Goal: Tarragona – Paris – Tarragona
Available amount of time: 4 days
Initial budget: 150€/person (4 travellers)
Distance to travel: more than 2000 km
The adventure begins on Friday morning by buying supplies for the long trip ahead us. Then we pick up the remaining colleagues to complete the team: first stop Tarragona city, second stop Cerdanyola del Vallès and finally we head towards La Jonquera.
According to the GPS, we have more than ten hours of journey ahead and the display shows more than 1000 km to travel. But although these numbers could fear us, we feel that strange emotion and positive uneasiness of those moments when you embark on a journey of adventure, with few parameters set beforehand and knowing that what whatever it happens, the most important is to enjoy every moment.
After the Pyrenees we enter Occitania, a land of troubadors and jongleurs, a land of spring coloured mountains and medieval castles awaiting their time of glorious return. To get into the right atmosphere we listen to Lou Dalfin and Goulamas’k, two music bands that keep on fighting for the normalization of the occitan language and the recognition of Occitania as a national entity.
Leaving behind the central French massif and lost somewhere between Clermont-Ferrand and Vichy, we enjoy the views of the landscape while eating dinner and recovering strength to face the last stretch of the adventure. Short after the midnight we arrive to destination, without unforeseen outstanding and eager to start discovering the ville lumière.
The alarm rings at 7:30 and the first brave gets up to the shower. From the rest of us, some stay a bit longer in the bed while others just try to get up half slept half resigned. We stay in a village about twenty kilometres far from Paris called Saulx-les-Chartreux, Chartreux? it strangely reminds to Chartreuse, isn’t it tarragonins? And rightly does since Chartreux translated from French refers to Carthusian o more concretely to the Order of Carthusian, the same order that fabricated the liquor that we all so well know and that acquired the land on 1264 and was established until 1379 .
To reach the centre of Paris we use public transportation for more convenience, however the nearest train station is located in the neighbour village, a place called Palaiseau. So we take the car until the station and then enter the train that will bring us to our first stop in Paris: the welcome square (what an irony!) or Place bienvenüe. On the way to the Pompidou museum we stop in the Luxembourg Gardens where we get very surprised to see the big amount of people training different sports, yoga, martial arts, jogging and even a space reserved for foals.
Is it true, what people say about French people facing street while seated in restaurant terraces instead of face to face? Yes and not only this but also they have separated chairs instead of benches in public parks, which can be moved anywhere.
By deviating slightly the direct route, we arrive to the Notre-Dame cathedral, near the edge of the river Sena. We enter the Latin quarter in order to have lunch and also to have a walk in one of the many artistic zones that Paris has, we are referring concretely to the square of Voges, near the Bastille, an excellent place to taste the first “real” French croissant.
The museum or centre Georges Pompidou , built in order to revitalize the fourth district of Paris, an economically and socially depressed area, was inaugurated in 1977. It contains some of the work of artists like Picasso, Joan Miró, Brancusi, Modigliani, Matisse, Francis Bacon and Jean Dubuffet among others. It is worth to spend at least half a day in the visit and the admission is free for people under 26.
Since the weather is good and we want to enjoy the urban atmosphere of the French metropolis, we move towards the district of Montmatre, crowned by the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, one of the highest areas of the city and as expected, also one of the most crowded by tourists. As the slope of the streets increases so does the bohemian character of the area. Small colourful shops, Amelie styled cafes, people sitting at outside tables (and occupying half of the sidewalk) drinking wine…and finally we are at the base of the steps leading up to the basilica. Once made the last stepping effort, we can sit and enjoy the panoramic view of Paris. There one realizes that there are things that do not change whether you are in Barcelona, Budapest or Paris: street sellers offering drinks, souvenirs and selfie sticks have made their market in the steps of the stairs leading to the Basilica. Some street musicians accompany the moment.
It is getting late (it is already past seven in the evening) and we need to hurry if we want to have dinner, do not forget that in continental Europe they are quite strict with the eating times, whatever the season it is. While going back to the centre and by chance we find the Moulin Rouge and the café shown in Amelie’s film, we can not help but smile and rejoice the visit that fortune has made. As the time goes by and the sun disappears on the horizon, it is time to start discovering the Paris night-life. It is very recommended to walk and observe the colours of the French night or just sit in good company on the Sena edge, while enjoying a good burgundy or champagne.
