After a 3am start and nearly 10 hours of traveling with several delays we finally arrived in Paris early Monday afternoon (Day 3). We walked up the steps of the Metro and it was another moment like London, except this time we were directly greeted by the sight of the Louvre. Our hostel was literally around the corner and the staff even changed the 5 of us (my friend Jordan joined us in Paris, casual) from an 8-person room to a 6-person room with our own bathroom, Parisian courtyard view, plus free French breakfast (= baguettes). They also never assigned anyone to our empty 6th bed either, so we ended up with an actually nice, totally private dorm in Central Paris (for dirt cheap!!). With the rest of the day ahead of us we had our first meal at the café next door and I had a life changing croquet, reminding me of just how good French food is. We started walking to explore the city and stumbled into the courtyard of the Palais Royal . The black and white stripped columns were picture perfect, just as absolutely everything was here. We walked out to a street performance and then right in front of the Louvre. I had forgotten just how extravagant and beautiful it was. Past the Louvre we went under a giant archway into the Tuileries in full bloom. The gardens were impeccable and so romantic, with our first view of the Eiffel Tower in the distance. Then even better there were random goats in a trench in the middle of it all. Because we are idiots (maybe my fault with the “depth perception” thing again) we decided it would be a good idea to walk all the way to the Eiffel Tower. The walk along the Seine was gorgeous though and the thrill of the tower getting closer and closer until it was finally peaking between buildings was totally worth it. I’m obsessed with the taupe color of it up close and then the golden hue of it from afar. After some dinner and maybe a little bit too much of champagne we ran (literally) back to the Eiffel Tower trying to make it in time for the light show that happens every hour, that we missed of course. We still got to see it all lit up and glowing though among the city of lights. Throughout this trip I fell in love with Paris all over again, except this time even harder. I think the time of year, beautiful weather, and exploring more independently contributed to the cause.
Tuesday (Day 4) we walked to the iconic Notre Dame, which once again was even more amazing seeing it for the second time, and then got on the metro to Versailles. Last time I was here we had a bus that took us directly to the palace, so I didn’t even realize the whole town that was built around it because of the Louis XIV. I absolutely loved Versailles back when I saw it in high school but this time around I had a much broader understanding of the history behind it, and therefore a much deeper appreciation. It is by far the most extra place I have ever seen and it’s astonishing. From the gold detail everywhere, stunning marble work, expanses of artwork, beautiful ceilings, private chapel, hall of mirrors, chandeliers, and colorful and lavish interior of every single of the 700+ rooms, all of it was complete perfection. Walking around while eating Ladurée macroons I really felt like I was living my best life. This wasn’t meant to be an all day thing but once we got to the gardens we knew we needed to take the time to see as much of as it as our poor feet would let us. The fountains and flawless design of the gardens were made even more magical with classic musical playing throughout. We walked all the way to the Grand Trianon, which was just as magnificent with its pink marble and light blue furnishings. We got there just before it closed, so we didn’t quite make it all the way to Marie Antoinette’s estate but we did get to see the sheep surrounding! After the long trek back we headed back on the metro to the Eiffel Tower where we got ham, egg, and cheese crepes for dinner and then nutella and banana crepes for desert as we waited for the light show, because why not? Seeing the light show from on top of the Palais de Chaillot, eating the most delicious crepes in the world, surrounded by awesome friends I once again felt like I was living a movie. The feeling is so magical and one of my favorite thus far from my trip.
Wednesday (Day 5) we got up early to head to the Louvre which we only had a couple of hours in, even though in reality we all probably could’ve spent days inside. I got pleasantly lost walking around 4 miles inside the work of art itself. My friends are huge into art, recognizing many works I did not but from what I do know I got to see the Vermeer exhibit (which is a huge deal since his works are so rare), ancient Greek, Roman, and Egyptian antiques, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa obviously, beautiful Italian and French works, and my favorite which was Napoleon’s suites from when it was once a palace. Even though we were all exhausted we headed to Montmartre on the hillside outside Paris. Before climbing the endless steps I returned to the fabric stores I had gone to in high school. Again, something I never thought I would be able to do. The Parisian fabrics are so beautiful and unique compared to anything you could find back home and I’m so happy I found a bunch of amazing finds! After I caught back up with my friends where we laid under the sun on the grass of the hillside, enjoying the view and eating crepes one last time before leaving the beautiful city of Paris.
We crammed as much as we could into the 2 and half days we were in Paris, all of us still in awe even as we said goodbye. The people, the lights, the romance of the city were all amazing. The French often get a reputation of being rude but here, along with the other cities we visited in France we hardly experienced this at all. Two of my friends took French throughout high school, helping us with some basic phrases. We would try speaking in French first and the French would smile and immediately start speaking back in English because of our obvious accents, but you could tell the clearly appreciated the effort. It totally makes sense though, I can’t imagine someone coming up to me in the states speaking another language and just expecting me to speak back to them in their language. First of all because we are less cultured and have less opportunity of being fluent in other languages, but also because I can see how that is rude to come to someone else’s country and expect them to cater to you. However, on several occasions interacting with the French they apologized to me for their English not being the best, which totally shocked me. That night we headed to the next lovely destination of Geneva, Switzerland, which I’ll fill you in on my next post!