London & Paris Day 5: Eiffel Tower, Seine Cruise & The Louvre

(This is the 4th part in the series, click to see the 1st, 2nd and 3rd parts)

Day 5 Thursday started REEEALLY early, were had to be up by 4.15am and were in St. Pancras train station by 5.15am (cab driver told us it would take 45 mins to reach, but it actually took only 20 mins). Our cab was expensive (GBP35) but we had no choice since the trains don’t run so bloody early in the morning. So in St. Pancras, we waitied for about 1.5 hours for the train (6.50am), while eating our breakfast bought from Asda the day before.

Eurostar leaves from London to Paris in takes about 2hrs 20mins via the Channel Tunnel. Once in France, you can see vast empty fields dotted by small villages with a church steeple in the middle. Very quaint. The train cabin is simple but quite comfortable.

gare du nord

The disembarkation point in Paris is the huge train station Gare du Nord. As soon as you alight the train and onto the platform, this is the first sight that greets you:

first impression

(I guess American megacorporations are slowly taking over the world)

By the time we were in Paris, it had started to drizzle, and it was pretty cooling despite in summer. Our French guide Cyril was there to meet us. After a roll call, we were quickly brought to a tour bus. We were taken on a whistlestop tour around Paris, and man, the traffic there is horrendous. Good thing we didn’t decide to find our own way! In retrospect, going to Paris on a guided tour is advisable if you don’t understand the language. For GBP219 (RM1095), we get return train tickets, a bus tour, free entry to Eiffel tower and the Louvre, plus 1 night stay in hotel. 2nd day is free and easy. Very worth it, hor?

Cyril gave us a condensed version of the history of Paris, meantime pointing out some of the lesser known landmarks along the way. But they were all interesting, like this row street where all the most expensive jewellery stores are located.


This square (i forgot the name) is where Princess Diana stayed just before she had her accident here.


Cyril brought us to a square located between two museums, where we had a direct view of Paris’ most famous landmark. At the time the rain had just stopped, but it was still cloudy. The place, like most tourist spots in Paris, has many Africans trying to sell you trinkets and stuff. Just say no or ignore them if you’re not interested.


After that, we were brought to the Eiffel Tower, our tour group were brought straight to the line to the lift. If you went there yourself, you’d have to line up for the ticket (which can take up to an hour at peak season) BEFORE you line up for the lift.

below eiffel

Our tour entitled us to go up to the 2nd level of the Tower, which has a fantastic view of Paris. You can see very far if the day is clear. Very beautiful.


Sitting on the bench looking out onto the Paris skyline, we had our packed lunch of bread and yoghurt.

After lunch we were taken on a River Seine cruise, Pat said that this was the highlight of our visit to Paris. It was really good, audio commentary was available in English.


Seine is typefied by many beautiful bridges across it, each with its own interesting story and history behind it.


Of course, you can also see dozens of medieval buildings that make Paris so romantic.


Next was our visit to the famous Louvre Museum. This is the glass pyramid designed by I.M. Pei, featured in the Da Vinci Code.


Louvre is a huge museum with thousands and thousands exhibits, almost every nook and cranny and ceiling is covered with art and items.


But actually, after visiting the British Museum, we were didn’t really want to spend too much time here, basically spent some time to look for the ‘Three Ladies of the Louvre’, who were…

Venus de Milo (the Greek Goddess of Love, Aphrodite)…


The Winged Victory of Samothrace (the Greek Goddess of Victory, Nike)…


and the most famous of all, the Mona Lisa.


On the wall directly facing Mona Lisa, is one of the biggest paintings in the Louvre, the Wedding at Cana. You can’t really see it in the pic, but the painting stretches from the floor right up to the ceiling. If you read the description in Wikipedia, there are lots of subtlety in the drawing, least of all Jesus looking straight at you.


We were getting really tired by 5pm so we decided to check in our hotel. But first, we had to find it. Armed with a map from Cyril, and a handy Metro map (very useful, this isn’t easily available in Paris) we plunged into the labyrinthine maze of Paris’ underground.

This is a self cleaning toilet found all over Paris.


We exited out at Republique station, a large interchange. Above on the streets, its actually a small park in the middle of a 7 road interchange. We tried (unsuccessfully to find our bearings) so we decided to ask a nice French lady. Unfortunately, she spoke no English (or perhaps refused to) so judging from her hand gestures, we decided to go one direction. She was right and we found our hotel some 200m away.


Despite some negative reviews on tripadvisor, we found our room quite clean and nice.


Dinner was at a small restaurant near the hotel. We chose it coz it was affordable, plus the menu had English translations (altho our nice waitress didn’t speak English). This was my steak, followed by coffee and beer.



After dinner we took another metro down to the Champs-Elysees, the famous road lined with posh shops and restaurants leading up to the Arc de Triomphe. It was a beautiful sight of the Arc with the sun setting behind it.


We passed by the flagship LV store. No, we didn’t go in.


We used the underpass to get to the Arc. Really beautiful in the evening light.


By nightfall, we walked a long distance to the Seine to catch the Eiffel Tower lights.

eiffel night

It was a long day for us, almost 20 hours, and we had a very good night sleep in Paris.


  • lilian

    Wuah, get to eat steak summore. Last time when I was in Paris, all we cud afford was cold croissant kosong for breakfast, McD chicken fingers for lunch and hard rock cold ham sandwiches. And there weren’t digital camera…Must go again…In my mimpi.

  • simon

    kenwooi – yeah it was a good day, could see pretty far. we took lots of good shots.

    lilian – eh now euro very cheap, can go again ma!

  • anjali*

    Wow, love this more than of your London tales, mostly coz I have been to Paris. I agree, the Seine River cruise was really nice. I loved it too! I assume you didn’t climb Arc de Triomphe? That was another of the highlights for me. And the Lourve! And Monalisa! Nice!

  • Ann

    My colleague who went to Paris actually stayed in a hotel with bed lice in it!!! So, thank God yours was ok.

    And she did go into LV and came out with a Rm3K bag.

    But then again…..your story/day seems more my liking. 🙂

  • simon

    vivian – yes its very nice. you will also notice that they don’t allow any building higher than 4 storeys inside Paris, except for the skyscrapers in the business district.

    anjali – we wanted to climb it, after learning abt it from a travel programme. but we had to pay like 4 euro, and plus we were quite tired to climb 10 storeys, so we gave it a miss.

    Ann – yeah i heard LV in Paris is slightly cheaper than here, and you’ve the latest (and complete line of) models. But then again when you’re on a shoe-string budget like us…

  • Boone

    This is breathtaking…I felt the excitement I read every word and appreciated every photo. Yes, the $$ was more than well spent.

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