the summer, it’s always nice to sit on the outdoor area and do some people watching. However, if you want to get a nice seat, go earlier. Have lunch at 11 am, have dinner at 6pm. This will ensure that you get the seat you want.
People will pay good money for those outdoor seats and restaurants will go out of their way to get as many people in their establishment as possible. On our last night, we were politely asked if we could give up our seats for a big group from Saudi who really wants to sit outdoors (we weren’t the only table that was approached as there were about 8 of them). Since Alvin and I have been sitting outside since we got to Paris and we were just there for a quick bite before heading back to the hotel, we obliged. We both got free champagne in return. 😉
For shopping, opt for sales which are scheduled between end of January and early February for the winter stuff and the end of summer-early autumn for the spring/summer collections. Get your fix of luxury goods in Galeries Lafayette and make sure to get your tax refund form at the counter. Try to go in the morning though as you have Chinese tour groups coming in during the afternoons and they will also be lining up for the refund forms. They buy a LOT so it can take hours.
For eclectic fashion and one of a kind pieces, I would suggest that you go to the Marais (Metro Stop: Hotel de Ville). Walking along its winding streets and finding the quirkiest of shops is an adventure in itself.
During the summer, there’s a long strip of stalls selling food, souvenirs, and other quirky stuff along Champs de Mars. I loved it there so much that we had dinner there and I bought some handmade soaps as well!
If you want Vintage goods, the Montmartre area is your best bet as well as the Centre Pompidou area. If you want vintage luxury bags, I found a small shop near Shakespeare & Co. called Lili Rose Luxury. They have great deals for some highly coveted styles. The vintage Chanel bag I’ve always wanted was there! But no, I didn’t get it as it wasn’t the time for me to buy it. I’m saving my writing money for something else!
For hotels, I would suggest you get rooms in residential areas just to have a proper feel of the Parisian life. I wrote about our stay in Hotel Home Moderne here.
And that ends my Paris series! Hope this has been helpful to you guys! Shoutout to our friend Jheng who has been following my Paris posts since she’s going there this Spring! Have fun, my dear!
*Trip is not sponsored by any country’s tourism department, company, or brand. Although almost all of our expenses were shouldered by my side of the family who want to see me more often. Thanks, fam!????