Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Three Days in Paris



I currently live in Germany, which provides me traveling opportunities I never would have thought possible even just a few years ago.

Unfortunately, due to many factors, its been really hard to plan a trip with my family. My husband works a lot and we have to take our two children into consideration, of course.

Lucky for me, I've made friends with someone who has much more freedom for such adventures and loves to plan them often!

Even more lucky for me, she has invited me along to a few! While I've had to turn a some down, I've had some amazing experiences the last few months.

One of the first vacations I've even truly taken, came about due to her planning.

Sometime in March, my friend Stes messaged that the song “April in Paris” by Ella Fitzgerald came on her Pandora so naturally it was a sign that a trip needed booked ASAP.

We already had a big trip planned for May, so I was hesitant, but after much deliberation, I decided a three day getaway was a perfect trial run.

I'd never been away from my kids for more than an overnight so I was pretty nervous. But my husband said it best “You never DON'T choose Paris!” so we immediately booked our hotel and train!

I have anxiety issues when faced with new things, but I try not to let that stop me. Anticipating our trip to Paris, I was nothing but excited, and didn't even feel nervous. That is, until ten minutes before I left the house and promptly puked my guts out, of course! However, once it was out and I had a good cry, my husband pushed me out the door and said don't have anything less than the best time ever!



As soon as our speed train took off, I was in shock. I was seriously going to Paris. How is this my life?!

About 3 hours later, we were there! Adventures are never perfect, and that's usually what makes them worth telling about.

Ours started off a bit rocky after a very long, mostly uphill walk from train station to our hotel, luggage in hand. Once we arrived, there was clearly some confusion. While we were at the right chain, it was the wrong location. We had reservations on the complete opposite side of town!

Lucky for us, Paris has Uber – which might be my new favorite thing ever. Why doesn't this exist everywhere?! (ok, no I get it. It harms the businesses of Taxi drivers.) After a 15 minute drive across city, seeing things I'd seen in photos many times, we arrived at our hotel.

It was a much...uglier part of town, but close to a metro station and a market. In fact after we checked in and got settled, the market was the first thing we hit. We picked up some things to keep in our mini fridge to save money on breakfasts the next two days, as well as goodies for a picnic later that evening.

After settling in a bit, we filled up Stes' adorable picnic basket and headed to the metro. I was so excited to properly experience Paris, France!

Getting off the metro, we walked about ten feet and she made me close my eyes, we rounded a small corner, and when I opened my eyes, I audibly gasped.



The Eiffel Tower. There is was, right there (ok well no it's probably like 800m away)!

We had plans to meet two women from a travel group we are a part of, but unfortunately only managed to find one in the crowd.



We headed to a wonderful spot of wall above the fountain and set up our picnic. We were about two hours from getting to see the Tower fully lit up.

I'm not going to lie, and I'm prepared to be torn apart for this but... I got bored.



I mean I loved the company and all, but staring at an iron building for hours wasn't really my thing.

Everyone around me seemed to be in continual “awe” like they never wanted to look away. I don't really get the appeal of staring at it for hours, but that's just me. Everyone should see it at least once though!  Maybe just not for several hours straight.

All tha waiting really gave me time to notice the surrounding area. Over the years, I had heard many times how dirty a city Paris is, and my experience confirmed it. Hollywood definitely romanticizes it, in my opinion. Many places were smelly, and filled with litter. Maybe it was the time of year but the fountain wasn't on, and it was filthy with trash. Definitely took a big of the charm away.

Finally, the tower lit up around 9pm, and I WAS glad that we waited for that. It was beautiful. But boy did I feel naïve when it suddenly started twinkling! I had no idea it really did that. Well worth the wait, my friends.



We had to rush away as soon as it finished sparkling (I guess it only does it periodically) back to our hotel to get ready for our night out.

After dressing up and knowing we were going to freeze, we opted for an Uber again. Off to Moulin Rouge!



This was our most expensive part of the trip, at 100 euro each, but so worth it! Surprisingly barely half of the audience was dressed up, even though we thought there was a strict dress code.



We managed to gets seats ALL the way in the front, literally touching the stage. How? By asking our usher if we can sit close. Sometimes, it's really worth just asking! We enjoyed our bottle of champagne that came with the tickets and watched a 2 hour incredible performance of about 80 dancers.



