A stroll in the City of Love – Part 1
You have to love it when family brings new opportunities to you! A few weeks ago, my grandmother was returning to Romania. She had been visiting in Canada the better part of four months, but with summer around the corner it was time to go home.
Due to her age, she couldn’t travel alone so we took a family trip. Rather than go for a direct flight, we chose a pit-stop in Paris to see some family friends and experience a little bit of the old European charm.
And what a stay! Between amazing food, gothic cathedrals, the old mixed with the new, and parks that make you believe you’re in the midst of a forest and not the city… Paris amazed me from beginning to end! Scroll below for a few of the epic spots I travelled through.
Nothing quite compares with the first peek at a new country. After getting off the airport, I was surprised with my first name initial in the sky (don't even know how that happened !!) and then a bus trip to where we were staying (about 40min out of Paris). Here's a couple snippets:
The célèbre peintre spent his last days in an area of France called Val D'Oise, set around a river named Oise. Literally, the name translates to the valley of the Oise.
When Van Gogh attempted to commit suicide, he semi-succeeded. That is to say, he didn't die immediately, but rather made his way back from the field he shot himself into the inn he lived in, where he died two days later.
I got the chance to see the inn and his room (which has been kept unrented and untouched since his death) and hear a wonderful tour. If ever you're in the area, it's well worth the look and walk further up the hill for the cemetery where Van Gogh and his brother Theo were buried together (you'll see their two graves in the pics below too). The decorations on the various graves there were truly amazing!
Well worth the tour of the house and drive! My only regret is they didn't allow pictures inside the house! http://www.maisondevangogh.fr/index-en.php
I’m not big on churches, but there is something about the gothic structure of Notre-Dame and Sacré Coeur’s beautiful architecture that blew me away!
You can visit Sacré Coeur for free (after a security check) and Notre-Dame as well, but be mindful of the line ups in this one. If you’re lucky, you can even catch a few married couples having the pictures taken at each!
Sacré Coeur (pics)
You can take the never-ending stairs for an awesome workout (even national teams train here!) or take the elevator for a cheat day :) The last picture was a nice little surprise!
You can easily imagine Quasimodo and Esmeralda here, but if you do go, take the time to stroll through the gardens at the back! Beautiful and cool on a hot sunny day :)
The MontMartre District
From Sacré Cœur, don’t just hop back down the stairs. Take a stroll through the Montmartre district and enjoy some cold beverages (and yummy food!) while having your portrait painted by professionals! (Sidenote: their fees can go up to 70 Euros, so make sure you ask before sitting down!)
We took a bus down from the area to visit Moulin Rouge after. I was petrified by the tiny streets and large bus that zoomed through, up and down cobblestone paths, as if it was on a racetrack. But it was by far the most fun experience I had – if you can avoid throwing up, that is haha!
The sex district is a must whether you’re traveling alone or as a couple. But for the single women traveling, a heads up: every store you see there will have men out ogling tourists to invite them to different shows for a fee.
The Eiffel Tower
Ah, la belle tour!!! The first time I saw the Eiffel Tower was from the Sacré Coeur cathedral, looking down across the beautiful landscape.
It was my uncle who suggested, rather than getting off at the subway station under the Eiffel Tower, to go across to a plaza instead. And he was right! The view was spectacular and the plaza was filled with people, vendors and out-right fun.
The Louvre Museum
If you’ve seen the Da Vinci Code movie (and if you’re a fan as I am) you’ll want to visit the Louvre. A heads up for the crowds and high-vigilance of security, but otherwise it’s an amazing sight. I didn't get into any of the exhibitions, but I would love to spend days just exploring it! Also, the Starbucks nestled in its center is pure heaven! (but more on that in the next post)
Stay tuned for Part 2, where I will share some experiences you cannot miss in Paris!