Europe Diaries - Chapter one Paris! (Day 1)

Photo of Europe Diaries - Chapter one Paris! (Day 1) by Ishita Bhowmik

The capital of France, illuminated by multiple lights here forward I take you alongwith me on a journey across various locations of Paris!

With an estimated population of more than 2million people it is one of the world's most densely populated city and the world’s most visited tourist destination. So, it was an obvious choice of destination when post covid when me and my parents were planning for travel and we settled on 'Europe'.

We started our sojourn in 'Europe' on 16th September’22 with an overnight flight from New Delhi to Paris. The whole trip starting from designing a 26day long itinerary, booking the hotels, booking all the tickets etc. was managed by me and so I intend to record our journey details and experiences here by means of a travel diary with the intention of helping out my fellow travellers around and keep it as a reference point for myself - in case I decide to pull such a stunt again.

So long story short:

- When you read a ‘we’ - it refers to me and my parents

- If you want to avoid reading through my long narration you can just go through the tips/suggestions/notes I have shared throughout this piece (starting with a ‘**’) - that’s where the meat lies

- All views/opinions/suggestions are of my own and not intended to hurt or offend anyone

Starting to fill this travel diary with noting our experiences in the city of lights, Paris.

Dear Diary - Today was very exciting, travelled overnight to reach Paris early morning at 7am (Paris time). The immigration went quite smooth and the officer was very polite to my parents, we even received an ‘enjoy your trip’ greeting in the end.

** When you are travelling abroad and you leave your own country - at the airport border an officer checks your VISA and stamps your passport as a proof of you leaving the country (that’s called emigration) and when you land in your destination country there is another officer who checks the same and let’s you leave the airport (that’s called immigration).

Leaving the airport thereafter was pretty simple - we followed the exit signs and soon found ourselves out of the main gate and waiting for the taxi we booked using the app (FREE NOW). My internet was working from the moment I stepped on ground in Paris, thanks to ‘Airalo’.

** Uber is also operational in Paris, would recommend checking the prices on both FREE NOW and Uber for securing the best deal. FREE NOW, was generally cheaper since they have an option of electric cars available on them.

** Other means of transport that you can consider:

- Metro (RER) - min Tariff EUR 10.30 per person (can increase depending on your destination). Not recommended when there is more than one person travelling since the taxi cost would be round about the same. Additionally, Paris metros at places have stations that refuse to end and at places there is a risk of pick pockets - so god forbid the risk is realised be prepared to walk a lot with your luggage alongside being sad

- Bus - Good option if you have any that is direct to your destination otherwise a break journey can become a problem with the luggage (off course depending on the load you are carrying)

** Airalo is an e-sim retailer. The sim can be purchased online and installed very easily on your phone (of course the phone should be supportive of e-sim). It can be enabled and disabled for use once installed and once enabled - you can start using internet from the moment you land at your destination.

The taxi costed us EUR 39 from the airport to our hotel - IBIS Budget Paris Nord 18. We reached the hotel by 9am however the check in time was 2pm in afternoon. We were confirmed that while they can provide us a space for our luggage we won’t be given a room until 12pm. This took us a little off - of our planned itinerary but diary, I guess this is expected when you are travelling so no complaints.

** Word of caution - All European hotels have late check in system, it’s recommended that you check in with your hotel for the possibility of an early checkin in case you are arriving early. Like mine above has an option of early checkin (you’ll be charged for it) subject to availability of a room. Also, almost all European cities have this concept of city tax to be paid at your place of stay and is charged per day of stay. This is over and above your room charge. For reference my hotel charged EUR 12.24 and we were putting up for 3 nights four days with them.

Having been confirmed about the late check in, we stored our luggage with them and headed out to explore the nearby areas. It was very windy and cold diary! Shocker! As we knew it to be summer still - anyway had to utilise our clothes we had packed keeping Switzerland in mind.

** We visited Paris in September’22 and all of the travel vlogs on YouTube indicated its summer and we packed accordingly. Want to break that down, summer or whatever - when you are travelling to Europe be sure to pack in some handy jackets/long coats as you prefer for safety.

We walked and walked across the vicinity of our hotel and soon reached a mall (not remembering the name now) some 2.3km from our hotel and raided the ‘Carrefour’ we found there, picking up some knick knacks to eat.

The Neighbourhood Mall

Photo of Europe Diaries - Chapter one Paris! (Day 1) by Ishita Bhowmik

** Carrefour is a popular super market chain found all across Paris and as is already known in case of Europe travel - super market food is much cheaper than hotel food so it is always advisable to stock up on knick knacks when you see a Carrefour around.

** Pro - travel tip, if you are travelling to any main city in Europe, you need not carry cash notes from your country of origin. You can opt to invest in a multi-currency card and park your segregated budget on that card. You will get better conversion prices that way and once you reach your destination, check for the bank that would not charge you any over and above conversion rate and withdraw the desired amount of cash from their ATM. Like in my case, when we went to the mall there was a BNP ATM - I withdrew cash from there. BNP in France does not levy over and above conversion charges in case of cash withdrawals made using any multi currency card.

