Walking up to the architectural marvel of the Arc de Triomphe, as it sits in all its grandeur in the midst of a bustling junction, one cannot help but admire the carved sculptures that pay tribute to the martyrs of the French Revolution. Situated smack in the middle of a notorious ten-artery roundabout, taking the underground is the only access route to the monument from any side and a visit to the upper-deck attic is a must for history-fanatics. The Arc de Triomphe signaled our arrival in Paris.
Bravely enough, after a seven-hour haul and with a few more hours to check-in, my better half and I decided to explore Paris on foot. After a short-stop at the Arc de Triomphe for photographic memories, we made our way towards the 1.9 kilometer shopping-haven, the Champs-Élysées Boulevard. Perhaps the most upscale shopping district in the world, with names such as Cartier, Disney, Toyota and Sephora occupying major spaces, the street is also home to fashion powerhouses like Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss and Lacoste which only add to the splendor.
Jaywalking wearily through the arcade, we decided to stop at one of the several picturesque Parisian cafés that punctuated the strip for a hearty French breakfast. Miraculously enough, a part of their staple diet – baguettes, croissants and various types of bread manages to find its way into every meal. During your stay, I would absolutely recommend dining in one of the restaurants that seat you at a cozy ‘just-for-two’ table placed out on the cobbled streets. Care for a cheese pizza with some red wine, perhaps?
For any first-timer including my missus, the 30 minute train ride towards Disneyland was nothing but sheer excitement. Spending a day at the magical Disneyland is always a life-changing experience, especially since the park serves as a playground for both adults and children alike. From the life-sized Disney fabled castle to the 1920s-inspired main street, every bit of the 57-hectare park offers something new. Watching adults bobbing around the park, complete with Minnie Mouse ears and a balloon, you soon realize maturity and adulthood vanished the minute you walk through the gates. With over 49 attractions spread across various zones, we spent almost 10 hours shopping, dining and screaming on rides before catching the train back.
Paris, the city of love, epitomized in Woody Allen’s ‘Midnight in Paris’ is truly a city one can fall in love with. During our three day stay, with Notre Dame, the Louvre museum, Disneyland and tons of shopping done, only the Eiffel Tower remained.
To fully appreciate arguably the main attraction of Paris, we strolled passed the Champs-Élysées boulevard late at night anxiously waiting to catch a glimpse of the architectural wonder. Against the pitch black night, with the rain gods lightly drizzling down, as we turned past the Shangri-La Hotel, there was the 7,400 ton metal structure with lights illuminating the structure from within. At that moment, time stood still and all one could do was stare at the postcard visual. Tour de Eiffel in all its grandeur!
Sitting on the banks of the River Seine with a steaming cup of hot chocolate that evening, just as the sparkling lights of the Eiffel Tower came on, we knew we’d fallen in love with Paris… all over again!