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  • Writer's pictureManasa Mynampati

New Year in Paris: A Magical Experience of Lights

Updated: Feb 4

For the 2023 new year, we planned to travel and explore Europe. When we thought of travelling to Europe, France was at the top of our tourism list. I remember watching a South Indian movie called 'Jeans' as a child, which I fancied a lot. This movie features an incredible music video where the beautiful Aishwarya Rai Bachchan dances near the Eiffel Tower, so that's definitely on our list. As a fan of Robert Langdon, visiting the Louvre Museum is on our list since it's the central location plot for the Da Vinci Code. Planning a trip to France with a little one can be challenging; with so many attractions to choose from, we focused on the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and Notre Dame.

Our initial plan was to take the Euro Star. However, considering our luggage and buggy, we travelled by car via Le Shuttle. Le Shuttle is a railway shuttle service between Calais in France and Folkstone in Kent, United Kingdom. It took us 2 hours to drive from Brighton to Cheriton. Then we drove onto the train (yes, you read it right!), where we stayed inside the car (technically on the train) for 40 minutes to reach Calais in France. It took around 3 hours from Calais to drive to Puteaux in Paris, where we booked our Airbnb.

<<Le Shuttle to France>>

After travelling to Paris for half a day, we arrived at our accommodations on December 29th, 2022. The first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower from the bedroom was breathtaking. Our apartment had a living room and bedroom with large windows overlooking the Eiffel Tower. My kid spent much time with the small Christmas tree still on display. We crashed after a long day and took a good nap (of course, me glancing at the Eiffel Tower now and then in the middle of the night, as it sparkles every hour this time of year.)

30/12/2022: The next day, I packed my kid's lunch while my dear hubby was busy admiring the sunrise along with the Eiffel Tower and capturing it with his camera. We could only get out of the apartment after 10:00 AM. We took the train instead of our car from Puteaux to central Paris to explore the city without getting stuck in traffic. The train tickets are pretty basic since they use RFID technology. Our RFID flat keys demagnetized our train tickets. We had to get them replaced near the central station (it was not easy to communicate in French!). The lady at the counter advised us to keep the tickets and mobiles in separate pockets all day.

<<Train from Puteaux to Louvre>>

It started to rain heavily when we reached the Louvre Museum. A long queue near the entrance made it very clear it would be a miracle to catch even a glimpse of the Mona Lisa. A few umbrella sellers along the line made us think that buying an umbrella was worth keeping our bags dry, so we bought one for 10 euros, which broke just after 10 minutes, and the man who sold us was nowhere to be found. It reminded me of Delhi's local markets near Palika Bazaar.

<<This is where original Mary lies 😉 as per Da Vinci Code>>

As I had a buggy with a small kid, we skipped the queue and reached the ground floor via an open lift 🤓.

The Louvre is a massive museum; visiting all its exhibits within a day is impossible. We were fortunate to see some of the most important exhibits at the museum, such as the Mona Lisa and the Crown Jewels. We got into a separate queue at Monalisa Painting as we had a buggy (again!!) and could see the painting within one metre. We couldn't explore the Egypt section. Our little one slept in the buggy, so we had to use lifts. They were annoying, and waiting took longer than exploring the museum. There are four pyramids outside the Louvre, which are very popular. But then there is this fourth inverted pyramid at the Carousel entrance, for which we had to return the following day for it. (just because of the Da Vinci Code). The shopping centre below the museum has a great variety of souvenirs. I bought a few perfumes from Fragonard Boutique. They have an excellent botanical perfume collection within budget (reasonable for presents). We tasted chocolate cake from 'La Maison Du chocolat' and macarons from 'Laduree'. I am not a fan of sweets, but they were good. We returned to our flat exhausted, had pizza for dinner and then went to sleep (of course, watching the Eiffel Tower).

<<Crown Jewels at Louvre>>

31/12/2022: The following day, we visited the Eiffel Tower (after we found 'Piramide Invertida') again in the metro. The idea was to spend the New Year's evening on the Eiffel Tower and see the fireworks from nearby. But we couldn't get the tickets to the Eiffel Tower from the official website (as it is 31st of December), so we went via Viator (3rd party website) to buy the tickets. To get the tickets we had to stand in the queue at the Eiffel Tower, which took more than 2 hours with our guide telling us the history! The tower has three floors: the first, second, and summit. When we finally got tickets to the summit, we realised we could only use lifts from the 2nd floor to the summit and to reach the 2nd floor we had to climb the STAIRS!!!! Yes, you read correctly, a total of 740 steps. By the time we reached the first floor, along with my kid and her stroller, I gave up. My child climbed around 200 steps with ease (quite impressive for that age!), and then Kumar carried her. It wasn't the stairs that bothered me, but rather the height and the resonance of metal (yes, I have a problem with heights; I'm not sure how I got into this adventure of CLIMBING the Eiffel Tower!!).

Climbing a 187-foot steel structure with a resonating base at my feet took away my spirit to visit the summit. (even if I had managed to go to the second floor, I would not have dared to go to the summit in such windy weather). The strong gusts of wind were swaying the summit tower. Being a caring husband, Kumar chose to stay with us on the first floor instead of going to the summit despite my suggestions. We enjoyed nougats, coffee, and waffles on the first floor before taking the elevator back down to the ground floor (we do not have to climb down the stairs while coming back!). We enjoyed the seine river view for some time and bought miniature Eiffel Towers for my parents and friends. It was already 6.00 in the evening when we came down, and the Eiffel Tower started twinkling. Watching the Eiffel Tower on New Year's Eve erased my tiredness and filled me with wonder. It was a wonderful moment with my beloved at one of the world's wonders.

We promised our daughter a horse ride if she behaved without throwing tantrums. We rewarded her with the famous Paris Carousel ride (carrousel de la tour Eiffel). While we were on the carousel, suddenly, a lady came nearby, took a picture of us and asked us to collect after our ride. After our ride, we realised we had to stand again in a queue to get the photos. Fortunately, I had some loose change to pay for the photo prints at the stall. We arrived at our accommodation feeling exhausted after carrying our backpacks on the metro. As it was New Year's Eve, all the restaurants were fully booked or closed (not even McDonald's or Pizza Guys). So we made our dinner (yummy pulao with Ben's uncle's rice and frozen veggies) and ate together, watching the flickering Eiffel Tower from the 14th floor. We realised fireworks are not allowed near the Eiffel Tower due to security issues. As we can see the entire city from this height, we can see a few fireworks lights in the town (but not anywhere near the Eiffel Tower).

Bonjour! Welcome to the year 2023.

01/01/2023: We woke up late and checked out of the flat at 11:00 AM, and we didn't dare to go towards the city due to traffic. We thought we had to skip Notre Dame, so we returned to Calais. I was searching for any historic places on the route. There is another Notre Dame in Amiens city, which is twice the size of the one in Paris.

We spent a few hours in this 12th-century cathedral. The cathedral's interior was impressive, with soaring ceilings and stained glass windows that filled the space with a warm, colourful glow. We had dinner on the way and returned safely to Kent. I have to credit my husband for switching sides while driving in Paris (where driving is on the right side) and Britain (where driving is on the left).

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