Before reading this check out https://www.positivehealthwellness.com/! They offer some awesome insight on why traveling is so important and so many reasons why I love to travel!
I’ve never posted anything about travel to my blog, so this is a first for me! I planned on doing this post as soon as we got back, but I had no idea how busy life was going to get. Also, waiting for film took about a week and I am super sad to say that a LOT of our film photos from the trip didn’t make it back from the lab (I don’t even want to talk about it). So, lesson learned, I will be taking my Nikon with me no matter what on our next trip!
Here’s just a basic summary on why I decided to take this trip:
I told myself at the start of 2015 that I wanted to begin a new goal of traveling to three different countries a year. Some of you may think that’s awesome and others will probably think it’s obsessive and hey, that’s fine. But for me, I want to be well-traveled before I ever decide to settle down.
Another reason I decided to take this trip was because I knew I needed a vacation before wedding season kicked in.
And finally, I just wanted to go and be able to experience a different country with someone I really care about. Ryan has never been out of the country and I have only been to Haiti, so this was a whole new experience for us both. And you know what? It was so much fun. No one makes me laugh like Ryan does and I think that’s all we did the whole time. I wouldn’t have been able to get through 24 hours of 0 sleep/passing out in a foreign hotel lobby with just anybody.
The first day of our trip consisted of a 2 hour flight from Little Rock, to Atlanta, and a 9 hour flight to Paris. We flew Delta and I actually really enjoyed it. I thought everyone on the airline was super friendly and the fact that there were free movies and tv shows still blows my mind. Also, after months and months of telling Ryan that he would enjoy The Great Gatsby movie and him denying it, he finally watched it on the plane and liked it. So, thank you Delta. Also- I win, Ryan.
Anyways, flying into Europe at 6:00am was one of the prettiest sights ever and navigating through the airport was actually really easy. We were also extremely prepared for this considering Ryan’s friend, Ryan Lenz, helped us know step-by-step what to do the moment we arrived at the airport to the time where we walked in our hotel (I seriously can’t thank him enough).
Also, anyone planning to go to Paris.. — USE THE METRO. It’s SO easy (way easier than New York’s), you will save tons of money, and it’s not as hazardous as people make it out to be. We had no problems with pick-pockets or just anyone dangerous in general.
We used the RERB train and the Metro to get to our hotel, Hôtel Novotel Paris Centre Tour Eiffel. When we arrived we realized we had several hours before check in. At this point we were so hungry and exhausted. It was about 10am when we got there and check-in wasn’t until 2. We thought, “Okay we can kill some time and get something to eat” but culture shock hit us when we realized almost every eating place was closed during those weird hours that no one is really “supposed” to eat. I guess in France you’re taught to eat in the appropriate 7:00-9:00am time slot for breakfast (which I actually really like considering I’m an early bird) and then after that you’re cutting it slim on your food options. (Also, this may not be true at all and if you’re from France don’t hate me. That’s just what we experienced there).
After getting a 30 minute nap in the hotel lobby we walked over to a local mall to try to hunt down some food. We did the unthinkable and got a do-nut, a couple of pizza slices, and juice. We were pretty delusional at this point so the idea of eating that much ridiculous junk food didn’t even matter. And the worst part was that we had the entire day ahead of us and everyone’s advice was, “Don’t fall asleep until night or you’ll be jet-lagged the whole trip!”
When we were done eating we walked back to the hotel and slept in the lobby for a couple of hours. Well, I slept on Ryan for an hour and then it was his turn to sleep while I watched people give us weird looks and noticed the guards trying to decide whether or not we were homeless.
When we finally got into our hotel room, there was just no greater feeling than being in a bed or even seeing one. We were so happy. SO happy. However, what sucked the most was that we couldn’t fall asleep at the risk of ruining our sleep schedules. We took one last quick nap and got up and walked to the Eiffel Tower which wasn’t even a mile from our hotel.
Walking somewhat along the Seine was really cool. We got to see the gypsies (not Esmeralda style- which is what I was thinking before we got there…whoops), the cute little pop-up stores, merry-go-rounds, tons of people, food, and little shops.
