The French are romantic and adore freedom, and Paris is known as the romantic city. Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Louvre, Palace of Versailles, Seine river, red wine and coffee are some of the words I associated with Paris before our visit.
這一次的歐洲之行，是女兒幫我們規劃的，法國是我們造訪的第四個國家. 我們從德國法蘭克福搭火車三個小時到達巴黎，女兒的朋友 Ching 已經在火車站等我們了，他將負責導引我們在巴黎三天的旅遊.
This European journey was planned by my daughter, and France is our fourth country on the itinerary. From Germany’s Frankfurt we took a three hour train trip to arrive in Paris, where her friend Ching was waiting for our arrival at the train station. She was to guide us through her city for our three days stay.
If I say houses with pointy roofs are the specialty of European houses, Paris architecture is completely different. In colour it is either brown, grey or beige and many of the structures were flat roofed. However you can see they were old. In Paris there isn’t as many of the tall skyscrapers as there were in Frankfurt.
From our hotel room we could see the Eiffel Tower. At 273 meters tall, it was the tallest in the world between 1889 to 1930. At night, the tower lights up and every hour it sparkles for 5 minutes, a sight we could see lying on our beds!
Travelling in Paris we took the bus and the river cruise. The buses are all fitted with disabled facilities so my wife who has limited mobility found it easy enough to get around. On our second day, we took the bus to the Louvre.
The Louvre was built in the 19th Century and is to date around 1000 years old. It used to be a prison, and was renovated in 1989 to include the famous glass pyramid. Tourists enter through here to visit the interior. Although it is now a popular tourist attraction I find it in contrast to the old architecture.
It was very crowded around the Louvre and my wife found it hard to move around, so we simply took some photos with the exterior and said goodbye to the home of Mona Lisa.
Besides the Louvre, directly down the boulevard is Arc de Triomphe. I heard Napoleon had it constructed to welcome his victorious soldiers home, although by the time it was completely he no longer ruled. The sight of the Arc is magnificent and it led us to Champ Elysee, a shopper’s delight, where you can find all the famous brands!
Paris is bustling with life and with many different people. I was there for three days but because it’s full of people I couldn’t exactly tell who were the tourists and who were the locals. Of course, with such a big city, it has attracted many of the eastern Europeans to live here, including the Turkish and the Gipsies. Around attractions there were many rickshaws trying to get business from the tourists, and police would come and chase them around the city. Of course, there are the issues with safety in such a big city.
A day before we were due to leave Paris, I finally got to meet a local – a policeman – because my wallet was stolen while we shopped in a mall.
Perhaps it is because of the safety considerations every police station is guarded with police with guns out front. I visited two police stations and was turned away with different reasons. The third I visited asked me to fill in a form, which comes in various different languages confirming that these little crimes happen everyday! My experience is pretty much filling in the form and getting the information entered into their system. I got a copy of the form as a confirmation of report. Since they took my phone number I asked if they’ll call if they did find the culprit, the policeman simply laughed as an answer.
So always get travel insurance! Sometimes, even the police can’t help you.
On our fourth day we boarded the Eurostar to London. Before I leave I still want to say the French does love their freedom and romance and Paris has so much worth experiencing. The Louvre, Arc de Triomphe and Champ Elysee are just a small part of the city and as to the crime: it happens in every city.
I’ll come back for more, perhaps with more caution next time!