This 5 part series on “The Unconventional Honeymoon” talks about our first self-planned and self-arranged Euro Trip. In our short-but-sweet trip of about 7 days we covered Paris, Brussels, Bruges, Amsterdam and Rome. This was about 4 months after our wedding when my husband had to visit Toulouse, France for work. We merrily jumped at the opportunity of converting this business trip to our Its-Never-Too-Late Honeymoon.
Self planning a trip requires a lot of patience and dedication as you have to decide on the cities first and then comes the plethora of decisions regarding where to stay, things to do in the limited time, what not to miss etc. etc. But I must admit that the planning part of the trip excites me just as much as the actual travelling part. My husband, on the other hand, is not a big fan of all the planning but loves exploring new destinations.
We extensively used Tripoto, Skyscanner, GoEuro, Airbnb, Ulmon City Maps 2 Go Offline Maps and many more apps to shape this trip and also read a zillion useful and interesting travel blogs for tips and recommendations. I have dedicated an entire post on apps that helped us in planning our two trips to Europe. I have also described the entire process of self-planning our trips in great detail here and here ! I would not call this a budget trip, but I guarantee that you would save a tonne of money if you self-plan, rather than booking those pricey packages.
The word Honeymoon generally has a very relaxed, luxurious and cozy ring to it. But this being our first trip to Europe, relaxation and comfort took the back seat as we geared up for the exploration ! Our trip involved staying at Airbnb accommodations, walking tours around city centers, travel by local transport, boat tours and cycling around picturesque landscapes.So with all the running around, this was an unconventional honeymoon indeed , but undoubtedly the perfect one for us.
This is Part 1/5 of the series.
Paris, the city of love, was first on our list.
I arrived from Delhi and my husband from Toulouse and we met at the CDG airport. We had booked our stay near the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in the city which was very conveniently located. Out host was a lovely French lady who barely spoke any English. Nevertheless, the entire process of making the reservation, finding the place and checking-in was absolutely hassle-free. We reached Maggy’s place at about 10 PM in the night using the train from CDG to the city center and then the Paris Metro to Pere Lachaise.
The next morning we walked around the Pere Lachaise, which is the largest garden cemetery in the city of Paris. After a leisurely stroll there we headed out for some sight-seeing. The best way to move around the city is the Paris Metro underground network with wonderful connectivity. We went on a Sandeman’s free walking tour as suggested by my cousin and I would recommend it to everyone who has limited time to explore and loves to walk around. The tour started at 10 am from St. Michel’s Fountain. In the next 3 hours we walked around the St. Michel Bridge, Notre Dame Cathedral, Palais de Justice, Sainte Chapel, the 1st Arrondissement, Pont Neuf and the tour ended at Louvre Museum.
We decided against visiting any museums, firstly because we’re not artsy people and secondly because both of us are of the opinion that its far better to utilize our time out on the streets, people watching, or trying different cuisines, or doing random stuff, as compared to staring at pieces of art on museum walls. Strolling around the Seine river and the beautiful bridges was a great experience. Our friendly guide told us about the history of Paris and also gave us tips on where else we could go to in the remaining time. Our guide and also friends who had visited Paris earlier had warned us to be wary of pick pockets in the touristy spots around the city and while travelling in the ever-so-crowded Metro. So we were extra cautious, always.
At the end of the tour we had lunch near the Louvre at Place du Carousel and then walked past the well manicured Tuileries Garden to have some mind-blowing macaroons at Angelina.
Next on our list was the Sacre Couer Basilica also known as Basilica of The Sacred Heart of Paris which provides perfect panoramic views of the city. The market near the Basilica is good for souvenir shopping and also has many roadside food corners. We had a yummy banana caramel crepe at one of the joints and lets just say, it was heavenly. We also walked around Le Moulin Rouge and the Montmarte neighbourhood.
We came back to Notre Dame and went inside this beautiful cathedral and learnt about its exemplary architecture. Then we attended a free Paris Police bike show nearby where the policemen whizzed around in synchronized patterns on their BMW bikes.
Our next stop was the majestic Arch de Triomphe from where we walked to the most well known landmark of Paris: The Eiffel Tower. We were not interested in climbing up to the top as it involved an hour long queue which we thought of utilizing elsewhere. Instead we took a 8 pm Seine River cruise which starts at the foot of the Eiffel Tower every hour.
At the end of every hour the Eiffel Tower beautifully shimmers in sparkling lights and scores of tourists assemble to capture this marvelous sight. I strongly recommend taking the river cruise after sun down when all monuments are lit and shine in the Paris night sky. We went up to the islands in the Seine and then returned back to the Eiffel Tower at 9 pm when the lights started sparkling. We later walked below and around this iconic structure and the Champ de Mars gardens. We returned home around 11 pm after a very hectic yet fruitful day.
The next day we were leaving for Brussels in the evening so we had half a day to check out a few more places in the city. We took a day pass, hopped on the Paris Metro and headed to the lovely Luxembourg gardens. We bought a baguette and had a relaxing sun-soaking time in the garden. Two days in Paris made me realize how much people here just love to sit around and do nothing. While coming back we visited the St. Sulpice Church and walked around lovely non-touristy neighborhoods of Paris.
After having Espresso shots and Cheese Cake at a tiny street bakery we bid farewell to this wonderful part of the city and headed to Pont de Archeveche which is famously known as the Love Lock Bridge. The number of couples who come to Paris, for expressing their undying love with this ritual is actually quite overwhelming. In fact, the city officials have had to remove scores of locks and sections of the original Love Lock Bridge Pont des Arts on numerous occasions, as its railings have often collapsed with the burden of love. Getting inspired from a spray painting over the locks at the bridge that said “LOVE IS NOT LOCKED“, my husband and I decided not to contribute to the load of the poor bridge and just enjoyed a stroll in the vicinity.
Thus we bid farewell to the city of love. The city is so alive yet so relaxed, with half the people running around as tourists and the other half soaking the sun at roadside cafes and numerous city gardens.
Thanks for the love : J’Adore Paris !
Our must-not-miss list for Paris :
1) The sparkling Eiffel Tower at Night
2) The Seine River Cruise
3) The view from Scare Couer Basilica
4) The love in the air at Love Lock Bridge
5) The food : Crepe, Espresso, Macaroon, Baguette
6) Leisurely strolls in non-touristy neighborhoods
What’s next ?