FREE TO TRAVEL: Paris Edition

Chris and I just recently booked a trip to go back to Europe this fall, and it’s prompted me to look back on our last European vacation. Reminiscing today on our time in Paris.

I have wanted to go to Paris for, well, ever since I could remember. In my mind, it was the land of ballet, fashion, and the best food ever. I took French in high school (to my mother’s chagrin), and couldn’t wait to go someday. At one point I tried to study abroad for a summer there, and it didn’t work out. When we decided to travel to Europe for the first time, it was a non-negotiable to go.

Needless to say, my expectations were sky-high.

Here are my favorite highlights from the trip, and some tips for those planning to visit soon.

Musee D’Orsay

I love impressionism, and the D’Orsay has an entire floor of it. I legit teared up when I saw Degas’ the dancers series. It’s simply incredible to behold so many works of art that I’ve grown up hearing about; you cannot comprehend the true essence of each work until it’s right in front of you.

The locks are no longer permanent, but the Lovers Bridge is near the D’Orsay and really neat to see!

Saint Chappelle

Notre Dame was cool and impressive, but Saint Chappelle was even more breathtaking. Why?
The stained glass. It is an entire chapel of stained glass. It’s a color explosion in the best way.

See what I mean?

Versailles

It may take a full day out of your visit, but go to versailles. It’s absolutely worth it! Tour the mansion, and then pack a lunch for the gardens. The gardens in themselves are worth the trip and it’s incredible to think this was once someone’s backyard.

One of the Princess’ apartments. 

The garden… Can you imagine?

Louise Cafe (and Escargots)

The best French meal I had was at Louise Cafe; it’s tucked away near the Louvre, but it had a fair amount of locals. The owner came out at one point to make sure we were enjoying our meal (unprecedented French hospitality) and was as kind as could be. Even though I speak a little French, the wait staff was comfortable speaking in English which made us feel more comfortable/welcome.

Oh, right, the food. I tried the boeuf bourguignon and the escargots. Both were amazing – the beef tender and flavorful, and the escargots light and buttery. I haven’t had escargots so delicious since that night and can’t wait to return.

The Seine and gorgeous architecture. 

The Ballet

I still can’t believe I talked Chris into taking me to the Ballet, but I’m so glad I did. While I’ve heard the Palais Garnier is a gorgeous place to see the ballet, ours happened to be at the Opera Bastille. It’s one of the only modern buildings I remember seeing in Paris. We saw Sleeping Beauty and it was incredible – a once in a lifetime experience that I will cherish forever. To be in Paris, with some serious ballet-goers was a real treat, but don’t be late – we made it by seconds and they won’t let you in if you miss the final bell!

Tips

  • Don’t waste your time at the Louvre. Go see the Mona Lisa and be done with it.
  • Visit the hole in the wall pastry shops – all of them. It was our motto that every time we saw a pastry shop, we tried. And don’t forget to eat a crepe a day – you’re walking 25k steps, so you might as well. I still don’t regret it.
  • The Eiffel Tower is absolutely an incredible sight to behold; grab yourself a bottle of wine and a couple of pastries beforehand and enjoy the park with spectacular views of the tower.

More pics:

Croque Monsieur – mmmm.

Cutest guy I’ve ever seen on the subway. 😉

Just some of the flowers at the Tuileries Gardens.

There’s not anything I would have really done differently during this visit. I think what I loved most about Paris wasn’t so much the sights we go to see (though they were awesome), but the sounds and incredible culture of the city. Art, old, new and edible, is literally everywhere.

Have you been to Paris? What was your favorite thing? 

Cheers to checking things off the bucket list!

Check out my recap of Amsterdam here. 

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