Paris, The City of Lights.
This weekend's trip really got me feeling some type of way. Everything around me was absolutely stunning, and the only thing I wanted to do in the moment was share that beauty with the people I love. Maybe the homesickness is starting to hit, or maybe this city full of love made me feel nostalgic...either way Paris found a special place in my heart.
We arrived late Thursday night and quickly hopped on the metro and headed out towards our AirBnB located in Des Batignolles. Located in the 17th arrondissement, Des Batignolles is a very hip and trendy location many tourists don't find themselves in. A 15 minute metro ride away from the main sight-seeing in Paris, this neighborhood was really pleasant to stay in. It was filled with locals, good food, and quite a lively scene for nightlife. After tucking our stuff away in our quaint little loft we spent a little bit of time walking up and down the street near our AirBnB and talking to some of our trés chic french neighbors.
***(Again, so many of these pictures are courtesy of Jaden and Thomas)***
The next day was packed. We started off at 9 from our loft and headed into the city to the Louvre. The Louvre is the world's oldest and largest museum. Undeniably one of my favorite places in the city, the museum houses some of the most amazing artwork, and in and of itself is a spectacular building that was originally a palace for French royalty. I will however repeat that museum is large, HUGE, and it can take a lot of time to see if you don't have a goal in mind. If you are like me and enjoy doing your research ahead of time, look up pieces that are housed in the Louvre that pique your attention, read about them, and then go look for them in the museum. Aimlessly wandering can lead you to getting lost for hours all together. Below is a mini guide with my favorite pieces from the museum and why I personally love them.
1. Venus de Milo
This statue was a gift to the French that was found fragmented off the Greek island of Milos. It is a perfect representation of Greek classical art. The goddess Aphrodite, who is represented here, is absolutely stunning. She equally balanced on both sides of the statue and represents the ideals of classical art: perfection
2. The Napoleon III Apartments
To understand what french royalty lived like make sure to visit the apartments on the 3rd floor of the Richeleu wing. They absolutely stunning. With gilded ceilings, high archways, plush red interiors and fabulous chandeliers the entire space leaves you awestruck and with the question: "could someone really live like this?"
3. The Mona Lisa
Would your trip to Paris really be complete without seeing this clearly ecstatic woman? You've already made it into the Louvre, go ahead and see the most infamous painting of them all. Time and time again, people will ask me what's so special about this painting. At the time it was created it was truly avant-garde and the truth is I don't expect anyone who isn't an art historian (myself included) to be in awe of this painting. It's small and quite frankly dull in comparison to the works around it, but the beauty of art is that it's value in the long run is completely extrinsic. This piece has acquired so much fame and you get to directly add to that history by standing in front of it and judging it for what it is. I could talk about this all day long but art is special because it unites people in the sense that they can feel uniquely about one thing. So I encourage you to step in front of this painting and just allow yourself to feel, feel angry, feel happy, feel awe, feel sadness, just feel.
4. Liberty Leading the People
Another phenomenal piece of artwork that was created to commemorate the Revolution of 1830 that toppled the monarchy that existed in France, this painting is very dear to the French people. It symbolizes the importance of liberty, an ideal that the french are very proud to have, and shows all the different kinds of people following that ideal in justified revolt.
After escaping the hold of the Louvre, we spent an hour or so resting our legs in the lawns that surround the museum. This whole area had a beautiful view and was the first time that we actually got a chance to see the Eiffel Tower (although tiny from here).
From here we decided to walk to the Arc de Triomphe, which is clearly visible and in a straight line from where we were BUT A VERY LONG WALK AWAY. After about 3 miles in an hour of walking we finally made it to the Champs Elysées which is the main street that leads up to the Arc de Triomphe. This stretch is akin to the Times Square of New York and was holding the biggest surprise of the day for me. The long walk had me tired and I just wanted to use the restroom, so I took a quick turn to head the toilets in a small building. After learning that the toilets cost money and turning back around, I saw a huge crowd of people pushed up against the glass of the Foot Locker store in the building. I turned to the man next to me and asked him what was happening to which he responded: "It's LeBron James!"
