They call it the city of love. I think it should be called “The City of Nutella,” which if you ask me is almost the same thing!
Whenever I was able to, I sent my mom a little text or email letting her know that I was alright, and maybe a little blurb about the city we were in at the time. At the end of the trip when I was recapping everything, she said to me, “You realize that everything you’ve told me about so far has something to do with food, right? You’ve described your trip with food. ” I had to laugh, but I realized she was right! There’s something about food that describes a city like nothing else. When I started this trip, what food was I most looking forward to? Believe it or not, French food!!
Why French food, you ask? Because I probably have the biggest sweet tooth of anyone you will ever meet. I am in awe of French pastries. I want to eat them ALL. And Nutella. Have I mentioned Nutella? Because when I tell you that the French are obsessed with it, I mean OBSESSED. We saw jars that were literally bigger than my face. It was awesome.
But I digress. What did we do in Paris besides eat wonderful crepes and croissants filled with Nutella? Let me show you . . .
This, ladies and gentleman, is the world famous Louvre. It used to be a palace during the time of Napoleon. Now it is one of the most famous (if not THE most famous) art gallery/museum in the entire world. In the 1980s they added that fancy glass pyramid thing to create a cooler entrance to the museum. I’m not sure why, but it’s pretty epic.
After arriving in Paris and checking into our flat, we headed straight to the Louvre, and proceeded to spend the entire rest of the day there. We could easily have spent three days there and never seen the end. We did, however, see the important stuff like the Mona Lisa. Frankly, I think it’s an overrated painting, and there’s like no point of going to see it because there’s always a GIANT crowd around it so you can’t get anywhere near it unless you want to be sucked into the giant claustrophobic-feeling mob of people trying to take pictures of a picture. But I can return to the United States saying that yes indeed, I saw the Mona Lisa. Whoop de doo.
The coolest part of the Louvre wasn’t the art, but this section which I didn’t even know existed. It was unfortunately right at this moment that my camera died, but it was still incredible. I have this obsession with really old royal fancy stuff, so I was totally in heaven. When I say I want to live in the Louvre, I’m talking about this.
The next day we took a trip to Lyon, but I’ll save that for another blog post because that trip was only for a day and we came right back to Paris. Why did we do that? It’s a long story. Suffice it to say that plans didn’t work out quite as planned.
So when we came back to Paris, we checked into another flat booked through Housetrip. This time it was right in the heart of the Latin Quarter. Of course, Americans generally take that term to mean an area of town dominated by Latinos, but that’s not what the term means at all in Paris. The Latin Quarter is an old area of town dating back to the Middle Ages, and it is where many places of higher learning are found. It got its name from these institutions because it was said that up and down the streets you could hear the sounds of young students practicing their Latin.
Today, the area is still a youthful and lively place to be, with numerous little streets filled with cafes and shops and all sorts of things to do. From our balcony on the fourth floor we had a great view of the Rue St. Michel des Arts, and if you turned the corner you could not only see the Seine river, but a wonderful view of Notre Dame Cathedral.
We got into Paris too late to really do anything besides eat dinner, so after checking in we walked through the streets of the Latin Quarter to find a supermarket, and came home with baguettes, deli meat, cheese, and wine. It was a rather French style dinner!
The next morning we set off bright and early for the number one sight in Paris: the Eiffel Tower. It was much colder than we had expected, and while waiting in a rather long line we even had a few flurries of snow. Not cool Paris, not cool. But it’s alright, in true British fashion I bought myself a cup of tea to drink while we waited. I think I’ve been living here too long.
When we finally got to the front of the line, we headed into the elevator shaft and began our journey up.
There are a few levels to the Eiffel Tower and we stopped on each one to take some photos, but it was too cold to hang around long. The tower was absolutely incredible though! I would love to go again on a clearer (and warmer) day because it was absolutely amazing. You don’t realize the sheer size of the thing until you are actually in it, but it’s huge.
We had lunch in the Eiffel Tower café on the second level before heading onto our next stop of the day: a river tour down the Seine. Thankfully the boat was fully enclosed and warm, so not only was it a beautiful and informative trip, but it was a nice escape from the cold. The boat afforded some wonderful views because the walls and ceiling were entirely made of glass!
Once the tour was over we took a short trip on the metro to see one of Paris’s other most famous sights: the Arc de Triomphe.
We then took a walk down one of the most famous streets (with the most expensive real estate in the world) in Paris: the Champs -Elysees.
At the far end of the street is the Obelisk of Luxor, which marks the place where the guillotine once stood during the French Revolution.
We ate dinner down along the Champs-Elysees, and then once it was dark we took the metro back toward the Eiffel Tower. Although we had already “been there and done that,” we had to return to the Eiffel Tower one more time so see it like this:
It was breathtaking. I’ll never forget that metro ride because when we came up onto the bridge crossing the Seine, there it was, quite unexpectedly, just glittering on the other side of the river. Unfortunately we couldn’t get any closer than we did in that picture, because apparently there was a bomb threat that evening. The square around the tower was swarming with police, and there were blockades up and everything. It’s a good thing we had already been up to the top!
The next day was Easter Sunday, so we woke up bright and early (or so we thought…) to go to Easter Mass at Notre Dame. When we got there another mass was already going on, but they held a mass about once an hour, so we simply stuck around and took lots of photos while we waited. It’s a good thing we were there though! There was only a few minutes between masses, so as soon as people started to get up and leave we snagged some seats. After looking at the mass program (and my watch) a bunch of times, I realized that we had completely forgotten about daylight savings time, so we were actually there an hour later than we had expected to be. Instead of getting a French Mass, we got the Latin Mass instead! (Which was totally fine…I mean, at least the Latin was slightly more familiar than the French!) And when mass finally let out, we realized that there was a whole crowd of people outside the church who had been watching it on a big projection screen because they couldn’t get inside. That’s how many people were there. So I think we were pretty lucky, even with our little time mixup!
We went straight from mass to Musee d’Orsay, which is probably my favorite art museum ever because we got to see real paintings by Van Gogh, Degas, Monet, Renoir, and so many others!! I even got a few illegal photos…
After Musee d’Orsay we headed out to Versailles. We got there a little late in the day, but we still got to see the beautiful palace that I have wanted to see since I was a little girl. It was truly glorious.
Overall, I thought Paris was absolutely magnificent. There was something about the city that made me so incredibly happy to be there, and I really want to go back again. I loved the food, the places, the atmosphere . . . But for now it’s au revoir Paris! You won’t be soon forgotten.