Parlez vous francais? I don’t but now I sure wish that I did.
I just got back from a life changing vacation in Paris. Now I know what you are thinking, how can 48 hours in one city really change your life? But when you go on a trip just because it seems like the right thing to do and come back reconfiguring the direction you’re taking just to live in that city someday, I’d say that that’s pretty life altering.
Such is the case with Paris, France. I know the story goes that most people go for a visit and fall in love, but I just did not buy into it. The truth is, I was only there for two days and thus so may have been blinded to the downfalls of the city, but for now, that is ok by me.
We got there on Thursday night and had hopes of sitting on the lawn of the gardens in front of the Eiffel Tower whilst sipping wine and watching the light show. That is until the train we were on to get to the city from the airport stopped at one station a few stops away from our destination, and then started to head in a direct path back to the airport (after we had already been on the train for about 45 minutes). In the end, our traveling time from Madrid to Paris ended up spanning 6 hours instead of 3 and we had to make a change of plans.
After we checked in to our two star hotel (livin’ in the lap of luxury), we took to the streets of Rue Cler to find any sort of food. That’s when we realized we weren’t in Spain anymore where meals are taken at 10, and so at 11:30, most places had already been shut down for the night. We managed to find one place that seemed happy to take our money despite the fact most of the chairs were already placed on the table and there was no one else looking to get a meal at that time. Since it was almost midnight at this point, breakfast sounded wonderful (but let’s be serious, when does breakfast not sound wonderful) and I got a cheese omelet that was accompanied with a salad and French fries. We decided to try the Apple Tartin which is a French pastry but I can’t say that I was the biggest fan. That we save for the crepes…
We then went back to our hotel which was actually in a really nice area, only about a fifteen minute walk to the Eiffel Tower, and really quiet. The only problem was that we were paying for a room with two twin beds for two people… And there were five of us. However, we busted out some James Bond stealthiness and managed to get by both nights without suspicion.
The next day we woke up, put our best walking shoes on, and embarked for the day, ready to see as much of the city as possible. We first took a cruise down the Seine River that was a perfect way to get us situated and show us the major sights. I remember taking this exact cruise when I came in the 8th grade but I know I appreciated it much more this time around.
Jessie, Alessandro, Taylor and me on the cruise!
Then, we walked to the Notre Dame, with a stop along the way for some refreshing glace at a famous Parisian ice cream shop.
Taylor and Jessie taking it all in...
In the 8th grade I also elected to go shopping over the Lourve (priorities, people!) so thought that I better go this time around. It is also free after 6 on Fridays which is nice, but it also makes for a madhouse. The Lourve itself can be a landmark, less alone all the artistic masterpieces that reside inside. There is no way you could ever cover everything (and still be in a good mood by the end of it) and since it was late already, we decided to see what we wanted to see and peace. We first went to Napoleon’s Compartments, then to the Mona Lisa and Venus statue.
When I first walked up to the Mona Lisa, I laughed. Now, I do feel bad for laughing at one of the most famous paintings in the world, but really, it’s underwhelming.
Presenting... The Mona LIsa.
After the museum, we walked up the Champs d’Elysses to the Arc du Triomphe, grabbing some crepes along the way. The city really lights up after dark (I guess that’s why they call it the City of Lights?) and I loved the feeling you get with everyone hustling and bustling about.
Then, we headed back to the Eiffel Tower for one of the light shows they do every hour on the hour. To say that we were exhausted after that is an understatement, and we all squeezed into our twin beds and went to bed!
One of the hundreds of pictures I now have of the Eiffel Tower.
The next day, Taylor and Jessie had an early flight, and Alessandro was leaving on a train back to Switzerland, leaving me and Pat in France until our 7am flight on Sunday. Not going to lie, I was antsy with excitement and could not wait to spend another day in France. I woke up to a text message from my Dad telling me to go to Versailles if I can and it was nice outside. I looked out the window, and with blue skies aplenty, hopped on the metro for Versailles with my good friend Rick Steves in my bag to tell me what exactly to do in this city.
It seemed as if the palace was the most important sight so I went there with intentions to spend the three hours he deems necessary to take in it’s majesticness. But when I arrived, not only was it crowded, it cost 13.50 too much for my liking and instead of waiting in line to try to play the “18 and under card,” I took some pictures of the outside, and explored the gardens later on. I do not feel like I missed out on a thing.
I just love this picture of the gates to Versailles
Instead, I took to the sidestreets and explored numerous shops, pastserries, and food stands to really soak up the feeling of the city. I absolutely loved everything about the feeling of Versailles and had the most wonderful meal at a small café near the main plaza. It was a salmon crepe and cidre that was made in France. Such a relaxing time to say the least.
My favorite meal from France!
I headed back to Paris with hopes of making it to the Monmarttan which is the museum with all the Monet paintings (I LOVE Monet) but realized I would be rushing through by the time I got there, so instead, headed to the close Rodin Museum to see the Thinker and some of his other sculptures on display in a garden. Because it was windy outside, some of the gardens were closed, but that meant free entry, and after all, I really only had legitimate interest in seeing the Thinker, but the other sculptures were definitely interesting too.
After, I wanted to go to the Sacre-Coeur church which apparently has beautiful views of the city but after exiting the metro, I realized that I was in a really cool neighborhood. It had a Soho-bohemian vibe with lots of cool boutiques, restaurants, and vintage stores that kept me entertained until I had to go meet up with Pat and his friend from home, Emily, for dinner!
She took us to this hole-in-the wall café where we had the BIGGEST salads that had lettuce, egg (they eat eggs with EVERYTHING), ham, potatoes, cheese, tomatoes, and I want to say that is it? It comes in a huge metal bowl that seems never ending, until you start to see the bottom of the bowl, and wonder how in the world that happened… We also had some sangria which was just as good as some that I have had in Spain. After, we could not resist dessert and I got the chocolate mousse that tasted just like brownie batter in mousse form. I was pretty sure there was no way I was going to make it out of the restaurant afterwards though due to a food coma. However, we rallied and headed for Emily’s friend’s apartment in another neighborhood. Eventually, Pat and me returned to the hotel to pick up our bags (which we just barely managed to claim due to the hotel closing up reception for the night) and caught a taxi to the airport. There, we “slept” from about 3:30-5:30 and were off in the air by 7am and I was back in my bed by 10am. Needless to say the time from about 3am-10am is a pretty big blur consisting of intermittent points of sleeping and being awake in the taxi, on the airport floor, on a chair at the check-in gate, on the plane, and on the metro home.
Funny schedule and not necessarily something I will ever want to repeat, but I am glad that I am safely typing this from my bed and not completely exhausted.
If you cannot tell, I am completely enamored by Paris and am dying to go back as soon as possible. I talked to my parents earlier today, telling them I want to switch out one of my classes next semester for French, they laughed, but I am not quite sure if they realize how serious I really am…
If anything, it will undoubtedly be added to my ever-expanding Bucket List that keeps growing by the day. For now, I shall finish my final imported French pastry and go to bed, dreaming of chocolate crepes and sidewalk cafes.