Where to begin? I don’t think anything I write could possibly do justice to a city as wonderful as Paris. The streets, the architecture, the history, the food – there were endless sights and experiences. Now I was never one of those girls who hung black and white Eiffel Tower posters up in my apartment for decor, or dreamed about being proposed to in the city, or really ever put Paris at the very top of my list of places to see. I’ve always been interested in Rome, Barcelona, Morocco, or Madrid. However, I jumped on an invitation to go, and was completely blown away! Therefore, I’m going to have to do this blog in two posts: one for each day that I was there (and a little extra about our arrival).
First, a flight from Dublin to Paris is only an hour and fifteen minutes long. That is nothing. We got to Paris with no problems, unless you count a broken down train that forced us to take a cab. Matt’s father, Robert, is staying in Paris for the month and renting an apartment right by the Boulevard Saint-Germain, a major street in Paris. So, we had a free place to stay in a great area with a personal tour guide. We dropped our stuff off in the apartment, and immediately made our way out for a late night walk and snack. The most noteworthy of our time that evening, minus the good company, was a walking bridge over the Seine. Clasped on the wire railings were locks, like the kinds you would use on a locker, or for a bike. People would write love notes on the locks and attach them to the bridge. Along with that, there were hundreds of people sitting on the bridge with picnics and wine, gathered in little groups, some playing musical instruments, others just enjoying their cuisine and the night. I would have loved to just sit down with a group of them and joined in! If I ever go to Paris with a group of girls, we will definitely have to do this.
We woke up early the next day to sunshine and nice weather. We headed off to the Jardin du Luxembourg first for a stroll and brunch. Noted as one of the most beautiful gardens in Paris, the area was filled with people jogging, sitting under the sunshine, pushing boats in the fountain, or just touring it like us. The Senate, or the Luxembourg Palace, sits right in the huge garden and is both grand and beautiful. Everywhere you walk there are trees, flowers, ponds, fountains, and statues. My favorite of the fountains was The Medici Fountain. Surrounded by greenery and with the light peeking through the leaves just right, it was so peaceful and calm. We then made our way over to a little cafe under the trees where Matt and Robert ordered omelettes, and I got a crepe! In Paris, they are obsessed with Nutella, and I noticed it was on every single crepe menu, so I went ahead and ordered one. It was so delicious and the chocolate just oozed out with every bite. For not a single second did I feel guilty for having chocolate at breakfast.
We then started to make our way to the Notre Dame Cathedral. Along the way I noticed all of the designer shopping: Chanel, Dior, Prada, etc. We didn’t stop into a store like that, though; we stopped into Shakespeare and Co., a famous American bookstore. It was quaint and rustic, exactly what a true book-lover would want their bookstore to look like! I didn’t purchase anything, though, because I was a little antsy to get to Notre Dame, which you could see across the way from the front of the bookstore.
Notre Dame was the coolest, most magnificent thing I’ve seen in my lifetime. I absolutely loved it. The stained glass windows were so intricate, the flying buttresses and gargoyles were gothic, and the detail behind every statue or carving was out of this world. When we arrived, a morning Mass was just ending, so we were lucky enough to have the organ playing throughout our time inside. There were candles everywhere and the ceilings were just so high. Behind the church is a garden, and the view of the back of the church, or the exterior of the apse, was breathtaking. Put with it a perfectly beautiful day, and I was in heaven. I believe it is one of the oldest buildings or churches in Paris, and knowing that I was standing in the same place that held the coronation of Napoleon, it was just surreal.
With Notre Dame a success, we decided to take a break at one of the thousands of cafes in the city. We crossed over the River Seine, which at lunchtime was sparkling, and took an outdoor seat to enjoy the sunshine. We ordered some water and a drink, and toasted to our time in Paris. While sitting there we saw brides having their portraits done, which actually made me insanely jealous. 🙂 There were families out with their kids and dogs, and people like us just sitting out to have a drink, which I may say is a common site to see at pretty much all times of the day.
Our sightseeing picked back up when we decided to just stroll around the city. We stopped off to see the old Opera House and the Hotel de Ville, which is the location of City Hall. We, of course, went to the Arc de Triomphe, which I aptly named the “largest roundabout in the world.” I should have been more impressed with the monument itself, but I was too busy thinking about how people in Dublin would try to handle this bad boy! We then made our way down the Champs Elysees, one of the most famous streets in the world. Filled with cafes, ultra chic and expensive luxury shops, and cinemas, it was easily the most tourist-filled area of Paris. This was unfortunate, because it kind of ruined the ambience of the street, but I still got the idea, and we were able to have a nice pizza dinner along the avenue where we could people watch.
We returned back to the apartment to take a nap and freshen up, and then went to the Eiffel Tower. At night, it is one of the most romantic things I’ve seen…that is if you can ignore the street vendors tossing light up mini towers into the air and trying to sell you things. When it started to twinkle with all the blue lights, I had to just stop and stare. We decided to take a boat cruise since the night was so nice, and I’m really glad we did. We had a comfortable seat on the river just cruising along, viewing the lit-up facades of the most famous buildings, and hearing the history behind each. We crossed under a bridge where you close your eyes, make a wish, and kiss your partner, which was fun for me after Matt jokingly grabbed for Robert. It was a delightful night, and a nice ending to packed day.
And so you see why this will become two posts. I am the luckiest girl in the world to get to say that I did all of this in just one day. I collapsed into bed that night, completely exhausted, and was asleep in a matter of seconds. Good thing too, because the next day was just as wonderful!