Ah Paris…the city that lived up to (and surpassed) its hype! I had the wonderful opportunity to explore this amazing city with my aunt. Between her French & my Spanish/faint memories of high school French class, we were able to make our way around this enchanting city, stopping to see some incredible sites and eat some amazing food along the way!
After traveling the world for an entire semester and seeing some really cool places, I can honestly say Paris was the most charming (I saved the best for last). It was everything I expected it to be…classy French accents, amazing pastries, outside cafes…it felt almost as if my entire weekend there was a dream. I can’t really explain it…I’ve seen pictures and movies and paintings of the city before, but nothing quite compares to being in it.
The weekend we visited was actually the weekend after the police shooting happened on Champs Elysees. The area where it happened was the first area we explored. There was a large memorial set up, lots of reporters and lots and lots of military/police on the streets. You could feel that the city was grieving. Additionally, we also felt some of the excitement/tension surrounding the election that happened that Sunday. It was cool to be in France during such an important time. We’re still not sure if this was election related or not, but at 3am on our first night we were woken up to persistent car horns in the streets that would.not.stop.
After walking down the Champs Elysees (and stopping to buy some tea!) we made our way to the Louvre. Again, I’ve seen pictures, but wow. Being there was something else! I was obsessed with the triangles outside. Also, please note the reasonable amount of people waiting in line in this photo. I was expecting Paris to be like Rome in that I was expecting lots of tourists. However, I found the city to be quite the opposite. I did not for a second feel overwhelmed by tourists and I think I was only offered a selfie stick once!
Another favorite was definitely the lock “bridge”. I put it in quotes because they actually had to remove the railings from the bridge because it was getting too heavy! Nonetheless, it was still incredibly cool to see! I loved how many people’s stories were on that “bridge” and it was cool looking at all of the individual locks. We saw one with the photo of a couple where one of them was scratched out. My aunt remarked how sad it was that someone would do that…I said, “maybe they got divorced and one of them came back and did it!”
We then made our way to one of my favorite stops, Shakespeare and Company! This was a bookstore owned by Sylvia Beach that I was learning about in my Hemingway class at school! Writers from “the lost generation” would gather here and Beach helped some of them publish their works. While the original shop actually burnt down, this one still seemed like a step back in time. It was everything a good book store should be, complete with creaky wooden floors, overstocked shelves, a piano, quotes on the walls and a cat. Definitely my happy place! 🙂
Our second day was filled with churches! Our first stop was Sainte Chapelle. I saw pictures of the church before going but nothing compared to being in it. It’s quite a small space but is made up entirely of stained glass. My pictures just couldn’t do it justice!!! Standing there in the middle of the church made you feel so many things. The colors and light were magnificent and I felt like I was a jewel in the most splendid jewelry box!
Next, we visited Notre Dame! We caught the end of mass and walked into the organ playing the exit hymn. It was so cool to have the music accompanying our visit! I was really obsessed with the chandeliers here…I don’t know, they just had such a gothic vibe!
Then came what I had been waiting for….THE EIFFEL TOWER!!!! I don’t know man, this structure just had me enamored. I first saw it peeking through the buildings when we were at the Louvre and got way too overly excited. Our first day was like a game of I Spy, I’d see it peeking through at various points but standing right in front of it was such an experience! I don’t know why but I just think it is so beautiful!!
From the ground it was great, but going up was a totally different story. I’ve never really been afraid of heights, so it did’t cross my mind that I’d be nervous going up….but once we got up to the first level two things popped into my mind…
- There are way too many people up here, what if we all needed to get down at once?
- THIS IS NOT A STABLE STRUCTURE OMG IT HAS SO MANY HOLES
I was able to shut my fears up, but speaking them out loud totally freaked out my aunt! Let’s just say we were both very relieved to be back on solid ground! 🙂
Back on the ground, all was good!
We then took a much less anxiety provoking river cruise and got to learn a bit more about all the places we had seen and visited. My favorite part of the river cruise was towards the end when we got to a certain place along the river filled with people dancing. Apparently the area was divided into little sections and each section was a different style of dance! Seeing all the people dancing along the Seine was magical.
So I know what you’re thinking, “Geeze Rach that was great, but, um, WHAT ABOUT THE FOOD!?” Don’t worry. Food gets its own section!
It’s true people, Paris has some of the best food in the world! We had our first real Parisian meal right near our hotel at Le Chalet du 8eme! We both got a dinner crepe and a dessert crepe and they were SO SO SO SO good! Mine was filled with cheese and had apples and salad on top and my aunt’s was filled with mushrooms. De-lish!
The next morning we had a traditional French breakfast of omelettes, croissants, fruit and the best french bread. After months of Spanish fried eggs, it was so nice to have an omelette (and an amazing one at that!!!) How do they get their eggs so fluffy!?
Our second lunch was also amazing, though not very french! A friend recommended we check out the Institut de Mode Arabe, or the Arab World Institute. Since we have Lebanese heritage we were very familiar with the items on the menu, but they still blew us away! In particular, we loved the yogurt dipping sauce for the grape leaves! Dessert was also a life changer. We got rose ice cream (rose was a big theme of our trip after we found rose tea and rose macaroons!) which was just incredible! So light and delicate but so tasty.
And with that we say “Au Revoir” to Paris!! I’ll definitely be back soon! Next up, Holy Week in Spain (long overdue, but better late than never, am I right?)