How is everyone’s week going? I’ve been having a wonderful timing traveling with my family, and squeezing in time at night in the hotel to finish some last assignments for my study abroad programs ,and blogging. Today’s travel recap, as noted in the title, is of my time spent in Paris! Brace yourself for a long one – I was in Paris for nearly a week. If you know me, ever since I read and loved Anna and the French Kiss, I’ve been dying to visit Paris. I had my fingers and toes crossed, in hopes that I would love this city – and love it I did.
This Paris leg of the trip was just me, Cannon, and Jordan. Right when we arrived to the ORY airport in Paris, we used a taxi to get to our hostel. Driving through the streets was already so amazing and beautiful. The buildings looked a bit like Rome and we all got a little nostalgic for Italy. We booked our hostel with St. Christopher’s in Gare Du Nord. When we arrived in the area, we were immediately sketched out. The area itself is pretty run-down and let me tell you, we practically ran to our hostel because we were low-key freaked out. The hostel inside was fine, it was pretty cozy and chill actually; I just wouldn’t recommend this hostel in the Gare Du Nord location.
We chose an all-female dorm and unpacked our things. The beds had curtains so I could tell I was going to be sleeping well! When we finally settled down, it was way past lunch time, and we weren’t sure where to go, especially in Sketchville (our dubbed name for Gare Du Nord), so we ate a lunch/dinner downstairs. St. Christopher’s is attached to a restaurant, Belushi’s, where hostel residents get a 25% discount. I got a croquet madame and it was just what I needed. The restaurant itself definitely screamed “hostel”: socializing with beer pong and a bar in the center of the restaurant.
Then, we took the metro to the center of the city. The underground subway was pretty confusing at first, but thanks to Cannon’s experience with the NYC subway, we were able to find our way. Unbelievably, after our first time using the subway, the ticket officer checked us! We were startled at first but realized what he was asking for. We were a little shook since we hadn’t been in the city for more than 24 hours.
Our first stop in the city? The Arc de Triomphe! There was a ton of people but we managed to squeeze in some pictures in the middle of the street. Then we walked down the famous shopping street, Champs-Elysse! It was glorious; I think that was the moment I realized that I was in love with Paris. We stumbled upon the Laduree flagship store and of course I had to go in and by some! With no shame, I purchased a box of six macarons in a pretty little pink box – it cost 17.50 euros, #RIPmywallet! But they were so good. We ate our macarons outside the shop/restaurant (I had no idea they served actual food) and had a mini photoshoot with them. That concluded our first half-day in Paris!
The next morning, we grabbed breakfast downstairs as part of the hostel deal inside Belushi’s. I ate a simple yogurt with muesli, and ham + cheese on baguette bread (plus coffee, of course). We headed back into the city (and got checked for our tickets AGAIN.) and made our way to the Eiffel Tower! It was actually unbelievable; I’m still shook that I’ve been to the Eiffel Tower. Jordan and Cannon wanted to go up the tower, but I didn’t want to, so while they went up the tower, I made my way along the Seine River. It was the loveliest stroll and having that alone time gave me time to rejuvenate and just think. I walked quite a ways and stumbled upon Petite Palais, which ended up being a free admission museum! I definitely recommend it, since it actually has a lot of things to look at (I love free things – that bang for buck). Afterward, I made my way across Ponte Alexander III bridge, with all of its gold foiling glory.
I started walking back toward the tower and just wandered the streets. It’s so darling everywhere you look, and eventually I decided to enter a coffeeshop for a croissant and a latte. I finally met back up with Cannon and Jordan, and we snapped some pictures in front of the tower. I don’t remember the exact place we went for lunch, but our waiter was quite rude.
We walked around some more after that and saw The American Library in Paris! I had to stop inside. Right when we walked in though, there was a gate that said we had to be library patrons in order to go inside the library – I was disheartened. Luckily, the librarian saw and let me in! He said I could have five minutes inside, bless booklovers, honestly. It was so wonderful seeing American books again.
Then we took the train up to Montmarte, more specifically, to see Sacre Couer. It’s a pretty steep incline, and on the street up to see the basilica, there were a ton of fun shops and restaurants! So many cookie and chocolate shops, I was a little overwhelmed. When we finally made it up to the top, the view was so amazing! Unfortunately, we couldn’t see the Eiffel Tower or the Arc de Triomphe because the cliffside’s trees blocked it, but it’s definitely worth the climb. We went inside the basilica (free entry), and while it was pretty, it’s not the prettiest I’ve seen. We stayed inside for a bit before deciding we wanted to explore the rest of Montmarte.
