Weekend Wanderer Vol. 4 - Paris, France
Ahh..Paris. My sweet, sweet Paris. You were everything I dreamt you would be, plus more. My four day weekend was not enough to truly capture your magic. Believe me when I say, I will return soon.
I checked another yet another item off of my bucket list this spring when I visited the endearing city of Paris, France. I was filled with excitement from the moment I booked my plane ticket. I told myself, "Brit, this shxt really about to happen - you're about to explore one of the most beloved cities in the world." This hyped me up even more. I patiently waited for the day to arrive and brushed up on my French in the meantime (I must say, two years of high school French came in pretty handy). I was ready to (temporarily) live the life of a Parisian.
And then, that day came. I arrived in Paris on a late Thursday afternoon. I was set to meet my friend at our AirBnB in the 17th Arrondissement and so I made my way to the Le Bus Direct bus stop - 13 euros got me to the center of Paris. From there, just one underground metro would get me to my destination. I wanted to capture every moment of my journey. It's something so very special about the city, what the French would call a certain je ne sais qua. I wouldn't compare it to any other that I've visited and to be honest, I don't think I could.
I arrived in the borough that I would be staying in, home to the famous Moulin Rouge. The streets were lively, filled with boulangeries, épiceries, and restaurants. There was even a beauty supply store in walking distance to my flat. This was a pleasant surprise for someone who had been staying in Milano with nothing of that sort in miles. I was intrigued by the diversity that filled the streets. People from all of over the world enjoying the beautiful weather in a beautiful city. I was ready to drop my bags off and explore.
My flat was small, but cute and equipped with all that I needed for my stay. It was just enough for my friend and me, so we were very pleased. Our hosts set us up in our space and gave us some tips, such as when to NOT to travel on the train if we don't want to feel like sardines in a can. That little bit of information was helpful (the metro gets jam packed during busy hours).
After getting our lives together, we took a walk over to the Moulin Rouge. We opted out of seeing a show and admired its exterior instead. Just as it has appeared in the movie, the "red mill" was hard to miss. We captured the moment and then continued our walk around the neighborhood.
We ended day one with a Parisian dinner (which included plenty of wine) and got to semi-early, we had an early start planned for day two.
Our first stop on day two was a mom-and-pop style bakery just around the corner from our flat. Two vegan croissants for less than a euro each was all it took to make this my go-to stop for the next few mornings. They were so fresh, flaky, soft and gave me my entire life! A quick stop at a corner épicerie to grab some fresh fruit to get us between meals was necessary before heading to the metro to take on our first excursion.
On the list for the day was the Latin Quarters to see Notre Dame, Le Panthéon, Boulevard Saint-Michel & Place Saint-Michel, Place de l'Odeon, plus more. My favorite stop here was Eglise Saint-Etienne du Mont, a cathedral which held the very steps where Woody Allen was picked up and taken on a trip into the past in the movie Midnight in Paris. After seeing it in person, I can see why the attraction was chosen for such a prominent turn in the movie. All of this exploring made us hungry, so we found ourselves a little creperie and had a very Parisian lunch.
Soon after, we headed over to Musee du Louvre, which turned out to be the highlight of my day. It's beauty, inside and out, is indescribable. Easily the most beautiful museum I've been to in my life. I found the exhibition to be intriguing, one of which focused on Ancient Egypt and perfect for me since I'm lowkey and Egyptologist. But the architecture of the building itself was the most stunning thing to look at. I took my time, making sure I admired its true beauty. Hall after hall, I fell more in love with it. After finally seeing the world famous Mona Lisa painting by Leonardo da Vinci, we decided to view one more exhibit before leaving the museum.
It was the end of the day and dinner was in order, so we headed back to our arrondissement for something a little more ethnic. Indian it was! Vegan everything for me, extra spicy please. It was on point. Even took a doggie bag. I was ready for a good night's rest before another long, eventful day.
When I say, Paris got better each day, I mean it REALLY got better each day. After picking up a few croissants at my favorite corner boulangeries, we headed to the area of Champs-Elysees for some more sight-seeing. We managed to make it there before the afternoon wave of tourists poured in. Took a few pics at Pont Alexandre III and even did a little shopping before heading to our main destination for the day, the Eiffel Tower. All around the area, we had a view of the tower, which only built the excitement for the picnic we planned to have beside it.
