Parisian Spring Break

This trip was two years in the making. I had originally planned on visiting one of my childhood best friends, Neely, while she was studying with NYU Paris during Freshman year spring break, but unfortunately the pandemic got in my way. Luckily for me, Neely’s program allowed her to go back abroad for her junior year, so I jumped at the opportunity to visit and brought my other good friend, Naomi, along for the ride.

Day 1: The trip began with a late flight to France on Tuesday night. We checked into our airbnb, climbed the 5 flights of stairs up to our studio apartment, and went right to bed (but not before watching Disney’s “Ratatouille” of course).

Day 2: Thanks to Neely’s itinerary she made for us, our first stop was the Shakespeare and Co. coffee shop where we got breakfast and did some people watching. After breakfast, we took a quick walk across the Seine river to get a glimpse of the Notre Dame which is currently under construction. Next up was the Sainte Chapelle to see the stained glass cathedral that we had heard so much about. Let’s just say the hour wait in the rain was worth every minute because I had never seen a more beautiful and colorful church.

Next on the itinerary was the Shakespeare and Co. bookstore. Naomi and I browsed inside for a while, looked at books, and searched for the bookstore cat. We didn’t end up buying anything, but it was still pretty cool seeing the inside of one of the most iconic bookstores in Paris. Since the weather was less than ideal at this point, we started making our way home to get ready for dinner, but not before stopping for macarons. We checked out one of Neely’s favorite places, Pierre Hermé, and it definitely did not disappoint.

For dinner we met up with one of Neely’s school friends, Justin, at a cute Parisian restaurant called Glou. I don’t know if it was just because I was so excited to be in France, but the wine I got with dinner tops my charts as one of my favorites. After dinner, Naomi and I took a spontaneous trip to the Eiffel Tower because what else would we do after our first full day in the city? Convenient enough, three of my Copenhagen roommates were also in Paris for a few days so we all got to watch the Tower sparkle together.

Day 3: Our third day was reserved for the Palace of Versailles. Naomi and I took an early train and made our way into the dreaded ticket line. I guess we should have considered that it was a sunny, Easter weekend before assuming it would take anywhere less than an hour to buy tickets on site. Although I was slightly impatient and hangry during the waiting process, it was all worth it to see the Palace and gardens.

I’ve been to a lot of European royal homes at this point in my time abroad, but Versailles tops them all. I’ve never seen greener grass in my life. The gardens were something straight out of a fairytale, so I definitely understand why French royalty lived there for so many centuries. The inside of the Palace was also nothing less than extraordinary. We were able to walk through all the massive bedrooms, impressive dining rooms, and elegant ballrooms that I can only imagine were well used by French monarchy.

After a long day of exploring Versailles, we headed back to Paris to get dinner with Neely and my three roommates. We met at Ground Control, which was similar to a massive food court with cuisine from all over the world. It was such a crazy crossover experience to sit at a table with my childhood best friend, college roommate, and Copenhagen roommates all at the same time.

After dinner, everyone was pretty exhausted, so we headed home to our respective Paris apartments. Naomi and I were tired, but not too tired to go to bed without watching more “Ratatouille” of course.

Day 4: Friday was a long one. I’m all for roadtrips, but the five hour, one way drive to Mont Saint Michel was pretty daunting after waking up at 6am to catch the bus. Luckily, I had plenty of time to catch up on sleep, so the drive through French countryside didn’t seem so long after all. By mid afternoon we arrived at Mont Saint Michel which was quite literally straight out of a movie (Disney’s “Tangled” to be exact).

When I tell you this was the prettiest place I’ve ever seen I am not kidding. The 300 foot castle sat on a private island with water surrounding on every side. I wish there was a better way to describe such a place, but I’m pretty sure magical sums it up. I’ll attach pictures to the end of this post so you can get some imagery, but just know a camera never compares to the real thing, so I’d highly recommend seeing it for yourself.

After another five hour bus back, Neely, Naomi, and I were pretty exhausted. We stopped for quick drinks and snacks at a cute restaurant near the airbnb, but that was pretty much the extent of the night.

Day 5: Neely knows how much I love local art, so first on the itinerary was a street art fair with the Sacré-Cœur Basilica conveniently located across the street. Now, I’m not going to ruin any surprise gifts for people back home, but lets just say I found some art pieces I just couldn’t resist.

