I know many of you have been anxiously awaiting a more detailed description of our travels across the pond. Today, I’m going to give you the first half of our European travels, three days in Paris! Buckle up, this is going to be a long one!
Paris, The City of Light: Day One
I won’t lie, when we first landed in Paris, we went straight to our hotel and took a nap. Exhaustion hit hard after our 8 hour flight, but I refused to waste any time since we only had 3 days in each city, so I made sure we didn’t sleep longer than an hour. Just to be clear, Josh complained the whole trip about how much I forced him to walk/see things. 😆
After our short nap, we decided we would start walking and see where our feet took us!
I was so amazed by the streets and the way so many people lived in the apartments above little shops and bakeries. It all just blew me away, especially how people walked the streets, not even blinking twice at the history throughout their city.
After walking for a few hours and seeing the city in its element, we made our way down to the Eiffel Tower, which was SO much larger in real life than I ever thought it would be. I mean, obviously it’s big, but I didn’t realize HOW big.
The best view is from across the street, though. I wish we had been able to go when there wasn’t such a huge crowd, but I mean…it’s Paris, so is that even possible?
By the way, if you get a chance to go, there’s a little vendor on the corner across from the tower that sells delicious ice cream and churros! The pistachio was YUM.
Josh had the churros and they were sugary, hot, and so good after a cold cone. Worth the €5 we spent on them!
So like I said, the best view is across the street! You just go up the stairs and you have the best view of the Eiffel Tower with Paris behind it, although there is a crowd doing the same. You kind of have to wait your turn or push your way through to get your own picture.
I didn’t feel like pushing through the crowd of people, but we still got some good views.
Arc de Triomphe
Next, we walked over to the Arc de Triomphe. I LOVE the large arches all over Europe. I’ve seen them so many times in pictures, read about them in history books, studied their stories…They fascinate me! It was incredible to see in person!
Designed after the Arch of Titus, the Arc de Triomphe is obviously an arch to show off French “triumph” during the Revolution. You can go to the top to see over the 12 intersecting avenues, or you can go into the vault beneath to see the tomb of the unknown soldier from WWI. I’d recommend getting tickets or having a Paris Pass beforehand, because the line was HUGE to go into it. We waited for a while, but decided to keep walking around and that being close to it was good enough 😂
Finally, after walking back to the hotel, we decided to take a little nap (because jet lag is SO real) and look for a place to eat dinner. In case you haven’t ever been to France, and want to plan your day to its fullest, be aware that most restaurants are not open the entire day. Most are open from 10am-2pm and 7pm-12am. We didn’t realize this, and at home we liked to eat dinner around 5:30 every day. Make sure you fill your time and I’d suggest planning a place to eat somewhere close by where you plan on touring for the day.
Anyway, so we chose a little restaurant called le 975. I 100% recommend eating here if you go to Paris! We accidentally ordered the 5 course dinner (thinking it was 5 plates for the table), BUT absolutely no regrets! The chef chose our plates and they were so delicious! At least I thought so…Josh wasn’t a huge fan of the duck, but the poached pear at the end was to DIE for. Sounds like a lame dessert, but I’d go back to Paris just for that alone.
Day Two: The Metro
This was the day we had set aside to go down to Notre Dame and see any other interesting sights close by. We also braved the metro, which was an adventure in and of itself 😅
We started off by mapping our trip from the hotel to Notre Dame. It was about an hour walk from the hotel, and my feet were so tired from the first day, I just really didn’t want to walk that far unless we had no other choice. We opted for the metro as it was only €2 each and the “easiest” way to get there.
Guys…the metro was far from easy to navigate if you’ve never used public transportation. To help, I downloaded the RATP app that helps you know which trains to take to get where in Paris. It was pretty helpful, but still when you can’t read French and nobody tells you “train” T3b is actually a tram above ground, things get rough. 😂
The metro is color coded, so as long as you know the color of your train, you should be okay. BUT if there’s a “T” in the name, it’s a tram and it’s above ground, just so you know. You’ll also need another ticket for that when you get on it (make sure you get keep your ticket because they sometimes check and you’ll get a fine if you’re found without it).
