Paris during the Euro 2016
Is there anything else happening in France these days besides flooding, protests & labour strikes? Oh yes… the UEFA’s Euro2016 soccer championship. I recently had a couple of hours to kill and opted to see what the city looked like under the colours of European Soccer.
Often, I’ll drive straight to downtown Paris, park beneath the Louvre and stroll my way ’round the city. This time however, I didn’t want to lose time getting in or back out of the city (seems I always get just lost enough to lose 15-25min on the way out), so I parked on the outskirts and took the metro in.
If you’re driving into Paris from anywhere south of the city (eg. via the A6 or a10), I recommend the SAEMES parking garage. Immediately on your right upon exiting the Périphérique (Ring Road surrounding Paris) at Porte d’Orléans, it is connected to the Porte d’Orléans metro station and, making it so easy when it’s time to leave!
A Metro Day
It had been a long time since I’d been to Montmartre so from my parking garage, I hopped on the #4 line (Mairie de Montrouge – Porte de Clignancourt) which took me just about all the way there. It goes straight through downtown Paris, with stops at Notre-Dame, Les Halles and both the East & North Train Stations.
From the Barbès Rochechouart stop, only 1 stop later on the #2 line (Anvers) put me just about at the foot of Montmartre. Now you can stroll!
From the metro stop, you ascend Rue de Steinkerque, one of the two best places to get souvenirs in Paris in my opinion (the other is Rue de Rivoli, adjacent to the Louvre). The street is lined on both sides with shop after shop of well-priced gifts & momentos. Careful though, you’re also likely to find a string of “innocent bandits” willing to take your money with games of chance right there on the street (until a policeman comes into view that is).
Montmartre & Sacré Coeur
Montmartre didn’t disappoint. From the base of the hill, I hiked up the stairs to get to the Basilica. I forgot to count the number of stairs but you won’t want to be in a rush because there are lots. Fortunately there are spots to rest along the way.
At the very first landing (where you see the balustrade in the top picture) there was a group of Swedish soccer fans preparing to unfurl a huge Swedish flag. It wasn’t unfurled long enough for me to get a photo as the police quickly motioned to them to put it away. All in good fun and everyone was good natured.
Beer not water
Besides seeing lots of soccer fans – evidenced by the presence of flags on hats, shirts, backpacks & faces – one thing I was not used to seeing was this, the people who typically sell bottled water for 1€/bottle (they’re all over Paris) were few and far between. Instead, they were selling beer at 3-4€/bottle (talk about price gauging!). Things seemed pretty reasonable up here… perhaps due to the presence of the church… not sure. 🙂 That would change later.
Skyview of Sacré-Coeur
If you’re not familiar Sacré Coeur, at the end of the post I’ve included some drone footage of the famous site, courtesy of the ©UEFA (organizers of the Euro 2016). The Sacré-Coeur website also has a great virtual visit on it’s website. You’ll see some incredible views of Paris from one of the highest points in the city.
Eiffel Tower bound…
There were just as many steps going down as there were to come up… but it was easier! I soon picked up the #12 line at the foot of Montmartre, at the Pigalle station and transfered to the #9 line at St. Augustin station before arriving at Trocadero.
In my mind, there is no better way to make your way to the Eiffel tower than to start at Trocadero, for you’ll come onto the large esplanade and catch your first glimpse of la Dame de Fer with a long panoramic view.
There are always tons of people in this area but there were more than usual for this time of year (the peak tourist season would be in July & August).
It is always possible to find street performers around town and Trocadero is a guaranteed spot! Here you see crowds circling a group of break-dancers. They do a great job and love to entertain, but make no mistake… they’ll be passing the bucket around after the show, hoping for a donation.
You can also see a group of men singing in tuxedos. These guys were English soccer fans and I’m sure that they’d slept, at least one night, in these tuxedos… under a tree. Their tuxedos were wrinkled and filthy – most, if not all of them, appeared to have bird droppings on them as well. One of their fellow chorists was unconscious on the lawn beside them and would not wake despite them tossing numerous beer bottles or cans his way. Not sure if they were keeping the itinerant beer-vendors in business…. but there was certainly lots of that being consumed. That being said, everyone was good-natured and there were no scuffles. They too passed the proverbial plate, a large wooden shoe, through the crowd in hopes of getting donations.
Soccer on Display…
As I got closer to the Eiffel tower, I saw what I’d heard about. Hanging between the first and second floors was a giant soccer ball.
There is no doubt that the city was just a bit more hustle & bustle than usual. In fact for all my visits to Paris in the past 20 years, I’ve never, ever been in a more crowded metro car than I was that day, on my way from Sacré-Coeur to Trocadero.
The city is vibrating with excitement…
and it’s nice to get caught up in that for a bit.
He is grateful for the opportunity to guest-post for Maria here on Health from one Heart to Another