By the time we got back to the hotel, I was very ready to crash!

The second day, our only full day in Paris, we headed to the Louvre. We had no intentions of seeing the inside, but it was still an experience to walk the grounds.



As much as I'd love to say I've seen the Mona Lisa in person, I know what a crowd we'd have to deal with and it's not how I wanted to spend our short while in the city.


From the Louvre we caught a “Hop on, Hop off” tour bus. This means that it would stop at strategic touristy stops many times throughout the day and you can get on and off as often as you want. We had a electronic discount that came with our hotel reservation and when we got on the bus to buy our ticket the driver told us to just go ahead and get on. Yay, free ride! But without being given a physical ticket, that wouldn't happen a second time.



We rode it around on a nice lazy sightseeing tour and got off at Arc de Triomphe. After a few obligatory selfies, we were off in search of a snack.

That quest turned into the most expensive meal of our trip, with no regret of course. We didn't think through that it was a heavily touristy area and food was very overpriced. Nonetheless, my shrimp cocktail salad, and tortellini carbonara was delicious.


From there we went to a department store called Printemps, specifically for their rooftop view we've heard about. It took us over a half hour to find the roof! As it turns out, the side we were on, goes up 8 floors, with no roof access.

After coming up short of ideas we finally asked someone, who explained we had to go down to floor 3, exit a door on the opposite side to walk across a bridge to its sister store, then take the elevator up to floor 8, then an escalator to floor 9 (rooftop). Whew!

To top off that confusion, once we finally got there I had to find a restroom. Where is the only restroom? Floor one. Of the other building.

After nearly an hour total, I was finally back at the rooftop cafe, enjoying a coffee with my friend overlooking an incredible view of the city!




As long as this day sounds already, I've barely covered half of what we did! After eating, we took the metro to Notre Dame, which we again decided to just appreciate it from the outside, due to lines.

We toured the grounds a bit, then headed to a destination I'd been really looking forward to - Shakespeare & Co.! This is a very famous English language bookstore and cafe.




It was so incredibly darling. I wish I could share a ton of pics, but they don't allow them inside.

The shop was small and maze-like with treasures around every corner. I dropped a pretty penny there for books for myself, my husband and my children.

The cafe next door was such a nice touch, and we drank our coffees while admiring the street musicians for at least an hour before needing to head on.




The rest of the night was pre-planned by Stes. Before coming to Paris, she bought a Groupon for fondue at a small restaurant. She made her reservation for 6 pm and we were really excited for it.

Unfortunately, when we got there, we were ignored for almost 25 minutes. When a server finally came up to us, he rudely exclaims that they can't honor the Groupon until at least after 8. We already had plans for that time, so that wasn't going to work for us. They didn't seem to understand this as their problem at all, so we were out the money that cost us.

As a result, we had a small amount of time to kill, as well as empty tummies, so we headed toward the docks where our Seine River cruise would begin, and found a few Nutella crepes.



The river cruise was magical. It took us past several landmarks as the sun was going down. By the end of the cruise, the evening had grown very cold, though!




As a bonus, upon our return to dock, the Eiffel Tower was fully lit up and beautiful. I was glad for the chance at a second look.



And the night continued!

Stes has a friend living nearby and we decided to go out together for a few drinks. Really though, it wasn't just drinks. it was one of the coolest experiences I've ever had.

I had heard the story of Speakeasies from Stes' prior trips to Paris. Speakeasies began in the USA, during prohibition as secretive locations to consume alcohol. While there was never such need in Europe, new Speakeasy bars continue to pop up in Paris because they are so damn cool. We went to two that night.

The first was called Red Door. Walking down a bit of a sketchy dark road, we happened upon a man standing outside, using his phone and smoking a cigarette. If I wasn't with people who knew exactly where to go, I'd have passed him right by.

“Three people,” we told him. And he ducked inside without a word.

Then, he came back out, and let us in, leading us to a small couch and a coffee table. There was so much excitement in this air of mystery and secrecy for me!

Looking around, I could see that the place was very small with a big full bar, dim lighting, and comfy seating.


