Hello! I am getting really excited to share more about our May adventures on the blog. I am going to break the posts up into cities OR days, depending on how much there is to write about. We traveled a total of 17 days, but we stayed in most locations for a few days at least. We found that giving more time to settle in and just relax, made our trip more like vacation and less hectic. It was so restful and relaxing that we didn’t always have to run to catch a flight/train or hurry up and see everything in one day.
I will have to share more about our Airbnb experiences in another post but I can say that renting an apartment instead of a hotel was a great experience and really allowed us to enjoy our stay abroad.
Without further ado I would like to share our first city we visited:
Paris! Days 1-4
Paris is a difficult city to describe; I believe that it impresses each person in a different way. I am sure that I could find so many quotes from poetic people talking about its beauty and charm, and also others talking about poverty and prejudices, I think that Paris is an individual experience for each person visiting and living there.
Our experience was a good one and we really tried to slow down and take the roads less traveled, if there was something interesting but not on the “best places” list we made sure to explore it and we felt like we enjoyed those things more because they were truly “discovered”. Paris was a magical city to me.
We walked 14 miles that first day in Paris, we just set out to walk the river and ended up at the Eiffel tower. We had hot chocolate from Angelina’s; this place was amazing and very busy so go early if you want to beat the line. This was a favorite spot for the actress Audrey Hepburn; the chocolate is so rich so I see why.
We ate some amazing Italian for dinner and then spent the night in our Best Western hotel room.
*Side note: our hotel was in a great location and was reasonably priced, the breakfast was filling and really gave us a great start to our day, plus the view from our window was very Parisian*
The first day we wandered and didn’t really put pressure on ourselves to visit any one place or stay out late, which was good because that night was the presidential election in Paris and thousands of people crowded the streets and we didn’t get mixed in any mobs or riots. *
We purchased a metro pass and rode to all the further destinations, this was such a great way to get around. This was good buy at €12.85 per person
We took the metro to the station Cité, and walked to Notre-dame. What a beautiful sight! The lines to get into the cathedral were long but fast-moving. The line to climb to the top and bell tower was out the door and wrapped around the building. We made a plan to visit again in the morning, early.
In the meantime we purchased the 48 hour museum pass, which costs 48€ per pass, and then went to visit St Chappelle – this was a grand chapel with stained glass that gleamed in the sunlight.
Next we visited Conciergerie- a 14-century palace and prison. This was the prison where Marie Antoinette was held prisoner before her execution October 16 1793, there was so much history in this building and plenty of reading material.
Our next stop was right across the river, Shakespeare and co. this bookstore is a must see when in Paris.
Between the books, the out-of-tune piano and Aggie the cat, this place was a haven for all things inspiring.
We walked through and enjoyed the atmosphere and then went next door to their coffee shop and got a latte. Along the way to the pantheon we stopped and got a crepe from a restaurant window, so delicious!
Next we visited the Pantheon and marveled at the murals and explored the crypt.
We even located the tombs of Madam Curie and her husband!
It was so silent in the crypt and we wandered around reading the inscriptions and just enjoying the history and art.
On our bucket list for Paris my top item was a picnic at the Eiffel tower lawn, complete with wine and cheese.
We bought all of our food from the local grocery and fresh fruit from a nearby stand, so delicious! I used my coat as a blanket and we sat under a shady tree and relaxed. I loved the afternoon hours we spent just sitting and enjoying the stunning view of the tower and watching other people enjoying their lives around us. I am a people watcher and we did notice a lot of people just taking it slow and no one was stuck on their phones like we tend to be.
I highly recommend a picnic near the Eiffel tower and grab a strawberry crepe along the river for dessert.
We climbed 284 spiral pattern steps of the Arch de Triumphe, which got us to the top of the historical building.
The top of the arch gives you a beautiful view of Paris and it was worth the climb.
The next day we got up early and went to Notre Dame so we would be first in line. We had about ten people in front of us but as the opening time get closer the line behind us tripled. This was a challenging hike up, the total steps add up to 387 and again they are spiral style without much space to stop and rest. They did take each group of people up one section at a time, so that at least kept the climb bearable. My favorite thing about Notre dame was the gargoyles and how they seemed to gaze out at the city in a timeless manner.
If you are physically able to walk up to the very top I highly recommend it! The views from the top are so stunning and well worth the workout. I joke about walking up those steps and knowing the true meaning of the word “trudge”, my short legs didn’t make it any easier.
We booked a Seine River Cruise for that evening, it was so peaceful to float along the river and learn from our tour guide different fun facts about Paris.
We floated past the Eiffel tower before our tour boat turned around, at night the tower is shining beacon of light! every hour at night until 11 pm they have a “lights show” so I would try to plan a late night on the half hour boat cruise, so you can see the show from the water. Sorry for the low quality photos but at night and while moving it was difficult to take pictures.
What trip to Paris would be complete without a visit to the Louvre? None! We rushed through the Louvre seeking out the Mona Lisa portrait and marveled at the intricate maze that was the Louvre.
On the last full last day we headed to the père Lachaise cemetery. I really like walking around and reading the old grave markers, this sounds creepy but it was actually very interesting to see the monuments and decorations that graced the graves.
My introduction to French music was the singer Edith Piaf, a singer born in Paris in 1915 and who had a very rough childhood and later life. I really like music from the 20s and 30s, so she was the perfect mix of singer and storyteller. I don’t know French so often I would listen to the song in French and then listen to the same version in English. Edith is buried in père Lachaise cemetery and I wanted to see her grave while we were in Paris. We arrived at the cemetery about 1/2 hour before closing and rushed to find her grave, unfortunately they started closing the cemetery 10 min early and we got to within 20 feet of her grave and the attendant gave us orders to leave. We tried to beg him to let us see her grave, without speaking French and so close to closing time we probably came across as pitiful and yet he still wouldn’t allow us to continue. As we disappointingly marched back to the metro I started thinking about this missed opportunity to visit Edith Piaf’s grave and realized, when you remember someone you love you don’t remember them in the grave, you remember them alive and doing the things they love. In the streets of Paris I had often caught the sound of music she had sung and I was happy to see a lot of the Paris that she knew and sang about. This was my way of honoring her, not visiting a cold grave. This thought made me feel better and I was content with having a crazy story about the time we got thrown out of a Paris cemetery.
Now I know this post has been all over the place but that is what our trip was all about, wandering all over! If you’ve made it this far in the post thank you for reading and I hope you have enjoyed seeing a small part of Paris with us.
Have the best day and hope to have another blog post up soon!
*People have asked us why we travel when things are so politically uneasy and there are so many acts of terror in this world, and all I can say is “if we live in fear of our lives and restrict our travels because something might happen, we are letting them win, and we are at risk of an act of terror no matter where we are. We are choosing to take the risk and travel, because that is what makes us happy at this time” We never felt unsafe the whole time we were abroad, but we did make sure to not stay out too late or go down abandoned streets, using common sense of course.