As soon as the bus transporting me from the Paris Beauvais Tille Airport pulled through the outskirts of downtown Paris, I knew it was love. I was immediately struck by the beauty of the city, and could feel the energy radiating from within the city limits. Even being as old of a city as Paris is, everything seemed bright and beaming, and I reciprocated the vibes, as I stared, grinning wildly at all the possibilities for exploration that were ahead.
After arriving at the bus stop and catching a shared cab ride with a friendly couple from Italy to my hotel, Hotel de France Quartier Latin, my ambitions to explore the city were overpowered by my body’s ambitions for rest, power nap time was declared! [I guess that’s what happens when you decide to pull an all-nighter in Dublin with your college roommate and fellow bobcats, having to catch a cab to the airport at 4 a.m.]
Feeling well rested, I woke up around 3 p.m., I was more than ready to get started on striding around the city. Taking the map the hotel concierge gave me upon my arrival, I took a quick look and decided I wanted to attend Sunday mass at Cathedral Notre Dame. The cathedral was stunning, and though I do not consider myself especially religious, I felt like I was taking part in something really special by attending mass at such a grand and renowned cathedral. After mass I decided I would stick within what I estimated was a two mile radius from my hotel, walking the streets and seeing what I would find. This was fun for about the first hour and a half, until a brief downpour put a damper on the evening, and my cardigan. Luckily I was near a cute café/bistro where I popped in for some delicious vegetarian lentil soup to warm me up! None of the servers spoke English very well, but they were still sweet and accommodating and could understand enough of my [what I assume to be poorly spoken/broken] French to manage handling my order and making a tiny bit of small talk.
It was a great feeling to get back to my hotel and take a hot shower. The hotel was clean, had friendly staff, free wifi, and a great location [and price]. I would definitely stay at the Hotel de France Quartier Latin again.
Paris: Sturdy Shoes Required
Monday was my first full day in Paris, and I was ready to get moving. I had to call an 86 on the flats, to protect my already blistered heals, choosing instead, to wear my treasured Clarks sandals [amazing for walking!]. You name the monument or sight in Paris and I’m fairly certain I walked there. I checked on Google Maps and estimated that I walked about 13.3 miles [21.4 km] that day, not too shabby [and that’s not including the roads I wandered down and time I spent exploring the Louvre, a feat to walk around in itself.] Here are some of the photos from my Monday self-guided walking tour:
Pont des Arts
The Louvre [taken via Instagram]
A great collection of time pieces at the Louvre, beautiful.
Me and my girl, Mona.
Moulin RougeParis Opera HouseSunset Cruise on the Seine River
Some live entertainment in Paris
Crepes for dinner!
After walking around all day these are the things I thought about:
- GRATEFUL + HUMBLED to have taken part in such an amazing day, life is good, and Paris is beautiful.
- Dumbfounded. How do all these Parisian women walk this immaculate city all day in wedges in stilettos? [I’ll stick to my flats and sandals, thank you!]
- Accustomed. Yep, I could totally move to Paris and be happy. Next step, Rosetta Stone for French!
- Don’t try to see it all in one day. Everything here is either beautiful or famous, or both. Solution? Just stay in Paris longer, clearly.
- Hungry. A problem I solved by ordering a chocolat [nutella] crepe and eating it while walking under and around the Eiffel tower, how amusingly French.
- J’adore Paris!
Though I could have happily frolicked the streets of Paris for a whole other day, I decided to jump train to Versailles. Marie Antoinette, perhaps you’ve heard of her, invited me to her home for the day Plush and elaborate are probably the first two words to come to mind when thinking of how to describe the Palace of Versailles. After walking through the lavish palace it was completely obvious just how out of touch Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI were with the people they ruled. Gold ceilings, incredible marble sculptures, a full scale opera house and cathedral, statues built with champagne bottles, master suites for both the King and the Queen, an art museum, a hall of mirrors, multiple apartments on the lower levels for visiting family members and government officials, and all of this with a stretch of lush gardens extending over thousands of acres for a backyard. I snapped hundreds of photos in Versailles, here are some of my favorite:
In the Hall of Mirrors
Marie Antoinette’s Suite
Modern art in the Palace
Beautiful ceramic clock
Marie Antoinette’s garden sculpture made from blue glass champagne bottles…someone knew how to party.
After touring the palace [a full days excursion] I stuck around Versailles a little while longer to get a better feel for the city, explore some antique shops, and a picturesque café for a cappuccino. By the time I returned to Paris it was sundown and I was hungry for dinner, but chose to take one last walk down the paths adjacent to the Seine river before calling it a night. I found an authentic restaurant on my walk home to the hotel and decided to treat myself to some authentic French cooking. I threw caution to the “weekday vegetarian” winds which I usually flow with and ordered roasted duck, potatoes, salad, and a glass of red wine. Easily the best meal I’ve had in months. I was completely sated at the end of the meal and ready to finish the stroll to the hotel, repack my bags, and rest up for the journey London the following day!
It was a quick three days in Paris, too quick. So of course it is on my to-do list to return someday, next time bringing a friend, family member, or beau along for the journey. The only advice I want to give about Paris is this:
Thanks for reading, au revoir!