European Adventures | Paris, France International Photographer
Back in 2010/2011 (New Years), my friends and I had the opportunity to experience Paris, France for a couple of days. I wish I could say it was the best time, but I was left with the impression that the French really don’t like Americans! Which, could still be true. ;) Plus, we JAM PACKED our schedule with touristy things, so it was not the best first impression. I actually convinced myself that I would never return!!! It’s funny how things work out the way they do because fast forward to this past September, I was inspired to take on an incredible deal to re-experience Paris with a different mindset! I’m SO glad I did!!!! :)
My photographer friend, Krysta, took up on the adventure with me and so we were off to Paris just days after Thanksgiving! Fortunately, Krysta had been before with the general knowledge of the city, which was such a blessing because I felt like we had a more personable, “non-touristy” experience!!!! I’m so grateful for her! We stayed in an AirB&B at the cutest apartment on the sixth floor, and the location was so ideal! The apartment was located in between Javel and Grenelle, with a clear view of the Effile Tower just a block away! I also LOVED that we were in a cute neighborhood with yummy food and the cutest flower shop next door. Just five blocks away was the Seine River, which was ideal for morning runs! I REALLY enjoyed where we stayed and could not have imagined a more personable experience!! We found ourselves hanging out some nights enjoying cheese and crackers on the sofa, which was so relaxing and “so French!” ;) Maybe not the “eating on the sofa” part was “so French.” Ha!
We did a ton of exploring over the five days we were visiting! It was fun running around with a friend, better yet, another photographer, because we were able to take our time traveling around and walk off the beaten path to discover hidden treasures, whether it was for photography purposes or for food! ;) It was the BEST time!!! I was really concerned that Krysta and I would be shamed for not being French or speaking fluently, but this trip to Paris was fortunately SO different from the last time I was visiting!!! Thank goodnessss!!!! Although, if I find myself returning, I will be sure to learn more about the language just because it’s fun having a little bit of a challenge. I honestly didn’t put the time into learning much French before arriving, which I regret, but we made it around without any issues. :)
Here are some of my favorite photos from our trip!!! Thank you, Krysta, for snapping these photos of me below!!! :) :) :)
Now, let’s get into the more personable experience of the post!!! These photos below were snapped with my cell phone (which fortunately didn’t break on the first night after skipping down the sidewalks of Paris, lol!). I wanted to make sure to share certain spots we visited so you can enjoy a similar personable experience if you were to go after reading this post!! :)
Day One : Ready to Conquer
We flew into Paris “red eye style” (highly recommend it!!!) through Icelandic Air (best deals!!)! I wished we had time to explore Iceland, but that will be another trip!!! I have heard you can spot the Northern Lights from the plane if you are flying at night, but we didn’t see it this time around. I kept waking myself up to spot the lights too!! Haha! One of these days I’ll see it! :) Once we arrived at our final destination, it took us a while to figure out how to get to our apartment, but it was definitely a learning experience! I read a blog about an app called, City Mapper, before the trip and I HIGHLY recommend downloading the app for anyone who is visiting a city and need to rely on public transportation to get around. The app doesn’t just tell you which method of transportation to take, but it will tell you how much it will cost, how much time it will take, and so much more! YES!!!
Once we got settled in, and FINALLY unlocked my suitcase (another story), we were off to explore!! We got dressed up and decided to wander around the neighborhood and around the Seine River. Let me tell you, from that moment on, I don’t think I regulated my internal temperature. ;) HA! It was SOOOOOOOO cold (actually, it was FREEZING), but we managed!!! We joked that we just needed a “wine jacket” (or “beer coat” for those who love beer), then we would feel better! So, we began our mission for wine and food! Also, this photo of the Eiffel Tower was taken just a block away from the apartment! There was always a view of the Tower somewhere in the city which I thought was unique!!!
