This is the final post in my series about my Paris trip. For anyone who missed it, the first instalment can be found here. I thought I’d briefly discuss the city’s history before summing up my time there.
The occupation of Paris can be traced back around an astonishing 12,000 years when it was a small Mesolithic settlement. At that time the North Sea was an area of dry land, called Doggerland, and London’s River Thames and Paris’ River Seine are thought to have been connected.
But Paris’ history really begins during the Iron Age when, between 250 and 225 BC, a tribe of Celts, called the Parisii, founded a fishing village on an island in the river Seine. They built the first bridge over the river, making it the easiest place to cross. This gave it strategic importance on what was a major trading route. The crossing fees made the burgeoning town prosperous. In recognition of this importance Julius Caesar conquered the city in 52 BC, crushing the Gauls. This importance continued through the centuries helping Paris grow to become one of Europe’s, and indeed one of the World’s, great cities. And what a great city it is.
I had a great time there. It’s beautiful. I can see why it’s so associated with romance. Early evening strolls along the Seine in summertime are delightful. Much of the architecture is breath-taking, with Cathédrale Notre Dame being a particular highlight.
I’ve heard the city described as dirty, but it didn’t seem any more so than any city of its size. Admittedly, I did see people brazenly urinating in the street on two occasions, which surprised me. On the second occasion the guy was being watched by a disgusted man shaking his head, so I can only assume it’s as unacceptable as you might imagine. I did also see a drunk woman asleep in the middle of the pavement. I passed her on my way back to the hostel one evening. What surprised me was that when I ventured out the next morning she was still there, sprawled out across the middle of the pavement while people walked around her.
Paris also has a considerable amount of homelessness. I was surprised to see a family camping out together in the centre of the city. I went past them several times. On one occasion they were even cooking a meal on a barbecue, so they were clearly quite well settled.
I was disappointed not to make it to the famous catacombs. I tried on two occasions, but only two hundred people can enter at a time and they’re very popular. The first time I got there the queue was two hours long, and it was due to close in two hours. On my second attempt the queue was three hours and I didn’t have that amount of time to spare. So I’d recommend getting there early if you plan a visit.
The Eiffel Tower was a highlight. I was taken aback by how huge it is. It’s massive. I thought it was reasonably priced as well. Talking of reasonably priced, the Cathédrale Notre Dame is free, much to my surprise. It’s certainly somewhere I’d recommend. It’s beautiful both inside and out. I would have happily paid to go in there, so to get in for free was great.
Talking of free things, the Louvre is free on the first Sunday of the month from October to March so that’s worth considering if you’re thinking of going. It’s also free for under 18s all year round. Also, allow plenty of time for queuing. It’s massive and there’s so much to see.
Talking of free things, the cemetery of Père Lachaise Cemetery was a very interesting place to visit. But, talking of free things, if a woman appears to pick up a gold ring in front of you, don’t be fooled!