My first impression of Paris was stylish, class, unique with charming wide boulevard streets, beautiful rows and rows of buildings with black iron clad window railings, chaotic traffic and traffic jams, and mostly ethnic Africans and Asians migrants in the vicinity of Gare Du Nord train station when we arrived from Amsterdam.
The scene slowly changed as we approached on the taxi near where we stayed in the vicinity of Notre-Dame de Paris. It becomes more interesting, more stylish and classy with charming and stunning looking old buildings and historical sites, wider streets with nice landscapes, rows and rows of trees carefully spaced and layout, nice looking street lamposts and bridges, and the wide river with the two middle islands.
Paris by night is different again. It was beautiful with nice city and street lights. It was romatic walking down the streets in the cold winter foggy night with a light drizzle. Everyone was so nicely dressed and warmly wrapped up. Even with their thick clothing and jumpers, the people here are all so slim and tall. I could not remember seeing anyone being overweight.
The one bedroom self contained apartment we stayed was off Quai de Montebello, on Rui Matre Albert – a perfect location to walk around to the local supermarkets, open air market in the morning, a great bakery and several good restaurants and cafes that we have tried during our stay. There is a nearby RER Saint Michel Notre-Dame station, and the tourist double decker bus stop near Notre-Dame on the island. It is also within walking distance to Rue de Rivoli, where there are lots of nice and trendy looking shops and nearby alleys where the Jewish community lives and walk around in the day time, which comes alive and busy with the local G&L crowds during the night.
We also stumbled at the Latin quarters, a five minutes walk away on our second night in search for a place to eat, which was a chaotic and interesting area. But, was haggled by the man and woman standing outside the many little restaurants to get us inside to eat. It was quite daunting, and there was no difference from being haggled at Patpong in Bangkok streets.
We managed to pack in a day of sight seeing at major landmarks, like the Notre-Dame, Eiffel Tower, a museum, Musee d’Orsay, which was recently opened in a stunningly renovated old train station, and the outside of The Louvre. And, without failed, we had to visit the big shopping department stores – Printemp and Galleria.
We love Paris. It was a dream comes true. The only frustrating moment we had was when we tried to catch the local RER train from Saint Michel Notre-Dame station to Gare Du Nord station for our Amsterdam train. We could not find any English written signs inside St Michel station. We were so lost and worried we may not get to Gare Du Nord station on time, or worse, taking the wrong train and ending somewhere else. There was no train master or staff once we got through the gate. It was mad dragging our luggages and searching for the correct platform and train. Fortunately, I asked some of the communters waiting for the train. One turned out to be a girl who just arrived from New York one day ago. She gave us a direction. We ended walking up and down the stairs to a different level, and realised it was not the correct platform. Then, I asked another young girl commuter, who happened to be English from England and had been travelling in France for a few weeks. She gave us the correct instruction. Thank god we made it! Funny that both girls I asked turned out to be English speaking and non-French. Lucky us.
It was a very short stay in Paris. I was about to get to know the city better and then it was time to go. I love Paris.