5 days in Paris (including survival tips); and concerts.
Incredible week in Paris started as a horror story, with a positive follow up, gratified closure and plenty of interesting memories.
I had to visit Paris. I’ve been near this city several times, but never exactly managed to spend more than 2 hours sightseeing. It was not because Paris is boring, but due to the other planned journeys. The time has finally come, I managed to drag with me one of my best friends (Ania, this is all for your own good), we bought relatively cheap tickets and went for yet another journey of our lives.
Music and Ukrainian revolution : reasons why it was important to visit Paris at the beginning of March.
First thing I saw in downtown Paris, when I was just walking out from metro station, was Ukrainian protest ( #EuroMaidan) in front of our Embassy. It was a genuine inspirational moment and a true blessing.
And concerts, concerts. The Head and the Heart, magical indie folk-rock group, decided to tour in Europe and give concert at Cafe de la Danse. I couldn’t miss the chance to enjoy live, one of my favorite bands. Perfect acoustics along with brilliant performance made it the best night in a very, very long time. I danced, I sang in unison with the band, took amazing photos and experienced the power of music. What else do you need in life?
We also managed to get into different concert, this time – french musical bands and pop-rock/rock performances on the stage. Good time and mellow sounds made the evening.
Back to good stuff, or better, a horror story:
My friend’s place is located on outskirts of Paris, in quite dangerous neighborhood, but hey, we didn’t know that. And while we were having quite charming early evening, when the time was right to head towards our temporary home in the city, two of us never expected that evening journey will become more than just twenty minutes metro ride. Why it never happens as I plan things to be!?
Metro stopped halfway through our journey due to the accident at infamous station Oberkampf. Since we had no objective solution, we asked for help. It wasn’t particularly convenient and brought no good results. We took a bus, than walked, got utterly lost, eventualy nice French people helped us out. After almost 2,5 hours, we found ourselves in the right neighborhood, unable to locate the building. It was very late and with already tired bodies and minds, Ania almost started to panic and Alina was getting angry. Considering also the fact, that this area is full of shady people and not safe even by day, maybe you can understand what we where experiencing. But we managed and with help of another nice French person and magic of internet, we found our way. Happy end.
The point of the story is, to never give up or start panicking, carry pepper spray with you and not wonder around unsafe parts of any city by night. Eventually Oberkampf metro area became one of my favorite districts, for obvious reasons, but also for imposing architecture and extensive amount of hipster bars.
Other things to be greateful for:
Multiculturalism (people of every color and ethnicity) – brings a decent positive advantage on city’s account
My top 5 favorite touristic places :
– The Eiffel Tower (graceful by day, magical by night)
– Notre Dame de Paris – Shakespeare and Company bookshop
– And every street we got lost at.
Regarding the low fair-airlines: When you buy tickets for one of those low-fare airlines, look up if they land in main airports or throw you in some backwoods, and if you have to spend a good sum in order to somehow get into the city. If you’re betting on this horse, usually they leave you as poor as church mouse, especially when you closefisted (with euros). Regarding, we flew from Warsaw Modlin (paid 8 zl for app. 1 hour of bus ride) to Paris Beauvais.
In the middle of nowhere, there are these two new small airport terminals (usually used only by low-fair companies- #cheaper).
From there you have have several options:
– Spend almost 20 eur for the convenient bus ride that takes less than two hours. Sure, maybe French buses are more comfortable and you have a toilet, but spending so much for so little? I call it a complete bullshit, but what do I know (please, compare with polish prices)?!
– You can go to nearest town and take train (around 25 eur )
– Or you can hitchhike.
Guess which option we decided to try ^_^ It took 3 hours, two cars, two nice Frenchmen and we found ourselves in beautiful town of Paris, it is possible to get from this village of sorrow, called Beauvais, to the city, because I did it! And if I managed to achieve, what according to travel bloggers, is almost impossible thing to do, every men can.
Force yourself to break the walls, spread good will and make peace. Be BRAVE.
Just to be noted: The town is dirrrrty and smells. Maybe not in a city center, but tell that to homeless people, who live on the streets right next to biggish expensive hotels and corporate offices.
Another issue that deserves to be mentioned : Be reasonable.
The city is expensive as hell!
We were not surprised, but with a tight budget, we had to put our heads together on how to economize. So, metro tickets and how to avoid paying much:
-Walk around,because that’s why you came into town, to be amazed.
– Buy food in supermarkets.
-Don’t purchase single metro tickets, but passes: You’re interested in children pass. Yes, I’m not crazy. Genereally, there are no “ticket inspectors” in metro (info from several French buddies), the most important is to get in, and you pay half the prize. It’s working…we did it. And afterwards you can buy yourself some more 5 eur cappuccinos or some kitsch presents for your family from the city of love.
It was a good trip. We met amazing people and found great friends. The weather encouraged us to explore new cultural horizons and our 5 days adventure in the capital of France made me feel happy and satisfied. We decided to come back, someday.
So many places to see…
P.S. Special thanks to my friends who helped me assemble a place to sleep, Couchsurfing, good and incredibly nice people of France, my travel buddy for patience and music.