Paris, oh la la. I used to automatically picture a café with a frothy latte in one hand and a macaron in the other while staring at the Eiffel Tower. While that is completely true, Paris is so much more.
Paris, France was the second stop on our September European vacation. (read about our London adventure here) We arrived in Paris in the late morning and grabbed an Uber to our Airbnb which was situated within a 5 minute walk to the Eiffel Tower. When researching the different areas Arrondissements in Paris, each had their own appeal, but since we were only in Paris for less than three days, I knew I wanted to stay as close to the Eiffel Tower as possible so I could see it light up at night. Anita was our host and she welcomed us into her one bedroom flat. It was charming and surprisingly spacious considering the area! She walked us through every inch of the flat and even had chocolates set out for us to enjoy during our stay. I am so thankful for her kindness and thoroughness when receiving us.
I had scheduled us a half day (4 hour) walking tour with The Localers. What drew me to this company was their out-of-the-box descriptions for each tour and 5-star reviews on TripAdvisor. Around 3pm we met up with our guide, Corey. We started at the Eiffel Tower (snapping a photo of us with no one around!) and learned some history and fun facts – like the Eiffel Tower gets painted every 11 years and it takes over a year to paint the whole thing! Also it is painted in grades (darker at the bottom and lighter at the top) so it appears one consistent color.
Next we took the metro close to the Lourve. Here we learned about the Egyptian Obelisk and the Arc. We walked up the courtyard to a pond and Corey told us to sit. I followed direction and waited for him to start spitting facts at me. Instead he told us to just sit… and be. To take it all in because this is the Parisian way. We, as Americans, are always in such a hurry to get from point A to point B. In Paris you won’t find anyone carrying a to-go coffee or eating in their cars or on the metro. They stop and take in the simple pleasures in life like reading a book in a park or at a café. Those 5 minutes will forever live in my memory because I stopped and took in the moments that happened around me – the Lourve in the background, sounds of the fountain and smiling to myself that I was actually in Paris. After a couple minute walk, we arrived at the iconic glass pyramid of the Lourve. We sat as Corey highlighted several of the over 30,000 items that live in this museum. One was the Mona Lisa. Want to know why the Mona Lisa is so popular and the most visited artwork at the museum? It was once stolen! True story – click here to read about it – now it lays behind protected glass and roped off so no one can get too close.
Over the next couple hours, Corey took us on a journey through the streets of Paris. We were led into secret gardens/courtyards and even got a personal chocolatier tasting at Edwart in the Jewish Quarter. My favorite moment on this tour was seeing the Notre Dame for the first time. We approached it from the back end through a garden then walked around the side and to the front plaza. I purposefully did not look up until I was a distance in front and centered. I wanted a grand reveal and it did not disappoint! As if perfectly planned (and I’m sure it was) the bells rang. Our last stop was at a quaint bookstore named Shakespeare and Company. Coincidentally I follow them on Instagram so I had heard of it. We said our goodbyes to Corey and set off looking for a place to eat dinner.
After dinner, we Ubered back to the Eiffel Tower so see it light up. It sparkles for about 5 minutes every hour at night until 4am. At 10pm on the dot, the light show began. Now I know why they call it the City of Lights! We walked back to our flat and rested up.
In the morning, we walked back to the Eiffel Tower to see it up close and walk under it. It was a sunny and warm which made it a perfect day to walk around. We followed the Seine until we ran into the Pont Alexandre III the iconic mint and gold bridge. Next we went to Luxembourg Garden to take a Parisian moment as we learned the day before. If only my backyard could mirror a section of this garden. It is carefully landscaped and manicured. Angelina’s was next on our itinerary – famous for their thick hot chocolate. They say it’s the best hot chocolate in the world and I would agree with whomever said that! If you have a chance to stop here, do it! After lunch we made our way over to the Notre Dame to explore the interior of the church. As beautiful as it is on the outside, it’s even more on the inside. There is a main aisle to the alter and on the perimeter are little alcoves with chapels dedicated for prayer and offerings. It is very dark in this church, only lit by chandeliers, candles and huge stained glassed windows (the most beautiful rose windows I’ve ever seen.) We finished up inside and snapped some more photos of the exterior.
At 7pm I scheduled us to attend a string concert inside Sainte Chappelle chapel which was a 10 minute walk from Notre Dame. There was one place in all of Paris that I was most looking forward to and this was it. I am a sucker for stained glass windows and this chapel is 360 degrees, floor to ceiling covered with stained glass. I knew I wanted to spend as much time as possible here. When we entered, a wave of pure joy and wonder flooded my body. The soft evening sun shined through the glass windows and shadowed a rainbow of colors into the room as brass chandeliers hung from the ceilings. Brian took my hand as we sat into our seats and concert began. Sounds of a violin, cello and harped piano filled the space. This is my heaven on Earth. The photos below are stunning, but nothing compares to seeing it in person. The sun slowly went down as the concert commenced. I wandered around until Brian and I were the last people in the chapel and snapped photos of this dark, enchanting room.
Drunk off pure bliss, we headed back to Shakespeare and Company bookstore to purchase a book and eat. Brian bought “The Philosophy of Beards” (it’s real) and I snagged a cook book. We walked next door to the café, ordered two wines and snacks then sat at a picnic table outside which faced Notre Dame. On our tray was a questionnaire, so we filled it out. I was thankful for Brian throughout the trip, but in this moment it truly sank in – this trip would have been amazing by myself, with a friend or family member, but being able to take this trip with just him by my side and at this point of our lives was something so special. I will forever be grateful.
Since it was dark and getting late, we ended our day with another trip to the Eiffel Tower to see the sparkling lights. It was the perfect day.
In the morning, we took advantage of our last hours in Paris with a private photo shoot courtesy of The Localers. Our photographer’s name was Olaf and he took us to different spots that highlighted us with the Eiffel Tower. It was so much fun and the pictures turned out amazing!
During our last hours in Paris, we went to a local bakery, loaded up on croissants and fresh grapes and walked right in front of the Eiffel Tower for a quick picnic before heading off to the airport to Rome. Hands down the best chocolate croissant I’ve ever had!
Paris was enchanting and I can honestly say that I could live there. It wasn’t goodbye, but “until next time.”