Day 1 Paris Trip: Montmartre, Arc de Triomphe and Chammps D’Elysee

January 19, 2008 at 12:44 am | Posted in France, General, Out and About, Paris, Tourism, Travel | 4 Comments
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On the first weekend of December I took the new Eurostar from Kings Cross to the Gare du Nord in Paris. This was my first time on the continent and I was excited to journey to the city of lights. After arriving in the cool crisp early morning air I began my first day with my backpack and a walking tour in mind.

I made my way with false confidence to Montmartre in the west of the city and a quick 10 – 15 mins by foot from the station. If you get lost look up and use the iconic Sacre Coeur Basilica. Sacre Coeur is a beautiful building perched atop a hill overlooking the neighbourhood and the city. You will have to avoid the tourist touts that line the main entrance and the lower tiers but the views make up for the inconvenience. Within the Basilica you and the other tourists will be able to trudge around the inner periphery looking at various exhibits – albeit with limited content in any language. I was surprised to find that despite an impressive exterior the inside of the Basilica felt smaller than anticipated. No photography is allowed inside though.

Sacre Coeur 5 Sacre Coeur 2 Sacre Coeur 3 Sacre Coeur 13

Around the side of the Basilica is the ground floor access to the dome. There’s no cashier and you only have to pay a few Euros into the ticket machine to get to ascend the stairs. It was while I was climbing that I began to regret not going to the hotel first as my backpack was starting to wear me down. The dome had only a few tourists making it a peaceful retreat to look out over Paris.

Sacre Coeur 26 Sacre Coeur 24 Sacre Coeur 23 Sacre Coeur 21

After Sacre Coeur I wandered around scenic Montmarte having a quick bite of croque monsieur and coffee before walking further down to the red light district of Pigalle. Granted during the day it had a different vibe but its sheer size puts Sydney’s Kings Cross and Soho combined to shame.

Montmartre 1 Montmartre 9 Montmartre 6 Montmartre 7 Montmartre 8 Moulin Rouge

I thought I’d walk from Pigalle down to the Arc de Triomphe. It didn’t look that far on the map but I was wrong, so very wrong. Paris is an incredibly spread out city and buying a 3 day metro pass is an affordable and efficient means of getting around. On the other hand ambling around (this ended up becoming a trudge) I did get to see the city.

Paris 042 Paris 043 Paris 041 Paris 001

Eventually I made it to arguably the world’s most famous roundabout – the Arc de Triomphe. It is also the second monument in my journey to feature views over the city and only cost a few Euros. Walking up the Arch to the viewing platform was tiring and now I began to seriously contemplate my level of fitness and pondered doing a regular bout of exercise in the future. (It’s now mid January and I’ve not exactly made strides on this in the moment declaration).

Arc de Triomphe (22) Arc de Triomphe (5) Arc de Triomphe (10) Arc de Triomphe (14) Arc de Triomphe (11) Arc de Triomphe (3) Arc de Triomphe

After climbing down the Arch I was at one end of the Champs D’Elysee one of the most famous avenues in the world leading down to the Louvre museum. Before reaching yet another icon you’ll pass a cavalcade of smaller ones – at least if you’re a consumer – as the avenue features more shopping and high ends stores than you can poke a stick at. However, I’d imagined the avenue to be one long shopping strip but this isn’t the case, perhaps a third is shopping, the middle section feels more like a any other road and the final area was predominantly culture/ government related.

Champs d'Elysee Champs d'Elysee (9) Champs d'Elysee (8) Champs d'Elysee (13) Champs d'Elysee (24) Champs d'Elysee (21) Champs d'Elysee (25)

I was leaving the Louvre for a later day and now made my way north through Grands Boulevards before finally laying my backpack and my head down at the hotel I booked through Eurostar – The Hotel Brebant.

The hotel is a little bit pricey for an average quality hotel but it is located centrally and the room, bed and bathroom are all decent enough. The staff can speak English and are reasonably helpful. For an additional fee you can have breakfast at the hotel but I never tried this as there were plenty of eateries nearby.

Day 2 to follow soon.

Photos are up on Flickr.


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  1. I’m visiting Paris for the first time soon. Your photos and stories are an inspiration, James

  2. Hi James, thank you for the comment. I’m glad you liked the post and hope the other ones are equally informative.

    All the best for your Paris trip I’m sure you’ll have an excellent time!

  3. Fell across this site by chance. Travelling to to UK in March with 4 days in Paris staying in Montmarte after arriving via Eurostar. Excellent pics and has given me a few ideas. Thanks. How much time should I set aside for the louvre?

  4. Hi Craig! It really depends on how much of an interest you have in art and the size of the crowds (as just getting in could take a while). As a rough guide, say an hour for the highlights, two for most collections and three or four for everythig. Although be aware that this was without too much contemplation or the additional audio guide.

    If you know which pieces you want to see then you can probably cut the time down significantly.

    I hope that helps and have an excellent time in the UK and in Paris!

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