Paris in the springtime

A few weeks ago I headed off for my first continental holiday in a very long time. Armed with backpack and other essentials I hopped on a train headed for France. It was a nice time to be on holiday; the weather has finally come good and it’s warmer than it’s meant to be this time of year.

It was also nice to be going to France this way because it echoed my first trip, taken on a train ten years ago this April. I remember Paris being beautiful and sunny and being excited to finally be visiting Europe. Armed with the same backpack and a better camera I had a great time. I’m just focussing on Paris in this post, although I visited other areas of France, because I have lots of nice pictures to share.

Side view of Notre Dame

Well I didn’t see any hunchbacks inside but it does have quite an atmosphere. Instead of being brightly lit, a lot of French cathedrals tend to use only natural light or minimal lighting making their interiors shadowy and mysterious.

the atmospheric interior

I quite liked that fact that some of the Cathedrals were quite dark. Although it made it hard to see some of the details in the lovely sculptures, I’m sure it is far more authentic than them having every nook and cranny jammed with a lightbulb.

the Louvre and its queue

This is the Louvre queue midway through a Saturday in Paris. This isn’t even the queue for tickets, this is the security screening queue you have to through before they let you in to buy tickets with busloads of other tourists. I do quite like the glass pyramid by I.M. Pei. It’s iconic and they have some inverted ones in the shopping area below.

Eiffel tower from below

Instead of braving the queues at the Louvre, I actually headed for the Eiffel tower. I missed the chance to climb it on my last visit so decided that this was on my must do list this time.  I took the stairs (rather than elevator) option and climbed up 670 steps to the second viewing platform. While it was rather cold and windy up that high, the view was excellent and I could even pick out the far away Sacre Coeur basilica.

the crowds below

On my return to Paris after a whirlwind trip through Normandy and Brittany I spent the best part a day sightseeing before racing to Gare du Nord to catch the Eurostar back to London.  During my sightseeing day I wandered through the Luxembourg Gardens and snacked on crepes before heading to the Latin Quarter for a walking tour. In the morning I had visited the Museum of the Middle Ages where you can spot some of the original statues from the front of Notre Dame. They were in place before its restoration in the 1800s following the French Revolution when it suffered some damage.

fountain in the Luxembourg gardens

And just to truly show that I was indeed in France, here is the obligatory tourist pic with the Eiffel tower.

See, I really did go to France!