When we got to the Eiffel Tower I couldn’t keep my mouth closed because of how beautiful it was. You see it in pictures and of course, it’s mesmerizing, but it doesn’t do it justice. No photo can. We hung around there for about an hour, took photos (Trust me I took a ton and only got back 1 from my film lab. Ugh. I still don’t want to talk about it), and then we decided that we should probably eat early and get a good nights rest.
We walked/took the metro to this vegan restaurant called The Loving Hut. We were nervous beforehand though because we definitely didn’t know how to order anything in French. I had been practicing everyday for almost 3 months but everyone told me that it wouldn’t do me much good considering how fast they all speak. But luckily, the owner spoke English fluently and took our order with ease.
Here’s photos from our first day in Paris.
We started our second day in Paris by going to the Père Lachaise Cemetery and seeing the famous graves of Jim Morrison and Frédéric Chopin. That cemetery was probably one of my favorite places that we visited in Paris. It was absolutely beautiful and so, so creepy. A lot of the graves have been destroyed though due to vandalism, but it was still an amazing place to walk through. We actually didn’t even get to see one full side because of how big the entire area is.
After we visited the cemetery we decided to get something to eat at a local restaurant, Au Rond Point. Then we went outside and I had my first official crêpe with nutella and it was delicious.
While eating our crêpe we stumbled upon a random little church entrance that was beside the cemetery and it actually ended up being huge when we walked inside. We were probably the only people in there besides the workers. We just sat there with our crêpe, felt extremely rude for eating inside of there, and then quickly left.
You know how here lately Facebook has just become a big website of lists like, “16 things your boyfriend will never tell you” or “8 reasons why you’re a shopaholic” or just something ridiculous like that? Well someone sent me a list on Facebook of all this fun stuff to do in Paris and I was actually surprised by how helpful it was. One of the options was the Père Lachaise Cemetery and then another was to find this certain park that had a waterfall in it. I thought that would be pretty interesting so we set out to a park that we thought was the right one but it definitely wasn’t at all. All we found were dogs and cute little Japanese ladies dancing together to Japanese music (probably one of my favorite little memories from the trip).
Our next stop was the Sacré-Cœur, a famous church that also offers the best view of Paris. When we got there I couldn’t believe how beautiful it was! I was also super nervous at this point because everyone I know that visited Paris told us that this was a hot spot for pick-pockets. However the only problem we had were some gypsies grabbing Ryan’s arm and trying to force a bracelet on him and then also having roses shoved in my face that they were trying to sell.
Overall, the church was so beautiful and the view was amazing. I’m glad my film images from that turned out because I definitely miss that view.
We decided it was time to take a little break so we went to a local cafe and had an espresso to try and get some energy back after have being out all day. While we were in this cafe they were playing American artists music videos on this huge jumbo screen and I was introduced to Nick Jonas and his new song “Jealous”. Let me just say that I really didn’t like that song and the music video made me cringe but in the end Nick Jonas wins because that song was stuck in our heads the rest of the trip.
After we were done taking a break we then got lost trying to find the Montremartre and instead found really cute Parisian streets at night. After getting sick of being lost though we finally decided to get a taxi driver to take us to a popular vegan restaurant called 42 Degrés. It was a completely raw food menu and I had a lot of high hopes for it. Unfortunately though, I didn’t like hardly anything. In fact, I got sick from what I ordered. They had great Kale salads and chips and their desserts were awesome, but their mushroom burger was just not for me. When you see the photo below, I want you to notice that the bun on my burger isn’t bread… it’s a mushroom. And look at Ryan’s “spaghetti” that has potato noodles instead of regular noodles.
Oh, and I can’t leave out the fact that Ryan broke their bathroom door. So, basically we should just never go back there.
