“Every city has a sex and an age which have nothing to do with demography. Rome is feminine. So is Odessa. London is a teenager, an urchin, and in this hasn’t changed since the time of Dickens. Paris, I believe, is a man in his twenties in love with an older woman.”
And ain’t that the truth! Paris is an incredibly special place. Just being there takes me to a different era in time where smoking was a fad and showing your ankles was seductive. A week in Paris really does bring out the hopeless romantic in me but I found my week there to be a soul-searching journey. Paris, while incredibly beautiful, can be a very harsh city to be alone in. The unfriendly sidewalk glances and sheer refusal to participate in conversations in broken French/English makes the city a lonely one for non-French-speaking solo travellers. At least, that’s just my opinion.
I will say, however, that no matter what, I enjoyed Paris – for the architecture and culture but most of all, I loved it because I had the opportunity to visit a lifelong friend after spending most of our adult years apart. I mean 23 years and counting – that’s a long time. As much as I love travelling alone, it is also so much fun to have a companion to share laughs with; especially in a city like Paris. I mean, someone’s gotta help me get around in French right? But really tho, what I do appreciate about France is probably the fact that it pushed me so far out of my comfort zone. I had to learn basic French from only a few days Brussels but that was nothing for what I had to learn for Paris. My mother would be impressed!
But enough about that. I found myself strolling alone the Seine, getting lost in my own thoughts and almost walking into scooters far too many times. Yes, I’m a clutz and I have accepted this. I found myself cruising next to the French Open players on the river, feeling like a total bawse. I found myself eating a TON of cheese and drinking more wine than I have ever had in my life. But most of all, I found myself being so unashamedly myself. Which, by the way, is a feeling I love! I think, as a society, we tend to self-censor ourselves too much; we won’t admit enjoying (or not enjoying) something if we believe the company we are in doesn’t “approve” of it. Like some Americans won’t admit to enjoying Nickelback or country music at some point in their life – why I don’t know but hey, I’d stand with you if you said you did. In travel, it’s hard to do all the things you’d want to do because you are afraid of what your companions might think but I strongly encourage you to do them anyway. If they truly cared about you, they’d encourage you to do what you love too.
Anyway, before I get to deep, here are a few snippets about my trip to Paris.
1 – Day One in Notre Dame
If you’ve watched European news over the past 2 weeks, then you may have heard about the terror attack in Notre Dame. If you haven’t, then you should probably read about it. I was down the block from Notre Dame when I heard gunshots and screaming while police sirens went off everywhere. The sheer panic that ensued literally froze me in place for a solid minute. I heard about attacks in Europe so much over the past year, especially with the amount of terrorist-based news coverage we have, but never had I ever thought that I would be in that situation. Even though the attack was quickly evaded, it still scares me to think that it could have been worse. Yes, I am okay but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forget that kind of fear. One thing is for sure; being put face-to-face with your mortality really puts things into perspective for you. All I know is that I am grateful for our police officers and military everywhere for putting their lives on the line for civilians like me. I am grateful for the life I get to live and the dreams I get to make come true. I also want to take a minute to thank the people that checked in to make sure I was okay.
Thank you for making me feel safe in a terrifying situation.
And now, I can tell you that it only gets better from here.
2 – The Lourve
I made to the Lourve on an early Thursday morning. I can only try to describe Paris when there aren’t a million tourists everywhere. It is incredible! I was able to thoroughly photograph the monument before anyone else arrived. I think my favorite moment was when I realized I was the only visitor at one of the many exhibitions at the museum. It was exhilarating for this little nerd. I also really don’t understand what the big deal is about the Mona Lisa. I’m sure, yes, it’s a beautiful painting but I was so disappointed when I saw it. All the fuss for this? I personally much preferred the painting across from it and the many beautiful sculpture gardens in the giant museum.
Tip: Buy your tickets beforehand (for everything) and invest in the audioguides. The descriptions of all museum exhibits are in French and do not have typically have translations so having the guide makes it so much easier.
3 – Sacre-Coeur!
This church is straight up art. No other comment necessary. If you’re not into art, then do it for the view from the top of those stairs. If you’re not into that either, then do it for the workout to get there. If you’re not into working out, then I guess we can both agree on that. 😛
4 – Stained-glass & Sainte Chappelle
Holy mother of God (pun not intended for once)! This place hosts one of the most beautiful rooms I have ever been to in my life. Every wall in the room has stained glass windows making the room perfectly regal – fitting since it was made only for the King of France in the 14th century. Highly recommended since it’s less known and doesn’t have a lot of visitors.
Tip: If you plan to go on a Seine river cruise as well, the chapel is partnered with a local cruise company to give you a small discount on an hour-long cruise (typically 14-18 euros) if you buy tickets to the chapel. #budgettravel, am I right? A couple of euros can go a long way.
6 -The splendor of Chateau de Versailles
The time it took to go to Versailles was totally worth the utter beauty that is this palace. As a history buff, the fact that I got to walk in hallways once walked by the French nobility makes me want to go back in time! I remember just being speechless at the grandeur of the art and decor of the palace. Despite the number of years its been since it was built, the palace has been greatly restored and preserved for generations to admire the life that once was. If you get a chance, you must see the musical fountains in the garden. It’s so much fun and the gardens are breathtaking (in more ways than one). You would not regret seeing it.
Tip: Bring a decent pair of shoes for this please because only there does function beat fashion. You’ll thank me once you’ve walked the miles in your shoes.
7 – and of course, Tour Eiffel
No trip to Paris is complete without a peek at our dear Eiffel Tower. It’s so much bigger than I thought it would be and I’m honestly super impressed by it. The mere sight of it brings out the hopeless romantic in me. Despite the fact that I didn’t actually go up the tower, I found it to be absolutely breathtaking. It’s that moment where you actually recognize that “oh damn, I’m in Paris” and sweeps you off your feet like a long lost lover. Or maybe that’s just me.
All in all, I had an amazing time in Paris. It’s a beautiful city and incredibly photogenic. I wouldn’t say that it makes my top 10 list but at least I can finally say that I made it to Paris and that I’ll definitely be coming back again someday.
For all y’all beautiful people reading this, you guys are amazing and your support means everything to me. Thank you for keeping me going! ❤
Much love from your girl,