Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.
I’ve been terrible at maintaining my travel portion of this blog, so allow me to catch up! Months ago, I posted about a journey through London, England. Today, I pick up where that post left off.
You can take the train from London to Paris easily with 18 different departure times available throughout the day. The trip takes between 2 and 2.5 hours and is quite affordable. If you know what day you will want to travel, it is best to book in advance to save money. The trip through the Channel Tunnel (aka. the Chunnel) is much like any other train you’ve been on, except perhaps darker. You won’t even notice you are travelling under the sea! But if you are claustrophobic, perhaps it will be best not to think too much about that!
Upon arriving in Paris, it was easy to take the metro to Hotel Clarisse, where I’d made a reservation a couple of days earlier. It is located about equal distance between the Porte de Vanves stop (of line 13) and the Porte de Versailles stop (of line 12). You are looking at about a 5 minute walk either way to get to the metro. The hotel itself is quite small and quaint. The staff are friendly and helpful with thick French accents. But given my lack of depth when it comes to the French language, they did very well and we were able to communicate just fine.
The very basic, least expensive room has a double bed, a closet, small TV and a private bath. It is everything you need from a basic room while you are out and about seeing the city. Note though that the elevator is very small…I mean so small that only one person can fit in there at a time with their pack. So if you are travelling heavy, this will be a bit of a pain the butt.
Once on the metro, it will only take you about 20 minutes to any sight you want to see, whether it be the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe or the Notre-Dame Cathedral. (click the below map for a larger view)
First stop was the Eiffel Tower…of course. Why start anywhere else? Built in 1889, the Eiffel Tower attracts people from all over the world. When erected it was the tallest man-made structure in the world, but it only held that title until 1930 before it was surpassed by the Chrysler Building in NYC. The Eiffel Tower is to this day, one of the most famous and most recognizable structures in the world. It currently receives more paid visits than any other monument worldwide.
You will have no problem finding your way to the Eiffel Tower, simply follow the hordes of people from the metro station. If you go in peak season (July-August), prepare for crowds as you shuffle along the crowded sidewalks alongside the small cafes. As you get closer and closer, you will start seeing it between buildings, disappearing and reappearing as you go. Until BAM! There she is!
Once you are up close, you really realize how large and impressive she is. It is hard to believe that at time of design there was much criticism. Some thought it to be a slight against French tastes, a useless monstrosity even.