Paris, J’adore: My First 36 Hours in Paris

Getting off the bus, there was no mistaking where I should be headed. As I marched towards the golden twinkling lights of the Tour Eiffel – my hands numb, my nose running, my head swimming from lack of sleep – I started scolding myself: Wake up! You’re finally in Paris!

Paris Jadore First 36 Hours in Paris

Day 1: Happy New Year!

My first twelve hours in Paris were a blur. I remember sleeping the entire flight from Edinburgh, landing at the Charles-de-Gaulle airport and finding it blanketed in white. Snow had already fallen so I contented myself by touching the ice from the railing of the airport passenger stairs as we got off the plane. I remember seeing three photo booths at the arrival terminal but having to go to the next terminal just to get some cash from an ATM… then not being able to use it anyway since the SNCF train ticket machines only accepted credit cards. I remember missing the bus from the train station and having to walk down deserted Paris streets to get to my Airbnb rental. The rattling of my luggage echoed down the highway, announcing my arrival 10 minutes in advance. I remember finally reaching a populated street, passing by dogs on leashes and warm doggie winter coats.

I also remember taking a shower while it was still light out but emerging to dark streets on my way to the Tour Eiffel. Lastly, I remember collapsing from exhaustion on the warm bed, a smile on my face because I just spent the first day of the year in two countries and I was finally in Paris. My last thought: Happy new year, Jayce.

Bonjour de Paris!

Bonjour from ma petite chambre in Paris!

Chasing Jayce at the Tour Eiffel

One of my selfies at the Tour Eiffel before I asked a Latino couple to take my photo.

Chasing Jayce still at the Tour Eiffel

the closest I got to the Eiffel Tower.

Macarons at the Paris Christmas Market

Macarons at the Paris Christmas Market

Savon de Marseille at the Paris Christmas Market

Savon de Marseille or the traditional hand-crafted soaps from Marseille

Bonbons at the Paris Christmas Market

Bonbons at the Paris Christmas Market

Display at the Paris Christmas Market

After volunteering to take the photo of a South American mother and daughter pair, I asked them to take mine.


Day 2: A Rainy Day in Paris

I started the day quite late from schedule. I slept for 12 hours, recuperation after Hogmanay, the flight and the Tour Eiffel. I walked down rue Rambuteau and withdrew cash from an ATM, paranoid the whole time of being mugged at 9 o’clock in the morning. It’s not Paris, it’s me. Then, I walked to the first boulangerie I saw and bought my first authentic pain au chocolat in Paris. I exited the shop and took my first bite as a cold winter breeze caressed my face and awakened my senses even further. C’était le meilleur pain au chocolat de ma vie! It was freezing and I was eating unheated pastry yet somehow it managed to maintain its flakiness, inner softness and smooth chocolaty goodness. C’était formidable.

les pains d'Aux Délices de Beaubourg

les pains d’Aux Délices de Beaubourg

Aux Délices de Beaubourg

Aux Délices de Beaubourg, rue de Renard corner rue de Pierre au Lard, 4e arrondissement ❤

I was supposed to take the bus to the Sainte-Chapelle but the pain au chocolat was thirsty-making and I remembered having passed by a café earlier with what looked like a decent number of local clientele. Being the type to get easily flustered but always eager to blend in, I immediately struggled to settle on the high bar chair after the obligatory, bonjour! When I so sweetly blurted out to the barista, “une tasse de café crème, s’il vous plait,” the barista was rightfully tickled. Prompted by my outburst and baby-face, he then proceeded to speak to me like a child and asked me very slowly and loudly “ici ou bas?” I promptly answered “ici,” referring to the bar where coffee was cheaper. I resolved to have the guy impressed with me before I was done with my cup.

