Where to begin… This sounds cheesy but Paris has always been in my heart. My grandpa’s name was Paris, my cousin’s name is Paris, following a long line of Parises in my family. Getting to come back to this city is such a pleasure- and I’m sure it won’t be my last visit.
We arrived in Paris on Thursday night, and our first order of business was to visit the Eiffel Tower to see it twinkle. Unfortunately, we missed the last twinkling of the evening but still enjoyed sitting in the park looking up at this magnificent work of engineering genius.
While we were there, there was a large group of young American next to us. There were maybe 25 of them all together, and they had created a mound of garbage. The group started to disperse, but nobody was taking any trash with them- they were leaving it on the grass right in front of the FREAKING EIFFEL TOWER. Young Americans, like me. I decided to do something. I called out “DON’T FORGET YOUR GARBAGE! DON’T BE THAT GUY!”
And. It. Worked.
Not every single one of them turned around, but enough of them came running back to carry as much as they possibly could. This was very encouraging: simply making myself heard was what made the difference.
After we gave up on the lights, we were so starved that we walked about 8 blocks to find a decent priced French restaurant, closed. Then we went frantically from place to place, only to find waiters stacking chairs upside down on tables. We decided we would tough it out and get some food at an tourist-trap cafe very close to the Eiffel Tower called Iolanda. Here we enjoyed escargot and cheese crepes. Also, we got to see our first restaurant rat, who we only assumed was Remy from Ratatouille. He was even so kind as to brush by Sam’s foot on the ground. If that wasn’t enough, when we went to pay our bill, we found out there was a €1 surcharge for every item ordered after midnight- lovely.
Ahh, Friday was fantastic. I got 8 hours of sleep for the first time in probably 5 days. We began our morning at a cafe called La Place Rouge, where nobody spoke English. I got a delicious vegetarian dish for just €7. Afterwards, we headed to the Arc de Triomphe to climb to the top! It is the most amazing view of Paris, so all of the stairs to the top were well worth it. Then we headed to the Louvre where we met another Floridian named Brian traveling alone.
On Friday evening after 6 PM, the Louvre has free admission to anyone under 26. (Heck yes.) However, we let Sam go in first. Then Danielle and I spent 45 minutes searching for her inside of the biggest museum ever until she finally connected to WiFi to tell us where she was. It seemed like it was all meant to be when Danielle ran into two of her classmates from back home who were coincidentally also visiting Paris. Right place, right time.
After the Louvre, we picked up some cheese, bread and vodka to enjoy under the Eiffel Tower as we awaited the twinkling lights. The Eiffel Tower lights up every hour on the hour after dark for 5 minutes, but stops at 11 on weeknights. This was the most fun time, full of giggles and amazement at the beautiful lights. We stayed there long enough to see three sparking spells and about a dozen rats.
Afterwards, we said goodnight to Brian and headed towards our hotel. When we got off the metro at our stop, two young Morroccan men asked if we wanted to get drinks. We looked at each other then immediately said yes and started walking the other way. We ended up on the lawn of Cité Internationale Universitaire playing spin the bottle truth or dare. Simply unforgettable.
This was a day full of walking, and we brought Brian along again. We went to the Notre Dame to find a line so long we decided to do a perimeter around the outside instead of going inside. Then we headed to the Catacombs of Paris – a place where millions of bodies were buried during the plague – to find a line so long that it would have been closed by the time we got inside. We decided to walk around somewhere with delicious gelato and a Lush store! Hilariously, the only person to make a purchase at Lush was Brian who forgot a bar of soap for his trip. Sam and I both got free samples of face washes. We’re bargain shoppers.
To end our evening, we headed to meet some friends Brian was staying with on a canal along Quai de Valmy to eat some pizza, cherries and wine. Getting to spend time with locals was so fun, and these particular Parisians were really hilarious. We talked about things like stupid lyrics and memes. We sang New York, New York by Frank Sinatra on and off for hours. We danced on the sidewalks and laughed way too loud. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
On Sunday, we woke up in time to visit the inside of Notre Dame during their mass. Without thinking, Sam forgot that wearing a tank top could prevent her entrance into this religious monument. When we got to the front of the line, he told she she must cover her shoulders. We ended up finding a woman who had a small hand towel in her backpack. She rocked that towel, but it barely covered her shoulers. It was absolutely gorgeous inside. The Notre Dame probably has the highest ceiling I’ve ever seen and some of the most intricate stained glass in the world.
We then ventured off to visit another large church, a bit further from the city center. This church is called Sacré-Coeur, which translates to Sacred Heart. It honestly looks like the architects learned a thing or two from the Taj Mahal. We had to climb up numerous steps to get to the top of the hill where the church is located. From the church, you could see the entire city. It was magnificent!
Upon leaving Sacred Heart, we picked up some beautiful macaroons to accompany some more brie and baguettes. We enjoyed our last evening in Paris under the Eiffel Tower once again enjoying these snacks. One of the Moroccan gentleman, Anas, met us there right as the police were kicking everyone out around midnight. From there, we took a lovely stroll around the city, passing once more through the beautiful campus of Cité Internationale Universitaire.
We woke up early to head to Charles de Gaulle Airport to fly to our next stop – Berlin. I’ll tell you all about that soon… As for Paris, I left even more in love with the city than I was when I got there – despite the rats.