** There are multiple options of multi-currency cards in India, almost every big bank provides it. NEO Global provides the best rate and is supported by AXIS Bank. I personally went for HDFC’s card just for convenience of management, the conversion rates were a bit higher in comparison to NEO Global.

Trip to the mall was quite nice diary, it helped us to kill time while we waited to be allotted a room and shopping anyway is always fun. Also, on our way back we discovered the nearest metro station to our hotel that went by the name - ‘Porte de la Chapelle’ (this wasn’t really picked up by google maps during my search) and had some coffee to help with walking back to our hotel.

** Many times it can happen when you search directions on google maps that you are not shown the nearest metro station by google because maps has a tendency to show direct and shortest routes and that may result in you getting re-directed to a metro station that is considerably far from your base location than the nearest metro station. So, I recommend exploring the area a bit prior to starting with your travels.

Finally the hotel relented and allotted us our room by 12.30 pm. It was a small cozy one facing the road and we almost felt blessed to be warm again (the day was crazy windy and cold for summers). As I already told you - we were thrown off of our planned itinerary because of the delayed check in at the hotel so not wasting any time at all we got ready, gulped down some food and left for our first planned destination - ‘Sacre Coeur’.

Sacre Coeur

Photo of The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris, Paris by Ishita Bhowmik
Photo of Europe Diaries - Chapter one Paris! (Day 1) by Ishita Bhowmik
Photo of Europe Diaries - Chapter one Paris! (Day 1) by Ishita Bhowmik
Photo of Europe Diaries - Chapter one Paris! (Day 1) by Ishita Bhowmik
Photo of Europe Diaries - Chapter one Paris! (Day 1) by Ishita Bhowmik
Photo of Europe Diaries - Chapter one Paris! (Day 1) by Ishita Bhowmik

To reach ‘Sacre Coeur’ there were multiple options again but I would tell you about the route we took and that was via metro. We boarded from ‘Porte de la Chapelle’ (Green Line 12) and de-boarded at ‘Abbesses’ (also on Green Line 12).

** Abbesses station is way too underground, recommended to take a lift when coming out. Do not take the stairs as it’s a long climb up to reach the exit.

After exiting the metro station we found ourselves no where near the church and soon realised there’s a long walk ahead inclusive of climbing a lot of stairs to reach Sacre Coeur.

Diary did you know? The Basilica of Sacre Coeur de Montmartre (Sacred Heart of Montmartre), commonly known as Sacré-Cœur Basilica and often simply Sacre-Cœur is a Roman Catholic Church in Paris - France, dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. It is located at the summit of Montmartre and from its dome which is two hundred meters above the Seine, the basilica overlooks the entire city of Paris and its suburbs. It is the most popular tourist destination in Paris only after the ‘Eiffel Tower’.

The place was bubbling with energy - with people, fairs, shops and street performances all around. It was a treat to visit and more importantly a great backdrop for my pictures. We loved our time there if we subtract our energy loss with all the walking and climbing of stairs. Thereafter our next destination per our itinerary was - ‘The Moulin Rouge’ and we proceeded towards it on foot.

** Paris is a very walkable city and it’s highly recommended to walk the max you can if you intend to explore the city better.

Photo of Moulin Rouge, Paris by Ishita Bhowmik

Moulin Rouge is a cabaret in Paris on Boulevard de Clichy at Place Blanche. It is the birthplace of the modern form of the can - can dance. Originally, introduced as a seductive dance by the courtesans who operated from the site, the can - can dance evolved into a form of entertainment of its own and led to the introduction of cabarets across Europe. Whether or not you visit the place for a show the place is a must visit or so is believed by a lot of people who raid the place only to get captured with the iconic place as the backdrop. I too got clicked diary with ‘Moulin Rouge’ - happy memories now.

It got more windy and cold diary by the time we were done with ‘Moulin Rouge’ but we wanted to make the most of our time in ‘Paris’ and did not let anything stop us from proceeding to the next place on our list - ‘Galeries Lafayette’ again by foot.

Photo of Galeries Lafayette Haussmann, Paris by Ishita Bhowmik

Galeries Lafayette is a shopping place in Paris, France known for its beautiful stained glass dome ceiling and a floating glass bridge built on the top floor of the complex. Additionally, the roof top of the place provides a beautiful evening view of ‘The Eiffel’. The entry to the place is free and it hosts a plethora of products from multiple luxury brands. We reached the place just 30 mins prior to its closing time and rushed through the place to the top for some amazing clicks.

Tired and worn out we rested more than explore during those 30 mins and fortunately for us the metro station we needed to board from, for our return to hotel was nearby. We boarded from ‘Saint Lazarre’ (Green Line 12) and de - boarded at ’Porte de la Chapelle’ (Green Line 12).

** Depending on your usage you can choose to buy your metro tickets. We always bought single ride tickets within the city limits. Single use tickets remains valid for your rides (RERs/transfers included) until 2 hours from your time of purchase. Ticket price was EUR 1.90 per ticket.

Metro station to hotel was a 5min walk.We had our dinner at the hotel and with that we ended our first day of the trip, tired but content.

Will be back with Day2 soon!