I am so excited to be bringing this post to the blog because it is something near and dear to my heart. For years and I literally means years I have wanted to go to Paris. I have begged my mom over and over to take me. It sounds like the most cliche request from a girl, but it has been on the top of my bucket list for as long as I can remember. I don't really know what it is about Paris that drew me to it so much. Maybe because it's the fashion capital of the world and I knew a part of me belonged there. I don't know if it's my obsession for macarons and all the other desserts you could possibly imagine. All I knew, was that I NEEDED to get there.
Many of you might not know, but my mom works for Southwest Airlines so I have had travel benefits all my life. When I say travel benefits, I mean my entire family gets to fly for free as non-revenue/ standby passengers. This means that if there are seats on the plane, we can hop right on for FREE. Yes, it has been an incredible blessing in my life and quite frankly I haven't taken advantage of it like I should have.
It wasn't until recently that I really got the travel bug. Since my mom has benefits, she also has some perks on other airlines. Southwest doesn't fly to Europe, so we had to fly on Delta. Due to Southwest's partnership with Delta, we could fly to Paris and just pay the taxes as if we bought a ticket. That means we only paid around $150 each way for a direct flight to CDG. Yes, freaking amazing. The only down side to all of this is that I graduate in about 6 months and as soon as I graduate so do my flight benefits. BOO. That is part of the reason why we had to make moves and get my little French loving butt to PARIS.
Because of those flight benefits I was talking about, I have only ever flown an airline other than Southwest a handful of times. Our flight left Salt Lake City around 5:30 pm and it was approximately 10 hours in the air. They fed us 3 different times and I watched all the best movies. If you are taking a long haul flight like that, I strongly suggest Delta. Because I know how hard it can be to travel on a budget, you can set Google flight alerts for certain days and prices for flights and will be emailed every time a flight with your exact specifications is available.
We landed in Paris at around 11 am. The jet lag was already beginning to kick in because we didn't sleep much on the plane. Next time, I'm taking Ambien. We booked an Airbnb to stay in and got such a good deal with a view of the tip top of the Eiffel Tower from our window. It was about a 45 minute drive from the airport to the flat we rented so we took an Uber. I was a little nervous about the Uber at first, but I would recommend it to anyone as long as you can figure out a meeting location for pick up at the airport, you should have no problem.
Winters in Paris mean lots and lots of rain and we were prepared for that. After settling into our Airbnb we headed out to get a look at the Eiffel Tower. It was less than a mile walk from our flat with beautiful street views and alleys lined with shops and cafes. We were staying in a pretty quiet neighborhood area so I never felt unsafe walking the streets. Our first stop was to get a famous crepe from a little stand near the Seine River with views of the Eiffel Tower. After gorging ourselves with crepes, we got in line to take the elevator up into the Eiffel Tower. If I remember correctly, it was around $10 or $12. There is crazy security measures and army men walking around with machine guns (a little unsettling), but you're in good hands.
The views from the Eiffel Tower were absolutely incredible and a must see for everyone. You have a bird's eye view to the entire city, the river and it's accompanying regal buildings. There is a beautiful theatre with more incredible architecture right across the street where you can snap some photos with the entire tower in the background. Just as we were getting ready to walk back to our flat, the lights on the Eiffel Tower started to twinkle and I knew it was meant for me. Every hour on the hour, there is a light show that lasts only 5 minutes so make sure you factor that into your trip.
The rain started to come down pretty hard and we had unfortunately not been smart enough to bring our umbrellas with us so we ducked into the nearest bakery and got delicious baguette sandwiches. Due to our jet lag, we went to bed around 7 pm that night. In order to fight jet lag for all that it is, just power through it and try to stay on schedule with the country you are visiting.
We woke up and headed for our first Parisian breakfast. I'm the worst and don't remember any of the names of the places we ate because when ya girl is hangry, you have tunnel vision for coffee and carbs am I right? The little cafe we ate in was so cute complete with red, tufted benches and gingham table clothes. Most of the cafes we ate at offered a continental type breakfast which came with croissants, baguettes and jam, some type of egg/ omelet dish, coffee or tea and freshly squeezed orange juice. I would have never expected this, but one of the best things I put in my mouth in this country was their dang orange juice. There was a little market by our flat and we stopped in for the freshly squeezed OJ bottles like 3 times during the trip. It's to die for. Also, I didn't think I liked croissants until I ate one in Paris.