La Station Rambuteau

La Station Rambuteau, rue de Rambuteau corner rue de Renard, 4e arrondissement

Hence, I took my sweet time with my café crème, trying to capture some photos of the café. Customers sitting at the bar came and went. When I was the only one left, Monsieur le barista raised his eyebrows twice while smiling. I turned to see if there was someone behind me, un régulier, peut-être. This made him really laugh, even turning around to imitate what I did. So, I said, “C’est moi!” exclaiming that he was making faces at me. He said yes, amazed I spoke French. We chatted about where I was from and about my heartbreakingly short stay in Paris. After a while I asked him about the pretty drink waiting by the side. He told me it was a cappuccino, then proceeded to pour the five drops of café crème left on my cup to the cappuccino and handed it over to me, telling me it was a New Year’s gift. He even volunteered to take my photo for me. At that point, I believed it was mission accomplished.

Chasing Jayce at La Station Rambuteau, Paris

Me, my puffy face and my free cappuccino. ☕

After a while, I had to get going. I was afraid of standing too long in queues under the freezing rain so I pre-booked most of my entrance tickets. I took the bus to the Sainte-Chapelle, mindful of pressing STOP since I forgot to do so the previous night on my way back from the Tour Eiffel.


From the bus stop, I walked the rest of the way to the Sainte-Chapelle, dubbed as Paris’ most beautiful church. Also one of the main reasons why I had always wanted to go to France. When I got there, the line to the ticket counter was moving fast but I was still glad that I could enter immediately since rain had already started falling. At the lower floor was a booth for renting audio guides (boo!), flyers about the Sainte-Chapelle in different languages and a sign against using selfie sticks. A crowd was gathered before the corded area of the statue of Saint Louis, the only interesting item on the Chapelle Basse.

Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France

This is it! I’m going in!

No Selfie Sticks at the Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France

No selfie sticks at the Sainte-Chapelle

Statue of Saint Louis, Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France

Statue of Saint Louis at the Sainte-Chapelle

Statue of Saint Louis, Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France

Harsh light never does anyone any favors.

Then it’s time for the second floor. A flight of stairs, a landing and another flight, then finally I reached the top and WOAH! I mean WOW. Just WOW. The stained-glass windows were absolutely breath-taking. So tall. So majestic. So detailed. So colorful. It was such a wonder to behold. Even in the wet and gloomy weather, everyone who came face to face with it went “wow!” in every language. I could just imagine it in sunlight in its full glory!

Chapelle Haute, Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France

Welcome to the Sainte-Chapelle! *gasps in French*

Stained Glass Windows Chapelle Haute, Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France

Altar Chapelle Haute, Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France

Main Altar Chapelle Haute, Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France

Rose Window Chapelle Haute, Sainte-Chapelle, Paris, France


Since I relied heavily on Accuweather for my #EURockMyWorld tour, I specifically allotted my second day in Paris to be spent indoors. From the Sainte-Chapelle, I walked to the Conciergerie where I learned a lot about the French Revolution. Its most impressive feature, for me, were its interior lighted arches. Aside from being one of the oldest buildings in Paris, it is also famous for being the prison of the infamous Marie Antoinette. There I discovered the minted coins featuring the tourist spots of Paris. And just like the Pokémon I was trying to collect that time, I just had to get them all.

Street Signs in Paris

So you know where to go.

My dismal picture with the Conciergerie at the Pont au Change

My dismal picture with the Conciergerie at the Pont au Change. I did not realize I had messed up the settings.

La Conciergerie et la Seine, Paris, France

Arches, Conciergerie, Paris, France

The beautiful arches of the Conciergerie.

Conciergerie Arches, Paris, France

Inondation Paris 28 Janvier 1910

Even Paris gets flooded, too… and I would’ve drowned in the flood of 1910.

Conciergerie Prison, Paris, France

The Conciergerie served as a prison during the French Revolution.

La salle des noms or the Room of Names, Conciergerie

La salle des noms or the Room of Names contains more than 4000 names of people who spent at least a few days at the Conciergerie, later to be acquitted, sentenced to other sanctions or death.

Women's Courtyard, Conciergerie, Paris, France

The Women’s Courtyard was where women washed clothes, ate and exercised. It also served as the waiting area for condemned prisoners to be taken to the guillotine.