Even with the color coding, we ended up on the wrong train that luckily was still going the same direction we wanted.
The Louvre & Surrounding Areas
Since we were on our way to Notre Dame, and not the Louvre, we didn’t go inside, but the walk around was beautiful! I know, I know, you’re probably thinking “What?! You didn’t go in?!” but honestly, I don’t regret it. We saw a lot of beautiful art around France, and I have no regrets about not standing in the huge line to get into the Louvre.
As we continued our walk to Notre Dame, we got to experience more of the beauty of France. Europe is just incredible.
Okay, so to be honest, I think that this was my favorite part of our Paris visit. Notre Dame was BEAUTIFUL. The architecture, history, and views were mind blowing. We’ve seen the pictures, we’ve seen the movie, but until you’ve seen it in person…I loved it. Every bit.
Now, to go inside is free, but to go to the top, you have to pay €10 each. There are little kiosks by the side of the church where you have to pick a time to go up, print the ticket, and present it to the worker at the appointed time. There’s also an app called Jefile you can use to reserve a time. If you plan to just get a ticket while there, be sure to go there ahead of the time you want to tour to make sure there is availability! Quite a few people missed out because they didn’t know you needed to pre-schedule.
If you go, make sure you aren’t too tired from walking and that you’re wearing good shoes because there are a LOT of stairs. The view from the top is 100% worth the shaky legs and tired feet.
It looks a little smoggy, but I swear it’s cigarette smoke 😂 Nobody tells you that like 90% of the population smokes in Paris, so it smells kind of like an ash tray. Some parts were better than others, but we still had to shower every night to get the smell out. Bring lots of shampoo, you’ll need it. Ha!
Okay, so they may smoke a lot, but the French really know how to make desserts. Close to the cathedral, there’s a little bakery called Boulangerie du Palais that had the biggest and best macarons! Their crème brûlée, although untraditional in presentation, was absolutely delicious! Swing by if you get a chance, because Y.U.M.
Day 3: Versailles
On our 3rd and final day, we traveled outside of the city center to visit the Palace of Versailles, home to the kings Louis: Louis the XIV, the Sun King, Louis the XV, the Loved King, and Louis the XVI…the Fat King. 😂 This was literally how our guide described them.
The first impression you get as you drive up to the palace is the golden gates that wind around the entire Chateau. Although not the original gates, which were torn down and melted during the French Revolution, these gates are no less impressive or beautiful.
After the execution of Louis the XVI and his wife, Marie Antionette, the Palace was stripped of most valuables, like the silver throne. After the initial abandonment, the palace was eventually turned into apartments. APARTMENTS. Could you imagine living here?!
The Hall of Mirrors
In the whole palace, my favorite room was the Hall of Mirrors. It was SO beautiful! This was the room that parties were held in and it overlooked the gardens behind the palace.
The mirrors were used not only to make the room look bigger, but they were used to make the room lighter. Back then, they obviously didn’t have electricity, and candles only provided so much light. Amazing, right?!
The whole palace was a dream for my history loving heart, that’s for sure!
Oh, and One More Thing…
There were so many things we saw and did, it’s hard not being overwhelming with everything! This is probably the longest blog post I’ll ever write…and I’m not sorry.
It’s France, so I ate escargot (Josh was too scared)…not too bad, actually.
Went to a French open market…
Made a stop with a Chocolatier…
Saw countless cute little stops for food…
And the very last thing we did was went to see the Moulin Rouge! So cool in person!
France was incredible. It’s so crazy to see how different everything is outside of America. There are so many amazing places in Paris to see, and knowing I didn’t get to them all, I’d 100% jump at a chance to go again!
Anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed my photo dump 😘 Next stop, ROME!
See you soon, friends!