Montmarte is extremely cute – the winding paths and adorned buildings really got to me! I realized that the Moulin Rouge was also in the area, so we stopped by the red windmill and huge sign. It was around dinner time and I was way more hungry than Jordan and Cannon (a common theme!), so I grabbed dinner by myself at a restaurant near the basilica and then took the train back with Jordan and Cannon to the Arc de Triomphe.
Tonight was the night that I wanted to climb to the top of the arc and see the city during sunset! This was the reason why I didn’t want to go up the Eiffel Tower to see the view of the city, because the Arc does a great job of actually seeing the city with the tower in it, and it was cheaper. However, I couldn’t figure out for the life of me how to get to the Arc! The Arc is sort of an island in the midst of all the cars, and I circled around the entire outside of the Arc before realizing that you had to go underground to get underneath the Arc. I knew it couldn’t be that I had to risk my life by dodging all the cars in order to get to the Arc!
The line to get tickets was pretty long, so I’d advise you to go early. I made my way up right before the sun started setting, and was able to see the city before the sun set, during the sunset, and when it got dark. It was extremely windy up there, and getting colder as the night went on. It was so, so beautiful though, a sight I’ll never forget. Jordan and Cannon joined me right as it got dark. At every hour after the sun sets, the Eiffel Tower has a light show! We saw it at 10pm and it goes off for 5 minutes. It’s so funny because right when the lights start, the crowd gasps in awe. Honestly, this was probably my favorite night!
The next morning, we grabbed a croissant and cappuccino breakfast (cappuccinos are SO expensive in Paris, y’all!). Then we headed to Notre Dame! This one was pretty spectacular inside. What’s cool about Notre Dame is that it is Paris’ kilometer zero: the official centre of the city! Next, we visited Shakespeare and Company, an American bookstore. I had this one on my list and being able to visit it made me so, so happy. It was so cozy inside, with tight corners and cool rooms with armchairs and typewriters. I bit the bullet and bought a non-postcard souvenir, a Shakespeare and Co. canvas tote (it was only 10 euro, okay).
We walked around the area some more and went to the Pantheon. While it wasn’t as grand as the one in Rome, it was still super cool to see Paris’s version of it! Then we walked over to the Luxembourg Garden, a favorite of mine for sure. The garden is huge and so beautiful. It’s really well-kept with the statues, fountains, and flowers.
On our walk to the Louvre, we stopped by the famous love-locks bridge, the Ponte des Arts, only to see that the locks had been removed (they removed it in 2015)! They replaced the bridge’s lining with glass so that people can’t lock locks on the bridge anymore.
We finally made it to the Louvre, and in the Palais du Louvre before you enter the museum, there was a man shooing away – gypsies?? I had been warned of sly gypsy women who would steal your stuff or pretend to be deaf, etc., but didn’t think I’d actually encounter any. Watch out, people!
I wanted to stop by a famous Instagram/blogger spot, Les Deux Plateaux in Le Palais Royal. It was so cute! There was also a fountain there that was nice to relax in before we braced ourselves for the Louvre museum.
Once we got to the Louvre around 5pm, we took abundant pictures (the tippy point pictures) and then entered the museum! At first, we wanted to stay together, but then realized that we wanted to see different things. So we split up! The Louvre was great; I saw multiple paintings by Monet and Van Gogh, but one negative thing I have to say about the Louvre? The map is literally the worst and useless thing ever. It didn’t make sense at all at any point. Around 7:45pm, I made my way to the Mona Lisa, and of course, there was a ton of people. No line, just a mob.
Excuse me for a quick rant: I was almost to the front to see the painting, when a little girl (maybe around age 12ish?) suddenly came up behind me. She said, “excuse me” expecting me to move aside for her. Okay, one: I had been waiting longer than she had. Two: if she was shorter than me, I would have let her go in front of me to see it, but she was actually taller. So, three: no, I’m not going to move! She eventually still shoved her way in front of me by maneuvering around people but I just cannot believe people sometimes. End rant!
Jordan, Cannon, and I left the Louvre at around 8pm and went to dinner. Since it was Jordan’s last night, we decided to have a fancy dinner (and by fancy, I mean fancy). I can’t remember the name of the restaurant, but it was so boujee. Each person’s meal ended up being 36 euros each – I was a little horrified to be spending so much money on a meal, but the meal was actually really delicious and worth every euro. After dinner, we went to go see the Eiffel Tower’s light show from the ground. So beautiful and magnificent!!
