Thursday, November 20, 2014

Eurotrip Part Four: Paris

This is the fourth and final blog post about my recent trip to England and France! If you would like to read about everything I got up to in England, you can scroll down to the three previous posts, and if you'd like to hear about my time in Paris, keep on reading!

On the last morning in London, my parents and I got up super early, ready for a long day of travel ahead of us. But London and Paris are so close together, you say? Well, they are... if you take the Eurostar. But since we had waited until so last minute to book our transportation to Paris, we decided it was more economical to take a bus instead! The bus actually ended up being really perfect for us because 1. we were all so exhausted from all the walking we had done during the trip so far and really needed a day to rest, 2. taking the bus meant seeing pretty views of the English and French countrysides, and 3. it meant we got to experience driving under the English channel! (By the way, how that works is they have all of the cars, buses, and trucks drive into a really long train car, and the train takes us under the channel at  a high speed while you sit in your car. Mind-blowing!) The ride ended up being a really pleasant one in the end, and about 8 hours after leaving Victoria Station in London, we had arrived in Paris!

Rather than booking a hotel in Paris, we had taken the recommendation from one of my mom's friends to rent an apartment instead. Our apartment belonged to a girl named Élodie who, we came to the conclusion, must be a travel photographer based on the photos around her apartment. The apartment was in a really cute and very Parisian looking neighbourhood in the Montmartre district. This is the district I had stayed in last time I was in Paris, and it is such a great area. The architecture looks so classic Parisian, and there are so many great restaurants and landmarks like the Moulin Rouge and the Sacré Coeur. When we arrived after our long bus ride, we were pretty tired, but still decided to walk around and get some dinner. We found a little Italian restaurant that had amazing pasta and wine, and we walked right past the Moulin Rouge!
Moulin Rouge
The next day, the weather wasn't too great, so our original plan to climb the Eiffel Tower was postponed, since we wouldn't have been able to see anything from there. So instead, we got croissants and a baguette and had a relaxing morning in the apartment and then headed to a mall to do a little shopping. We wanted to hit one more Primark while we were in Europe, and the Paris one ended up being pretty great!

After shopping, we took the metro over to the Arc de Triomphe. I love the Arc de Triomphe a lot. Unfortunately, while we were there, it started to downpour, so we had to take some pictures quickly and then find a restaurant where we could stay dry. 
the Arc de Triomphe
For dinner, we stuck to the same Italian theme as the night before, and this time we found a restaurant with a really great prix fixe menu (which means you pay one fixed price and get an appetizer, entrée, and dessert). This food was amazing as well! I ordered a goat cheese salad, steak, and tiramisu. We also got a delicous bottle of rosé wine, and once the waiter brought it to our table, we saw that it was called "Christi", so then my mom wrote an "e" on the end, so the wine was named after me :) Something interesting that happened after we finished our meal was the waiter brought out three limoncello shots for us at no extra cost. The waiter the previous night had done that too, so I wonder if it's an Italian tradition at the end of a meal. We also noticed that no other tables were brought the limoncello shots, so I guess the waiters liked us better!
This wine was named after me!
complimentary shots of limoncello that we got after dinner
The next day, we were worried the weather would be bad again, but it ended up being so perfect! There were lots of places I wanted to go with my parents before I would be leaving the next day, so we had a lot to fit in!

