We are one week into our Parisian chapter — crazy, we know! Here are a few words to describe what the experience has been like:
- walking. 🚶♀️ lotsssss 👣 of 🚶♂️ walking 😴 .
- bread. 🥖 lotssss 🥖 of 🥖 bread 🥖.
- ideal weather
Paris has been a “definite” on our list since the beginning of our trip planning. We are very fortunate to have access to the flat of a close family friend (shout out to James’s “Aunt” Loraine and “Uncle” Bob! 1) which has made this stay not only exceptional, as expected, but also comfortable. Comfort is an underrated thing for backpackers and, while we’ve been thrilled to share spaces with friends and test out new European spots using Airbnb, having a flat to ourselves to really “settle in” is way cool.
Let’s jump to the updates! We’ve had some (completely self-inflicted) long days with many adventures so, instead of telling a long long story, we’ve organized our highlights into buckets.
Places We’ve Visited
- Montmartre — We stopped into the beautiful Sacré-Cœur, ate crepes on the hill, and in general enjoyed the artsy neighborhood. Hoping to go back for Jazz nights!
- Eiffel Tower — Just this morning, for sunrise! During all other hours, it’s just as busy as you would expect.
- Tuileries Gardens & “Fairgrounds” — The gardens are typically a great place to read a book and lounge. Most recently they were also the setting for a sort of carnival. It’s exactly what you imagine, except switch out the cotton candy for churros. Sheila could not contain her enthusiasm for riding the Ferris wheel, and so we did and got a great view of the city!
- Arc de Triomphe — Funnily enough this monument has become our true north as we navigate the city, as it is quite close to our flat and is the center point leading to most other frequented spots. It’s enjoyable to see the ebb and flow of crowds depending on the time of day. Apparently there is also a great view from the top, which we have yet to experience.
Everywhere the light touches in 17th Arr. and 1st Arr. — The 17th Arr. is our neighborhood and where we take our evening walks. It’s fairly quiet and residential but you’d be surprised how easy it is to get turned around in this area. The 1st Arr. is where a lot of the “action” is and also many of the places we have on our list to visit. The Parisian Arrondissements, or districts, each have a distinctive feel.
Adventures & Mishaps
- On our flight to Barcelona, Sheila snagged free seat upgrades - from row 36(!) to row 5 (not first class but close enough to smell the curtains)! All was well until shortly before touchdown, when we realized the tickets for our onward journey to Paris were for the day before. 😶 Overnight flights, folks … they’ll get ya. Without another option, once we landed we quickly bought new tickets using the airport WiFi. Imagine us, standing just before the guard checking the boarding passes for people with connecting flights, as we were clicking through the screens to buy new connecting flights. BUT! We made it, and we actually got on an earlier flight than expected!
- We were lucky enough to be in Paris for Bastille Day, France’s Independence Day. Other than the fairgrounds and the Ferris wheel, we didn’t know what to expect. We did not attend the morning parade, which began at the Arc, but we did witness the aftermath — as we walked from our flat to the Arc we saw swathes of police vans and also crowds of people wearing masks (apparently to protect from tear gas)… so we redirected our walk. However, later we were able to take part in the fun — we walked down toward the area of the Seine by the Eiffel Tower to partake in a picnic (Parisians are HUGE on picnics) and watch the fireworks show.
- Today, we woke up early to enjoy the sunrise at the Eiffel Tower. The now familiar walk, past the Arc de Triomphe and towards the Seine, proved mesmerizing in the predawn glow. We arrived at the Champ de Mars (the park in front of the Eiffel Tower) and had the whole view to ourselves. As the sun came up, and its rays began to touch down on the city in front of us, the light took on a magical quality. THEN the park’s sprinklers came on, right as the sun’s light was about to hit the Eiffel Tower! We laughed a lot as we grabbed our breakfast picnic and retreated, shivering, to a nearby bench. With our coffee date at Bleu Olive (see Favorite Spots, below) still two hours away (when the cafe opened at 8:30 am), we did some calisthenics by the Musée de l’Armée to keep warm.
Favorite 😍 Spots
- Fluctuart — We happened across this spot as we walked along the river and it’s the only place we’ve frequented more than once. This is “The world’s first floating urban art center” and it features a bar, kitchen, and art gallery. Oh, and it’s actually a boat on the river. OH, and it’s free to climb aboard!
- The Kitchen — This one is off our Paris vegetarian restaurant list, which is small but mighty, and we were excited to try it out just the other day. Sheila got the vegan stew and James the pimpin’ avocado toast 2. We had such a good time there, eating our food and sipping complementary chai, that we even sprung for the chocolate vegan protein smoothie. Yes, this is what we consider a BIG treat.
- Bleu Olive — Sheila happened across this coffee shop when she was in Paris last June, and was wooed by their iced coffee. She even took their business card, which is a rarity for her, and James (in the early days of their relationship) made serious note that they would one day go together. SO we did, however both of us ordered hot coffee because of the brisk morning made brisker by the sprinklers (see story from Adventures & Mishaps above)
- Le Pain Quitodien — We meant to go here to pick up a loaf of bread as we found ourselves suddenly overwhelmed with hunger by the Louvre, and we stayed for the full-on lunch menu. This place is sneaky awesome for people of all diets and desires and they even make sourdough bread 😛
- Parc Monceau — We’ll affectionately call this our neighborhood park, as it’s just down the street from our flat. On any day of the week there are people enjoying this natural, lush place in different ways such as running, hosting a company happy hour, having a picnic, or enjoying some quiet reading time.
Tomorrow we’ll do a free historic tour of Paris, so we hope to have a ton of fun facts to share in our next update. We also have friends visiting Paris in the next week, and we are looking forward to sharing what we’ve already discovered of this city with them, in addition to creating new memories in new places.
James: when I was growing up, our alleged cousins lived right across the Tappan Zee Bridge from us in Westport, Connecticut. At the far-too-late age of 8 or 9, we were driving there to visit when my sisters and I got to discussing our mom and dad’s family trees. At a certain point, we realized that we had gone through each of their siblings without “Aunt” Loraine or “Uncle” Bob having made an appearance. It was at this exact moment that our parents decided to break the news to us that we weren’t related at all! 😲↩ back to post!
actual menu item name↩ back to post!