From Paris, With Love
Thank goodness the ankle I sprained in Venice healed in time for our Paris trip! I thought we walked a lot in Venice, but it was nothing compared to all the walking we did in Paris. We crashed every evening from exhaustion yet were exhilarated from the excitement of each day!
This was my first time visiting Paris. My husband promised me a trip to Paris many years ago but something or other always got in the way and kept it from happening. Before we met, he spent time in Paris studying for his Master's degree in physics and spent all his free time exploring the city. He loved Paris and really wanted to go back to visit and share the experience with me. Three years ago we had a trip to Paris completely planned out. My kids were supposed to go to Romania to spend the summer with my in-laws, during which time my husband and I would travel to Paris. The tickets were bought, the hotel was booked and the bags were packed. Two days before the flight, we received a phone call from my mother-in-law that she hadn't been feeling well. She decided to see a doctor and after multiple tests, she was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and had to go in for an emergency surgery. Our summer plans came to a screeching halt. The kids could no longer spend the summer in Romania, and we had to cancel all of our travel plans. I wish she was still here so I could tell her all about this trip. She would have been so exited that we finally got to go to Paris and have this dream come true, but she went home to Heaven a year and a half ago and is greatly missed each and ever day.
This year, with a bit of caution and a bittersweet feeling, we planned another trip. Thankfully, everything went smoothly, with the exception of a canceled flight to Paris, due to severe weather, which landed us in Munich for a night. We had our connecting flight early the following morning. We lost a full day in Paris, but if that was the worst that was going to happen, we were going to be happy. We arrived in Paris on a rainy day, pretty tired but rather excited to be there.
Our hotel was centrally located, so we walked everywhere — all day, everyday. We took a stroll through the beautiful Jardin des Tuileries, which was a short walk from our hotel, admired the Louvre, continued on to the Place de la Concorde and eventually made our way to Champs-Élysées. We walked, stoped in some stores, ate at one of the many outdoor cafes, and finished with a visit to Arc de Triomphe.
The next day we walked to The Eiffel Tower. On the way, we strolled along the Seine and took in the beauty of Notre-Dame and Pont Neuf. The intricate details and sculptures on the cathedral are quite amazing! We passed by Musée d’Orsay, after which we stopped at Les Invalides. Les Invalides contains museums and monuments relating to the military history of France and is quite impressive; the lush green landscape with perfectly manicured evergreens was a beautiful sight to see. This is also the location of the Dôme des Invalides where Napoleon is buried. Eventually we arrived at the Eiffel Tower. After spending some time there, in awe of it all and taking some pictures, we continued on to the Trocadéro, the site of Palais Chaillot. The Trocadéro has the best view of the Eiffel Tower and is not to be missed.
Our next destination was Montmartre to see Sacré-Cœur. This was by far the longest walk from our hotel and we contemplated taking a taxi. In the end we decided against it, since there was so much to see on the way, and we didn’t want to miss out on anything. We figured we can take a cab at any given point if we got too tired. I’m so glad we walked! This area of Paris was so different than any other area we had seen the past few days. It was very hilly and very charming! Montmartre was my most favorite neighborhood in all of Paris. We climbed the 300 stairs and made it to the top to see not only Sacré-Cœur, but the most breathtaking panoramic view of Paris. It was spectacular and definitely worth the hike. Heading back, we stopped to eat at a charming little restaurant where we had the best French onion soup and Croque Madame. The restaurant was near Moulin Rouge, so we decided to walk by it. I did not particularly care for this very specific part of Paris, and I would not walk there at night, but it was certainly worth visiting since we were so close by.
We took another walk to Montmartre a second time because we really loved the area and wanted to explore some more. Montmartre is the historic art district of Paris full of authentic charm. It’s hilly cobblestone streets and pretty buildings with flower filled window boxes were so attractive, I couldn’t stop taking pictures. We roamed the area for hours, stopped for food and drinks, a little shopping and headed back to the hotel.
The remainder of our time in Paris was spent visiting the Latin Quarter, known for its lively atmosphere, universities, and the Panthéon. We also visited Jardine du Luxembourg, which today is owned by the French Senate. It is a gorgeous lush garden with tree-lined paths, flowerbeds and endless number of benches and chairs, perfect for some rest and relaxation. Locals and tourists alike enjoyed the garden on that beautiful sunny day. It was such peaceful and calming place, I could have spend all day there.
Our hotel was near Forum des Halles, a large mall housing 150 stores, built mainly underground. Forum des Halles also has a public pool 3 levels below ground! It was an amazing place and convenient for any shopping needs we had. Close by was Centre Georges Pompidou, a very high-tech-styled building, housing, among other things, a public library and Musée National d’Art Moderne. In the nearby areas surrounding the mall were numerous cafes and restaurants. We spent every evening enjoying a meal and lingering over drinks outdoors at one of these establishments. This was possibly one of my favorite activities during our trip.
Although we visited most of the major tourists attractions in Paris, which is definitely a must, we also explored the non-touristy parts. We roamed though the different neighborhoods and strayed onto the small side streets to get a feel for the city as a whole. For me, it's important to explore the non-touristy parts of a city when I travel to see how the locals live, where they shop and eat. I believe it's the best way to get the true vibe of the location and really learn about the city and its culture. I like to find hidden gems that are not as explored or popular as some of the advertised ones.
Paris was such a beautiful and magical city. There is so much to see and so much to do that one trip is definitely not enough. Hopefully we can plan another trip back very soon. I am, however, very pleased with everything we got to see and do in the time we spent there. I have some amazing memories and pictures to think and look back on. I hope you enjoyed seeing Paris though my eyes. Until next time!