On my way back to Istanbul from my Portugal cycling trip I had a layover in Paris. I could not find any cheap direct flights, so this was the best option. I would have preferred a direct flight, but when I saw the layover was in Paris, was much cheaper, and I would have 9 hours I became excited. With little knowledge of the cities layout, and advice from one friend that it was easy to get from the airport to downtown I decided I would explore as much as possible without missing my flight!

My layover was in Charles De Gaulle airport (CDG). My flight arrived on time at approximately 9:30am, and I had to be back in time for a 6:30pm flight back to Istanbul. My travel backpack was checked under the plane, so I had nothing to carry but a small bag containing my laptop, camera, sweater and water bottle. It took sometime to get to the airport train station from my terminal, but the signs made it easy to follow. These two links here provide decent guides on how to get from CDG to the Eiffel Tower, which is where I decided to start my tour as it was the number one sight I wanted to see.

http://parisbytrain.com/charles-de-gaulle-airport-cdg-to-paris-by-train/
http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/charles-de-gaulle-airport-cdg-to-eiffel-tower-paris.cfm

In short, take the RER train from terminal 2. You take the blue line (the only option from CDG) to St. Michael Notre Dame, where you transfer to the yellow line. On this line you will take a few more stops, and then get off at Champ De Mars Tour Eiffel. The whole trip took about an hour, and cost almost 20 Euro. This seemed very expensive to me, at least after spending so much time in Turkey and Portugal where transport is cheap.

Upon exiting the station I was very excited to take my first few steps into Paris. The air was clean and warm, with lots of people moving on the streets. I decided to walk to the right as it looked busier, and after what seemed like a few seconds I looked up, and there stood the Eiffel Tower! It looked impressive, and there were clusters of tourists all around. It was really quite amazing to finally see the tower in person after seeing so many pictures and videos of it throughout my life. I didn’t have the time or money to bother going up, but the lines seemed very long and it was quite expensive. To get to the top by elevator cost 16 euros, and to the top by foot (for first half) and elevator cost 11 euros.

The tower was really what I expected. Not the most spectacular thing in the world, but it was very special to see such a famous monument.

I walked under the tower and onto the long grass fields and park that lay in front of it. From here I took pictures and enjoyed the view. The square sections of grass that stretched from the tower to the war museum were a nice place to relax. Many people were playing games and enjoying themselves. I slowly wandered the park until a Swedish couple asked me to take a photo of them. After a short conversation they advised me that it was not so far to walk to the Arc de Triomphe and the Louvre, so I decided I would speed walk and give it a try.

I first set off to the Arc de Triomphe. I crossed the river on the opposite side of the Eiffel Tower, and from there it was easy to follow the signs. The walk there took about 20 min. When I arrived it was very crowded, and seemed impossible to cross the street. I got a picture, decided that was enough and did not bother to find the underground tunnel that led to the other side.

From here I walked down Avenue des Champs Elysees. It seemed like a happening street with lots of expensive shops. The search for the Louvre turned out to be a bit more difficult. I did not see any signs, and had to ask a few people. I knew it was along the river, but from the river you cannot see the famous pyramid. I ended up becoming a little disorientated but finding it nonetheless. When I finally arrived the glass pyramids looked quite spectacular, and it was very cool to see in person. I wasn’t sure if I had time to go in, but I ended up having no choice as the museum was closed. I know an hour would have not been enough, but it would have been cool to see a bit of the inside.

After making it to the Louvre my mission felt complete. All that was left was to enjoy a cappuccino in a French café. It did not take long to locate one along the river on my way back to the subway stop. The coffee and baguette sandwich I had tasted great, especially after all of my speed walking.

Overall I travelled 60km by train, 11km by foot, and saw three of Paris’s most famous attractions all in fewer than 4 hours! This is no way to experience Paris, but I think for a layover this is as good as it gets!