France

Paris Day 1 – Louvre and Eiffel Tower

We flew from Boston nonstop to Paris, total flight time was around 6.5 hours. Our airline was Air France, the ride was smooth and we arrived in Paris CDG Terminal E at 8:15 am in the morning! It was very fast and easy going through immigration…stamp and all set! We picked up our luggage and once we got out of the luggage area, on our right hand side was the information desk.  We purchased our Air France Shuttle ticket (one day from airport to Arc de Triomphe for 17 euros each) and also the 4-day Museum Pass (54 euros each) right at the information desk! We walked toward Terminal 2F and found exit 3 to wait for the Air France Shuttle station. The wait was around 15 minutes and it was pretty chilly; we took the “Line 2” to get to Arc de Triomphe, travel time was 50 minutes.

The bus dropped us off right at Arc de Triomphe, when I first stepped out of the bus, I had the feeling “I am in Paris, this is Arc de Triomphe!” Arc de Triomphe was a lot bigger than I thought when I saw photos online! Anyways, we headed to the metro station to take the train to get to our hotel. We took Metro line 1 from Charles De Gauille Etoile (Arc de Triomphe) to Tuilleries. I looked up the metro stations on this website prior to my trip so I know exactly how I get to the hotel:  http://www.vianavigo.com/en/routes-district-maps/

The Westin Paris Vendome hotel was around 5 minutes walk from the Metro station so it was convenient. After checked in the hotel, we had our lunch at La First which is a restaurant in the hotel. The food was good but a bit pricey for lunch. The Westin was very beautiful, great location, but our room was small, I guess it’s because Paris is expensive!

After lunch, we headed straight to the Louvre which is located only a few blocks from our hotel! We could even see Louvre from our hotel!

As we approached Louvre, it was way bigger than I thought! The architecture was absolutely amazing (well it was used to be a palace), you really have to be there to know how it feels to be stand right in front of the Louvre!

We went in through the Pyramid entrance (I know people said that is the worst entrance since it’s most crowded) but I saw the line for Museum Pass was almost empty! We went right in and through security in less than few minutes, I was surprised! We walked down the stairs from the Pyramid and got us to a central area where the entrances to each “wing” of the museum. Louvre looks big from the outside but it’s even bigger in the inside!

I never imagined a museum will be like that! I had the feeling I was in the middle of a huge shopping mall, don’t know which store to go into!

Looking from a window inside the Louvre:

Without further thinking, we saw the sign “Mona Lisa” and we headed right to that direction! We followed the “Mona Lisa” sign and passed through many rooms filled with paintings. We are not huge fans of arts so we didn’t spend a lot of time looking at every single painting, we stopped for few seconds on paintings we thought was nice. At last, we were in a room filled with people, this must be the Mona Lisa room!!! We waited patiently “pushing” in with the crowds to get a chance to glimpse and take some photos of Mona Lisa. Mona Lisa is much smaller than I thought!

We finally had our chance to snap some photos of the most famous painting in the world! To give you some idea how crowded the room was…here’s a picture (on the right side, it has a sign to warn people beware of pickpockets):

 After Mona Lisa, we really don’t have a plan to see the next piece of art so we just walk around Louvre and the walk around took 3 hours! At first, I thought I could go in to look at Mona Lisa and leave but the museum was so beautiful that we couldn’t resist to take pictures of here and there.  Somehow, we stopped by two other famous pieces of art Winged Victory of Samothrace and Venus de Milo:

Another interesting spot was Napoleon’s Apartment, the interior decor was stunning! How many people could this dining table fits???

Crystal chandeliers everywhere inside Napoleon’s Apartment!

Even the ceilings inside the Louvre are pieces of art themselves:

 After Louvre, it was already 5:30 pm, we took the Metro 8 to get to École Militaire and found the restaurant, Le P’tit Troquet. Our reservation was at 6:30 which the restaurant opens so we walked around the area to take some photos of Paris.

My favorite Fanta I have been waiting for 2 years to drink again (I swear that the Fanta from Europe tasted so much better!)

We got in the restaurant, it was very small inside but nice and clean. It was decorated with various things that looked very cute together. We told the waitress that we made a reservation with The Fork and seems like she was awared 🙂

Our waitress was very nice, her English is sufficient and presented to us the menu of the day. She also gave us the printed menu which was in English so we had no problem ordering food 🙂 I saw foie gras on the menu but it was 5 euros extra to the fixed 3 course meal price and my husband said since we are in Paris, we had to try it! I ordered  foie gras as appetizer, beef pot, and creme brulee and my husband ordered shrimp, steak, and creme brulee.

My foie gras came and I took the first bite, wow the favor was so rich! It was very smooth like cream cheese and very delicious! My first time having foie gras and absolutely love it! The piece was large, enough for two of us!

Then we waited and our main course came. My beef pot was yummy! My husband’s steak was the 2nd best steak we ever had! (1st was bistecca alla fiorentina in Florence, Italy).

