When visiting a city as beautiful as Paris, it seems ridiculous to stay cooped up in a hotel room after work. Although I often find myself having to complete some left over work tasks, or going to business meals, there is always a little time left over, and I try when possible to do some sightseeing. Of course, this will often be after dark. However, it is amazing how much there is still to see once the usual tourist attractions are closed for the day.
Staying in a suburb of Paris, just outside of the “Périphérique”, I had a bit of a walk into the centre of Paris. This gave me a chance to soak up a bit of the Paris culture, watching local Parisians eating at the restaurants, chatting in the cafes, and playing pétanque. Being a warm night, there were also musicians practising their craft and attracting small audiences in local parks.
Walking into the city also gave me the opportunity to see sights such as the St. Francis Xavier church in the 7th Arrondissement. As with many of the historic buildings in Paris, this church was carefully lit to present itself to passersby. I was particularly taken by the circular purple stained window that was reminiscent of the Rose Window of Notre Dame de Paris.
Similarly impressive was Les Invalides. Originally created as a hospital and retirement home for war veterans, this complex of buildings is anchored by a dominating domed building, and it is a testament to the French peoples respect for their fellow comrades who have made sacrifices on their behalf.
Of course no sightseeing around Paris would be complete without visiting the Eiffel Tower. Although I arrive late at about 9pm, I was surprised to to see the lifts still operating. It turns out that although the Eiffel Tower was closed to general visitors at this late hour, it was still running restaurants for pre-booked guests. Not having booked, I was content to look at this magnificent structure from both the tower’s gardens to the south and from across the river bank. It was very romantic and I took the opportunity to video call my wife so that we could share this magical moment together.
Being close to such a famous tourist site also provided the opportunity to have dessert, as a couple of food stalls were still open to cater for us night-owls. One of my favourite snacks in Paris is a crêpe, so I jumped at the opportunity to grab a Nutella and banana one, along with a Coke Sans Sucre (Coke Zero).
During my entire walkabout I had to wear a mask, due to local restrictions in Paris. The rules stated that masks could only be taken off when eating or drinking. So this short food stop also gave me a chance to breathe.
As well as the food stands, the area next to the Eiffel Tower also had a carousel, still open after 9pm. There were also street sellers offering illuminated balloons, replica Eiffel Towers, and other trinkets. Great if you are dragging some kids around late at night (not me, but I imagine some people take their family on business trips occasionally).
Another famous landmark in Paris is the Arc de Triomphe. If you were to visit during the day, the surrounding road would be heaving with vehicles, sometime seven or eight unmarked “lanes” deep. However, at around 10pm the view was unobstructed with only a few cars and bikes passing by. Situated at the end of the Champs-Élysées, the Arc de Triomphe commemorates those who fought in both the French revolution and the Napoleonic wars.
The Champs-Élysées itself was lit up, but I found that it was just a collection of expensive shops and restaurants and not really worth a night visit. It did however provide a route down to the Place de la Concorde and onward to the Louve – a great museum and art gallery that is worth visiting if you have time during the day.
I thought I would add in this extra photo of the Eiffel Tower as I really like the angle. Also, you can never have enough photos of the Eiffel Tower :-).
If you are ever in Paris, or any other city for at least one night, I would recommend taking some time to explore after work. It is a great way to experience local culture and actually see the destination that you are working in. Don’t just sit in your hotel room. Too often on short single day business trips I regret not being able to see the city I am visiting. Asked by friends what such-and-such as place was like, I had to answer that the airport and office was great, but I had no idea about the rest of the place.