Our third day in Paris started off with us sleeping in a little later. By this point breakfast was getting kind of hard. We didn’t really like eating breakfast at our hotel because all they offered was different types of meat, bread, pastries, and nutella and when we asked for Peanut Butter they thought we were crazy. We ended up eating lunch there instead and probably had one of the unhealthiest meals I’ve ever had. It was a veggie burger with a fried potato pancakes as the bun instead of bread and then fries and then green beans. Don’t get me wrong, it was freaking delicious.. but what were we thinking? We felt like crap for the next 5 hours…
We visited the Catacombs of Paris, also known as “The Worlds Largest Grave.” We had to take a SUPER long staircase down to the very bottom of the burial where we read all the history and walked through the tunnels that led to the graves. Before we got there I thought it was going to smell so bad but it didn’t at all, which was pretty surprising to me, and it was crazy to see actual human remains in real life and to even touch one. If any of you go to Paris I definitely recommend visiting the Catacombs but be prepared to walk up the smallest and longest spiral staircase of your life when it’s time to leave.
We then decided to go see the Notre Dame Cathedrale and it was absolutely beautiful, especially on the inside. We did a quick tour of the place but didn’t stay too long due to it being such a huge tourist attraction… and plus, we really wanted to go try a sorbet place we had been told to visit. So we walked through the neighborhoods in Le Marais, looked at cute flower shops, and went inside a boutique where Ryan bought me a cat clock that swings its tail every second (yeessssssssssss!). Once we got to Berthillon we had strawberry and coconut sorbet and it was amazing. So amazing that we walked all the way back later that week just to get some more.
Another tourist attraction we wanted to see was the Champs-Élysées. At this point it was raining really hard and my feet were killing me (wear comfortable shoes when you visit!) and all we wanted to do was finish up our day and get back to the hotel. So after seeing the Champs-Élysées we passed out in a random hotel lobby, got in trouble, and then walked to Ladurée right near the Champs-Élysées. I love Ladurée so much and every time I go to New York I make sure to make a trip there to get their famous macarons (I’m a huge Gossip Girl fan, so if anyone knows Blair Waldorf they know that Ladurée is her favorite place to get macarons).
After a long day out in Paris we ended it at a local Thai restaurant, Thai at Home.
Day four in Paris was completely focused on relaxing. At this point we had spent every day waking up early (while still being jet-lagged) and walking around sight-seeing. We were exhausted and decided that what better day to relax than Valentine’s Day? And thankfully it was rainy for a big portion of the day so we didn’t feel so bad for not getting out.
When I woke up Ryan had surprised me with flowers, chocolate, candles, chips, and wine and I got us some macarons from Ladurée and card that basically summed up how I felt about him (thanks Urban Outfitters and Beyonce).
When we decided to get out we tried our luck at getting a table at Gentle Gourmet, a really popular vegan restaurant that we were told to eat at. When we got there they were already booked up for the day so we shopped in their grocery section and then went to go eat pizza. We applied our new groceries at the restaurant and had a “cheese” pizza with “pepperoni” and it was actually really, really good. The cheese we purchased is called Vegusto and I swear I wanted to smuggle it back into the U.S. I’m really glad we bought it too because we applied that, the pepperonis, and peanut butter to making breakfast more tolerable.
Anyways, when we got back to our hotel we slept for like 3 hours, ate at The Loving Hut (again) for dinner, and then came back to the hotel to watch movies and celebrate Valentine’s Day.
Oh- cover your eyes because it’s about to get all sweet and mushy here. This day was also really, really special to me because it was the first time Ryan and I said, “I love you.”
It made me all giddy for the rest of the trip and it still does.
I can’t believe how happy he makes me just by doing the dumbest stuff. He’s really awesome and I love every single thing about him.
Ryan, I know you’re smiling right now because of how lame I am.
Day five in Paris was probably one of my favorite days ever.
We took a 30 minute train ride to the Palace of Versailles and it was AMAZING. We were there for probably 4 hours and we still didn’t get to see all of it.
The only thing I would have changed when visiting the Palace of Versailles was that I wish we would have been able to see it during the spring. The gardens were beautiful during the winter, but I can’t even imagine how much prettier they would have been with everything in bloom.
