When I decided to visit Paris, it was kind of on a whim. It was about a week before I left for my solo artist trip to London and I found out that you could get to Paris in about 2.5 hours by train. I had no idea!
As soon as I found that out, I went online and looked at train prices. The train was almost as expensive as my flight to London, but I couldn’t get the thought out of visiting Paris out of my head. I was already going to be so close and I didn’t really need 5 whole days in London, plus I have a friend from college living there that I could stay with so I bought my train ticket for less than 24 hours in Paris.
My only goals for Paris (especially since I was going to be there for so short) was eat a croissant and see the Eiffel Tower.
Most people thought I was crazy for buying an expensive train ticket to only go to Paris for less than 24 hours, but if you have wanderlust like me, then you understand that it was totally worth it.
I had a ticket booked for the 9:30 train out of London arriving to Paris at 12 pm. When I got to the train station, I noticed the trains after mine were cancelled. Thinking that was odd, but lucky that nothing was wrong with mine, I didn’t think much of it.
Once I got on the train, they announced that we were going to be heading to Disneyland Paris instead of the Gare Du Nord train station like originally scheduled, because apparently they found a World War II bomb near the train station and had plans to detonate it that day — so basically out of the 5 trains that were scheduled to leave from London to Paris that day, all of them were cancelled except for mine!
I knew the universe was looking out for me and even though the train ride took an hour longer than it was supposed to because we had to stop at Disneyland instead, I knew it was all working out in my favor.
I had plans to meet up with my friend, who like I said is now living in Paris. When I got off the metro in the neighborhood she lived in, I stopped into the nearest cafe to get WiFi so I could message her and tell her I was there.
Now, I had heard the stereotype that Parisians are “rude” and especially to Americans. It took me several attempts to get the wifi password from the busy waitress who then wrote it down and I could not decipher it (apparently they write 1’s different in France and I could not figure it out for the life of me) so after patiently waiting for 15 or so minutes, I was finally able to log on to the wifi and contact my friend.
She soon met with me and I quickly learned some important cultural differences in France to be aware of.
- Not being loud in public spaces
- Always, always, saying bonjour when you see someone and when you leave. If you don’t, they will think you’re incredibly rude!
- Servers/waitresses don’t give a shit about customer service. Don’t expect it.
I was glad to finally be in a foreign place with a familiar face. Since I usually solo travel, I’m used to figuring things out on my own which take some time to figure out. Being with my friend felt like I was being shown Paris by a local and I didn’t have to worry about planning things out/looking up where I’m going/not speaking the language because she took care of all that for us.
I kind of let go of control and let her take the reins, but my intentions for Paris were still clear: eat a croissant & see the Eiffel Tower.
I also got super lucky because it was it was almost 70 degrees that day and she told me it had been super freezing up until that point so the streets were busy and alive with so many people basking in the much needed sunshine. (again the universe #blessed me)
We started just wandering the streets of Paris. We walked along the Seine, saw the Louvre, walked down Champs-Elysee, got macarons at Laduree, got delicious croissants, and walked and walked and walked.
We were trying to walk all the way to the Eiffel Tower so we could watch the sunset there, but it was too far and we weren’t going to make it and the nearest metro stops were closed because of the riots that were happening the day before (note on the riots: a lot of the city was actually blocked off because of the riots and we saw this bank that had cracked windows and blood on the atm…scary)
Since we couldn’t make it to to the Eiffel before sunset, we instead enjoyed it right outside the Louvre by the Seine river enjoying macarons and each other’s company.
After the sun went down, she took me to Angelique’s which is this amazing dessert place with the best hot chocolate I’ve ever tasted (literally tastes like liquid chocolate).
At this point, all I had eaten that day were a croissant and sweets and I wasn’t stopping there. When in Paris, eat all the sweets and bread.
After filling up on way too much sugar, we finally made it to the Eiffel Tower and damn was she a sight to behold. I felt so in awe of her, mostly because she’s HUGE and full of sparkling light. On every hour, she glitters for the first 5 minutes and it’s one of the most beautiful sights I’ve ever seen.
We were in the mood for wine & cigarettes (I only smoke when I’m in Europe lol) and we were able to haggle some from one of those street vendors and although she was embarrassed we were being so “touristy” I was living for it. If I’m going to be there for only one day, I am going to be the MOST tourist.
So, we settled in, drinking wine straight from the bottle and smoking a cigarette while sitting out on the grass lawn with the Eiffel Tower before us. I couldn’t believe I was actually in Paris.
After we had spilled our souls & secrets to each other as friends do when they’re catching up, we went to the Sacre-Couer de Montmarte to see the beautiful church & the city views.
Then, she took me to Paris’ version of the “red district” near the Moulin Rouge where the streets were lined upppp with all da sex shops.
I loved it all.
As we were going back to her adorable Parisian flat around midnight, I noticed we were getting followed by two young men. They had started with us at the metro station we took near the Moulin Rouge and got off on the same stop we got off, which was odd because we were on the metro for 30 minutes. As we started walking the few blocks to her flat, I noticed they were following us but keeping a semi-safe distance.
I started to get really freaked out especially because all day I had heard the warnings from her about pick-pockets and how people will work together to try to steal your things. I kept my purse glued to my body, hyper aware all day and this just fueled my anxiety about the situation.
I almost didn’t tell my friend because I didn’t want to freak her out and we were close to her apartment. She was completely unaware and suggested we pass her apartment and go see another church (she was so sweet, making sure I got to see all the sights). At this point, I almost agreed just to be polite, but my intuition was telling me otherwise, so I let her know that I thought we were being followed.
We crossed the street to make sure and doubled back our steps to head back to her apartment (since we had already passed it) and sure enough the two men started doubling back too…they were definitely following us.
Luckily, we were able to make it inside but both of us were SO freaked out. I felt incredibly unsafe and had no idea what would have happened if we had kept going like we were going to. I had once gotten followed like this in New York City and it traumatized me for weeks. Luckily, I haven’t had anything bad like that happen to me but I absolutely hate the feeling that men can have over you in situations like these.
I slept about 2 hours that night since I had to get up super early to make my 6 am train ride back to London before flying back to the states which made for an incredibly long travel day.
I literally went from Paris to London to Boston to CT in one day’s time and from the time I had woken up in Paris and went to bed in CT I had been traveling for about 25 hours.
Because I was there for such a short amount of time, I didn’t get to do a lot and will definitely have to come back to get more of Paris, but I saw A LOT of the sights, walked over 30K steps, ate more sweets in one day than one person ever should in a month, had 2 croissants which were buttery and delicious, spent soul time with Mama Eiffel, and spent a great day in the Parisian sunshine with an old friend.
It was so worth it ❤
2 thoughts on “an American in Paris for 20 hours – travel journal for Paris, France”
Love this! So sorry you got followed — that is always so scary. I’m glad you were able to spend a day in Paris ❤
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omg THANKS Arielle I MISS YOU ❤