Perhaps the most beautiful and worth-seeing tourist trap there can ever be, the Eiffel Tower. It is such a beauty, isn’t it?
Ever since I was bitten by the travel bug, the city of Paris had become my #1 destination to avoid. Known as the “most romantic city in the world” or better yet, “the city of love,” it had kept me running towards the opposite direction. I mean, what was I going to do there flying solo? I must admit that although I’ve been travelling by myself to almost everywhere, the idea of what Paris had always intimidated me. Plus, there are some places that I actually wanted to save for next time.
Call me a hopeless romantic, but I’ve always imagined myself to be in Pariswith the one I love.
But as fate had it, all signs led me to Paris.
Love locks by the river Seine
I was a bit emotionally unsettled when I first got here. I walked around the city being a bit insecure yet hopeful, to the point of being in denial with expectations. No thank you to the countless movies and novels I’ve seen years before that. Clearly, that was not the way to start a long trip.
The Notre Dame Cathedral and a Proposal
As I found my way to the Notre Dame Cathedral, my heart just surged with so much love and joy. Walking towards the entrance while taking some photos, I luckily chanced upon a couple who was oblivious to the world. A couple who was about to go on a long and beautiful journey. A couple who had no idea that they gave an unsuspecting audience a bit of hope.
The Proposal at the Notre Dame Cathedral
Upon seeing the man holding a bouquet of red roses, I just knew. Like a whirlwind that it was, he gave the roses to her, went down on one knee and then he proposed.
In spite of being on the sidelines, to witness a proposal in this blessed singleness of mine was just what I needed. My hope and faith overcame the insecurities that I had previously felt. And as I went inside the Cathedral to pray, I then knew it in my heart that I was going to love Paris. Thank you, divine intervention.
The rest of the days came by like a breeze. Going around the city, I got to appreciate not only its countless beautiful architecture but even the romantic vibe it exudes.
The Louvre and a beautiful couple
Finding my way to the almost empty Louvre at night, I managed to sneak a peek of this couple’s engagement photo shoot. The Louvre by day is such a beauty already. But at night, it just looks mesmerizing. Perhaps, this couple in view, can be an additional statement on what Paris is all about.
A photo shoot of an engagement at the Louvre
The river Seine and a full moon, one night in September
As I continued my walk across and along the Seine, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of comfort and solitude even with the occasional appearances of some lovebirds. The river Seine, for me, is what romance is all about. I could only imagine cruising along while taking it all in — the sights of Paris and the comfortable silence and small talks around. A walk along the riverbanks is just as good as well. To take a pause and just reflect, for me, that’s magical enough.
The bridge across the river Seine leading towards the Louvre
Out of all the days, the full moon decided to come into view during my walk along the riverbanks of Seine. Seeing the full moon made me sing a line saying “does the moonlight shine on Paris after the sun goes down” and just smile at the end of it.
The river Seine and the beautiful full moon, one night in September
Heloise and Abelard at Cimetière du Père-Lachaise
One of the places that I really wanted to visit in Paris was the Cimetière du Père-Lachaise. The Père-Lachaise itself is a place worth visiting, having a lot of notable dead people (from Edith Piaf to Oscar Wilde to Frederic Chopin) with some of the most elaborate and extravagant tombs that one can imagine. But as eerie, unromantic, and anti-climatic as it may sound, this cemetery is home to the tomb of a couple whose tragic love story perhaps ended in happiness after death. The story of Heloise and Abelard was what actually drew me in. For me, theirs is a story of forbidden love and a decision to turn to God for salvation, one way or another. (Update: You may read my post of their story here.)
The tomb of Heloise and Abelard at Père-Lachaise. Heloise is shown on this side while Abelard is beside her on the opposite side.
Basilique du Sacré-Cœur
While in Paris, I opted to stay at the hostel in Montmartre. While it was a good 5-minute walk from Sacré-Cœur, I found myself going there with someone I met at couchsurfing rather than heading there myself as I thought I’d feel safer. Truth be told, I was intimidated of the pickpocket stories in the area.
Basilique du Sacré-Cœur at the peak of Montmartre, the highest point in Paris
The Sacré-Cœur itself is very lovely and walking inside will definitely give someone that romantic feeling. This couchsurfing dude felt it and instinctively grabbed my hand as if we were a couple. Well, I tried to be as subtle in turning him down. But if I were actually with someone I love and adore, watching the sunset from the highest part of the city would have been epic.
The Temple of Love at the Palace of Versailles
Out of all the places in the Palace of Versailles, the temple of love is one of my favorites. The palace grounds is more than worth a day’s trip, as one can figuratively and literally get lost in it. But getting to this quaint dome is uncommon for most visitors. Not so many people take time to wander to the farther areas of the Versailles. Upon seeing it, the daydreamer in me couldn’t help but have hope spark all over again. I could only imagine what Marie Antoinette feels whenever she glances by her window.
The Temple of Love, Versailles
I’ve always thought that Paris was overrated with a lot of cliches. But regardless, I’ve always imagined getting there for the first time with someone special. With all these things in place, it was hard to go there without any expectations. And it was even impossible to try to miss it when the road you are given to leads to Paris.
While it started to be something that I never hoped it would be, I am glad to have seen what Paris really has to offer. If only one can look deeper with an open heart, then one can truly see Paris for what it really is. The Eiffel tower indeed is so beautiful, but it’s not just what Paris is all about.
The tiny details, the less visited monuments, the lovely moments, and the overflowing love of the people around, to me, these are the things that will call out the love, romance, and that tiny bit of hope buried inside you. It shouts love and it is infectious. Once you allow yourself to realize it, you’ll be more than in love with Paris.
Paris is not just a cliche. It is indeed one of the most romantic cities in the world.
The Eiffel tower at night