[ Find my Paris vlog at the end of this post! ]
Paris… the city of lights… the city of love!! To be frank, Paris wasn’t on my bucket list… (this is what happens when you’ve got no fashion sense and a low wine tolerance) but when the opportunity arose for me to travel to France, I did research and learned that perhaps I would love this city after all ;)
Following a work trip in Switzerland, I took a 3-hour train ride to Paris and met my mom and sister for five days of cheese, wine, art, and girl talk. The last time I traveled with my mom was probably 15 years ago and so this was a very special trip for us :)
Our main mode of transportation during our trip was walking. We purchased ~20 subway tickets to get to and from different neighbourhoods but most our day was spent wandering around both both and little streets by foot. I knew my favourite thing about this city would be the “getting lost.” Every nook and corner of this city has breathtaking architecture and character. You can almost imagine what it would’ve been like centuries ago. I really, really loved weaving around the Seine River, noticing the details on all the buildings, and not seeing any skyscrapers :) So refreshing from Toronto!
We stayed at a cute little Airbnb close to the main Champ Elysees area. We were a 10-minute walk from the Arc du Triomphe (but also smack middle of all the recent riots!). Despite it being a heavy tourist and shopping area (which I would typically avoid), I quite liked staying here. It was near the Seine and was walkable to the Eiffel Tower and all the museums. We kept our schedule pretty loose, with some key neighbourhoods I wanted to check out. Honestly, the hardest thing about traveling without Alex (my Type A hubby) was having to do all the planning!! It’s crazy how we can adapt and rise to the challenge when needed ;) And it was definitely needed with my sis and mom (grr).
Okay, can we talk about the art?! We were able to visit Musée d’Orsay, Musée de l'Orangerie, and THE LOUVRE! I’ve heard many people say that these museums were overrated and I think they’re bonkers. They are out of their minds!! Musée de l'Orangerie had a beautiful skylit room with Monet’s Water Lillies and I got to see my first van Gogh paintings ever at Musée d’Orsay. The Louvre was in and of itself a masterpiece and we got to say hi to Mona ;) I don’t know if it’s because we visited off-season, but all three museums weren’t very busy. We spent ~3 hours at the Louvre (mom’s orders!) and thoroughly enjoyed it... my feet gave out before my eyes. I still can’t believe I got to go to the Louvre!!
Tip: Musée d’Orsay and Musée de l’Orangerie sell a 2-for-1 admission ticket which saved us around 30 euros. Also… Musée de l’Orangerie is located in a beautiful garden (Jardin des Tuileries). The French were busting out the patio chairs and enjoying naps on the grass… in March!
Before our trip, I had a list of areas I wanted to visit. My favourite neighborhoods (IN ORDER!) were Saint Germain (honestly, something about it… maybe it’s because I found an unparalleled baguette and cheese shop here), Le Marais (had a hipster vibe with tons of vintage shopping), the Latin Quarter (tons of cute cafes and had a university city feel!), and Montmatre (a bit too busy for me but hey, we met a sweet Quebecois barista here and had gelato by Sacre Coeur).
We did a fair share of walking into random churches, thanks to mom (though some were not so random, like the Notre Dame and Sainte Chappelle). The stained glass at Sainte Chappelle came with a price (10 euro admission for each person) but I’ve never seen anything like it. Do it. And Notre Dame was packed full of tourists but we still were able to take our time admiring all the artwork and writings... (plus some praying time actually!).
On our first night, we took a boat tour around Paris. For 14 euros a person, these open boats took us on an 70-minute cruise up and down the Seine River. Though it was a bit chilly, I think I preferred the evening ride because a) we did a lot of walking around the city during the day but not at night, so it gave us a completely new perspective, and b) the boats were way emptier than the day time cruises. Starting off our trip with this ride also gave us a good lay of the land for the remainder of the trip. The cruise took us all the way east to Le Marais (such a cool neighborhood!) and as west as the Eiffel Tower.
I loved the Eiffel Tower wayyyy more than I thought I would. Especially at night. VERY especially at night. I got chills. Ugh, I need to take Alex here.
I couldn’t go to Paris and not have a Michelin Star dinner! We chose to go to Les Fables de la Fontaine (just a quick Google search of what was walkable) and had their simple, three-course dinner. It was anything but simple!! I’ve been a bit spoiled with food (c’mon, you can’t live downtown Toronto and not eat your way around it!) but this was somethin’ else! I don’t think I’m a food snob or expert, but the flavours were unique and I was blown away by the ingredients that were mixed together. Presentation, service, wine list… perfecto! One star from Michelin, five stars from little ol’ me…
Paris was lovely. I felt so blessed to be able to travel with my mom and sister (no offense to my hubby or dad or brother… love you, men). Especially as adults! No fussy itinerary and just pure soaking in the vibe of the city. My mom is a slight germaphobe and not an outdoorsy kinda gal but we had picnics that involved unwashed fruit (okay, sue me people) and it was glorious!!
Two major takeaways for me: 1) The baguettes in Paris are NOT overrated. They are something magical. And 2) French fashion was inspiring. The colours, the prints, the patterns… something about it! We didn’t do any shopping on this trip but definitely something to consider for the next time… ;)
And there definitely will be a next time, Paris!