I think it’s important to know that I’m watching Versailles as I sit down to share the last leg of our trip, Paris. First off, if you haven’t watched Versailles yet, stop what you’re doing and go straight to Netflix. By far one of my favorites, I’m actually re-watching season one since Tom didn’t tune in until the end of season two. I digress. Anyway, Paris, you gorgeous stack of crepes…I have to tell you, I have mixed emotions.
Paris is by far one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. The architecture is jaw dropping, the food is phenomenal, and the fashion is très chic. So what’s not to love? We definitely dealt with a bit of culture shock; between the language barrier, different customs, and we didn’t exactly feel welcomed with open arms. We felt like the first 24 hours were an adjustment for us, but after we settled in we really enjoyed it.
We arrived Monday evening, on the train from London (read about the first half of our trip). I was very nervous about the fact that neither Tom or myself speak a lick of French. Even though this was the trip of a lifetime my anxiety was getting the best of me. When we first arrived the language barrier was a bit difficult, but nonetheless we made it to our hotel and got checked in just fine. We stayed at a boutique hotel in the 4th arrondissement, known as the SoHo of Paris. We settled in to our room, freshened up, and headed to a restaurant a few blocks from our hotel. After dinner we strolled for a few blocks to see what we could find before heading back to rest up for the night.
Gorgeous cathedral across the street from our hotel room
I woke up Tuesday and couldn’t contain my excitement, I was finally going to see the Eiffel Tower. It was first on our list and I didn’t really care if we did anything else as long as I got to see it in-person. We walked around taking a million pictures, enjoyed lunch in the park, and began strolling through Paris. From the Eiffel Tower we walked down and across the Seine to the Grand Palais, and headed down the Rue de Rivoli for some shopping. We found ourselves walking back to our hotel from the Eiffel Tower (about 4 miles). At dinner we decided on Italian and found the best Italian food a few doors down from our hotel. We took a table on the sidewalk and enjoyed one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
Wednesday was my favorite day of our trip in France. We woke up early and had breakfast while we waited for our tour to pick us up— we were headed to Versailles! The group loaded into a van and headed to the city of Versailles. Within Versailles is Louis XIV’s gold glittering architectural masterpiece, Chateau de Versailles. I always thought that Versailles was just the palace, we didn’t know it’s an entire city in France. The tour was guided through the palace where we spent the next few hours. Afterwards, our guide turned us loose to explore the gardens and fountains that consume the grounds.
Our group met back at the bus after an hour and headed on to the next part of our tour, Claude Monet’s gardens in Giverny. We stopped at an Inn along the way for the best lunch I’ve ever had. The three-course meal was decided for us, but was a hit with the whole group. We had a light crab salad, the most amazing cream mushroom chicken, and apple pie to finish. The scenery and the food in the French countryside were incredible, I was falling in love! Just when I was sure the tour couldn’t get any better we arrived in Giverny.
Monet’s gardens are settled around his home in Giverny. They are split into the Japanese water garden and a never-ending flower garden; the gardens are the subject of many of his pieces. Our group spent hours here touring the grounds, exploring Monet’s home, and much of his artwork. It was the perfect way to spend the afternoon after our countryside lunch and Versailles. I would highly recommend a day trip to both the palace of Versailles and to Monet’s home and gardens in Giverny. By the time we made it back to Paris it was getting late and we were ready to eat again. It was raining and cold so we decided on a big bowl of pho. We were pretty wiped so we ended the night early. I promise, we aren’t always this lame!
Front gates of Chateau de Versailles
Hall of Mirrors in Versailles
Gardens of Versailles
Monet’s Gardens in Giverny
Thursday was our final full day in Paris. We kicked it off with a walk to the Louvre. Like London, there are a ton of hop-on, hop-off bus tours in Paris, and naturally they all drive past the Louvre. We scoped out a few before hoping on one; we were on a mission to see as much as we could before the day was through. The best part about the bus tours are the history and commentary we wouldn’t otherwise get. It was very insightful as we were riding around the city to know where we were and the history behind each attraction. We did this for hours and saw all of the major tourist attractions including: The Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Arc de Triomphe, Musée d’Orsay, Opera Garnier, and the Moulin Rogue.
After the tour we walked from the Louvre to Notre-Dame just in time to hear the bells chime. The details in the gothic architecture are like nothing I’ve ever seen before, it was incredible. The sun was starting to set and we walked up to the famous “lock bridge” at Pont des Arts. For years couples have added their locks to the bridge and thrown the key into the Seine. Of course, we added our own lock. Finally, it wouldn’t have been a proper send off without some more shopping.
By 8pm we were shopped out, worn out, and hungry. We changed and headed to the Eiffel Tower to take in one last view, and see the beauty lit up at night. It was breathtaking, and dazzled the crowd as it started to sparkle. We walked in the evening light looking for a place to eat. After walking a few blocks we realized nothing beat the Italian place by our hotel. Full and exhausted we poured ourselves into bed around midnight. The next morning we headed to the airport. I’m still in disbelief that our trip has come and gone already. It was everything we had hoped for and more. Next year, we’re thinking Italy…