Let me start this out by saying I love travel. Not only that I love it, but I feel like it’s a really important part of who I am. I like exploring new places and new cultures. I like getting beyond my own corner of the world. I recognize that I am lucky and was able to start traveling, both in the States and internationally, at a young age. I really appreciate the fact that I got the exposure to other people and places. I wish everyone was able to have that experience – I truly believe it helps understand both the differences in other people and our fundamental interconnectedness. I try to, at least once a year, get somewhere new.
This year, I went to Paris, France. It wasn’t my first time in Paris, but since the last time I was there was on a high school trip, I had a wholly different appreciation for the city. This was also a special trip because I went on it with my mom and grandma. My mom and I gave this trip to my grandma as her Christmas gift. She had made a comment off-hand to my mom after having heart surgery a few years ago that now that she was getting older, she would never get to see Paris and that was a place she had always wished she had gotten to go. My mom telling me that really stuck with me, and we decided that if we had the ability to make her dream come true, then we would do it. So – off to Paris we went!
My mom and I planned the whole trip online and, to be frank, really did minimal research, so we were really pleased with the hotel we ended up at. We stayed at Citadines Prestige Saint-Germain-des-Pres, which ended up really being an excellent location. Close to the subway, close to several tour bus stops, close to several wonderful restaurants worth sampling, and we literally walked out the front door to see Notre Dame just a few blocks down.
We arrived in Paris in the early afternoon and we didn’t want to make our jet lag any worse, so we decided to do some exploring. Since Notre Dame was so close, we started there. After we toured Notre Dame, we wandered to the Luxembourg Gardens. It started raining almost as soon as we got there, so we quickly ducked into a cafe in the gardens and I enjoyed a lovely rich hot chocolate and a macaron. Once the rain died down, we wandered through the gardens. The next morning, we got on the metro and headed to Montmartre to explore (note: do not venture into the Paris metro unless you can manage a lot of walking and stairs! Yeesh!) Bumming around Montmartre involves walking up lots of hills, so we stopped along the way for a drink at a cafe and to explore shops, the street artists’ both, enjoy a croque monsieur, and pay a visit to the Dali museum. We toured Sacre Couer and on the way back down stopped for a glass of wine before ending up outside the Moulin Rouge.
After a nap to recover from all the walking in Montmarte, we went out and go dinner, then wandered along the Seine. The sky was this beautiful deep sapphire blue – it was a lovely night to be out walking around!
The next morning, we were off to the Louvre, which was also walkable from our hotel. We stopped on the way for breakfast at a cafe, and after spending some time taking in all the art, did a little shopping nearby, stopping at Fragonard for some wonderful perfumes and La Maison du Chocolat for some sweet treats (the champagne truffles were a hit in my office.)That evening, we went on a Bateaux-Mouches dinner boat cruise. It was actually timed pretty perfectly, as it started raining while we were on the boat, but it did preclude me from getting a lot of great photos. Oh well – enjoyed the food, wine, and champagne, and definitely the company!
We were up bright and early the next day so I could go to the Catacombs. This was my only “must see” for this trip. It was well worth the 90 minute wait in line, the 130 spiral steps down, and the 83 spiral steps back up (my cardiologist would be proud). After the catacombs, I met up with my mom and grandma for some nutella crepes. Then we took a hop-on, hop-off bus and checked out Les Invalides and Place de la Concorde.
That night for dinner, we wandered down to a pizza place on our street. I wouldn’t have expected to find amazing pizza in Paris, but I was wrong. I got the four cheese pizza, which had really unique cheeses on it, to include Camembert. After pizza we wandered down to this fruit bar that I had been eying since our first day and got great cocktails and dessert.
Our last full day in Paris, we got back on the hop-on, hop-off bus and checked out the Paris landmarks, the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. We didn’t go up in the Eiffel Tower (three hour wait!) but we enjoyed walking around the park around the tower. We also just did some wandering around, which gave me the chance to just snap a few random shots of Parisians out and about in the city. We finished our day with dinner at a neighborhood restaurant, La Rose de France, which was in a small square, a bit hidden behind the buildings in the area. It was near another restaurant we had discovered and loved, Restaurant Paul. I think one of the best things we did on this trip was not plan our meals ahead, because it gave us the chance to discover some wonderful places on our own, just based on our mood.
All in all, this was an amazing trip – definitely hard to leave and get back to real life. I’m glad I had the chance to have this experience with my mom and grandma! What is your dream place to visit?