To anyone planning to visit the Palace, make sure you plan a full day for it. I wish we would have been able to do the actual tour with the headphones so I could have learned more about the history and I would have loved to see Marie Antoinette’s estate. BUT that’s just more of a reason for us to visit again and I’m completely okay with that.
I won’t talk much about the Palace because I would rather show you all through photos what we experienced. You’ll see the zillion photos I took below.
The reason we couldn’t stay all day at the Palace was because we had reservations at Gentle Gourmet. We were so excited to finally be able to eat there.
When we arrived the owner told us that people traveled all over the world just to eat there and it had been recently deemed as, “The Best Vegan Restaurant in the World.” I was a little shocked by this considering that’s such a huge accomplishment and I could never imagine spending thousands of dollars just to eat at a restaurant.
Well… by the end of our meal, I was convinced. I would DEFINITELY pay to go back there again and again. I have never, in my life, had food THAT good. I can’t even describe how good it was.
If you go to Paris, GO TO GENTLE GOURMET. I don’t care if you’re vegan, vegetarian, love meat, etc. It’s so, SO good. You won’t regret it.
The restaurant changes their menu four times a year, so when I looked up the menu online to see exactly what we ordered it wasn’t there. But regardless, you’ll love whatever you order. I guarantee it.
Day 6 was a shopping day and of course, I was super excited. Everyone always talks about how the stores in Paris are amazing and they weren’t exaggerating.
Ryan and I ate at Panasia for lunch and then made our first shopping trip to Zara. We were in there for 2 hours and Ryan didn’t complain once (he’s a keeper).
After Zara we went to La Marais in search of cute stores and vintage shops. On the way there we accidentally stumbled upon the Love Lock bridge! We didn’t put a lock on it because, well, I didn’t casually have a lock with me but we did take a photo beside it. That counts, right? Yeah, no it doesn’t. Next time I’ll be sure to bring one!
We also went into La Caféothèque that was recommended to us as one of the best coffee places in Paris. We were told that Paris isn’t great when it comes to coffee, but this place would be able to satisfy us especially since they had coffee from all over the world. And they were correct. Ryan and I had the most intense espresso of our lives. I definitely recommend anyone planning a trip to Paris to go there if they have time!
From La Caféothèque we walked to the BHV (a huge mall with everything you could ever need). Since I spent my 2 hours in Zara, I thought the BHV should be dedicated to finding Ryan a new coat that he had been wanting.
Another tip for people planning on going to Paris- basically all the shopping is in La Marais! And if you look at it on a map, you’ll find it’s near a lot of tourist attractions. So definitely put that down as something to do while you’re there because you will love the entire area!
We ended our day by eating at our new favorite Thai restaurant, Thai at Home and watching Benjamin Button on Netflix.
Oh- little fun fact, the Netflix in France is different than the Netflix in the United States and they don’t offer the same movies or TV shows. I’m pretty lame for even telling you guys we watched Netflix while visiting another country but whatever. Being completely jet-lagged the entire trip had us exhausted and Netflix is always the most wanted third-wheel in our relationship.
Day 7 in Paris started off by having a good breakfast with “soja” milk and I fully discovered by this point that I really like tea. I can’t drink coffee that often (or if I do it has to be through a straw) because I risk staining my braces so tea seemed like a good alternative. I’m sure I’ll find out later though that tea stains your teeth just as bad and my dreams will be crushed but whatever.
After finishing up “Benjamin Button” we walked along the Seine to the Aquarium de Paris! If you go to Paris, I definitely recommend walking along the Seine if you want to see more culture. It was one of my favorite memories from our trip.
Once we left the aquarium we went to the BHV again and this time it was to check out the womens section of the mall. However, I was pretty much done shopping by this point especially since we needed everything to fit in our luggage. (OH- another tip! If you’re planning to go to Paris bring an extra suitcase because you’re going to want to buy things while you’re there and we completely filled ours up with new stuff)!
We checked out other boutiques in La Marais in search for some more clothes for Ryan but had no luck. So we went and bought new coffee mugs from La Caféothèque, got more sorbet from Berthillon, ate some pizza at a local restaurant, and then headed back to the hotel and prepared for our flight back the next day.