So yes, I did get to see LeBron James :)
Seeing LeBron James was a blessing but it was a time short lived and we were off once again on our trek towards the Arc de Triomphe, which from the Champs Elysées is significantly closer. And when we made it to our final destination, it was all for naught. The Arc de Triomphe in Paris is stunning. Somehow even with all the cars circling you, you seem to be frozen in amber, a place that asks you to be respectful for all those who fought for what they believed in.
After this packed day, we decided to head back to our AirBnb to freshen up and grab dinner (which we did at a phenomenal Japanese restaurant). Post-stuffing our faces, we headed off to the eiffel tower to see it for the first time.Pro-tip: as some in our group learned the hard way, make sure you save your metro tickets until you EXIT the station because they may check you for a ticket and of you don't have one you will be fined. Once you get to the tower beware of the crazy number of hawkers who will try to sell you toys and drinks, and also the gigantic rats! But again do not worry, the view will be absolutely worth it. Once agin I was left in awe by what was in front of me. Large and glittering, the Eiffel Tower is worthy of every praise it has ever received.
After spending sometime wandering around and exploring the Seine River, which is a 5 minute walk from the Tower, we headed back home for the night. Day 3 started late, after a nice homemade breakfast we headed out into the world and straight to Paris's infamous and eerie catacombs. This is an experience I recommend for anyone traveling through Paris. Something straight out of a horror film, the catacombs were built from old quarries in 1810 to house the bodies that were overflowing in Parisian cemeteries. It was really strange to stand there, underground, and look at the bones of 6 million people. It left me thinking about the fact that at one time all these bones were people, people who had people in their lives, lives filled with emotion. It oddly left me with a feeling of resolve. One that asked me to approach life with zeal because there may be one day where my bones end up in an ossuary and are looked at by 19 year old girls who wonder what my life was like.
A short metro ride later (which is honestly the most convenient and affordable form of transportation in the city) we made our way to Notre Dame. Notre Dame is an absolutely beautiful cathedral, I will say though as a shameless plug for Metz, the cathedral back home has the Notre Dame beat. We walked through the cathedral admiring its architecture and scale before heading out and exploring the small island that we were on. There are plenty of cute little boutiques and ice cream shops to whet your appetite.
From here we once again crossed the Seine, and spent the rest of our afternoon exploring the lively streets of Paris before heading towards the Eiffel Tower to see it in the afternoon and then to go to the top. Once again, something I think everyone must do. Here are some of the views.
.Our final day in Paris we decided to do something a little off-beat and head over to Les Puces. Les Puces is the city's largest flea market, and my favorite place. From antique treasures to the coolest wallets, the market is filled to the bring for affordable shoppers. I got myself some antique rings and really cool Swatch! I definitely recommend going, even if you're not interested in buying anything, there are some amazing crepe tents calling your name.
And finally, the last place we got to glimpse at, which I am planning on returning to fully explore, was the the Palace of Versailles. A short metro/train ride out of the city the Palace of Versailles was the home to the King once the Palais Louvre was converted into a full-fledged museum. No pictures we took do this place justice, in size and opulence it is sure to leave you in awe. In fact, I'm not going to share any pictures as of right now, because I'll be going back soon, I think I plan on making a dedicated post to the Palace of Versailles. That being said, thank you for making it to the end of this post, I hope you found it helpful, interesting and inspiring. I will see you all soon with another (admittedly much shorter) post on Barcelona, Spain!
18 years old. Industrial Engineering major. Dog enthusiast. Aspiring Khaleesi. Foodie. Land dweller. Struggling writer. Horrid chess player. Adequate chef. Thrifting lover. Environmentalist, and yes that does mean I'm a tree hugger. vegetarian.