In our last Uttori post, I shared a my recipe for a chocolate-covered strawberry macaron (see here). I’m no pastry chef, but I’ve always been a fan of baking. So when my family traveled to Paris for a family vacation, I took the opportunity to enroll in a cooking class that taught how to make macarons. As mentioned in the recipe post, I’d made macarons before. However, the trip gave me the opportunity to deepen my knowledge on the subject. Making macarons was not the only highlight of my visit to the City of Love. As I prepare for my upcoming trip to Hong Kong, now seems the perfect time to look back on some of my other travels, starting with the trip to Paris.
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Paris is a stunning city. Before traveling there, I thought that having seen photos and a few French films would make being there no big deal. Not true. After visiting, I truly believe that no picture or movie can truly capture just how beautiful of a city is Paris. To truly experience it, Paris must be seen in person.
We were graced with unseasonably good weather during our trip in late July. Unfortunately, many places were closed since Parisians, like many Europeans, go on vacation during this time; however, the relative absence of people made for a more relaxed and hassle free trip as there weren’t so many tourists competing for space at tourist attractions.
Explore the city from the river
We arrived in the afternoon, which meant that our first day was cut in half; but we still had a few hours to explore. You can see a good deal of Paris when you travel by river boat on the Seine. We chose a dinner cruise on Bateaux Parisiens (bateaux is French for boat). Exploring the city in this way proved to be a perfect introduction. We were treated to a wonderful meal, while enjoying the picturesque nature of the city. All in all, it was a great overview. Our server was also friendly (in fact, all the Parisians we encountered were) and since there weren’t many people on board, she spent a bit of time chatting with us about different landmarks and activities. Because it was a river cruise, I didn’t expect much from the food, but it was exceptional. I had a chilled asparagus soup and salt cod brandade. We even got to take the menus with us, which made for a fun souvenir, and also how I remember exactly what I ate.
Be a flâneur
After dinner we walked to the Arc de Triomphe, which is located at the west end of the Champs-Élysées. The actual name of the arch is Arc de Triomphe de l’Etoile (or Triumphal Arch of the Star). The monument, commissioned by Napoleon in 1806, commemorates those who died in the French Revolution, and the Napoleonic Wars. A walk from the Port de La Bourdonnais to the Arc, is approximately thirty minutes, and particularly gorgeous during the golden hour of the evening. After the arch, you can spend a pleasant hour or two strolling along the Champs-Élysées, being what the French call a flâneur. Following is a list of a few of my favorite spots to explore on one of the most famous streets in the world. Keep in mind that while a stroll along the Champs-Élysées is a feast for the eyes, it can be very risky to the pocketbook. Most of the stores located on this street are extremely expensive.
52 Av. des Champs-Élysées
– This is one of the largest Sephoras I’ve ever been in. It was just huge, and a bit overwhelming, but still interesting.
70-72 Av. des Champs-Élysées
Ladurée Tea Shop
75 Av des Champs-Élysées
Marks and Spencer Department Store
– Reasonably priced department store with in store cafeteria. You can also purchase pops and other snack items.
100 Av. des Champs-Élysées
101 Av. des Champs-Élysées
Disneyland Paris may not be at the top of your list when you visit the city of lights, but one of my goals is to visit every Disney location in the world. After a large Japanese style breakfast, we headed to one of the happiest places on earth. One of the best things about Disneyland in July is the wait times were almost non-existent.
Visit a Royal Chateau
If you’re not a huge fan of la souris français (french mouse), consider a day tour of the Palace of Versailles. Versailles is located an hour from Paris, so it’s pretty much a day-trip. Many people tour the buildings, and then relax in the extensive gardens, for which a ticket can be purchased separately. If buying a ticket to the Palace of Versailles, make sure that you know what the ticket covers, as there are tickets for just the palace, tickets for the palace and the gardens, and the lines can make the trip exhausting. Paris is a incredible city, with a number of iconic sites; however, one of the few regrets that I have from my time in Paris is that I did not go to Versailles.
For my visit to Paris, the final day was by far the busiest. One of the things you can do to make your trip truly memorable, is to hire a photographer to take photos at different locations. Our photographer, Catherine O’Hara, gave us a great tour of the city, and worked with us to create a set of photos that we will always treasure.
Our tour of the city included the Pont des Arts (the famous Locks of Love Bridge that was replaced in 2015 because of the heavy weight of the locks). We also took photos at the Louvre, the Colonnes de Buren modern art installation within the Palais Royal, Café Nemours (a cafe featured in the Angelina Jolie movie, The Tourist), as well as the Eiffel tower.
If that wasn’t enough site seeing for one day, we then went to the original Chanel store, a few blocks away from our hotel. From there we split up, with my parents heading to Angelina’s (something I am forever jealous about since I am the one who found and suggested we go), and my brother and I heading to our macaron class hosted by La Cuisine Paris. The class was a blast, and you can read a little more about it in the macaron article. When planning a trip to Paris, consider a cooking course. La Cuisine also offers tours of food shops.
After the class, we met up with our parents again for an evening tour of the Louvre. We had been around the Louvre that morning, and while it was still packed at night, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it was in the morning. I would highly recommend trying to go in the evening, when it’s less crowded, although you won’t have as much time to explore. The Louvre is phenomenal. Another one of my regrets is not getting to explore all it had to offer due to time constraints. Plus, we walked about 26 miles that day, so my feet were killing me. The Louvre is a can’t miss activity for a trip to Paris, and a place to visit over and over again.
While three days in nowhere near enough time to explore all that Paris has to offer, I think it can give you a great snapshot of the city. I have great memories of my time there, and hope that this brief travel diary can act as a guide to you, if you ever plan a trip to Paris.
I blog on the introvert lifestyle, and being an INTJ; so it’s important to note that just because someone is an introvert, doesn’t mean they hide in their homes and avoid the world. For introverts, home is a refuge to which they return after suiting up to go out into the world and slay dragons all day. Many introverts love to travel. For INTJs especially, the opportunity to learn and to experience a different culture first hand is one of the driving forces behind our travel choices. My visit to Paris was in 2014, and it seemed to go by in a flash. I do hope to, someday, return. Yet as I look forward to other travels, there is no more perfect time to share memories from this trip to the famous city than February, the month of love. Thanks for reading. Salut! À bientôt.