A 2 hour bus drive going to Belgium from Amsterdam, then a 5 hour drive brought us to the city of lights and love, Paris! Well, I didn’t see the night lights and I didnt find love there but I did see a lot of sights and The Louvre (it rhymes, no?). Hehe. Stayed at the Novo Hotel again.
We had an abundant time sight seeing while on the bus, with our tour guide telling us stories of the city. Paris is full of absolutely fantastic architecture! Imagine intricately designed buildings on the left then gargoyles on the right, statues in front and fountain works at the back. This included the famous Notre Dame Cathedral, inspiration for Victor Hugo’s Hunchback Quasimodo and the Arc de Triumph, the huge arc in the middle of the road. Plus, there were a ton of other architectural beauties here, there and everywhere. It was truly a feast for the eyes. I would probably go back to Paris just to walk around and stare at the buildings, which have been there since the 1800s or so.
We also saw the Louie Vuitton flagship store wherein people were lining up to get inside! Only a handful of people are allowed to go in and since a lot of people wanted to go in, including ourselves, they had to control the flow of people. Only in Paris. And yes, the luxury bags are much more cheaper there because they deduct the tax from the price.
A trip to the Louvre and the inverted pyramid is a must do so even though it was closed when we went there (they close it on Tuesdays so the curators and museum staff can take care of the items inside), we still made it a point to go there and get our photos. When I go back, I’ll need to spend at least one whole day just to roam the museum. Also, super cheap Eiffel Tower key chains were being sold there.
Another must see in Paris is the Eiffel Tower, which shouldn’t be missed so aside from stopping right in front of it, we also had a one and a half hour canal cruise around Paris which showed us the various places in the city. It actually started out as a telecommunication tower made of 100% steel and is now a tourist spot. It is huge and really a sight to see. We were supposed to go up the tower to be able to see the whole city but it was already fully booked. I think it’s already booked for the next 6 months.
Lunch and shopping followed at the Gallery Lafayette, who’s owner is the famous man with Princess Diana when they crashed their car. We had lunch at this small resto which is frequented by the locals. Since we always want to try what the locals eat and do, we decided to have lunch there which consisted of a baguette with cheese, tomato and basil, pita bread with chicken and veggies and cold pesto mayo pasta with feta cheese and chicken. For dessert, we had the citron cake with poppy seeds. The food is so good! You really are paying for the superb quality of living in Europe. Imagine, our lunch already cost about 25 francs just for ready-to-eat food.
As I said, the luxury items there are cheaper compared to Manila because you have a tax refund. So people go gaga over Louie Vitton, Prade, Gucci etc. in the mall. While in LV, I noticed their coaster was even embossed with the famous initials. You truly are paying for the quality of the bags, the brand name and the impeccable service of the staff. After shopping, we made it a point to visit the famous Lauderee, wherein we had tea and of course, macarons. I’m not a fan of macarons so I can’t comment on the taste but I just really wanted to experience the place. I do like their flavors. We ordered the French salted caramel (duh), raspberry, classic chocolate and rose petal, which actually tasted like a flower!
After a few more shopping, we had dinner at this hidden restaurant and had the French delicacy, escargot. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, or maybe it’s because of all the pesto in it but it was pretty good.
Random thought: try to speak French, even a little, since the French are known to be not so friendly people to non-French speakers. Most don’t speak English so a simple “bonjour” or “oui” or “merci” would be appreciated. There are a handful of really nice people that we met but not as nice as the Dutch or Pinoys, for that matter.
From Paris, an 8 hour bus drive will bring us to Lucerne, Switzerland.