Chapel, Conciergerie, Paris, France

The Chapel, Conciergerie, Paris, France

Hoc in Loco

Marie Antoinette, The Chapel, Conciergerie, Paris, France

Marie Antoinette, the most famous prisoner of the Conciergerie.

Musée du Louvre

Then it was time for the Musée du Louvre. Since I bought my ticket online, I didn’t have to queue out in the 3˚ Celsius noon. Upon entering, I finally realized that yes, that place is immense. I got a bit confused at the point de rencontre so I just chose to start at the Sully wing. There, I was greeted by a bas-relief sculpture of a Greek titan, gouging his eyes with a stake. Truly a welcoming sight. Opposite that was a full-grown titan suckling a woman’s breast (didn’t look sexual in the least bit). I went inside a small gallery of paintings then suddenly, an alarm went off. The guard I was scoping out (to ask about the Mona Lisa, ehem!) suddenly rushed off. A voice finally announced (in French, then English, then Spanish) that for security reasons, all guests are requested to proceed to the nearest exit.

Uh-oh, drama at the Louvre!

Panorama of the Cour Carrée du Louvre, Palais du Louvre, Paris, France

Cour Carrée du Louvre or the Square Courtyard

Pyramide du Louvre, Musée du Louvre, Paris, France

The controversial Louvre Pyramid is the most popular entrance to the Musée du Louvre.

Titan, Sully Wing, Louvre, Paris, France

Welcome to the Louvre!

Sully Wing, Louvre, Paris, France

I meandered my way back to the hall and saw people stopped from entering the Sully section. The main entrance was even closed. People sat along the corridor. Since no one seemed to be panicking, I calmly made my way to the exit where I saw a couple of senior citizen ladies talking to a guard. When they were done, I asked one of the older ladies, “Qu’est-ce qui se passe?” What’s happening? “C’est un exercise,” the old lady replied. Phew! My only concern – that I just got there and that the ticket was expensive – was alleviated; I was definitely seeing a lot more than a suicidal and an infantile titan.

As soon as the doors were opened, you can say I got even more FOMO. I brisk-walked around, looking for a guard to ask, “Oú est la Joconde?” Where is the Mona Lisa? I finally found a guard to ask, but to my dismay, she answered me in English. That was the first and only time I ever felt snubbed in Paris.

I made my way to the Denon Wing and straight towards the Italian paintings hall. The paintings prior to the Mona Lisa were from various artists. All very impressive. There was a section of about four to five other Da Vinci paintings, all very salient because of his signature technique. Meanwhile, seeing the Mona Lisa was, quite frankly, underwhelming. There’s a ton of people taking photos that you can’t really do anything, like contemplate the masterpiece. I think I spent more time strategizing how I could get closest to the painting (6 feet away) than wondering about that enigmatic smile.

It’s quite funny though how the corded section also served as the exit because once you reach the front of the crowd, there’s definitely no turning back.

Hunt for Mona Lisa, Louvre, Paris, France

FOMO attack; must find La Jaconde before the Louvre seriously shuts down for the day.

La Joconde, Monna Lisa, Louvre, Paris, France

Welcome to Mona Lisa’s room!

La Joconde, Louvre, Paris, France

The most sought-after painting at the Louvre. An enigma of 77cm x 53 cm.

The Monna Lisa Selfie, Louvre, Paris, France

Everyone has done it, everyone was doing it so I had to do it. #FOMO

Da Vinci Paintings, Louvre, Paris, France

Da Vinci’s other paintings were hard to miss because of his signature style, chiaroscuro.

La Mort de la Vierge, Louvre, Paris, France

La Vierge aux rochers, Leonardo da Vinci, Louvre, Paris, France

La Vierge aux rochers, Leonardo da Vinci, Louvre, Paris, France


After the Mona Lisa, I bought a commemorative coin featuring the Louvre. Happy!

