Being bought up in the UK, we are very lucky to have access to some of Europe’s greatest most iconic cities, Rome, Berlin, Amsterdam, Dublin, Barcelona and of course Paris. Paris is extremely accessible from London, and has become even more since the Euro-tunnel opened. On occasion if you look hard enough and research enough you can find a trip to Paris cheaper than a trip to a local seaside resort.
I have been to Paris on numerous occasions but the wandering memory I wanted to tell you was of my first time visiting for work. I had not been in a while and my French was very rusty, and the only thing I really wanted to do was explore the city in more depth.
I was set up in the south of the city in a non-specific hotel for 2 days, but only the single evening. The client visit went well, and we met up for dinner afterward. That dinner extended into drinks and by the time we had said our ‘au revoirs’, it was approaching midnight. Having only a single night in the city of romance, I was not going to miss my opportunity.
So I caught a cab into the centre and exited as soon as I could see the Eiffel tower. The cab driver seemed mighty confused to be dropping off a lone Englishman in the middle of the night at the usually touristy hotspot. At this time of night however the area was completely deserted. Being a seasoned traveler I had left the majority of my valuables in the hotel safe, and had enough to get me through although I didn’t expect any trouble.
The tower is magnificent at night, a completely different vision to that during the day. I was even lucky enough to see the final light-show of the day, which made the tower glisten with ultra-bright white lights. The tower is set in its own park with few buildings around it, which makes it a photographic marvel, especially with its iconic status and symbolic reference of French ideology. The darker view of the tower was somewhat divine especially across the black water of the Seine.
The short walk from the Eiffel Tower to the Arc De Triumph to the Champs-Élysées was one I have done many a time, but doing it on a chilly November evening was even more dramatic. The streets were quiet, and the lights added a certain mystic to the French capital. All of the usual sounds of traffic, the floods of tourists and the bright sunlight were all missing, but for some reason the city felt at peace, it felt more real.
The Champs-Élysées contrasts the views described, as its lights shine vividly every day and night. The street is littered with shops, bars and restaurants, some I believe open all hours, and with this entertainment factor draws in people. The silence of the previous streets was not the same here, it was still bustling as if the night hadn’t come. I was invited by a few drunks on the street into a few bars of which I politely declined, as had no concept of the time, and really I was craving the eerie silence yet again.
I took another cab from here to the Louvre, as had never visited this before, and although it was long closed, I had the desire to photograph the marvel. The cab ride was surprisingly short, although necessary as I had no concept of where it was located. In all honesty I had no directional concept of any of the city. I was literally making it up as I went along, and so far my midnight stroll through Paris had proven a triumph.
I was dropped inside the street parallel to the Louvre and the driver assured me he would wait. I exited and there it was silence yet again. The legendary museum was mostly dark, with only the pyramid glowing from inside white lights. What a view! I sat for a while on a nearby bench taking in the breath-taking view, I wonder how many people have taken this opportunity to visit these sights in the silence and darkness of the night. The cab returned me to my hotel as promised and I completed my client meeting, knowing that I had made the most of my opportunity in Paris.
Paris is extremely picturesque and beautiful both day and night, and some of its hidden gems are not in there tourist areas, but actually in its lanes, brasseries and restaurants. Seeing the tourist locations Paris has to offer so late at night alone was just something special. An adventure and a true wandering memory.
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