It’s here! Our European adventure blog… Part 3 – PARIS.
If you haven’t seen them already, head to our previous blog posts to catch up!
Day five started off not so great because we realized that Carrie & Lily wouldn’t be able to join us in Paris because the train strike that was taking place that weekend would have made it near impossible for them to get back home. We were very sad that we had to say goodbye to them there at the station after such a great time in Germany. But we boarded the train without them on our way to Paris, France. :)
Isn’t he just an angel when he sleeps? :D
When we arrived in Paris, exited the train station and immediately pulled out the map on our phone while trying to keep the station’s wifi and squinting into the sun to figure out what street we were on. Doug was about to hail a cab when a woman walked up to us and asked us if we were lost and needed help. I guess we looked exactly like the tourists that we were, lost in Paris after 5 minutes of being there. You can laugh if you want to, we sure do. ;)
The woman was from Scotland but now lived in Paris and was currently pregnant with triplets! She was so kind to help us and saved us around $60 for a cab ride by walking us the short distance to the entrance for the Metro that was actually just behind us. (Again, feel free to laugh.) The train tickets ended up being €1.50 per person so she was honestly our savior.
*We later met a couple from Atlanta who took a cab from the train station that scammed them into paying €200 for the ride. We sure dodged a bullet because of that woman!
We loved staying at Le Royal on Raspail Boulevard! So friendly, so charming and a great location. If anyone is looking into a place to stay in Paris, we highly suggest this adorable hotel.
This is the view from our shoe-box sized room. See how the window isn’t open all the way? It’s not for an aesthetic look as you might have thought, although it does add a little something, but it’s because that’s how far the window goes before hitting the bed. The bathroom door was very much the same. With that being said, we loved every minute of it!
DISCLAIMER: Okay, get ready for a lot of photos of the Eiffel Tower. Apparently that’s what happens when you see it for the first time. You just. can’t. stop.
Once we dropped off our bags at the hotel, we decided to grab a few items from the local shops and bakeries to snack on under the Eiffel Tower. It was on our bucket list for Paris after all… So we rounded the corner from Le Royal and stopped at the first meat shop we found. This was our first real experience so far on this trip of what a language barrier really felt like. He knew zero english, and we knew very little french. But with some killer hand gestures and broken french/english we managed to get a few fresh slices of salami and chorizo, because honestly those were the only two we actually knew out of all of them. Next door to the meat shop was a fresh and wildly aromatic bakery where we purchased a baguette for a whopping €1. And Franprix was a little french market that you can find on basically any corner in Paris and we had an awesome variety of french chocolate and cheeses.
Afterwards, we jumped on the Metro (Again. So cheap and easy!) and headed to Trocadero, a very popular view point of the Eiffel Tower and also the place where we were to be getting our photos taken just a couple of days later. We caught our first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower while riding the Metro to Trocadero, crossing over the Seine. It was unexpected, and we were wide-eyed. I can still see it clearly in my head, and I’m not sure we’ll ever forget that cinematic moment.
While we sat and ate with our glorious view of the Tower, a few guys walked by selling several bottles of wine to the other bystanders. Doug and I looked at each other, not really needing to say anything, before handing over our money for a nice bottle of red and a couple of cheap plastic dixie cups. This is now our preferred method of drinking wine.
We spent a good two hours staring up at that Tower, not even tiring of the view. But after two bottles of wine later, nature tends to call. That’s when we realized that Paris doesn’t think public bathrooms are a necessity. We walked for about 20 minutes with our new bathroom-finding American friends from Atlanta before we find an outdoor, glorified, self-cleaning, porta-potty. And by that I mean it took 5 minutes to “clean” (or should I say spray the entire room dripping wet) between each person’s visit, which in turn made the 10 person line take about an hour to go through. Not sure why I’m telling you this story, maybe to forewarn you, but there you are anyways. ;)
By the time we made it out, it was getting dark and we were no longer full from the meat and bread we ate earlier so we thought, naturally, it was time for a gooey crepe while we waited with the hundreds of other people for the light show to begin.
We woke up very early on day six so we had plenty of time to figure out transportation from our hotel to the Palace of Versailles as it was more than an hour away. Turns out, Paris is the master at transportation and everyone should take lessons from them. We simply took the Metro (seeing a theme here?) to the farthest point outside of the city and then using the same Metro tickets we were able to hop on board a bus that drove straight to the gates of the Palace. So convenient, so appreciated.
But first, coffee, amiright? Doug and I made a quick detour to the only place that was open just down the street from the Palace. This was our first, and only encounter with “French rudeness” as the woman was very annoyed that we had yet understand how the whole order-sit-down-then-pay thing works in Europe. We didn’t even have the chance to order a couple of cappuccinos before she shooed us away. I was very upset by this but we still enjoyed our first French croissant before heading back to the Palace.
The Palace of Versailles is breathtaking. It is so incredibly beautiful that it’s almost overwhelming, and really only something you can experience in person, but I hope these photos do it justice. Or at least entice you to want to visit.
