Author: Adrienne L.
Date of Trip: April 2010
4 hours in a city like Paris could never be enough, but on a recent trip to Europe, that’s all we had. We were on a Royal Caribbean cruise and our ship docked in Le Havre so it took several hours of driving through the French countryside to reach Paris. But since the day in Paris was one of the reasons we chose this particular cruise, we were willing to endure it.
Our time in Paris began at the foot of the Eiffel Tower. It was a sunny April afternoon and the energy coming from the crowds of people was contagious. We knew from that moment that something special awaited us. Since we wanted to see as much of the city as possible, we chose to board one of the many open-air sightseeing buses, which were conveniently located at our starting point. The buses are equipped with headphones so that travelers can hear the recorded tour information in the language of their choice. Within minutes we were passing historic attractions; such sites as Notre Dame Cathedral, Louvre Museum, the Orsay Museum and of course the Arc de Triomphe. Scores of people were enjoying sailing up and down the Seine River.
Although the city was filled with an abundance of people and cars, it did not feel overcrowded or frantic. The energy of the city was intoxicating. We were entranced by all of the delicious aromas emanating from the cafes and restaurants. We departed the bus at the Notre Dame stop and began to explore the city on foot. We ducked in and out of shops and restaurants experiencing as much as our limited time would allow. We even made a purchase at a department store; due to an unfortunate accident with our camcorder. But even that mishap did not dampen the excitement of our Paris holiday. Although though we speak very little French, we had no problems communicating. People were more than willing to give directions and answer the normal tourist questions. Everyone we met was quite friendly.
In 2009 and 2010 Paris has been ranked among the 3 most important and influential cities in the world according to a research published by Financial Times and it was easy to see why. In addition to the amazing architecture we were very impressed with the cleanliness of that area of the city. We were also impressed by the diversity of the tourists and citizens that we met.
Paris is the most popular tourist destination in the world. The Paris region receives 45 million tourists each year, 27 million of whom are foreign visitors and in April we were 2 of that 27 million.
Our brief visit was the ultimate hors d’oeuvre and we are already planning our return trip so that we can savor the main course. Regardless of what you’ve heard or read about Paris before you can form an accurate opinion, you need to experience it for yourself. If you have a bucket list, Paris should be at the top. Like we always say, “You’ve got to GO there to KNOW there!”