First, we headed to the Louvre. I think the Louvre is so cool and it is probably one of my favourite places in Paris. My parents said it was smaller in person than they expected, but I don't know what pictures they've been seeing of it, because they expected it to be the size of the pyramids in Egypt haha. 
the Louvre
It took my mom about 30 attempts to finally get this picture! She kept taking it when my
hand was too high above the point of the Louvre or too low. I made her put on her glasses
and she finally got a few decent ones! :)
Next, we walked over the the Pont des Arts which was really close by. You may also know this bridge as the "lock bridge" and have probably seen some pictures of it before. I didn't get to see this bridge last time I was in Paris, so this was something that I really wanted to do. I knew there would be a lot of locks on the bridge, but I was really blown away by just how many their actually are. There are so many that it's impossible to find a spot to put a lock on the actual bridge now. You need to lock it onto another lock! Of course, while we were there, we added a Goyette family lock to the bridge! I would say I'll try and find it next time I'm in Paris, but I'm sure there will be thousands more locks by then, so it would be pretty impossible to find!
the Pont des Arts
pointing to our lock on the Pont des Arts
Next up, we walked through the Tuileries Gardens. This was something else that I didn't see last time I was in Paris, and it was so pretty. It was really relaxing, and the architecture surrounding the Gardens looked so classically Parisian.
the Tuileries Gardens
We saw an old couple napping in the middle of the Gardens and could not stop laughing!
Once we made our way through the Gardens, we came out into Place de la Concorde. Right in the middle is the obelisk, and on either side are two big fountains. These are the fountains that Anne Hathaway's character throws her phone into at the end of Devil Wears Prada, so I was tempted to recreate that, but decided against it for obvious reasons!
the obelisk
the fountain that Anne Hathaway threw her phone into in Devil Wears Prada
Then, we stopped to get some lunch at a little outdoor café on the Seine. Unlike our waiters from the previous two nights who had been so nice, the waiter at the café was extremely rude to us and openly ignored us if we tried asking him something! I'm guessing he didn't like us because we are American, but even when we tried speaking in French, he scoffed at us haha! It is really funny though, because the stereotype that waiters in Paris are rude is actually true a lot of the time!

And then it was time for the main attraction of the day... the Eiffel Tower! We walked along the river toward it and got lots of pictures. We decided to walk up the stairs rather than take the elevator, because it really does make you feel more accomplished, and the stairs are tiring, but not as bad as you would expect. We had timed our climb up the tower perfectly so it was still nice and bright for most of the climb, and when we were on the "second floor" of the tower, the sun started to set. The views were incredible, and by the time we got up to the very top, it was nighttime and the city was all lit up and looked so beautiful!
view from the first floor of the tower
view from the second floor of the tower
The view of the Arc de Triomphe from the tower was so cool!
family picture at the top of the Eiffel Tower!
the view from the top
the view from the top. City of Lights, you are beautiful.
After walking back down to the bottom, we met up with a guy I know from French classes at Elon named Jackson who is studying abroad in Paris now. We all headed to an outdoor cafe that ended up having an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower all lit up at night! I got a glass of rosé wine (French rosé is amazing) and had a fun time getting caught up with Jackson.
the Eiffel Tower all lit up at night was so surreal looking and so pretty
After saying bye to Jackson and the beautiful Eiffel Tower, my parents and I hopped back on the metro to Montmartre. Once we were there, we realised we had never actually had dinner, so we stopped at a French chain restaurant called Hippopotamus. I had been to Hippopotamus a couple of times in Lyon when I studied abroad and really liked it. And rather than dinner, I decided to go for a delicious dessert instead! I got a fresh-backed huge macaron that came with ice cream, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream. It was so amazing and the perfect final Parisian treat!
yum yum yum this was amazing!
The next day, I was leaving Paris, but my parents were staying an extra three days. I had booked my flight home out of London rather than Paris because it was much cheaper, so I was off back to London for one more night! I ended up taking the Eurostar on the way back, and it was really fast and efficient! Once I got to London, I headed to Ciela's to pack up all my stuff and start getting ready to leave the next morning. After Ciela was out of work, we headed to a little café for crepes that were so good, and then she had to go to a work event that evening, so I took that time to go to a couple souvenir shops near Marble Arch. Later on in the night when Ciela's work event was over, we considered going out, but instead just walked around which was really nice. I got to see Oxford Street one more time as well as Carnaby Street, and there were so many pretty lights all over!
Oxford Street in London
Carnaby Street in London
The next morning, Ciela and I went for one final Full English Breakfast (which was really good, but still not as delicious as that very first one that Lexi and I got in London!), and then it was time to head to the airport. Leaving was pretty sad, because after spending almost three weeks in England and France, I was enjoying myself so much and really didn't want to leave. Going back to the US, I was flying into New York City to start my new job, which of course I was excited about, but there's something about England that just makes me feel so at home. I love New York too, but it has such a different feeling and energy than London, and I feel like London is definitely more "me" between the two. After this trip when I got to spend a lot more time in England, I can definitely confirm that that is where I want to live someday, so I am going to do everything I can to make that happen!

Now, I have been in New York for a little over a month and am all settled in for the most part. I am really liking the company I'm working for, and I love the city, but I will tell you all about my experience here so far in another post. Thanks so much for reading, and I hope you enjoyed hearing about my European adventures!

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