Exploring Europe

Paris is Always a Good Idea

I feel like an Audrey Hepburn movie- but I fell in love with Paris. I knew I would enjoy Paris- the fashion, architecture, bakeries, and luxurious reputation are right up my alley.  Scenes from Sex and the City and Passport to Paris flashed through my mind as I booked flights and arranged a hostel, but I was still a little weary after my Oktoberfest fiasco. Despite this, Paris was everything I had dreamed of and more.

We stayed in the Latin Quarter of the city, about a five-minute walk from Notre Dame.  The area we were in had a lot of students so we were very comfortable.  Not only this, but we also had legitimate walls, individual bunks, private rooms (two people to a room), and our own shower. Not to mention we also got free breakfast every morning, which included cafe con leche, cereal, and fresh baguettes. Can you say upgrade? See ya never Hangover Hospital.

The entire first day was our “get use to our bearings” day.  I spent all afternoon exploring the city with my best girl friends in Florence.  Seeing them alone put me on cloud 9.  Picture taking in front of the Eiffel Tower, viewing the city from Arc de Triomf, traveling the metro, and eating crepes were all checked off our agendas by dinnertime.

Eiffel Tower

Our first dinner in Paris was incredible.  Le’Equire (?) was a small, quaint restaurant two blocks away from our hostel.  Initially, the restaurant looked very small, but one of the waiters led us down the stairs and into a completely mystical and quaint setting.  The brick-walled basement with arch entrances was completely lit by candles.  The 7 of us cuddle picnic tables and ordered menu del dias and had the opportunity to try multiple French dishes.

If you thought doing Paris (the right way) in TWO DAYS was impossible, you are WRONG.  My best friend Bridget and I defied the odds and used our extreme planning to map out the perfect weekend in Paris, and executed everything with perfection.  Minor setback (although I really enjoy it): all of our pictures look like we are on a romantic honeymoon. Don’t hate it.

Our journey began at the Louvre circa 9:30 am. Starting this early gave us three hours in the museum and we also avoided lines. Lucky for me, Bridget had printed out a guide “How to do the Louvre in three hours” (she is so prepared! gold star Bridge), so we had some solid starting points.  With the help of our super cool audio guides that also had GPS guides built into them (how cool??), we were able to see the following in three hours:

▪  The Mona Lisa (side note: it is behind massive glass walls, and they switch it out with a replica frequently. and its guarded by two security guards)

▪  Winged Victory of Samothrace statue

▪  Michaelangelo’s slave statues

▪  Venus de Milo statue

▪  Parthenon room

▪  Explore the Egyptian tomb remains

▪  Napoleon’s apartments

Although many people think the Louvre is overrated, I adored being able to see classics like the Mona Lisa and Michaelangelo.  I also got to see a lot of pieces, like the Venus de Milo and the Winged Victory of Samothrace, that I had learned about in my art history class.  Being able to look at different pieces and pin point their history, meanings, and time periods without the audio guides made me appreciate the experience more and the opportunity to see the real pieces more.  I wish I had time to take more art history classes before I graduate.

Bridget and I in front of the Louvre

Zetas represent at the Louvre

After our morning in the Louvre, we met up with the other girls for a walking tour of Paris.  Starting outside the Opera House, our lovely tour guide Bruno (so cute and legitimately “waterproof”) took us around different parts of the city.  The highlight of the tour was the Diamond District, where the most famous and prestigious jewelry designers must own stores and show off their latest collections. The anyone of anyone of jewelry has a store here.  The objective of the street is not for selling jewelry, but displaying their brand and most prestigious pieces. For instance, Cartiers store at this location barely even sells any of their pieces. They use it to display their most prestigious and elaborate pieces as if they were art.  What’s even harder believe is that they pay more than one million euro for their rent a month. At the end of the street of jewelers is a plaza where Ernest Hemmingway and Chanel use to live.  The octagonal shape of the plaza was what inspired the top of Chanel No. 5’s perfume topper.

To end our tour, we were super French and trendy and drank drinking chocolate in the Louvre’s café overlooking the glass pyramids of the museum.

Later that night, Bridget and I trekked to the Eiffel Tower for our romantic climb up the tower (I told you- we went on a honeymoon. If I do anything half this romantic with my husband, I will be a lucky girl).  Decked in our euro trendy outfits, me in my leather peplum shirt red lipstick look and Bridget in her Euro-mod dress, we were ready for the best view of Paris.

I am not going to lie- the process of getting up the Eiffel Tower was time consuming. We waited 45 minutes on the ground just to get tickets, than another 20 minutes once we got to the second level, and then once we were done viewing we waited in total another 40 minutes to get back to the ground. This waiting wouldn’t have been so bad if it wasn’t so cold.  And by cold I mean my lips literally turned blue.  Paris in general had been 20 degrees cooler than Barcelona’s temperatures, and at night at higher altitudes, it felt even colder and windier.   The countless waiting and freezing temperature was well worth the view though.  From the top of the tower, the entire sitting literally just sparkles and glows.  I was speechless, I still have no words.  So Bridget and I gawked at the view, surrounded by couples grasping each other.

The following day, we decided to end our journey with two more tourist attractions: Notre Dame Cathedral and the Palace of Versailles.

Notre Dame Cathedral is incredible.  Its gothic architecture is intricate and unlike any other building in the area. Bridget and I of course accidently (not really) ventured into the church in the middle of the morning mass. As we walked slowly in, we walked closer to the altar and enjoyed the canter’s singing before quickly existing.  Even though we were only in there for a few seconds, it was totally worth it.  I can still here her voice and see the tall apse in my head. In any other situation, we would have had to wait in line.

Notre Dame

We spent our remaining hours in Paris at the Palace of Versailles, about a 45-minute train ride outside of the city.  Equipped with Starbucks, we embarked to one of the most beautiful places I have toured before.  First of all, the palace grounds cover dozens of acres. There are gardens for different kings and queens, and Marie Antoinette had her own quarters set towards the back of the property.

Three hours later, we had seen a majority of the rooms that were open for viewing, including over favorites: Marie Antoinette’s bedroom, where she ran out her secret door to escape the angry riots, and The Hall of Mirrors, one of the most iconic rooms in history.

Hall of Mirrors, Palace of Versailles

If my in-depth and gushing descriptions weren’t enough: I loved Paris.  Wondering the streets, sipping on café con leche and nibbling French baked goods. It was magical, dream-like, mystical, and fashionable all at once.  For 60 hours, I was Carrie Bradshaw, sitting in a café, looking at the dreary rain slick the streets and still being blown away by the beauty and chic.

If you don’t believe me, or want to live it for a few seconds yourself, go. I know I will again. Or watch Taylor Swift’s latest music video “Begin Again,” set in Paris and shot the week before I got there (how did she know?).

(The view we had of Arc de Triomf is at 1:40-1:50 minute)

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