Second and last day to live Paris. We have breakfast calmly but without forgetting that we have not much time left. The first stop of the day is La Sainte-Chapelle or a piece of heaven on earth according to some experts. A thirteenth century Gothic chapel built to house the relics of St. Louis king of France (also known as Louis IX). This temple is the star of the radiant artistic movement (rayonnant in French), a sub gothic movement exclusive from France. Some of its characteristics are: the minimization of the foothills and increase of the number of windows, allowing more light to go inside the building. It seeks an effect of lightness and richness, surpassing austerity and certain heaviness of the preceding stage. 
Today we want to eat early so that we don’t need to stop during the afternoon so we decide to go to a Crêperie and taste one of the most typical French foods. Right after we are ready to start visiting the big Louvre museum. After waiting in a long tail of people and buying the ticket if we are older than 26, we enter one of the busiest and most popular museums worldwide. To avoid the high density of visitors from the very beginning we start to visit the second floor (the highest floor). The “crème de la crème” of the museum is located on the first floor: Da Vinci, Delacroix, Dürer, Von Fontainebleau, De la Tour, Gericault and many more. Clearly overcrowded, this floor has become the boulevard du Louvre and the Mona Lisa its Canaletes fountain (when compared with Barcelona’s rambla). Finally, a large collection of classical sculptures with works by various civilizations (Egyptians, Persians, Arabs,…) complete the offer of the museum.
Three or four hours is little time to appreciate even a quarter of the wealth of the Louvre but it is long enough to get an idea of the content and priorities for the next visit. Once out of the museum, it is recommended to walk through the Champs-Élysées to reliever the excess of noise and information we may have received after so many hours in the Louvre. In addition we will be able to see the Egyptian obelisk in the Place de la Concorde (whose story we will explain in an other post) and if you don’t suffer from eye problems, even the Triumph Arc will also be visible in the same direction, some hundreds of meters away. From there, it is a good idea to step directly towards the most famous monument in Paris: the Eiffel Tower.
The last sun hours of the day are slowly being finished and it is time to stop and enjoy the long grass gardens close to the Eiffel Tower. We can accompany the moment with a sweet crêpe and toast with champagne, which again many street sellers will offer us countless times, including plastic cups. To share such a sunset in Paris, on a summer day with people you love, is a gift that you will carry with you and remember no matter how many years pass.
To say goodbye to Paris and taking advantage of the fact that today is the music day throughout France (June, 21) we go to some of the outdoor concerts that have been scheduled all over the city. There is a great atmosphere and many different music styles can be listened to within some metres. Speakers outside the bars, people everywhere dancing and singing in the streets, people preparing and selling snacks in the middle of a square, roasting meat, groups of young people making a circle and moving to the rhythm of hip hop…
J’aime la nuit avec passion. Je l’aime comme on aime son pays ou sa maîtresse, d’un amour instinctif, profond, invincible. Je l’aime avec tous mes sens, avec mes yeux qui la voient, avec mon odorat qui la respire, avec mes oreilles qui en écoutent le silence, avec toute ma chair que les ténèbres caressent. Les alouettes chantent dans le soleil, dans l’air bleu, dans l’air chaud, dans l’air léger des matinées claires. Le hibou fuit dans la nuit, tache noire qui passe à travers l’espace noir, et, réjoui, grisé par la noire immensité, il pousse son cri vibrant et sinistre.
Le jour me fatigue et m’ennuie. Il est brutal et bruyant. Je me lève avec peine, je m’habille avec lassitude, je sors avec regret, et chaque pas, chaque mouvement, chaque geste, chaque parole, chaque pensée me fatigue comme si je soulevais un écrasant fardeau.
Mais quand le soleil baisse, une joie confuse, une joie de tout mon corps m’envahit. Je m’éveille, je m’anime. A mesure que l’ombre grandit, je me sens tout autre, plus jeune, plus fort, plus alerte, plus heureux.
Guy de Maupassant
Listen to the playlist of the trip to Paris: