Somehow, we managed to find a decent deal for hotel and flight for a long weekend in Paris this past March. I think it’s been five years since I’ve gone back. One of our good friends / colleagues is on assignment there, so naturally, we used her stint in France as an excuse to travel. Also, the early spring weather felt good.
Rando trips like these serve a few valuable purposes:
– A break from work (we’ve had some long, tough days lately and were fortunate to finally have a moment to breathe)
– A break from the norm (sometimes these moments are so important and tend to put daily challenges into perspective)
– Food (we ate like queens… it was glorious)
– A chance to pass out (call it jetlag, call it travel fatigue… we actually got decent sleep over there)
– Exploration (I never want to forget how this joy and freedom feels.)
– Walk a lot (Who needs the gym when you can traipse along the Champs-Élysées?)
– Practice another language (Work in progress)
– Visit aforementioned friend (I still find it fascinating and delightfully absurd to hang out with friends in other countries. Same context, different setting. A little surreal.)
On our first full day, we strolled through this beautiful, wide space along the Seine River – between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde. Statues of mythological characters (some missing some very vital parts!) dot the grounds, which were a mix of green grass and bright, sandy dirt. In the middle of the park, we feasted on sandwiches and crepes and fought off very brave ducks who hobbled a little too close to our feet for comfort. Add other tourists who also awkwardly ordered their lunches to this scene, and well, vacation officially began!
The architecture of this old rail station is exquisite and tells its own story, even without the museum artifacts displayed within. (If you’ve ever read the book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, or seen the movie, Hugo, you would get a good idea of the whimsical layout of this place.) As with all museums I’ve ever visited, humorous commentary and fascinated remarks about each painting and statue ensued. Gaudy, magnificent ballrooms, old depictions of world history and mythology, and Edgar Degas pieces (“We’re the dancers!”) make this awesome museum a must-visit, especially if you don’t have an entire day to spend there. We explored it in a few hours. I also discovered that I LOVE CLOCKS!!!
Because my friend and I are HUGE Disney fans, we of course made a point to visit Aurora’s “other” castle. Surprising to us, it was the park’s 25th Anniversary with lots of TV cameras and random celebratory events sprinkled throughout. We were treated to a short John Legend concert (“Did they just announce that John Legend is about to perform?”), ran the Alice in Wonderland Queen’s labyrinth (yaay!), and accidentally spotted Teri Hatcher in the Ratatouille gift shop at Walt Disney Studios Park. If you get a chance, dine at Bistro Chez Rémy’s, the Ratatouille-inspired restaurant there. You are immersed in the world of a little mouse chef, complete with unexpected doorways to bathrooms, a larger-than-human-sized cookbook, holiday lights that make up the main light fixtures, and delicious food!
Moulin Rouge / Montmartre / Sacré-Coeur
On our last full day, the three of us strolled up and down Paris, starting with a walk-by of the Moulin Rouge (“red mill”), up the steep hills of Montmartre, through a peaceful cemetery, and to Sacré-Coeur (“sacred heart”). The day was bright and full of people who just wanted a relaxing Sunday afternoon. From Sacré-Coeur, Paris seems to spill out as far as the eye can see. Buildings look different from here, and you might have a moment to wonder how you ever got there in the first place.
Notre Dame Cathedral / Shakespeare & Company / Tour Eiffel
We made our way to Notre Dame Cathedral and hung out with the rest of the crowds below its towering spire and intricate carvings. After a stop for fantastic Berthillon ice cream (I had peach and mocha scoops) at a nearby stand, we passed street performers on the bridge and observed old books and comics in carts along the Seine. We perused the shelves of the infamous Shakespeare & Company, an English bookstore (founded by Sylvia Beach, a New Jersey native!) and once the meeting place of aspiring writers like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Soak that in, writers! Soak that in! I am the proud owner of yet another edition of Alice in Wonderland and A Wrinkle in Time. *Happy book sigh.* The afternoon ended with a stroll to the Tour Eiffel (my best friend and I once referred to it as “girlfriend”). While it’s monstrously pretty in broad daylight, night is my favorite time to see it and all its sparkly light splendor.
Cheers to that long weekend. Of course, it ended on a delicious, happy note, and feels like a lifetime ago.