Every year, Iris and I try to go somewhere “memorable” for vacation. It usually boils down to “seeing the world” in one way or another, and this year we got to go to Paris! This is my first time here (I never took that 8th grade trip here with my French class) and Iris’ first time since she was a little kid.
Here are some cool things we’ve done in no particular order … without having yet seen the Louvre or Versailles.
1. Climb up and down the Eiffel Tower (all 704 steps)
Iris and I have slightly different views on life. Me: Utilize great technological advances to decrease energy expenditure and save time, like elevators. Iris: Do whatever is more physically demanding because “exercise is fun!”
Iris usually gets her way, but in this case I actually wanted to try it. The 4-hour wait for the elevator wasn’t very appealing.
Honestly, it wasn’t that bad. You walk up to the second platform, then the elevator takes you to the summit. Thing is we climbed the Eiffel Tower after walking about 4.6 miles to get there in the first place. We decided to rent bikes back to our hotel.
We were so beat we slept through the insane noise of Saturday night partying in the square our hotel borders. Think 5 live bands with thousands of drunk, loud people. Somehow we slept through it all. I needed my rest because Iris didn’t think it was good for me to nap on the glass floor of the tower.
2. Ride bikes up the Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe
Biking was so fun that we used them the next day. We rode to the Champs-Élysées, saw the Arc de Triomphe, and visited shops and places to eat on the “5th Avenue” of Paris. It was really hot, so the chestnut trees that line both sides of the street provide much-appreciated shade.
We also went into Louis Vuitton. I can only assume this is the “flagship” store because it was HUGE. It was also 75% full of Asian customers and one couple that made it clear to everyone else there that they traveled via private helicopter. I also touched a shoe … apparently only the workers are allowed to do that since I was gently (but sternly) reprimanded.
3. Eat food disguised as art … especially macarons.
In Paris, they make art and call it “food” … because there’s no other way to describe the macarons we’ve seen and tasted. We visited the two most well-known joints, Pierre Hermé and Ladurée. Pierre Hermé’s macarons are better (softer and a bit more flavorful) but the centuries old decor and teahouse history of Ladurée on the Champs-Élysées — just incredible.
Iris had the following mini-macarons (the regular ones are the size of the palm of your hand!)
- 63% chocolate
- strawberry-candy marshmallow
I had some insanely delicious rose-flavored sorbet with lychee. I never knew what rose tasted like, but after that thing I’m a rose fan. I’ll eat rose, wear rose, smell like rose … anything for more of that stuff. After learning how to be snobby at Louis Vuitton, I used my snob face when pouring Iris’ Earl Grey tea out of the silver teapot, and she did her pinky point.
4. Crossed a few of the “ponts” (bridges) over the Seine
The Pont Alexander III connects you to the Eiffel Tower region and is the most famous and beautiful … the gold pillars are a sight to see. The Pont de Arts is a sight to see in it’s own right. People have gone bonkers and padlocked every conceivable space on the bridge with “love locks” … a sign of their devotion to one another. Not surprisingly, these love locks weigh down the bridge. The bridge Iris is pictured on here had repairs just a few days before we arrived!
5. Gape at the architecture of Notre Dame Cathedral
On our first day here, we wandered around for a few hours because we arrived too early to check into our hotel room. We ended up crossing the Seine to the Île de la Cité where the breathtaking Notre Dame Cathedral sits.
The entire cathedral is lined with intricate carvings and is considered some of the best in Gothic architecture, especially the flying buttresses. The gargoyles are pretty awesome, too. Where’s Batman?
6. Stroll through Luxembourg Gardens
Jardin du Luxembourg is a public park and serves as the gardens to the palace where the French Senate is housed. The gardens are meticulously manicured, and the uniquely cut trees looked like nature’s version of the AT-AT Walkers from Star Wars … and were seemingly just as tall.
The sculpture is of Polyphemus, son of Poseidon as part of the Medici Fountain in the gardens. Once again, amazing detail in all the artwork.
7. Free train passes for a hundred people … and other miscellaneous things:
Free train passes: We lined up to take a train from the airport to our hotel. As soon as we were about to buy our tickets, an official said “Non!” and then shouted to us and the hundred or so people waiting behind us that we could just go. He opened ALL the gates and told us to run to the next train … without tickets. Apparently he didn’t want to process all our orders, haha.
Awesome, right? We saved like €30 (~ $35 USD). Problem is once we arrived at our stop, we had NO TICKET to operate the gate to get out of the station. So we snuck through one a la Jason Bourne … with all our luggage in tow. Gotta do what you gotta do.
Late, late nights: It’s light out until 10:45PM in Paris. It’s a nightowl’s dream. No wonder so many people stay out and party every single night. (I’m at a loss for what time they have to go to work in the morning.)
I may die of secondhand smoke: People smoke like crazy in Paris. Seems the women do more than the men.
I may die of smallness: Everything in Paris is small … except prices. I can’t stand in our hotel shower and have nearly fallen out of it a billion times. My couch is bigger than most of the cars so I never see them coming when biking. The food portions are small but pricy.
Could have died because of the World Cup: We were going to watch the South Korea vs. Algeria World Cup match at one of the sports bars. We stalled a bit trying to decide until Algeria scored … and hundreds of Algerians started cheering and pulling Algerian capes and flags out of nowhere like they were superheroes.
- First thought: “Where is Algeria?” (honestly we are both geographically illiterate)
- Second thought: “Why are so many of them here?” (I looked it up on Google Maps)
- Third thought: Rooting for Korea might be like me saying I love the Yankees in the middle of Boston. Since Korea gave up 3 goals in about, oh 3.2 seconds into the match, we decided against staying at a bar full of crazed Algerian superheroes loaded up on booze.
It’s been a great stay and we still have the Louvre, the Palace of Versailles, and a river cruise on the to do list.
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