Note – photo gallery at the bottom of this post.
I don’t think I have enough superlatives in my vocabulary to describe Paris. It’s everything that all the books and movies make it out to be – the city of love, the city of lights. Every street you walk down in this city absolutely teems with history and culture, and can be quite overwhelming to the senses. How do you even react to the colossal and elaborately decorative structures built over 500 years ago when they surround you on all sides?
Some days, we ended up taking refuge in some of the smaller neighbourhoods of Paris, to give our senses a break from the overwhelming palaces and formal buildings. Taking time to wander through quainter and smaller neighbourhoods like Le Marais on our DIY Picnic Lunch day meant ducking our heads into smaller boutiques and smelling baguettes fresh out of the oven in boulangeries – and that I think, is what makes the quintessential Parisian experience.
We stayed in a very old tiny sixth-floor Airbnb studio apartment in the north of the city near the metro station Barbes-Rochechouart, a highly multicultural part of the city. While it was a little bit further out, it meant that our stay seemed to be that little bit more of a genuine Parisian experience – having to hike up six floors on a rickety wooden spiral staircase that’s been worn away in parts through decades of use, smelling the fragrant aromas of home cooking with each floor that you passed. That’s not something you get when staying in a sterile hotel room in the centre of town.
So, how did we spend our days in Paris?
One day was spent in Disneyland Paris – K and I absolutely love theme parks and try to visit the best ones on most of our holidays. Unfortunately Disneyland Paris was a little bit disappointing as a few areas of the park were closed on the day that we visited. Some of my favourite old-school rides such as ‘It’s A Small World’ were closed, as well as the roller-coaster ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Peril’. It didn’t feel quite like a true Disneyland experience without some time spent with the creepy singing animatronic figures of ‘It’s A Small World’. For the record, I’d also recommend purchasing your park tickets online rather than at the door – you can save up to $20 Euro per person!
We spent another full day at the Louvre Museum. I’d visited once before when I’d gone to Paris for a few days with my friend Maren, but I’d somehow forgotten about the sheer scope of the museum and its works. Suffice to say that if you’re in any way mildly interested in art, one day is not enough to take in even half of what the museum has to offer. K and I have promised each other to plan a future trip to Paris in years to come, with at least a week dedicated to museums alone…after all, we didn’t even get the chance to go to the Musee d’Orsay or the L’Orangerie.
Other days were spent simply wandering around the different neighbourhoods. The day we spent picnicking and in Le Marais as I mentioned, as well as the day we spent dining at Laduree and wandering around the Champs-Elysees and the Tuileries. We had a fancy meal at L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon one day as well, and did the typical night-time jaunt up the illuminated Eiffel Tower.
The thing about Paris is that you always leave feeling as though you haven’t done everything you could do. There’s a million museums we didn’t visit and a number of neighbourhoods we didn’t walk through. There’s restaurants we didn’t visit, and we certainly didn’t spend enough time just sitting at a street-side cafe with a hot drink for hours, just watching the world go by. And honestly, can you really say that eating a baguette a day is sufficient? I certainly didn’t eat enough pastries, tarts, cakes, brioche, cheese, pate…there’s a whole food world in Paris which we barely skimmed the surface of.
Paris, I love you. Farewell for now, but not forever.