A few years ago, I wrote up a list of things I’d like to accomplish before I turned 30, which is this April 17th (feel free to send positive bday wishes if inclined). This was a relatively short list including: go horseback riding, which I did in the Pisgah National Forrest with my mom last summer, and learn to play golf. I took a series of lessons last fall and instantly fell in love with the throw your clubs, stomp your feet frustration and yet oh-so rewarding game. The other major goal was to get a passport and STAMP that thing! I’d started to think this would never happen and then I met a dude that loved to travel and soon enough we had a trip booked to PARIS, FRANCE!!!!! Not only did I get that French stamp but I was completely bit by the international travel bug, and hard.
The trip was amazing, we ate ALL the food, drank ALL the wine and explored ALL the places. Just kidding, but we did our absolute darnedest trying to do ALL that we could. That being said, this might be a little bit longer than my normal post, so pour yourself some tea and get cozy.
The trip started with a baby hiccup when we missed our two hour bus tour of the city (we were all of four minutes late, not that I’m still bitter or anything). Thankfully, we were able to reschedule for the following day so we hopped on one of the famous boat tours down the Seine instead, which was mehhhh… To be entirely honest, the weather was pretty cruddy and the boats are so much lower down than the buildings along the river, it’s hard to even see the great sites. BUT, we were in Paris, floating down the Seine while drinking espresso. No complaints from this chick!
Over the next few days, my schnookums and I explored the Musee d’Orsay (free on Sundays), Musee d’Louvre (awesome but freaking enormous and exhausting), Notre Dame Cathedral, and Sainte-Chappelle. The last stop was probably my favorite church of the entire trip. Not only is this place so low on people’s radar (barely anyone there), it is like walking into a giant jewelry box. The top half of the building is almost entirely gem-toned stained glass, got all up in my feels being in that sacred place. Thankfully, a friend told us to check it out or we never would have known about it.
One of the best decisions we made was purchasing a two day museum pass when we landed at the airport in Paris. This allowed us to see all the places above, a peek around Versailles Palace, and the Royal Gardens. The one hour train trek out to Versailles was entirely worth it with beautiful views along the way. The palace was insane, dripping in luxury. However, for Nick and I both, we loved the gardens the most. So well manicured and designed, I could visualize monarchs strolling through the woods or picnicking by the beautiful ponds. We enjoyed a lunch in the gardens and went into the local town to check out the boutiques and fresh street markets. I was on a mission to find something uber French for my then non-existent niece, Eloise Mae. Not only did I find the perfect pack of very Parisian onesies but an egg-shaped timer for cooking soft/hard boiled eggs written in French for myself. Total win for souvenirs.
That same day we reserved our lift to the top of the Eiffel Tower (and yes, this was all as surreal as it sounds to me too). Now, I’m a giant wimp. I don’t dig glass elevators, especially ones that go up that damn high. I don’t care how many times the thing successfully caries hundreds of people up and down in a day, I held my breath and pretty much closed my eyes the entire time. Once we were up on the tippy top viewing station all my worries washed away. It was breathtaking. Views on views on views. Paris is an expansive, intricately designed city with some of the prettiest buildings and parks I’ve ever seen.
The next day was a whopper, we had to be up extra early because we booked a day bus tour to the World War II D-Day beaches, American memorial and museum in Normandy. It was well worth the long hours, not only did we see 3 of the beaches stormed by American, Canadian and British soldiers but the American cemetery. This was a day of quiet reflection and education. I knew what happened but never truly understood how sad and extensive the liberation of Normandy was during WWII. Our guide was amazing and so informative, this tour was probably one of the best decisions we made and I’d highly recommend it to anyone visiting France.
On our last day, we decided to walk through the Montmartre neighborhood. This was an area that sits uphill of Paris and houses the Dali museum, Sacre-Coeur, Van Gogh’s studio, Moulin Rouge and many other artsy places. Its probably my favorite day of the trip because we didn’t have anything scheduled and got to stroll around at our own pace. One of the best meals we had was at an Italian place called Tentazioni in Montmartre, I had some rigatoni and Nick had risotto…. still dreaming about that meal. And all thanks to that little gem now I want copper serving bowls. We visited a cemetery where Jim Morrison was buried along with many other famous people, drank rose atop Printemps and purchased an oil painting from a local street artist. To finish the day we strolled through the lush Luxembourg Gardens and watched local kids play soccer after school. Perfect ending to a whirlwind trip with my best friend/boyfriend and the final check off my list!
Now the big question is, where will I get my next stamp?
P.S. Note to self: pack multiple jackets and scarves and only a few sweaters. Otherwise, you look like you wore the same thing all week.