The Palace of Versailles, Halle of Mirrors
When our minds needed a break from the constant history lesson that is the Palace of Versailles, we found the perfect opportunity to get our cappuccino’s. Hooray! Brooke was happy again. :)
This right here my friends, is call the Hundred Steps. And it is only about 1/20th of the entirety of the Palace Gardens. Our jaws dropped when we realized the enormity of the gardens and spent most of the day wandering and exploring each corner.
Our feet and backs were exhausted from walking around so much already but we were not about to waste an opportunity to see more of Paris so when we arrived back to the city, we walked just a little ways to see the Arc de Triomphe! We even risked our lives (a little bit) by getting the iconic shot in front of the Arc, as we didn’t realize is this shot is taken on the median in the middle of the street. But we’re alive, aren’t we?!
To get to the center of the Arc and really experience it, you have to go underground and walk beneath the road to get to the other side. But they don’t tell you they charge an absurd amount of money just to get to level ground, and even more to get to the top. So sadly we thought our money could be better spent elsewhere, but we did get a nice view of the underground tunnel. ;)
We walked back to Raspail Boulevard, the area where we were staying, and found the cutest little cafe for dinner called Mont. At first, we sat outside because you have to sit outside of a cafe and order a glass of wine. That’s just the rule of Paris. Or at least it should be. But the wind and rain kicked it up a notch and we figured inside sounded a little bit more enticing with each gust.
Our waiter brought our drinks over and followed it up with some chips and salsa… If you’re thinking “why would a Paris cafe hand out chips and salsa?” you’d be right there with us. We looked around at all the other tables in that cafe and not one of them had a bowl of chips and salsa sitting in front of them. So how did they know?! How did they know that these Americans were craving our homeland of Arizona’s specialty of Mexican cuisine? Do all American’s crave Mexican food when they’re abroad? Do they know something we don’t know? What is it?!
I ordered the
French Onion Soup, because when in France right? Cross that off the bucket list. Doug ordered a lasagna that was also delicious and we finished up the meal with none other than Créme Brûlée. Délicieux!
Day seven was a fun one. We started the morning off with a shoot of our very own. Yes! We hired a photographer in Paris! We knew we wanted a photoshoot at one of our destinations in Europe and for a while we were going back and forth between Italy and Paris until we settled on Paris and I am so happy we did.
For now, we’ll leave you with this photo, and we’ll bring you an entire blog post full of all of our favorites from the session. Eeek! Can’t wait to show you! :D
After the shoot, we decided to go home and change and then walk the two miles through Paris to the Musée de Louvre, viewing the undeniably gorgeous architecture and charm of this city we now love.
The Louvre is so much more massive than we expected. I guess when you think of the Louvre, you think of the glass pyramid and not the entire museum that surrounds it, or at least that’s how I imagined it. Clearly in reality it is so much more.
This is as close as we could get to the Mona Lisa… It was a mad house I tell ya!
After spending an entire day at the Louvre and our feet couldn’t handle taking another step (the rain also decided to really make an appearance) we took the Metro back to our neck of the woods. But since it was our last day in Paris, there was one more thing we need to eat… Macarons. So we risked the rain and picked up a box to snack on at our room while we rested our feet and listened to the rain through the open window.
We decided to try a little restaurant called Le Smoke that was just down the way from where we were staying. We didn’t feel like walking too far anywhere after the day we had so we stopped in with our tummies rumbling and wiped off the rain from our coats.
We loved the pub-like feel of the place, the dark wood of the bar and the local vibe of the people around us. We even got to chatting with the two gentlemen next to us, one of which spoke perfect English to which we later found out that he is actually an English teacher for adults there in Paris. Talking with him made us realize that we hadn’t really experienced the French rudeness that everyone speaks of in the US. Most of the French people we encountered were very helpful and reassuring when we apologized for not speaking their language. We did however hear that if you make an effort to learn a few words or sentences to begin a conversation, that it will go a long way in their eyes. So maybe that was what brought us such luck and great experiences with the people around us, but we’d like to think that not everything you hear is meant to be true and to always go in with an open mind and a kind heart.
Doug ordered the highly requested steak with green beans, potatoes and an incredible cream sauce that I may or may not have commandeered for my own potatoes, and I had the quiche lorraine. We devoured our dinner and wished there was a magic button for seconds. That was our favorite meal in Paris, and a great way to end our last evening.
Our last night in Paris our hearts were a little heavy. We were not ready to leave and probably could have stay an extra few days before we were ready for our next stop. We had the best time and the most magical experience at every turn and with every bite we took. I think we might have left a little piece of our heart in Paris, and we’re not at all opposed to going back and getting them.
Perhaps next time we’ll be there for a dream shoot? ;)
Stay tuned next Friday for our ITALY blog post! Another can’t-miss and the fourth and final chapter of our European adventure!