The Arc de Triomphe was just a few blocks down from the Eiffel Tower so that was our next stop. It's kind of funny these monuments because they look amazing and spectatcuar and then you kind of start to think out pointless they are, they are kind of just there. The Arc is literally in the middle of a round about on the street. Like the Eiffel Tower, you can go up into it. Since we spent the money to go up into the Eiffel Tower, we decided it would be pretty much the same type of views if we went up in the Arc. Still gorgeous though.
If you know me, you know my obsession for macarons. I swear I was supposed to be French man. However, I did not know how good macarons actually were until I went to Laduree. This is a MUST when in Paris. Laduree is the original maker of the French macarons and rightfully so. They're a little pricy, but worth every penny and you'll probs have to make 1 or 2 stops throughout your time in Paris. My favorite flavor was the Vanilla and Raspberry.
Today was the day we tried out the metro. I don't know about you guys, but public transportation gives me serious anxiety. I also have a germ problem, so that could be a factor, but using the metro in a foreign country terrified me, but I knew that's how we had to do it. We planned to go to the Louvre, we just weren't sure the exact line we needed to take. Something we discovered while on this trip is that if you put an address into Apple or Google maps, you can select "transit" directions and it will tell you exactly which line and stops you need to make. This was our saving grace. However, there was some very helpful people in the ticket booth that were able to give us information so we didn't get on the wrong train.
The Louvre is one of the many fine art museums in Paris and home of the Mona Lisa and the Venus Di Milo. Tickets were $18 a person which I didn't think was bad at all. If you go to a museum in New York, you are guaranteed to pay at least $40 a person. I have just recently gotten to the age where I can appreciate museums, partly because I took an art history class my freshman year but also because I am old enough to understand how truly talented these artists were. Since we came on the off season, we didn't have to wait in much of a line, but I've heard that lines at the Louvre can be 2-3 hours long so be sure to factor that in. After awhile, you get a little arted out. The Louvre is crazy beautiful and was once the palace used for a fortress in the 12th century. The history here is crazy.
Because we were fighting the day light, we left the museum after seeing the famous Mona Lisa and headed towards the Notre Dame Church. Notre Dame is a cathedral also built in the 12th century and still provides confessionals and services to congregations of people. Photos don't even do this place justice and out of respect, I only have photos of the outside. While you're near Notre Dame, there is a quaint little bookstore right across the street called Shakespeare and Company. It is a primarily a second hand bookstore, but sells new copies and also rare books. I got 2 second hand books for only 8 Euros. It's the cutest little place and a MUST see.
Per my mother's complaints, Disneyland Paris was something I could not miss out on. I have a goal to visit every Disneyland Park in the world so it just wouldn't make sense if we didn't go. It was our first sunny day in Paris, but also the coldest day. We were getting really good at the metro system, or so we thought. Disneyland Paris is outside the city in the suburbs of Chessy. It was abut a 50 minute trip on the metro. We got on no problem, until we realized we were going the wrong way on the line. We quickly hopped off and got going in the right direction. It's nice because Disneyland was the last stop on this line so that chances of getting to the right place are in your favor. Disneyland Paris has only been around for 25 years so it's pretty young in comparison to the other parks.
There are two parks; Disneyland and Walt Disney Studios. We decided to only get tickets to Disneyland and it cost 70 Euros per person. The Disneyland Paris castle is probably hands down my favorite castle in all the parks and Main Street was so cute decorated in blue and silver for Christmas. There wasn't that many people at all and the longest we waited in any lines was maybe 20 minutes. Theres also not that many rides. Disneyland Paris has most of the same rides as the park in California and Florida, but there are some differences. Space Mountain is WAY more fun, it feels faster and you even go upside down. Indiana Jones is roller coaster that lasts about 45 seconds. My biggest disappointment with Disneyland Paris was the lack of treats. Maybe because it was their off season and it was so cold outside, but theres no carts or stands of endless treats here. I would definitely go back, just preferably when it's nicer weather outside.
