By the time I’d asked the bus driver how much the fare was to Pont de Rungis…
Excusez-moi, monsieur. Combien?*
…and bought two RER C tickets to the 7th arrondissement…
Bonjour madam! Champ de Mars, deux billet.
…I felt like my entire supply of French had run out. For months I had tried to commit to heart those French phrases that I was likely to need, but nothing — not the haphazard attempts to learn the language, not the overzealous research on what to see and where to go — quite prepared me for the reality, for the unrealness, of being in Paris.
There was never, as far as I can recall, a moment in my life when I promised myself: “Someday, I’m going to see the Eiffel Tower.” I say traveling is my addiction, and it is, but my wanderlust had as yet limited itself to the proximate (Southeast Asia) and the ultimate (Antarctica, when I retire). Europe, I thought, was for the rich — and I wasn’t — so I didn’t even bother pining for it.
And then, one afternoon, my sister called up with interesting news: a low-cost airline had just launched its Paris flights**, and return tickets were on sale for as low as PHP 15,000. Did I want to go?
We rapidly went through the facts: I had just gotten married and spent most of my savings on the wedding. Her project had just ended, which meant a significant drop in her income. Paris was one of the most expensive cities in the world. We didn’t have a travel fund.
“What the heck,” we said. “Let’s do it.”
And so we found ourselves, that October morning, in a place we had never even dared to dream of visiting.
Paris isn’t all sparkling lights and beautiful buildings. The train from Orly passed through deserted areas, slightly dilapidated houses, and open-air stations that seemed in the middle of nowhere. We went underground as we entered the heart of Paris and gradually saw stations with familiar names — St Michel-Notre Dame, Musée d’Orsay. And then: Champ de Mars. We alighted and broke down in nervous giggles when we had trouble getting through the turnstile because of our luggage. Finally, we ascended a flight of stairs to street level…and were greeted by the sight of the stunning Eiffel Tower.
OMG! We were in Paris! We were actually in Paris!
To our left was the River Seine, bluish gray and beautiful. The bridges and buildings were gorgeous and unmistakably European. Even the walkway by the river bank, with its shrubs and flowers and classic park benches, was just breathtakingly lovely. It was love at first sight, and as we gazed around in awe and wonder, my sister and I had the same feeling: we could live here.
* I’m not even sure this was the right way to say it!
** Now discontinued, unfortunately.
Love at First Sight: Paris | © Small-Town Girls, Midnight Trains. All rights reserved.
» Share with your friends on: Facebook | Twitter
I’ll never forget the first time I caught a glimpse of the Eiffel Tower in the cab from the airport. Now that you’ve survived the cramped cabins of AirAsia (I swear those seats’ neutral position slightly leans forward..) enjoy your trip!
Thanks! I didn’t mind the seat position so much as the absence of foot rests! 🙂 I’m a short girl and foot rests are absolutely essential to my sanity. 🙂 Enjoy your travels too! 🙂
I lived in Paris for six years and I still found it magical when I would walk the Eiffel Tower on the way to work. I didn’t know Air Asia flew to Paris!! Amazing!! Have a fantastic time in the City of Lights (head to the Dindon en Laisse 18 Rue Beautreillis near the metro St Paul for a fantastic French dinner in the cutest little restaurant),
There really is something magical about the Eiffel Tower, right? I envy you your 6 years! 🙂 Air Asia had KL-Paris flights for about a year and then they stopped. Too bad, really; it’s difficult to find [relatively] cheap flights from Southeast Asia to Europe. Thanks for that restaurant tip. I’m going back to Paris (I swear I will; I just don’t know how or when, but I will! Lol.) and that will come in handy. All the best to you! 🙂
You’re exactly right, I felt the same way about Paris. As soon as I arrived I wanted to stay forever!
And yet I can’t totally explain why. There’s just something about Paris (and other beautiful, livable cities).
London also. I think it’s because they’re so overwhelming you want to live there in order to try and figure them out…
Yes, and discover the little secrets, the nooks and crannies, underneath the usual sights. 🙂 I haven’t been to London but it’s on the top couple of places on my bucket list.
Some of my friends who visited for a few days didn’t like London because it was too dirty, touristy etc but once you stay for a while you fall in love with it 🙂
I fell in love with Paris at first sight too
It’s a place that one stays in love with, too! 🙂
Hey, girl. I love your blog. I was researching about getting a cheap Europe tour and suddenly I saw your blog. I’m planning to go to London next year, but I was shocked when I found out that round-trip plane ticket cost PHP50,000+! I read this blog post and you mention about how you get a cheap plane tickets to Paris. Too bad the promo is over. Anyway, thanks for this info. It gives me hope to go to London because of this post. God bless.
I know. 🙁 It’s the airfare that’s really heavy on the pocket if people from the Philippines want to go to Europe. PAL has flights to London, though, and they sometimes go on sale. I think the lowest sale fare I saw was 839 USD, still expensive but substantially lower than regular fare, so maybe you can keep a look out for PAL sales.
Singapore Airlines also sometimes has promos for London fares. And China Eastern tends to have cheaper regular fares to Europe.
Also, I’ve found that Paris fares tend to be lower than London fares, in general, so you can maybe watch out for seat sales to Paris and take a Eurostar to London.
I hope that helps. Your Euro trip will happen, I’m sure of it! Good luck!
I saw the latest promo from PAL, but still very expensive. Anyway, thanks for the info. I’ll better check out the China Eastern. 😀
Going to Paris for the first time in two weeks! Reading about your travels in and around France is fun 🙂 thank you!
Thank you! I have just looked at your travel schedule over at your blog and I am jealous! Happy travels to you! 🙂
Reblogged this on My Random Post and commented:
I’m in love with your blog and travel stories. Because of you I started dreaming of traveling to Europe and when that day comes I know I could count on your blog to show me the way. But first I have to save up! 🙂
That’s so nice to hear! That’s really my goal, to inspire those who want to travel and convince them that it’s possible. I hope you get to go to Europe soon. 🙂 xx
Hello, i just want to ask a question? I was planning to get the visa to paris, my sponsor will be my husband, and i need to get the affidavit of support Is it posible to get a example copy from you? Thanks
Hi Claudette! Just sent it to your email. Good luck!
Hi, Gaya! I might be going this July to Paris. Any chance I can get your itinerary and the hostel where you stayed? thanks – olive
Hi Olive! Wow! Pwede sumama? ^_^ Just sent an itinerary to your email, it’s not my exact itinerary, pero similar lang. Enjoy Paris!
What airline was this for 15,000php? 🙂
Hi Ruz! This was Air Asia — they used to have a flight between Kuala Lumpur and Paris Orly.
Tanong ko lang about sa requirements of a person applying for a schengen visa with the following conditions:
A government employee for more than 8 years
No bank account
Monthly salary paid by cash
Travel sponsored by cousin but his cousin is based in USA
Hi Kenny! The cousin will have to provide an Affidavit of Support.