The next day was just me and Cannon, and while we really wanted to go to the Versaille Gardens, we didn’t go because we heard it was going to be incredibly crowded and a long wait to just get inside. So we grabbed a quick breakfast downstairs again at Belushi’s and then headed back to Champs-Elysse to the Longchamp store! Cannon wanted to buy the original Longchamp bag from Paris. Then we really took our time strolling down Champs-Elysse, discovering the magnificent-looking Abercrombie & Fitch. Y’all, it had gold-foiled gates and fancy hedges – plus, it was three floors. The clothes inside were actually different and nicer than the ones in the states!
Afterward, we took the metro to Le Marais, which is a super elegant and cute area. Wandering around, I’m pretty sure it’s the arts/LGBTQ+ neighborhood. There was a ton of cute Etsy-like “concept” stores. It took us awhile to figure out what we wanted to eat, but we settled with Creperie Beauborg, which had reasonably-priced savory (and sweet) crepes that were pretty tasty. Then we walked to the library inside The Center Pompidou, and watched the square below with some dance performances. We took the escalators up the Pompidou and were able to get in free because it was during the middle of the day.
Then we wandered over to the Place des Vosges park, the oldest planned square in Paris! It was super relaxing and Cannon and I just napped a bit. To commemorate Cannon’s last night in Paris, we decided we would grab a baguette and wine to eat for dinner and watch the sun go down at Montmarte. We bought salami, a baguette, some garlic cheese, macarons, and wine and brought it to the top of the Sacre Couer again, and sat there for a good 2-3 hours. Cannon left at 4am the next morning, and I was left alone.
Not going to lie, when I woke up the next morning, I felt super lonely. I never mind being alone since I’m pretty introverted, but it was my first time being in a foreign country alone. I had planned out my day alone the night before (thanks to Carly from The College Prepster’s recent trip to Paris). I woke up early and set out to Holybelly, a really cute breakfast place. Their branding is on fleek, I highly appreciated it. I got the iced London Fog and the chia yogurt. A little on the pricier side, but so delicious.
Then, I decided to stop by the Musee de l’Orangerie, since Monet’s Water Lilies are there. Tickets for students outside the EU were around 6 euro I believe! There were two rooms featuring Monet’s work, and it was so gorgeous. I found a stranger to take a photo for me (downside of traveling alone!), because I had to have a picture. I stopped by the giftshop afterward and bought some Monet souvenirs.
I left the museum at around noon (it’s amazing what you can accomplish so early in the day when you’re by yourself!) and went to Shakespeare and Company Coffee. I ordered a bagel sandwich and a cappuccino, picked a bar seat by the window inside, and camped out with my Kindle. I had a great view of the Notre Dame and it was just so pleasant people-watching, sipping on my coffee, and reading. I left at around 3pm and walked toward the Luxembourg Gardens once again. On the way, I stumbled upon The Abbey Bookshop, which I highly recommend for booklovers! It’s a super (like, super) cozy and tight bookshop with American books. I was so in love with all the crammed bookshelves and overall space!
Once I got to the garden, I picked a chair, propped up my feet, leaned back, relaxed, and continued to read my book. I finished my read and then headed over to Le Bouillon Chartier for a really early dinner.
When I got there, I was awkwardly seated with a couple, since the restaurant has no two-person tables. I felt really uncomfortable at first since I was literally third-wheeling their date, but they were really nice and recommended their favorite meal to eat that was the best representation of French cuisine (I had no idea what to order). I ended up ordering a veal/potato combination that ended up being pretty good but full of fatty meat. The prices are really good for a nice Paris restaurant though, so I highly recommend it!
I headed home at around 6:30pm that night since I didn’t want to walk through Gare Du Nord alone by myself at night. I packed and did a lot of blogging before going to bed really early. I headed to the airport really early even though my flight wasn’t until the afternoon.
I spent a really long time in Paris, and I do have to say it’s up there with my favorite cities in Europe. It’s just so me and what with so many coffee shops and bookstores around every corner, I was so comfortable just walking around, knowing I would find something I’d like. And just being able to see the Eiffel Tower was amazing. Ugh, I love Paris so much. I’ll definitely be coming back someday. I knew there was a reason why I named my blog name after the French language! J’adore, Paris, au revoir!