It’s me Lex with some info on Europe’s #1 travel destination: Paris, France! As a first-time visitor, Paris certainly met and even surpassed most of my expectations. The city is truly as elegant, quaint, and poised as it is portrayed in the movies. My only complaint is that I couldn’t stay longer!
My trip to Paris was a bit different because I had a special travel buddy… my mom! After spending two days together in Sevilla, we left for a weekend trip to Paris. Our flight left at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday and we arrived in Paris around 8:00 a.m., leaving us the entire day to explore the city. We started with a light breakfast at a grab-n-go French bakery. We both ordered “pain aux raisins,” a popular French honey and raisin croissant. (I liked it so much, I ordered it three more times throughout the course of the weekend). After breakfast, we made our way to the Louvre Royal Palace and Museum. The Louvre is the world’s largest museum, housing over 35,000 works of art, including Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous Mona Lisa. Not only is the art extremely beautiful and impressive, but so is the overall architecture and design of the museum itself. The entrance to the museum is a huge glass pyramid, and the inside is elaborately decorated from floor to ceiling. It’s absolutely ginormous- if you opt for the audio tour it would take almost 4 hours! My mom and I opted for the solo tour instead and were still overwhelmed and impressed by the huge selection of art in the museum. I was particularly struck by the collection of French art and sculpture. Surprisingly the only work of art that didn’t entirely blow me away was the Mona Lisa- it’s actually quite small in person. Nonetheless a trip to the Louvre is a definite must if you are ever in Paris. Entry is €12 for adults but free for EU students showing their visa… Travel Tip: A valid visa will get you into every Paris museum and monument for free!
After touring the Louvre we walked along the Seine River, taking in the sights. We stopped for pictures and a quick break (Paris requires a lot of walking!) at the Pont de Artes- a bridge made famous for the millions of signed “love locks” attached to it.
We then ventured to the Latin Quartier for lunch at a quaint French restaurant. We both ordered French onion soup that left our taste buds tingling, which is quite a surprise because neither of us really like onions. The combination of broth, bread, cooked onions, and melted cheese made it so flavorful. Our next stop was Notre Dame, but a huge queue discouraged us from entering. Although we didn’t go inside, its beauty was clearly evident from the outside.
Paris’s lack of public bathrooms caused us to stop for a quick pee break and dessert on our way to the Eiffel Tower. In order to use a restroom in Paris you need to buy something, although we didn’t complain too much after ordering and devouring a warm “Apple Tatin” pastry. We then continued on our way to the Eiffel Tower, passing by the Hotel des Invalides and the Champ de Mars. The tower is visible from many parts of the city because of its height, but you can’t really appreciate its beauty until you are standing right beside of it. It’s huge, and even more of a spectacle when lit up at night! It was almost hard to take my eyes off of it.
We stopped for a nicer dinner at the popular French restaurant Café Constant. We ordered red wine, beef stew, and duck confit. It was the first time either of us had tasted duck, and we were extremely impressed- it was so tender!
We began our day with French croissants and coffee- as true Parisians would. Before making our way to the Arc de Triomphe, we stopped at Laduree, a famous French macaroon bakery. The store is a classy array of color with a wide selection of macaroons. We bought an assortment of 8 for the road.
Afterwards, we continued along the Avenue Des Champs Élysées toward the Arc de Triomphe- a famous monument honoring those who fought and died in the French Revolution and Napoleanic War. We climbed the arc for an incredible panoramic view of the entire city. The view was really interesting because it put us at the intersection of the city’s main streets all leading in different directions. It was well worth the 30 minute wait!
After descending the Triomphe, we stopped at a trendy supermarket to buy ingredients for a picnic lunch underneath the Eiffel Tower. We bought a cheese platter, crackers, French bordeaux wine, blackberries, and a baguette to accompany our Laduree macaroons. It was a great day for a picnic with sun and 65° weather.
After our picnic, we took the metro to the Catacombs of Paris, but a two hour wait kept us from going inside. That’s an unfortunate thing about cities filled with tourists- long lines! Pooped from a long day of sightseeing, we decided to metro back to our hotel and take a quick rest before dinner that night. Per recommendation of our hotel concierge, we went to Au Petit Riche. We started with escargot (snails) as an appetizer. To my absolute dismay, I loved it; my mom, not so much. The snails were marinated in a delicious garlic, butter, and pesto sauce.
Next we ordered the house special- salmon served with a side of ratatouille. The salmon was good, but the ratatouille absolutely stole the show. I had dreamed of trying the vegetable delicacy ever since I saw the Disney movie, “Ratatouille.” It was definitely the best thing I ate in Paris, but that also may have been because I was a little vegetable-deprived in Spain. We ended our night with dessert cocktails at Harry’s New York Bar. Although it seemed a bit like a tourist trap (our drinks were €14 each), the ambiance was nice and the cocktails were tasty.
There’s something special to be said about Paris… maybe it’s the city’s charming flower-covered terraces, the historical museums/sites, the incredible food, the French culture, or just the general ambiance. Paris is a dream, and I’m so glad I got to experience it with my mom. I will most definitely return in the future. After all, Audrey Hepburn once told us “Paris is always a good idea.”