Next up was the Louvre museum. There was just no way I was going all the way to Paris without seeing the Mona Lisa, and I did just that. Of course we stopped to see some other famous statues and artifacts along the way, but our sights were set on finding Mona. Turns out she was not the most conveniently located piece of art, so it did take us 45 minutes to find the exhibit. Once we turned down the correct wing though, it was easy to follow the herd of people surrounding the famous painting. Naomi and I patiently waited in line for our chance to look at her up close, and eventually took the pictures we worked so hard to get.

Straight from the Louvre we headed to the Eiffel Tower to meet Neely for a picnic, which might just be the most iconic Paris activity in my opinion. Neely came fully prepared with fruit, nuts, cheese, a baguette, and wine. Naomi and I brought macarons of course.

At this point, the sunset was quickly approaching and we made our way to the Arc de Triomphe. The line to get to the top was longer than anticipated, so we decided pictures from the street was our best option for the time being. We found a street with a long stoplight and ran into the road between red lights to get a clear picture of the Arc and sunset behind. I’m well aware that this kind of behavior is exactly what you’re not supposed to do just for a picture, but I got some phenomenal pics and live to tell the tale.

We then made a quick turnaround at the aibnb and headed to a bar to meet up with some more of Neely’s school friends. Funny enough, two of her friends were from Texas so we had plenty to talk about.

Day 6: Our final day trip was spent in Giverny–home to Monet and an abundance of flowers. Per usual, Naomi and I did not quite catch the memo that we needed to be first in line in order to catch the bus from the train station in Vernon to Giverny. When the bus left, we were in the back of the line and left with two options: wait an hour for the next bus or rent bikes and ride into the city ourselves. We chose the later. If you remember one of my earlier Copenhagen posts, you know that I had not quite overcome my fear of biking as of yet. However, desperate times call for desperate measures, so I got myself on a bike and rode into the city. Despite lacking knowledge of bike resistance for the first half of the trip, I eventually became comfortable enough to look around and enjoy the views.

Giverny was another fairytale town. Quaint little streets surrounded by flowers…. it’s no wonder Monet felt inspired to paint. To no surprise, Naomi and I once again failed to consider the amount of people who would also be visiting Giverny on a beautiful Sunday. We decided our time would be best spent exploring on our own instead of waiting in long lines to see Monet’s house. We ate lunch at a cute outdoor restaurant, browsed the shops, and spent a fair amount of time sunbathing in a flower patch. We ended the afternoon with homemade ice cream and a bike ride back to the train station. Overall not a bad day trip.

That night, we met up with Neely and her friend Valeria for dinner, followed by drinks at a custom cocktail bar. We then made our way to one of Paris’s oldest jazz bars. I had only ever been to country dance halls back home in Texas, so I was a little out of my element in terms of figuring out to how dance without looking like such a foreigner. After observing the regulars for a while, I decided there was no way I was going to pick up jazz dancing in one night, and decided to two step instead. Neely and I picked up right where we left off in Texas, and definitely confused some Parisians who were not so familiar with country dancing.

Day 7: Our final day started with a chocolate museum because how could we not. I’ll admit I was not able to read the French descriptions of the exhibits, but the chocolate was good so I’d consider it a success. Next up was another trip to the Arc de Triomphe, but this time we were going to get a view from the top. The line moved much quicker this time around and the long flight of stairs was more manageable than expected. From the top, we saw views of the entire city which was a perfect way to end the week.

Before heading to the airport, we grabbed lunch at a restaurant with an Eiffel Tower view. I decided it was only appropriate to order escargot since it was such a Paris delicacy. Now, I know that escargot is snail, but I was surprised when the waiter handed me a plate of shells and a few strange contraptions to eat them with. After a demonstration from Neely, I figured out how to properly eat Parisian escargot and I’l admit it was pretty good.

The most dreaded part of any trip is always leaving, and this time around was especially tough. I said goodbye to Neely, planned to see her again in Texas this summer, and Naomi and I made our way to the airport.

While all my trips abroad have been so special, Paris might just top my list as my favorite one yet. While the city was beautiful in itself, the fact that I got to experience it with two of my best friends was what made it so memorable. Although I only planned this trip a few months in advance, I had really been looking forward to it for the past two years. They say “all good things come to those who wait”, and Paris was definitely worth the wait.

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