The rest of the day was me taking ugly photos of masterpieces that can easily be seen online. I saw Venus de Milo and the Liberté painting. I took photos of other interesting ones like the Bataille héroïque, Les Noces de Cana, Le Radeau de la Meduse, Persée et Andromède, the Four Seasons statues and some of Michelangelo’s sculptures.

(If like me you only have 5 hours to spare inside this museum, this is the roundup of the must-see artworks inside the Louvre.)

Liberty Leading the People, Eugène Delacroix, Louvre, Paris, France

La Liberté guidant le peuple/Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix

Bataille héroïque, Louvre, Paris, France

Bataille héroïque

Les Noces de Cana, Louvre, Paris, France

Les Noces de Cana

Le Radeau de la Meduse, Louvre, Paris, France

Le Radeau de la Meduse

Venus de Milo, Louvre, Paris, France

Venus de Milo / Aphrodite of Milo

Aphrodite du Capitole, Louvre, Paris, France

Aphrodite du Capitole

Pallas de Velletri, Louvre, Paris, France

Athena of Velletri /Pallas de Velletri

Diane de Versailles, Louvre, Paris, France

Diane de Versailles / Diana of Versailles

Louvre, Paris, France

Portait de Louis XIV, Louvre, Paris, France

Louis XIV, the frustrated ballet dancer.

Sculpture Court, Louvre, Paris

Vénus dirigeant les traits de l'amour, Louvre, Paris, France

Vénus dirigeant les traits de l’amour – yup, Venus is (almost) always portrayed naked and almost always with Cupid.

Persée et Andromède, Louvre, Paris, France

Persée et Andromède

Hiver, Winter, Four Seasons, Louvre, Paris, France

Four Seasons: L’Hiver / Winter

Hiver, Winter, Four Seasons, Louvre, Paris, France

Four Seasons: Le Printemps / Spring

Hiver, Winter, Four Seasons, Louvre, Paris, France

Four Seasons: L’été / Summer

Hiver, Winter, Four Seasons, Louvre, Paris, France

Four Seasons: L’automne / Fall

Art Chasing Jayce, Louvre, Paris, France

One second before the tripod police caught me.

Cour Carrée du Louvre from the inside, Palais du Louvre, Paris, France

The Cour Carrée, taken from inside of the Louvre.

Place des Pyramides, Louvre, Paris, France

Place des Pyramides, taken from inside the Louvre.

Museums are not for everyone, but I did enjoy my stay at the Louvre. Studying art, artists and their histories doesn’t really appeal to me but I love appreciating art. I like looking at artworks and wondering what makes them special, what the artist must have been thinking and trying to achieve while creating a certain piece. No doubt, the Louvre is one of the best places to do this.

Ceiling, Louvre, Paris, France

But for me, the best artworks in the Louvre are the ones on the ceiling.

Ceiling Sculpture, Louvre, Paris, France

Ceiling Painting, Louvre, Paris, France

More Ceiling Painting, Louvre, Paris, France

Closing time and it was time to leave the warm confines of the Louvre. Time to face the cold Paris streets once again. But first, I just had to attempt taking a photo of the pyramids of the Louvre.

Pyramide du Louvre at night, Louvre, Paris, France

Second Night in Paris

From the Louvre, I started walking towards the Arc de Triomphe (Spoiler: I never reached it). But after hours of walking around in pure caffeine with only a side of pain au chocolat, I was ravenous. I found a stall that sold crêpes at the foot of the Roue de Paris. Finally, some nourishment in the form of one giant crêpe jambon fromage, washed down with some hot cider.

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel, Paris, France

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel – not to be mistaken for the Arc de Triomphe.

La Loire et le Loiret statue in Tuileries Gardens, Paris, France

Silhouette of the La Loire et le Loiret statue in Tuileries Gardens, set against the Grand Roue de Paris.

Grand Roue de Paris, Paris, France

Grand Roue de Paris

At that area, I made the mistake of answering the casual question of a guy who turned out to be a tuktuk driver. He then followed me around as I made my way to the Christmas market of the Champs-Élysées. I was super cold – the hot cider did not help any – and I already wanted to go back to the Airbnb. Unfortunately, the pocket WiFi decided to breakdown at that moment so I could not search via Google Maps which was the closest bus stop that could get me home. I took the chance on a metro station where I discovered that the yellow line was good enough for me and that the train fare was 0.10 euros cheaper than a bus ride.