Krysta located an excellent restaurant not too far away from the river. We dove right into cheese and wine, and we felt right at home! :) I was feeling daring on this trip and ordered unusual foods, including this octopus dish! It was delicious!!! Two and a half bottles of wine and five hours of talking later … We shut the place down and conquered our first night in Paris! Although, my phone almost didn’t make it, and it has new scars (aka, cracked screen), but I’m currently calling it my souvenir from Paris. ;)
Day Two: Let’s Get Lost
This day was fun, but we did SO much walking (roughly eight miles — so says my phone)! We left our apartment by foot and saved transportation for our return. Best idea, by the way, especially when you’re enthusiastic to get out and about!!
My favorite stops were the unexpected ones! We ran across this DELICIOUS pastry shop that became a top favorite in my book! I HIGHLY recommend visiting Aux Merveilleux and eat one … or two … or ten meringues! Holy cow! I prefer this over the French macrons!!! Seriously, THAT good!!! Then, when we thought we already hit the jackpot, we stumbled across another dessert shop, called Lemoine, that we had to check out because it was our first sighting of macarons! I picked up some goodies to bring back home, including macarons and delicious foie gras, but as we were checking out, the owner gave us the cutest Caneles de Bordeaux cakes to enjoy, and told us the history about the mini French custard cakes! So good!!! One of my favorite stops of the day because the owner was super sweet and personable!!!
Naturally, when you’re in Paris, you must walk around with a baguette! ;) Haha! We also stopped at a cafe to enjoy a hot drink before heading back for the night. By the way, they make Irish coffees STRONG in Paris. Holy moly! Haha! I thought it was interesting that so many people still sit outside, even during winter, to enjoy people watching. In fact, we joined in on that action!!! Haha! They purposefully face your chairs toward the sidewalk, as you can see below! Interesting compared to the typical outdoor seating in the US!
We stopped by a local grocery store where we found French cheeses and meats, and we enjoyed a relaxing night in eating these yummy foods and Bordeaux wine! :) Perfect night!!!
Day 3: Photo Day!!!
Going on this trip, I knew I wanted to take photos of the city, but I didn’t come in with any expectations of taking pictures of each other, but I’m so glad we did! We decided to take advantage of our third day by wandering and photographing the Paris vibe! We put on our red lipstick, and we were ready to conquer! :) Next door to our charming apartment (don’t you love that view from our porch?!) was a floral shop. Just like the baguette, it’s not an authentic French experience until you have bought flowers from a florist! ;)
Again, it was another cold day, BUT we spotted the sun for the first and only time on the trip for a whole 20-minutes!!! HA! Gosh, I could never live in somewhere so gloomy all of the time!
What’s the secret? Simple! Wear black and red lipstick! DONE. HA!
We found a delicious lunch spot, and I tried out this salmon baguette sandwich — SO good!!! Then we hit the train to explore the Notre Dame area and find a book for Krysta’s collection!
That evening, we had intentions to try out a restaurant called, Au Vieux Paris d’Arcole, but it was closed, so we went next door for an escargot experience at Au Bougnat! I love escargot, but this dish was prepared differently with a cream sauce … Oh, man! It was GOOD!!!! I could have had that the entire trip and would have been satisfied. :)
The Ile De La Cite area was beautiful, especially at night! I enjoyed walking around the little side streets with shops and restaurants. :)
Day 4: Zombie Day
Jet lag started to set in … FOR REAL. Six hours ahead is no joke!!! Especially, when you sign up for an early morning tour for the Palace of Versailles. I’m glad we did it, but gosh, I could not agree more with Krysta when she said it was a “salty morning.” HA! When I’m asking for coffee, you know it’s serious! ;) It was funny because the company we signed up for the Palace tour only offered either a two-hour or EIGHT-hour tour! Really?! Eight hours?! Honestly, though, two hours was perfect!!! We didn’t sit in front of every painting to analyze it, but we learned the history and got to see it in person which was a good thing to check off the list! I remember learning about the Hall of Mirrors in JMU Art History class, so that was really cool to see that in person!! I was expecting to see incredible gardens, and it did seem pretty at first until I realized that it’s winter time and everything was pruned, dormant, and statues were covered for the season. I guess if I want to go back to Paris and see any gardens, I’ll go to Luxembourg Gardens and skip the Palace! :)
Then, it was time to explore around!!! We were EXHAUSTED! So, first, COFFEE. We stopped by Cafe Kitsune, and it was the perfect pick-me-up!!!