The menu was fun - it was a book of art, each piece very different from one another. The idea was to pick the artwork that speaks to you, and they'd bring you the corresponding drink.

For those less adventurous, there was a pull out cheat card on each page.

While I did choose my art first, I peeked at the card before committing, because I have pretty strong aversions to certain beverages. I was intrigued by my choice, and looking the list over later, I noticed all the cocktails were very strange combinations that I never would have thought to put together.

After one drink at Red Door, we headed out to the second stop a few streets down.

This was in an area a little less desolate, with shops and eateries along the road. This place was called La Candelaria. It is a Mexican inspired cocktail bar hidden inside a functional taqueria.


When we got there, it looked like an abandoned shop as the taco shop had already stopped selling and cleaned up for the night. But there was a man sitting just inside the door, so we again said “Three people,” and he pointed to a this white door at the back of the shop.

Once through it, it was a whole new world again. Dim lighting, small bar, tables, couches, and music.


Their specialty was tequila cocktails, and I got a spicy cocktail with a hint of cucumber. I don't recall the exact ingredients but it was very tasty!

After a very long and wonderful day, we Ubered home to rest up for remainder of our Paris adventure.

Our last wake up in Paris was filled with packing our bags and checking out of the hotel.



We took our luggage to lockers at the train station, and headed to Sacre Coeur. Luckily there was a Funicular cable car to take us to the top, so we could avoid the hundreds of stairs to get one of the best views in Paris.



After taking in that view, toured the beautiful church and walked to Painter's Square, where we could browse so much beautiful art on display. We also stopped at a cafe for a last bit of coffee and Parisian food and just sat and people watched for a while. Many of my take home souvenirs came from this area.

It was a very relaxed day and a wonderful send off from the city.

While I wasn't swept away by the storybook glamour I had expected, I do hope to see the city again someday. The real thing is both less romantic and more complex and intriguing than I thought it would be.



13 comments:

  1. So many sights in just three days! I haven't been to Paris since I was in high school...

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  2. I lived in Germany long ago and also saw Paris in 3 days! Thanks for the memories!

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  3. You fit so much into your visit to Paris, that is wonderful! Paris is one of my favourite cities and I've been blessed to be there more times than I can count - but every time I see something new. It is a seriously wonderful place, and I'm so glad you had a good visit. Thank you for sharing, and for being a part of Hearth and Soul.

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  4. This looks so amazing esp the show! I've been to Paris twice but never done 1/2 this stuff! Found you from justines blog hop
    Mommatogo.com

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  5. Exciting!! You sound like my husband and I with skipping the long lines. And saying "Is this my life?" Exactly how I felt when i got to go to Israel.

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  6. Thank you for a mini view of the wonder of Paris, I would love to go and see Paris. I appreciate your honesty, smells and rubbish :)

    That would have been a memorable trip.
    Kathleen
    Blogger's Pit Stop

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  7. We have a writer in Jerusalem right now. Hopefully a travel post on that soon!

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  8. I'm glad you didn't pass up this opportunity. On my bucket list. I think it could be quite complex, and like you I could not sit there and stare for hours. lol! Thanks for sharing with SYC.
    hugs,
    Jann

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  9. It sounds like an adventure! I love Paris, but agree, yes there are some stinky parts, and dirty parts too! I could not stare at the Eiffel forever either, but that being said, I still *love* Paris and love to just stroll around, get lost, window shop, and enjoy a patisserie in a square! Thank you for sharing your trip with Thursday Favorite Things!

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  10. Gorgeous photos! We went to Paris a few years back and there are some amazing things to see. :D

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  11. Looks like an amazing trip! How fortunate to be able to go! Thanks for sharing your trip with us!

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  12. ahhhh, paris. I stayed near the Shakespeare Book Shop and loved that neighborhood! Found you via the link party and would love to have you visit my blog and post here: http://www.hellolovelystudio.com/2017/06/come-enjoy-cupcakes-and-cocktails-in-my.html. PEACE TO YOU RIGHT WHERE YOU ARE.

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  13. Jackie what a fun experience. Your husband was right, everyone needs to see Paris at least once in their lives. I was surprised about the garbage but I think this is prevalent in many touristy spots. Thanks for sharing this fun and informative post.

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