When we got back we ended up at our hotel bar and had Pina Coladas and Mojitos for no reason and had room service bring us up dinner while we watched “Better Call Saul.” .
Leaving Paris was an absolute nightmare. So much that I don’t even want to write about it.
We ran out of time on our Navigo (what you need to get around in the Paris metro), had to jump the kiosk because our tickets weren’t working, and run all the way to our train just in time.
We then had to sit in the floor of our train all the way to the airport where we would get off and immediately be rushed to catch our flight (and we left over 3 hours early) only to actually sit in the airport for 3 extra hours because our plane was having maintenance issues.
I’ve never been so frustrated but I thank the free movies/trivia for keeping me sane.
Our plane ended up leaving over 3 hours late and missing our connecting flight back to Little Rock and so we had to stay in Atlanta overnight.
Oh well, we made it home. And that’s all that really matters!
Overall, this was an amazing trip! And here are some unique things we noticed:
– We didn’t have any problems with pick-pockets. Although, we were super cautious the entire time.
– A LOT of more people smoke cigarettes over there than I have ever seen.
– Everyone was super fashionable. Literally everyone. Even the dogs.
– Almost everyone knew English.
– Eco friendly bathrooms.
– The metro was awesome.
Here are some tips:
– Bring a good camera! I regret not bringing mine. BUT be super cautious of pick-pockets.
– Visit all of the places we listed. I don’t really recommend the aquarium though. It was cool but we only went because the Louvre was closed. Do something more exciting instead!
– The Louvre is closed on Tuesday and Versailles is closed on Mondays and basically all the shopping is closed on the weekends.
– Buy a Navigo! It makes your trip 100x easier.
– Learn your basic French. Greetings, goodbyes, and thank-you’s go a long way!
– Take an extra suitcase with you if you plan on doing some shopping.
– **Before you leave your hotel every morning, make sure you have your entire day mapped out. Before we left we would have the metro directions on our phones from one place to the next and then back to our hotel since you can’t use your phone without wifi.
– Plan for a full day at big touristy spots like the Palace of Versailles!
– Have a list of places you want to see that are touristy, but also have a list of places you want to see that are unique! I would talk to someone that either lives there or has before. Ryan Lenz helped us with our trip and I’m convinced that he’s the only reason we knew what to do there.
– Make sure you get a credit card that doesn’t have foreign transaction fees. I got Capital One Venture and it’s been amazing!
– I only asked for 400 Euros and since the Euro is at an all time low right now, it only took $436 from my account. We survived off of that and my credit card all week. So don’t think you should pull out a lot of Euro’s at the airport unless you plan on doing cash only and no credit card (which I don’t recommend because it could get stolen).
– Don’t take all of your Euros with you at a time. Leave some back at your hotel when you leave for the day.
– Wear comfortable shoes and pack pretty light. The flight back was difficult because our items weighed too much and we had to move stuff around in our luggage which made things more complicated.
– Eat at Gentle Gourmet.
– Roam around La Marais! It’s where you’ll find the boutiques, shopping, and cool touristy stuff.
– If you go to Paris, try to go for longer than a week. The only thing we didn’t like was that we felt rushed and felt that we HAD to get up early and see everything when in reality, we also needed to relax too so it could feel like a vacation. So there’s a lot of things we didn’t see in Paris, and that’s okay. I’m glad we got to relax and enjoy one another because we can always go back.
– Try to read everything I wrote if you want in detail about places to go. But also, I will be glad to help anyone that is planning a trip there!
– We really liked our hotel, but I didn’t realize until afterwards that trying an Airbnb would have been a good idea too! And probably cheaper. So if you’re on a budget make sure you check out that option!
– Relax. Don’t stress yourself out by planning too much in a short amount of time. Paris will always be there. Make sure you spend that extra quality time with the person you came with.
The trip was amazing and I’m so glad Ryan and I got to go on it together. There’s no one else I would rather travel with.
I’m currently planning our next trip and I’m thinking Australia/New Zealand.
I’m pretty freaking excited. 🙂