For dinner, we decided to venture to a nicer restaurant near our flat that we had received many recommendations on. For the most part, there are a lot of people in France that speak English or have the basic concept of English. Most menus have the English translation underneath so it made it extremely helpful when ordering. This was the first restaurant we had been in that didn't. I tried to Google translate as much as I could and the waiter did his best to explain as much as he could. I decided to go with the pumpkin soup and what he told me was shrimp. It seemed like my safest bet. When my "shrimp" came, they sure came, eyes, legs, antennas and all. You should have seen my face. If it didn't cost so much and if I wasn't already starving, I probably would have cried, but when in France right? I mustered up my courage and just peeled those bad boys right apart. It was probably the most interesting food experience we had there and it actually turned out to be pretty delicious once you got past the gross part. So for future reference when you are ordering shrimp or prawns in a foreign country, don't expect some Red Lobster ish.
Hands down my favorite day I had in Paris. We spent the day at the Palace of Versailles. I think there's a misconception that everything you want to see in Paris is really close by. It's not. You will have to take the metro unless you rent a car (I WOULD NOT SUGGEST) or Uber everywhere which could get pricy. The metro is really inexpensive with a one way ticket usually costing between 2 and 8 Euros depending on how far you are traveling. The Palace of Versailles was also out towards the suburbs of Paris and we rode the metro for about 45 minutes. This Palace played a key role in the French Revolution and if you know anything about King Henry XVI or Marie Antoinette then you can understand the significance. I can't even explain how miraculous and ornate this palace is. Like, hi MTV welcome to my crib. It's out of this world with gold plated everything everywhere and ornate paintings and art in every room. It cost about 20 Euros for admittance in the Palace of Versailles, the Trion palace and Petite Trion. This place was massive. We spent pretty much all day here because there is so much to see. It's so big that you have to take a tram in between each of the estates because it would take so long to walk. Because we came in December, all of the landscape was dead which bummed me out. The gardens would be so beautiful in the summer time and you can even rent bikes to ride through them. Guess I'll have to go back.
P.S: Here's your chance for another stop at Laduree. Get some more macrons, do it!!!
When making plans to come to Paris, we planned on spending one of our days in London. 2 weeks prior to when we left for Paris, we looked up tickets on the train called the Eurostar that goes in between many European countries. When we looked, the tickets were about 120 Euros per person round trip and we thought that was manageable. While we were in Paris, London was hit with a huge snow storm that halted their transportation services for 2 days. Due to that, the Eurostar bumped up their prices because they can to 500 Euros per person. Yeah, plans of London went out the door. So for future reference, if you plan on doing that book in advance!!!!
Since we had an extra day we didn't plan on in Paris, we made stops to random little sites we didn't know if we would have time for. We ate at my favorite cafe called the Eiffel Cafe right near the Bir Hakim metro station. After breakfast, we took the metro to Champs Elysses which is more of a downtown vibe. There are high end stores and mall areas lining the streets and the best Christmas decorations you could ever imagine. One day when I come back to Paris, I'm gonna buy myself a Chanel bag and no one can tell me not to. #bucketlistitem
After picking up some souvenirs, we headed to the Catacombs. If you don't know, the Catacombs is a tunnel underneath the city that houses over 6 million bodies from the middle ages throughout the 1800s. When cemeteries ran out of room during the Black Plague, they had to find other places for the bodies. It cost about 18 Euros ( I think it's overpriced for what it is) and you got to tour it on your own. You go down a few sets of really windy stairs to get to the tunnel. Immediately, my claustrophobia started to kick in. The tunnels are pretty low hanging and narrow and it takes about 30 minutes of walking till you actually get to the good stuff. The entire time I just kept thinking it was going to cave in on us so this site is not for the faint of heart. However, it is so incredibly interesting and worth it if you have extra time in the city.
There is one restaurant I actually remember the name of because we went there 3 times. The owner was so nice and accommodating and they have an entire English menu. It was called Les Freres Bretons and they serve galettes and crepes. The caramel crepe from here was hands down the best crepe I had in the whole city.
This was the absolute trip of a lifetime for me, if I had to do it again I would 100 times over and I would do what I could to stop in more European countries. If you have any questions or need recommendations of places to stay or things to do, don't hesitate to drop a comment or reach out to me. I feel like I was meant to be Parisian and I can't wait to go back someday.