Now, onto my favorite part of the entire trip!! Krysta RAVED about Montmartre area, and I TOTALLY see why!!! I loved it so much because there were so many little areas where there wasn’t one person! We walked around with no intention to look at a map, so it was a great adventure to walk around and soak in the atmosphere. :) I LOVED it! And I picked up a painting that is now hanging in my home. My favorite souvenir … Even over my cracked phone screen!! Haha! While we were exploring the downtown area, we decided it was finally time to check off macaron off our list! We each picked up a box and excitingly sat on the staircase to eat them while overlooking the city! It was a beautiful view, and I enjoyed that moment, except for the macaron. HA! We were so excited about them until we tried it … I’ve never had macarons with jelly, so it was different. ;) Let’s just go with that!
Can you spot “I love you” in English?!
You know we couldn’t come back home without having a crepe!! I love that they made them to-go so you can walk around with a rolled up Nutella banana crepe! Yummm!!
Krysta found this adorable restaurant called, La Boite Aux Lettres, where we enjoyed one of our last dinners in Paris! I’m glad we made reservations because it seemed like it was a “reservations only” type of place! We started out being the only ones there, but goodness, it wasn’t long before the entire place was packed! So that’s saying something!! We ordered a sampler platter for an appetizer … SO good!! Can’t tell you I remember every type of food in the photo below (foie gras, some sort of fish salad?, and some sort of yummy soup? Ha!), but it was great!! And the staff sat down and explained the menu (seemed like they did that with everyone, including the French — So they didn’t make us feel illiterate. ;) Haha!).
I’ve never seen a magnetic table before, but that’s genius!!! Naturally, I had to share this photo of the fork to prove it. ;) And, goodness, my dinner was AMAZING! It was a foie gras, sprout, fig salad!!! Sounds unique, right? Highly recommend it!
Day 5: The Final Wanders
This day flewwww by!! We did even more exploring and ended up traveling back to the Notre Dame area. :) Krysta hunted down this cute restaurant called, Cafe Le Louis Philippe. It was adorable outside and inside! Again, I wanted to have an authentic Parisian dish, and judging from this restaurant, they claimed the blood sausage was one. So, I ordered it!!! Oh, my gosh … Looking at this photo below, I’m completely grossed out!!! HAHAHA! But I actually ate it, and it wasn’t bad!!! But I’ve had a bite in the past and so this wasn’t a total surprise to me. Although, I looked up what exactly blood sausage is AFTER eating it and now the photo really grosses me out!!! ;) But I would say you have to at least try it!
We did another long day of running around and walking, but it was a great day!!! One of my wishes on this trip was to go to a winery, ideally outside of the city in the countryside. However, the logistics didn’t work out, but in other ways, it did work out!! Krysta found this adorable champagne tasting cave called Dilettantes Cave à Champagne! Before this trip, I had NO idea that what we call champagne in the US isn’t REAL champagne. Apparently, reallllll champagne can only come from Champagne, France (learn something new every day)! So when you look at the bottle, see if they really call it champagne because of more than likely, they call it a brut or sparkling wine! It was a great and relaxing time!!! :) Highly recommend the experience!!! Then we ended the evening by meeting up with industry friends who just arrived that night for a glass of wine!
Day Six: Au revoir, Paris!!!
It was our final morning in Paris – It went by so fast!!! I decided to wake up early for one last run along the Seine River. It was one of my favorite runs taking in the cityscape. I’m not much of a city girl, but I love a change of pace once in a while!!! These beautiful views are convincing me to make another trip happen in the future!! :)
This apartment made the experience so unique and fun! But this staircase won’t be missed!!! ;) I had to snap one last photo of this cute place because the kitchens are known to be smaller than the typical US kitchen, which I thought was intriguing!
What’s the conclusion of this trip? I officially love Paris!!! A completely different experience than the first time I visited, and I’m so glad I wasn’t stubborn to let that hold me back from revisiting!! I hope to fly out there again in the future and explore the countryside. :) I hope this inspires you to go for a Paris adventure!!!