This is the last post in a series I wrote about my first European adventure back in the fall of 2012. Our trip began with a long layover in London, England and ended in Paris, the City of Lights. This is a recap from visiting Paris France.
Our trip to Europe was planned as an open jaw trip which means that we flew into one city (Rome via London) and out of another (Paris). This is a great way to travel because you do not have to backtrack to your arrival city which gives you more time to visit more places. And we all know that Americans are starved for vacation time so anything we can do to be more efficient is welcomed. Another perk of open jaw travel is that finding flights this way can be cheaper. However, since we flew on miles it was the same mileage cost per leg for us.
The beautiful weather we had in Switzerland continued for our last 2 days in Paris. It was unseasonably warm and I was even able to wear the sundress I brought! That part was great, but the nice weather also meant that more smokers were out enjoying the al fresco dining cafes as well. This did not bode well for my sensitive pregnant nose and I kept wanting to switch tables or sit far from the crowds. Boo!
Our trip to Paris started with a train ride from Olten, Switzerland. We had about a 90 minute stop in Basel so we took advantage of the time and walked around the town. Unfortunately we were lugging our rolling suitcases over the cobblestone streets which was a bit embarrassing and obnoxious. (Tip for next time – put the luggage in a locker at the train station!) There was just enough time to walk to the river, take photos, and stop for a mid morning snack (yep – more decaf cappuccinos!). Then it was back to the trains. Thankfully the trip was quick.
One slight oversight on our part was misjudging hotel availability. We thought we’d ask our Swiss friends for help since they’ve travelled to Paris before and book a hotel while we were in Switzerland. However, time got away from us and on our last night in Olten we realized we had not booked a hotel for the next night! Usually not a problem in the States, but this was Paris.
The crazy part was that all the hotels we could find were super expensive – we’re talking $500+ per night! Thankfully we were able to find a last minute rental through Airbnb in a great part of Paris. The owners, who were out of town, coordinated with their house keeper to meet us, with the keys, the next afternoon. There’s nothing quite like ending your trip with a little apprehension that someone will meet you outside some random door with the keys to your room, but it all worked out and we had the perfect little studio for our last 2 days.
We arrived in Paris around 4:00pm and headed out to see the sights. First stop was the Louvre. Well, actually just the outside of the Louvre. Unfortunately, there was just not enough time to go in. Oh well, just one more reason to go back to Paris (as if I needed one!).
Then it was off to Notre Dame. It was a Sunday and we made it there in time for mass. We weren’t there for the service, but it was cool to see and experience it. Can you imagine going to mass at Notre Dame each week?!?
Sadly, I was not able to see the sun streaming through the beautiful stained glass windows because it was too late. Next time…
The night finished with a stroll along the Seine and a lovely 4 course dinner. I made it through without wine, but forgot about the pasteurized cheese restriction. I ordered a delicious plate of cheese for dessert, but since I was 8 weeks pregnant I was not supposed to eat unpasteurized cheese. Here, I thought I was being all smart for trying to order like the French and I should have just had the chocolate. In the end, the cheese was fine and it all worked out, but as it was my first pregnancy, I was a little worried at the time.
Our second day in Paris was a whirlwind. I mean we really only had one full day in Paris and I had things to see…
We started with a metro ride to the Arc de Triomphe.
Then proceeded to walk down Champs Elyesee.
I was determined to find the famous macaroon place – Laduree. I should have paid better attention to the map when I looked it up because we had to walk down one side and back up the other to find it. However, along the way we found the cutest children’s clothes store and bought a few outfits for our “peanut”. Although, had we known she was a girl then…oh the little things we could have bought.
Bless my husband for his patience while we looked for Laduree. And then once we found it, the line was longer than we hoped. About 40 minutes later, we had a box of 8 colorful macaroons. We found a bench and tried our first one. It really did make the search worth it. Those little cookies are divine!
Then it was off to search for a little side street we read about in a travel book. When we travel we like to try to take in the more local scenes and get off the beaten path. Sometimes it’s great and other times, well it’s nothing super special. This time it was unfortunately the latter. Perhaps it was because we were trying to cram too much into one day. Or maybe it was the second pass down Champs Elysee that wore us out. Either way, I am a big proponent of finding your own small local adventures. Don’t take someone else’s word for it because it is a very personal experience and it’s best to just let these things happen.
Our final major stop for the day was the Eiffel Tower, of course. We took the metro to Trocadero because the view of the tower as you come around the corner is perfect. It’s an unobstructed view from a courtyard above the yard. There was also a great little crepes place there where we stopped for lunch.
We completely lucked out when purchasing out tickets for the Eiffel Tower. When we first got in line, the top was closed and they were not selling tickets past the first tier. That kept the line shorter than usual and in fact some people in front of us even left when they noticed the sign. We decided to stay because it was the only time we were going to be there, even though I was (more than a little) bummed.
But, it all worked out! When were about 10 people from the ticket counter, they re-opened the top of the tower and we were able to get tickets without having to purchase them on the first tier (with another line even longer than before!).
That little bit of luck saved us so much time because the lines for the elevators to the top were shorter too. Then we spent an extra hour up there just waiting for sunset. Ha! So much for time savings, but the view we had was perfect. Of course, it helped that we had those delicious macaroons to snack on.
I just wish we could have toasted with bubbly from the Champagne Bar at the top of the tower.
By the time the sun had set and we walked to a cafe for dinner, we were ready to call it a night.
It had been a wonderful two weeks and the time had come for us to return home. Au revoir until next time.