My friend Mafalda and I bought the plane tickets to the city of Love without much thinking. It was one of those “let’s do it now or never” moments. It would be a weekend getaway to celebrate her 23rd birthday on Saturday.
Early on Saturday morning, while the city still slept, we found ourselves at Lisbon Airport.
Our adventure had already began the evening before, with Mafalda celebrating her anniversary with a late dinner at a Nepalese restaurant (quite a good one!). Of course, the candles were only blown once the clocks announced midnight.
Once we landed, off we went straight to the Eiffel Tower. Going up was not in our plans (I have been already) since it was quite expensive and we were on a low-cost mindset. Paris’ recent history with terrorist attacks, the city was on defensive mode… plenty of military strolling around, the ground area around the Eiffel was limiting the access only to paid visitors who had to go through a tight security check. We’d better enjoy the view from a bit further.
We crossed the Seine to the Trocadéro area. Sun was high and warm. Laying down on the grass, treating ourselves to a sunbath sounded plausible, but we had to keep on going. Resting only once we’d be back in Portugal!
We try to chase down all the freebies. Checking out my square and avenue was one of those. Arc de Triomphe soon followed.
From the top of the Arch, I saw a skyline of high-rise buildings further down one of the main boulevards (later learned to be part of the Axe historique). In between those glass towers stood the Grand Arche de La Défense, a modern, 20th century reinterpretation of the famous old Arch. Having a knack for modern architecture and having heard of it before, I immediately wanted to go there.
Soon it was time to grab something to eat. We found a supermarket where we bought some goods and went towards the cube. Along the way we found a park, Bois de Boulogne, were we decided to stop. I put out my blanket (one of the perks of flying business class…) and we had an healthy meal together. The only things missing were baguette, cheese and wine, in order to make it extra French.
With our energy levels restored we walked down 5km to La Défense. This modern neighbourhood was bustling with people, commerce… life! I have always been fond of modern architecture, having in the past the dream of becoming an architect even, so I felt welcomed in this place, trying to breath in as much as possible. Once we cooled off (we had walked for long under the Parisian heat) we headed to the subway to get to Montmartre.
Mafalda had always been hooked on Amélie but she never had the chance to visit the café were the movie was