For anyone who has read this little travel diary over the past 8 years or so, it’s no surprise that I love Paris – from my first visits while a dumb little baby student living in Dijon, the summer of 2005, up to now, it’s continued to be one of my favorite cities in the world. (And you can read about a few of those trips here and here and here if you want to. But like…no pressure, I get it).
And this summer was no different! I was once again taking the ever-impressive EuroStar to Gare du Nord, but this time Jon and I were going to meet up with my friend Lindsey and her boyfriend. We’ve all been to the city before, and that meant we had a lot of flexibility in our trip – time to revisit favorite places, try some new things, and just travel slowly. No rush. No pressure.
The weather for the week we were there was pretty spectacular. Thank goodness! I’m always happy to get some real heat on my skin – these damp English summers don’t really do it for me. It was hot for the first several days, followed by a big rainstorm on the second to last day/night (we even got separated from our friends for awhile because the intense rain meant we couldn’t make the run for it from the restaurant we were eating at to the bar we were all meeting at! Jon and I ended up getting a taxi to take us a full two blocks and we still arrived soaking wet just from sprinting to the cab and out again).
Of course a lot of cheese and bread was consumed, and wine was drank. How could we not?
A new experience for this trip was booking in a tour of the Palais Garnier, the stunning opera house in the center of Paris. The tour was okay – our tour guide went off on a lot of tangents and didn’t explain as much about the architecture as I would have liked – but it was still amazing, and just being inside was wonderful. Next life goal – actually go to see a performance here! (And if you want to tour the building, I’d suggest going in for the self-guided tour with audio guide).
The four of us spent a humid Sunday morning wandering around Pere-Lechaise Cemetary, checking out all the tombstones of residents both famous and not.
And Jon and I had some of the best cheese and wine of our lives when we spent an evening doing a tasting at Les Petits Crus, a little restaurant just a few blocks away from our hotel in the Marais.
Another new thing on the list was a tour of Victor Hugo’s former home in Place des Vosges. It’s free, so for that alone I’d recommend popping in! The rooms are renovated/recreated in the way that they were when he was living there, and it was a really interesting way to spend an hour or so.
Besides those few new experiences, we spent most of our trip wandering, specifically around the Marais. This is half laziness and half just wanting a chill holiday! Plus, the Marais is a really wonderful neighborhood, with lots of interesting nooks and cranies to keep it exciting.
Of course we also did two things that are essentials as far as I’m concerned – a trip to the Musee d’Orsay (because I love it and it’s the best) and a sunset picnic on the banks of the Seine, specifically near the Ile de la Cite, where Notre Dame is. Gorgeous. It seemed that all of Paris was out there on this specific Friday night. No surprise!
Let’s see, what am I forgetting – we fit in some fantastic vintage shopping (if that’s your bag, check out FreeP’Star and Kilo Shop Kawaii, which has two locations), a visit to the L’Orangerie museum, which houses eight huge Monet paintings, and mostly just got to enjoy the privilege of being in Paris for a beautiful week in July. Dreamy!
On our last day in Paris, Jon and I were left to our own devices as our friends had already left for their flight back to the States. We checked in our backpacks at the Gare du Nord luggage lockers, then walked north to Montmartre. It ended up being a jam-packed afternoon, as during our walk around the formerly bohemian paradise we saw a guy filming a video for his rap song, and an entire film crew doing a scene for what looked like a period drama. This alongside the regular hustle and bustle of the area made it a little more exciting than usual.
Eventually though, our feet were tired. We made the 20 minute walk back to the station, camped out at the bistro across the street with two very large (possibly too large, if I’m being honest) glasses of red wine, and people watched until it was time to go through security and get our evening train back to a very wet and miserable England. It had to happen that way, of course, just to make sure we truly appreciated our time away.
Good thing we did. (And if you’re looking for a lovely hotel in the Marais, I’d highly recommend the Bastille de Launay. It was perfect in every way).