Crepe Fromage Jambon, Paris, France

My lunch and dinner for the day: a ham and cheese crêpe.

Hot Cider, Paris, France

The drink that almost got me into trouble. Oh, I kept the cup.

Grand Roue de Paris, Champs-Élysées, Paris, France

Grand Roue de Paris from the Champs-Élysées.

Champs-Élysées, Paris, France

I was not able to take a good photo of the Champs-Élysées. How I hated being followed around.

After my successful train ride, I was able to pass by the supermarket again where I bought a couple of bottles of mineral water plus an apple. They didn’t issue receipts and the OC in me died a little. I got back to the apartment, noticed that the restaurant across from it was full of people and decided to check it out the following day.

Inside my room, I found out that my phone contracted the touch disease. Hence the handwritten diary entry.

Thus, my first 36 hours in Paris ended. My stay had just started but I was already heart-broken about the thought of leaving. But it wasn’t right to end the day in despair as the following day held the promise of fair weather, a time to walk around the city of lights and soak in as much Paris as possible. It was definitely shaping up to be a trip to remember.

Read more: Paris on a budget: Free Paris Walking Tours

January 1 & 2, 2017

Photos were taken using iPhone 6 and GoPro Hero 4

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Jayce Cairo

Jayce is a linguaphile who speaks four languages and currently works as a translator to finance her various interests. Scoring very high on “Openness to Experience” on the Big Five Personality Test, she is an avid globetrotter who aspires to retire at 35 and travel for the rest of her life.


  1. Very nice article. After visiting the Statue of Liberty my kids are dying to go and see the Eiffel Tower. I would be happier at the museum, but we could at least visit for a short time by reading about your trip. I love the ceiling shots that you took!

    • I spent half a day at the Louvre, from 1pm until closing time. I wasn’t able to see all the artworks but I also gave up trying to take photos of the interesting ones I saw. They’re just too many!

  2. Haha I love your Louvre story! I’ve never been inside a museum when an alarm went off but thank God it was just an exercise. But that’s quite a good story to tell 😀 Had to take the standard Mona Lisa pic too when I was in Paris but I honestly found her very disappointing. But so crazy that there’s always so many people visiting her!

    • A big letdown right?! Good thing I got her out of the way at the start so I was able to walk leisurely and stare at the paintings and sculptures.

  3. Great that you had so much fun in Paris! I love the city too! Never mind that its overrated, chaotic and touristy! Still beautiful to me and would love to visit again and again and again!

    • I really had fun and it did not seem too chaotic when I was there. Probably because it was the holidays? I’d love to go back. But probably in warmer weather.

  4. Your New Year’s experience in Paris seems pretty magical albeit exhausting! Paris is a city that always seems a bit magical to me as well. Seems you hit up all the must-dos in the city! How cool to spend the first day of the year in two different countries!

  5. I loved every bit of it. I could sense how you felt from your child like smile. Louvre is really intriguing. I have read so much about this place that I have to be there some day. Photographs of Sainte Chappelle are so vibrant. Looks it is preserved well. Thanks for this detailed account. Bookmarked.

  6. What a way to ring in the New Year! I love Paris so much and you brought back some great memories and have me craving a pain au chocolat now! I had the same reaction at Sainte-Chapelle—it’s so beautiful, isnt’ it?! It would be fun to visit around the holidays sometime. The Christmas Markets look wonderful. And I love that you won over that barista by the end of your visit—such a great story and sounds like a wonderful trip even if it was short!

  7. Why does every city need a Farris wheel now? Most of them don’t even have an amazing view like the London Eye.

    How did those macaroons taste? There is something about French macaroons that just taste better than anywhere else.

  8. What an amazing way to get the most out of the City of Light <3 thanks for sharing

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