Travel Journal: Paris

Each city has it's quirks, characteristics, highlights, and also it's negatives. We enjoyed Paris so very much, but I'm not sure if it would be a city we would spend much more time in. Everyone has a different perspective about cities they travel to, which is the joy of each person's unique experience. I've met people who visit Paris each and every vacation, and I've met people who were similar to us, that loved seeing Paris, loved being in the city, but it was checked off their list and they are content to travel elsewhere next time.

Even though Paris might not have been at the very top of our list of all time favorite cities, we had some of the best experiences in the city. We got to practice a beauitful new language, we got to eat bread again - more on that later, we got to pretend like we were engaged again with an anniversary shoot, and we were able to soak in each of the amazing museums and architecture! 


We arrived in Paris on the Eurostar, which was the best way to get into the city! (It was nice, clean and so fast), and headed to our airbnb, which was this charming old hotel that they turned into apartments. I love that they kept some of the original pieces, like hte lobby ceiling and floor, the elevator, and the mail slots. 

We loved these big green doors to get into our airbnb. 

We loved these big green doors to get into our airbnb. 

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And we immediately went out to explore. This was the only city that we used our Rick Steve's book. That book is no-joke heavy, so the next time we travel, I'll probably just take screenshots of it and leave it at home. Although it was extremely helpful in planning for our trip.

We set off on foot following Rick Steve's historic walking tour from our airbnb, near the Louvre, all the way to Notre Dame. 

Sitting on the Pont Neuf

Sitting on the Pont Neuf

The Key bridge

The Key bridge

They had moved the locks from the iconic bridge onto the sides, and it was quite a site to see thousands of locks of different colors and shapes with initials and names. 

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We stopped by a nearby park and watched the Parisians play lawn games. It made us want to get home and brush the dust off of our own lawn games. 

We walked by the Saint Chapelle, the flower markets, and the art nouveau metro station. Then we headed to Notre Dame, where we were just in time for the bells to ring and go in for evening mass. It was perfect timing. We rounded the corner and were walking up to the church when the bells started ringing. It was such a cool experience. 

In the Flower Market

In the Flower Market

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Notre Dame is so absolutely stunning with the curved arches, soaring ceilings and intricate stained glass. Evening mass was quite the experience. If you have a chance to go, do it! It is completely worth it. 

From Notre Dame, we walked down Ile St Louis, where we found a little creperie, cheese shop and a market. We decided to go ahead and grab some things for dinner and go back to the Tuileries Garden to find a spot to watch the Eiffel Tower sparkle. 

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Pedestrian Bridge

Pedestrian Bridge

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Both Caleb and I have a sensitivity to gluten. After eating it, we feel overly stuffed, foggy headed, and tired. But we found that we could have all the bread we wanted in Paris and it didn't affect us. Hallelujah! The cheese was also fantastic and we didn't have any reactions to dairy, like we do in the US. It was really frustrating that the US can't make products without a bunch of disgusting additives, but it was also encouraging that there are still places who are passionate about real, high-quality foods.

So you better bet, we stopped in all the small shops and got baguettes, cheese and pastries the entire time we were here. If I could have shipped cheese and baguettes home, I would have! 

The next morning started out a little crazy....eight years ago, when I was on study abroad, I may have blew out two or three hairdryers in London -_- , I mean, who's counting. So my goal on this trip was to spare all the hair dryers I could. Well, thanks to a rushed morning trying to get to our walking tour on time, I ended up blowing my adorable little travel hair dryer and our converter - RIP... So a giant pastry the size of my face and the strongest coffee we could find was a necessity. 

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Picking up a latte To-Go at a cute little cafe with a kitty mascot

Picking up a latte To-Go at a cute little cafe with a kitty mascot

Have our coffee, and finally waking up from a crazy morning. 

Have our coffee, and finally waking up from a crazy morning. 

We went on a walking tour through Fat Tire Paris that started at the Eiffel tower and ended at the Louvre and included a ticket to the Louvre. It was a fantastic tour and the guide was very knowledgable and friendly. We wish we could have done one of their bike tours, but ran out of time. Maybe next time! On the tour, we saw the Eiffel Tower, Army Museum, Napoleon's Tomb, The World Fair bridge and glass ceiling building, Champs de Ellyse, the Obelisk and the Tuileries and the Louvre. We walked our legs off this day! 

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Napoleon's Tomb

Napoleon's Tomb

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Tuileries Garden

Tuileries Garden

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After the tour, we grabbed lunch at Le Royal Opera and rested our feet and people watched, before heading back out for the Louvre and Museum Orangerie. 

The quiche was fantastic and about as big as my face, and Caleb had a ham sandwich with egg, which was just as big. We did notice that with most breakfast/lunch items, they are always served with a side salad. It was strange at first, especially for breakfast, but grew to really enjoy a small salad with our meal. 

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We then made our way to the Louvre. We realized while we were standing in line that it was September 11th and noticed the increase of military and police around the museum. Thankfully, we think it scared some people away from the large museums, but just as the Louvre always is, it was still very crowded. But worth every second! 

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After waving to the Mona Lisa, viewing "Liberty Leading the People", Venus de Milo, Michelangelo’s dying slaves, and Winged Victory, we went to the Museum Orangerie to view Claude Monet's full scale water lilies. 