A few hours of exploring Champs, we decided it was time for lunch and grabbed a few baguette sandwiches, some fruit and a bottle of Rose then headed to the Eiffel for the moment we had both been waiting for. It was just as gorgeous as the pictures had shown, in fact, even more than that. We grabbed a space below a tree adjacent to the tower and enjoyed our lunch in Champ de Mars (the park). The vibes all around us were full of love and freedom. All was grateful to be in the presence of such beauty on such a perfect day. We read some facts about the tower as we enjoyed our baguettes and wine. Then decided it was time for a Nutella filled crepe from a local stand, and it was EVERYTHING.
Lunch gave us just enough fuel to climb to the second level of the tower. The line was long but well worth the wait. Although we didn't make it to the top of the Eiffel, where we landed gave us a beautiful view of all of Paris. The city is much larger than I had expected! We even made a friend in the process, a recent grad from Atlanta who had been backpacking for about a month. We exchanged some facts we had learned about Paris and got a glimpse into each other's lives. It was a beautiful afternoon, despite the heat. One that I will never forget.
After such a large lunch, we opted for a lighter dinner of fruit and nuts (plus more wine) and decided to see what the Parisian nightlight was about. Some searching found us 21 Sound Bar in the city's 11th Arrondissement. The DJ played a mix of Carribean, hip-hop and even a little R&B = everyone was vibing out and having a good time. By the grace of God and a lovely little night bus, we found our ways home and prepared ourselves for our final day in Paris.
By day four, we were beaten down! Going out the night before plus the 47,000 steps we took to the mid-level of the Eiffel Tower combined left us feeling weak. But this did not stop us from taking on our last day in France. On the agenda for the day: Château de Versailles. Getting there wasn't as difficult as we had expected, two train rides and fifty minutes was all it took to reach the beautiful sub-urb of Paris. We decided to get a Versailles All-Access "Pass" which gave us access to the palace, les jardins, and Marie Antoinette's estate.
We started with the gardens. This was personally my favorite part of the day. Getting lost in the mazes reminded me of one of my favorite childhood movies, Alice in Wonderland. It required a lot of walking, we must've burned every calorie that we took in that weekend in those few short hours. But it was so worth it! It wasn't long before we burned enough energy to need lunch, so we found a cafe in the gardens to grab a few baguettes and a fruit juice for me.
We planned our next move as we eat. Since the line for the palace was still likely insane, we decided to make our way to Marie-Antoinettes estate, which consisted of its own jardin, farm, a tower and of course her château. It was all beautiful, she lived just as royalty should. I was particularly taken by the livestock that lived and thrived in the farm. Countless employees still had the estate running as it had been in antiquity. I appreciated this.
By the time we found our way out of the estate, we had a short amount of time to trek back to the palace and see it for all its greatness. We had to put a little pep in our step, but we made it! And guess what? No line. It was the best way to do it, in my opinion. The palace was lavish, many of its areas were closed off to the public but you didn't need to see it all to understand how French royalty once lived. It was lovely, to say the least, and we were happy we pushed ourselves to get through it all.
It was time for our final meal and, once again, we opted for something ethnic. African food 😍 You know this made my life! I had a Malian fish dish with plantains and I want it again every time I think of it. I even took some veggie patties to go for my trip back the next day.
Before we could end our trip, it was a must to see the Eiffel Tower once again at night. We made our way over on the metro and made it right at midnight. And to our surprise, the Eiffel put on a little light show for us. Five minute of gleaming glory was all it took to make me confirm that I had fallen in love with Paris. We shared our appreciation for the entire trip before heading back on the final train for the night. It was time to retire. We had a long weekend and were ready to finally have some rest.
All-in-all, I must say that out of all of my destinations this spring Paris is easily my favorite. Not only because of its beauty and diversity (compared to Italy) but because of its enchanting history. It was a place I can see myself visiting over-and-over again and even living there for a while. So until next time, a bientot Paris ❤️