We really enjoyed the food, no wonder why Paris is famous for food! Then, we waited for our dessert and the restaurant quickly filled so it was very busy! I told the waitress if she could expedite our dessert because we have reservation to go up the Eiffel Tower at 8:00 pm. She was so nice to bring us the dessert as fast as she could. We both ordered creme brulee and it was absolutely the best we had! It was so smooth and creamy! The food was beyond our expectation, this restaurant definitely deserved to be in the Michelin Guide!

After our dessert, I asked the waitress for the check, and she already applied the deal we got from The Fork,  26.40€ for 3 course meal each plus my 5€ extra for the foie gras! Regularly, the 3 course meal price was around 32€ so we saved 20% off!

We quickly walked to Eiffel Tower which was about 10 minutes walk.  From far away, I can see Eiffel Tower and as we get there, I was so excited that I finally get to see Paris’ famous landmark – Eiffel Tower!!! Without wandering around, we passed by a huge line of people and tried to find the “advanced ticket” line. The advanced ticket line was on the left and the ticket line was on the right. We showed our ticket and got in the advanced ticket line, which no one is in the line waiting!  As we walked our way to the entrance of the lift, we passed by hundreds of people waiting in the ticket line. It felt so cool to walk right in and those people in line waiting next to our line were looking at us like we are VIP haha! My husband was so glad that we made advanced reservation or else we’ll have to wait in line like those people! We got right to the entrance of the lift and that’s where the two lines met. The personnel scanned our ticket and let us in right on at 8:00 pm. We were right in the line for the next lift whoa! I heard people saying that they have been waited in line for 3 hours!

The wait for the lift was less than 10 minutes and we got into the lift, it was very crowded! Off we go, we were on our way up, wow, couldn’t believe it we were in the Eiffel Tower! The way up was scary for me since I am acrophobic! We stopped on the 2nd level and we walked around to take some pictures. Here is a picture we took from the 2nd floor:

 

We went right to the line for the lift to go up to the 3rd floor! The line was long but it moved quick since they have 4 operating lifts. The lift was so much smaller and people pushed in so we waited for the next one! The ride up to the 3rd floor took much longer! We got to the 3rd floor and the view of Paris was incredible up here although I tried not to look down! Here’s the picture of Arc de Triomphe from the top of Eiffel Tower:

We spent at least 1.5 hours in Eiffel Tower! It was a cloudy day so we didn’t have a great sunset view of Paris but that was okay since we have 5 more days to go! We went back down and to the grass area where everyone was sitting waiting to see the Eiffel Tower twinkles at night!  I read the Eiffel Tower twinkles on the hour for 5 minutes after sunset. We joined the crowd and found a spot and wait.  There were people who were “handing out roses”, don’t take unless you are willing to pay the high price!

We patiently waited for the sun to set and setting our camera up to take night photos of Eiffel Tower! We waited until 10 pm and saw the twinkling effect! WOW…it felt so magically to see the twinkling effect. It was very hard to capture as still image:

It was well worth our wait, I highly recommended it, it was like once-in-a-lifetime! It started exactly at each hour after sunset! We stayed there until 10:15 pm (way beyond our bedtime at home) and then walked back to catch the Metro. As we walked away, we couldn’t resist but to take more pictures of Eiffel Tower at night:

We got back to our hotel, took shower, and sleep!

I know it might sound a lot for our first day in Paris, and luckily we didn’t have jet lag, but I wasn’t planned to stay 3 hours in the Louvre! I was planning to take it easy on our first day, see Mona Lisa and go back to our hotel to rest if we were tired and then go back out for Eiffel Tower at night! As others strongly recommended not to schedule so much on the first day! We really enjoyed our first day in Paris, it was a very romantic city!

Tomorrow, we are debating to rather to go Versailles first or Fontainebleau but it all depends on weather. I checked that both days Saturday and Sunday would have chance of rain so we wanted to save the best weather day for Versailles!

10 thoughts on “Paris Day 1 – Louvre and Eiffel Tower

  1. Sounds like you had a super first day. Lots of nice photos. Enjoy the rest of your visit. Don't try to cram too much in. I know everyone wants to see and do as much as possible on their first visit, but you will certainly want to come back again.

  2. I didn't know about it as well until I saw a picture somewhere and took us sometime to find it inside the Louvre! We followed the sign to Napoleon's Apartment and then got to a courtyard like center and we were stuck LOL. Took us two attempts to find it but well worth it 🙂

  3. I reserved all two weeks ahead but I had made some changes once I arrived as well. However, popular restaurants might be full during peak hours so if you definitely know which restaurants you want to go, it won't hurt to book early!

  4. You must tell me, what kind of camera do you take on vacation! Your pictures are beautiful. I am going to Paris in May! I am in a dilemma on which type of camera to take on vacation, one that fits in my purse or digital SLR. Looking forward to looking at more pictures and your blog and learn all about Paris

    1. I was using my first DSLR camera – Canon T3i with 17-55 f/2.8 lens. Definitely take a good quality camera with you to capture the beautiful Paris (it’s worth it for the extra weight)!! Have a great time, I went to Paris in May too, weather was great most of the time. Feel free to ask me any questions!

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