I could have stayed in this museum staring at Monet's work for hours. We probably spent the most time of all the museums here. It was so peaceful. The museum was meant for the people of Paris to have an escape from the busy, bustling, stress of the outside world and be able to find some peace and quiet here in the museum. 

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I feel so at home with the impressionists. And going into the Museum Orangerie, I thought it would just be Monet's water lilies, but the entire bottom floor is dedicated to other impressionists. If you love impressionist paintings, the Museum Orangerie is a no brainer! We also bought a combined ticket for the Orsay and the Orangerie. It saved us time waiting in line the next day for the Orsay. 

We stopped by another market and bakery and picked up some cheese, fruit and baguettes for dinner in our airbnb and got prepared for the next morning - our anniversary photoshoot!!!

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We got up just before sunrise to meet our photographer Elizaveta near the Eiffel tower and what a morning! We spent the morning posing and laughing with our sweet photographer, who ended up being just the kindest person! We had such a blast and seriously love how our photos turned out! 

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We ended at a cafe with some hot coffee. The morning was very cold and damp, and we were ready to get some layers back on and warm up before we set out on our last full day in Paris. I also have to give a shoutout to my friend Lilly + Oak. Her little wallet clutch was the best wallet to bring to Europe. It held everything I needed and fit in my pocket and day pack so well! 

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After getting warmed up and changing into the appropriate clothing for 50 degrees, we set out for the Museum Orsay. I'll be honest, this was not on my list, but after seeing pictures and reading recommendations from our friends who had recently gone, we decided to get it a try, and oh my word! We are so glad we did. Not only is the building a piece of art itself, but the collection is amazing! It's a variety of sculpture, architecture, paintings, pottery and more! So there is no getting bored of the same painting over and over. It's also set up and organized brilliantly. 

It also houses some of my favorite impressionists including Monet, Degas, Renoir, Signac, Seurat, and a large collection of Van Gogh's work. 

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After escaping a short rain shower in a creperie, we set out for the Arc De Triumphe. While we were there, they were having some sort of public transportation strike. If you've been to the arc, you know the street circling it is already extremely congested. Just to get to the arc, you have to go underground, because crossing the street would be the last thing you did. But because they were on strike, they had even further congested the road with giant trailers and semi trucks blaring music as loud as it could go and taking turns honking every few seconds. I wonder if the city just out of annoyance gave them what they wanted, or let them just get tired and go home. 

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After seeing the arc, we headed to the latin quarter to find the bookstore called Shakespeare and Company. The bookstore has been around since F Scott Fitzgerald and many other amazingly famous and historical authors were in and out of Paris. It was the coolest store. Every single surface is covered in books and the store winds up a few stories through narrow wooden staircases and through tight old rooms. It is so charming. 

I love books, but I am a collector of one book in particular. My favorite book - the Great Gatsby. I have at least three versions of the book with different covers, and when I find a special edition or cover that I don't have, I have to get it. Well, they had a beautiful Vintage Classic "fazz era" cover design edition! So you better bet that I walked right up to the register with that beauty!

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The latin quarter is so quirky and charming with cobbled streets and angled buildings. 

The latin quarter is so quirky and charming with cobbled streets and angled buildings. 

The last night we finally went out for dinner, instead of eating more baguettes and cheese at our airbnb, to a restaurant that was recommended to me by a friend: L'Restaurant. And wow, friends! It was absolutely an amazing experience. It definitely costs a pretty penny, but it was fabulous. The atmosphere, the food and the service were out of this world. We were too caught up in the experience to take pictures, but trust me, it was good! If you're in Paris and looking for a special occasion/celebratory dinner, look up L'Restaurant. 

The next morning we woke up at the crack of dawn and took an uber to the strangest airport I've ever been to for our next stop, Berlin! Our favorite city from our trip! 


TAKEAWAYs

Parisians are in NO hurry, unless they are in traffic, then you better watch out!  Expect to sit down and wait at restaurants. It's a little unsettling at first for us busy Americans that need to get to the next thing as quickly and efficiently as possible, but it also teaches you to enjoy the atmosphere, company and food. 

When you attempt your best french, shop owners appreciate it, but they are also very to-the-point people, so know exactly what you want when you get to the counter or when the waiter/waitress comes.

If we are ever in Paris again, we would make the day trip to Versailles and tour the palace. I did this eight years ago, but we didn't make it this trip. We would also take the elevator all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower. I've been to the halfway point, which was amazing, but the top would be incredible. We would also like to spend more time walking the rue's and checking out the cafes. This trip was very fast and we stuffed all the big sights into three days. Next time we would have those out of the way and get to enjoy more casual exploring. 

The next time we're in France, we want to travel to the quaint french towns and see the markets, the chateaus, and experience more of everyday life in France. 

THINGS I WOULD HAVE LOVED TO SEE/WOULD SEE NEXT TIME:

  • Biking Tour through Fat Tire Tours
  • Explore Montemarte 
  • Climb the steps of the Sacre Coeur
  • Explore the Rue's
  • Day trip to Versailles
  • Climb to the very top of hte Eiffel Tower
  • Travel throughout the neighboring French towns

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