It’s hard to believe that our magical week in Paris is already over. My daughter Aubrey and I had the time of our lives. It was everything we ever dreamed of and a whole lot more. We fell hard for the City of Love and have tucked a little piece of it in our hearts. We will forever be changed by our experience!
Where do I start. I don’t even know. We did and saw so much, it didn’t really all sink in until after we got back home. In addition to our action packed days in Paris, we took a day trip to London on the high speed train.
Passports in hand, heading out on our adventure.
The best part was our view of Paris’ most famous landmark from our hotel window. I mean, wow. We couldn’t have gotten much closer to the Eiffel Tower if we tried. Every night, we were enthralled with the sparkling display of lights at the top of each hour. It actually woke me up a few nights. I just couldn’t bear to sleep with the blinds closed!
As you can probably tell, I was obsessed with taking pictures of it. Here are a few of my favorites.
Although I wasn’t sure what to expect, we found Parisians to be nothing less than warm, friendly, helpful and accommodating. Maybe it was the time of year (their high tourist season hasn’t started yet) or maybe it was because there weren’t many Americans there (we only ran into two other sets of Americans the whole time, both from Texas!) But whatever it was, I really appreciated it. I don’t speak much French but they didn’t seem to mind and everyone spoke English. I was pleasantly surprised and delighted.
Perhaps this is what struck me more than anything and the one thing I wanted to bottle up and bring home. The French know how to live intentionally. They linger over meals, are engaged in conversations and most importantly of all, they aren’t on their phones all the time. I can’t tell you how refreshing it was to see people actually talking to each other in cafes and on the trains. We rarely saw anyone on their cell phones. Aubrey and I loved lingering over dinner and really enjoying each bite and talking to each other. We stayed off social media and kept our phones tucked away until we got back to the hotel each night. It felt so freeing and allowed us to truly enjoy the moment. This was something we decided to bring home with us and have been doing really great with so far.
Having lunch at a street cafe. The weather was perfect!
Market near our hotel.
My goal was to eat so many croissants that I wouldn’t want to see one when I got home. Mission accomplished. Each morning, we started our day with a traditional French breakfast – cafe au lait, croissants and bread with butter and jam. We had lunches and dinners in traditional French restaurants and enjoyed every bite. By day three though, we were craving something else and had pizza. Traveling to London was a welcome palate change, we had lunch at a soup and sandwich place that felt more American. We also had afternoon tea which was quite an experience.
Our daily breakfast.
Cafe where we had breakfast a few days.
Afternoon tea in London.
Oh, the sites. What a feast for the eyes. Nothing in Paris is plain and simple. It’s just extravagance and opulence at every turn. Even the shopping centers, as evidenced by the interior of the Galleries Lafayette. Wow!
Of course, we visited the Louvre and checked out Mona Lisa. She’s possibly one of the most unimpressive things in Paris. The painting is very small and dark.
The ceilings in the Louvre rival many of the paintings.
Venus de Milo
Notre Dame was pretty impressive. The history and architecture are awe-inspiring.
Window at Notre Dame.
Inside the cathedral.
Although the Louvre gets all of the attention, I enjoyed the Musee d’Orsay with it’s extensive impressionist collection so much more. It’s in an old railway station. The see-through clocks give you a view of the city.
We took a trip to Versailles to check out the chateau once occupied by Marie Antoinette and King Louis XVI. Wow, these two knew how to decorate with gold.
Hall of Mirrors.
One of my favorite buildings we saw in Paris was the Opera Garnier, where Phantom of the Opera is set. There is actually a lake under the opera.
Opera Garnier’s grand hall.
In London, we hit all of the major attractions we could see in one day – the London Eye, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Harrod’s, Trafalgar Square, Picadilly Circus, Chinatown and a few museums. It was fun hanging out in Trafalgar Square and watching the street performers. We arrived just in time to see the changing of the guard.
I expected to be wowed by fashion in Paris. And I was. But not for the reason you might think. I thought it would be full of effortlessly styled French women drenched in Chanel No. 5. It was not. When I say anything goes fashion-wise in Paris, I mean anything. Yes, there were a few of those perfectly put together French women but the overwhelming majority of Paris style I just did not get. London, on the other hand, was great. The Brits dress more traditionally and wear more color. I loved their classic style.
Due to my observations on fashion, we didn’t shop much in Paris. That combined with the fact that most of the stores are ultra high end. The Champs Elysses was fun but disappointingly overrun with American brands. I found London fashion to be much more mainstream and affordable. Aubrey and I visited Topshop and H&M for her and Harrod’s, Burberry and Joules for me. The British brands won hands-down in my opinion.
The one thing that surprised me is that Aubrey and I bonded more over finding our way around than anything else. It was truly an adventure for both of us to use the metro, buses, cabs and trains to make our way all over both cities. We also logged an average of 7 miles of walking each day (10 miles the day we went to London!)
The thing I was most apprehensive about was traveling to a foreign country with a sixteen year-old girl but we felt really safe the entire time. Paris’ security was definitely heightened. There are armed military personnel at every turn, especially near the major attractions and at the airport. The only time we felt a little threatened was when we were approached by two men in an alleyway. We tried ignoring them but they got more and more aggressive. I pulled my pepper spray out of my back pocket and pointed it at them. They wisely decided to turn away and leave us alone. Don’t mess with Texas.
The Lock Bridge (Pont des Artes).
Au revoir, Paris! Thanks for the memories. We will be back one day.
I FEEL PRETTY
It’s the day of the week at GYPO where we celebrate what makes us feel pretty. Whether it’s a new outfit, hairstyle, or makeup, the I Feel Pretty link up is about anything and everything that makes your life prettier. Even if you’re not a blogger, you can still play along. Just tell us what made you feel pretty this week in the comments!
2. Link up your pretty post.
3. Link back to my blog (using the button above or your own link).
4. Visit other pretties. That’s it, now go have some fun!