A couple of years ago, Roman and I did a 10 day trip across the pond. We started in London for a few days before hopping on a plane to Paris. Both London and Paris, were unseasonably warm, hitting the high 20s consistently during our stay. Unfortunately, we had packed for the usual April temperatures, which meant our luggage had a lot of unnecessary clothing, and we could have packed and carried a lot less!
We arrived at Charles de Gaulle in the afternoon, checked into our hotel and immediately went out walking. Our hotel was conveniently located in the 7th arrondissement, about a 15 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower. 20 arrondissements (administrative districts) make up the city of Paris, and they are set in a spiral (snail shell-like) shape. That first night, we walked to the Eiffel Tower, and then onto Avenue des Champs Elysées. We had dinner at L’Alsace, which had mediocre service, but delicious (and overpriced) food. After dinner we strolled towards L’Arc de Triomphe. It was incredibly jarring to see the number of refugees on the busy street; very disheartening. We popped into a Franprix for some snacks before going to bed.
The next morning started on Île de la Cité. We bought two-for-one admission tickets to see both La Conciergerie and Sainte-Chappelle. La Conciergerie, is an old prison now turned museum, and right next door to the very beautiful Sainte-Chappelle. There are barely any visitors, and the two-for-one ticket means you can skip the super long line to visit the popular Sainte-Chappelle.
We walked through la Marche aux Fleurs et aux Oiseaux and then took in Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris from the outside. The line to get in was too long for us, and instead we hopped over to Île Saint-Louis for some treats at Berthillon Glacier.
We got food from the touristy L’as du fallafel and walked over to Place des Vosages to eat. I loved all the parks in Paris, and I loved how into relaxation Parisians are!
I had just read Paula McLain’s Paris Wife a few months before this trip, so our second full day was spent visiting a lot of Hemingway’s haunts. We started with Quai des Grands Augustins, where he would visit booksellers. We visited the original site of Shakespeare and Company and then located the two flats where Hemingway lived with his first two wives. We ended off the walking tour by visiting the popular Shakespeare & Company Cafe.
We walked through the Jardin de Luxembourg and past the Pantheon. We popped into Candelaria for some tacos. There’s a speakeasy in the back, but it wasn’t open when we visited. After eating, we walked along Canal Saint-Martin. We eventually made our way back to Palais Garnier just as they closed.
Unable to see the interior of the Opera National de Paris, we popped into Galeries Lafayette before going back to the hotel for the night.
On our third full day in Paris, we actually had a photoshoot planned with a local photographer. We woke up super early to get ready and meet up with Roxanne. We took photos around the Louvre, Palais-Royale, Place du Carrousel, Jardin des Tuileries and Place de la Concorde. We ended the shoot near Cafe Kitsune and then ambled back through all those sites to take them in at a more leisurely pace.
We had other plans for the fourth day, but we woke up late, so instead we visited Montemarte to see the Basilique du Sacre-Coeur. We made the mistake of exiting the train and walking towards the stairs. Once you start on the stairs, there’s no end until the very top. If walking up stairs is difficult for you, please make sure to go to the elevator from the train platform, because it’s a very long climb to the top!
We had lunch at Bouillon Chartier. I tried escargot for the first time and really enjoyed it! We then visited some shops, including Sezane (I still wish I had bought that t-shirt for 50€……). We had eclairs from L’Eclair de Génie (so good!) and stopped at Forum des Halles (now called Westfield Forum des Halles).
We made our way to the very Instagrammable Rue Cremieux. There were several others taking photos along this street, including one group that was flying a drone. I love Instagram, but if you’re taking photos in front of peoples’ homes, please be mindful that this is private property and moreover, someone else’s home and be respectful of their space and their privacy. We walked through Jardin des Plantes before going back to the hotel.
On our last full day in Paris, we again woke up early, but this time, to visit Musée Rodin, which has to be the highlight of my entire European adventure. I absolutely adore Rodin’s work — I fell in love when I saw some pieces at the Met in 2015. This was the one place that was a must visit and it was beyond my highest hopes!
We then walked through Parc du Champ de Mars to see the Eiffel Tower for the hundredth time. I became obsessed with the thing, trying to spot it when we went out, gazing on it from our hotel window each day. We visited the Jardins du Trocadéro which has to be packed with tourists at all times! We had packed a picnic to eat while the Eiffer Tower lit up at sunset, but there were still several hours to go, so we visited Musee d’Art Mondern de Paris.
We also checked out the Petit Palais before finally going back to the Jardins du Trocadéro and setting up our picnic. I made the mistake of thinking that the Eiffel tower lights up as soon as the sun sets. This is incorrect. So while the sunset time was 7:30pm, and we had been out there for an hour and half eating our snacks, starting to get chilly, it didn’t become dark until past 9pm. The tower does the sparkly bit the first 5 minutes of every hour it’s lit, except the first hour it lit up, it took 10 minutes to light the tower completely. It’s a gradual brightness. which means I never got to see the sparkling of the Eiffel Tower up close. By 9:10pm, Roman was past ready to get back to the hotel and warm up.
The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel and checked out. We made our way to the airport and headed home!
Looking back, London was spent eating and drinking tea, while Paris was spent eating desserts and feeling like I was in a cotton candy dream. To keep it real, there were tense emotions between friends and between Roman and I peppered into this trip — that’s just life. Everything isn’t always beautiful. Travelling really tests any relationship (including the one you have with yourself) and if you have the opportunity to travel, do it, because there’s nothing like experiencing who you are when you’re somewhere else.