I'm pretty late to the Paris party. Many friends have traveled here before me and most can't stop gushing about the place. In the words of Audrey Hepburn "Paris is always a good idea."
Except when it was my idea. My timing turned out to be te-rri-ble.
It all started when I went to reserve my seat on a train from Rotterdam to Paris. The ticket agent refused to book the seat since they couldn't guarantee the train would arrive due to a railway workers strike in France. So I just had to show up at the platform later that day and hope that the train did too.
Thankfully I boarded said train and eventually met my sister and a friend at Paris Nord. We had a decent dinner. Not the Fall-Out-Of-Your-Chair flavor that everyone raves about but palatable. I like rose wine and cider so I ordered a rosé cidré hybrid but it tasted awful like partially composted flowers and apples.
Despite it being the beginning of June and supposedly summer, the weather was cold and slightly wet with temperatures hovering around 14°C.
The three of us did a free walking tour of Paris the next morning. We assumed the media-hyped strike would paralyze all the metros until our guide told us that "No, of course the metros are working. The city cannot just shut down."
Except the city did partially shut down later that evening. My friend and I arrived at the Musé d'Orsay to find a note taped to the ticket office window announcing an early closure.
So we headed back to Marais to do some thrift shopping, for all of 30 minutes, because all the shops apparently close at 19:30.
The next day we were scheduled to visit the Louvre at 13:00 with our pre-purchased tickets. However the top story on my BBC news app announced that the worlds most famous museum would be closed all day while employees moved art & artifacts above ground since the river Seine was on the rise after heavy, unseasonal rains.
We decided instead to take the metro/train west to the Palais of Versailles. When we went to change trains at Invalides, the entrance to the C-line was blocked with a notice that the line was closed; another precaution due to flood fears since the main line to Versailles ran along the river.
We figured out a detour and took at least an extra hour but eventually we arrived at our royal destination. After about four hours wandering the palace and gardens, we walked back to the station to discover there was only one train per hour heading back to Paris due to some combination of striking and floods.
Again it took extra time and effort but we finally got back to the city and climbed the steps of the Eiffel Tower. It was like the final challenge in an obstacle course and we reached the pinnacle of it victoriously despite so many struggles along the way.
It all seemed a bit surreal because if you went by the media coverage alone, you'd think the streets of Paris were filled with soggy, angry chaos but not once did I see a protest or floods or even moderate rain.
The transport strikes have been a pain for many people but I know the taxi and uber drivers at least are benefitting from it because I had to pay €81 to get from the city to Charles de Gaulle airport early on my last morning.
Guess I'm just gonna have to go back to Paris at some point. ;)