Paris: The City of Light…and Lots of Rosé
Recently, a few of my homegirls and I took a trip to Paris. While most people plan European excursions months and months in advance, we decided to book this baby with less than two months notice. It was very much a “Why the hell not? Let’s just fucking do it.” type of trip. And the more I travel I’m finding these tend to be the best kinds.
Once we booked our tickets, it took us about a month to get our shit together and actually plan stuff. We each kind of had an idea of what we wanted to get out of our trip to the City of Light, but we also were clueless enough to leave room for spontaneity. This created a completely ideal itinerary that consisted of just the right balance of pre-planned activities and blank spaces.
Because je fucking adore all of you, I’m sharing some of the highlights. Including one that results in me moving to Africa…
Our Parisian Accommodations
If you’re traveling to Paris, especially with a group, I highly recommend renting an apartment instead of booking a hotel. I love hotels, but in places like Paris, renting an apartment in a cool neighborhood allows you to really feel like you lived there for a brief moment, not that you simply stayed there.
The apartment we rented was charming…charming meaning incredibly fucking small. My friend and I shared a bedroom and we basically didn’t have a floor. Like, I had to walk across the bed to get out of the room and we had to keep our suitcases outside. The bedroom our other two friends shared wasn’t exactly a palace either. Oh and bonus, there was no air conditioning and we had one bathroom. Normally one bathroom for four girls wouldn’t be so hellish, but when we’d been walking an average of 10 miles a day in 90 degree heat every day, we could’ve each used our own personal sanitation station complete with a fire truck-grade hose. Yep, we got that disgusting.
The funny thing is, I wouldn’t have changed a single damn thing about it. Due to our baby-sized bedrooms, we were forced to turn the main living/kitchen space into basically one giant dressing room. Every night before we went out to a très chic 10 PM dinner, we listened to Beyoncé, did our makeup in the reflection of the microwave, sought outfit opinions, etc. Plus, our apartment was charming…charming meaning incredibly fucking cute. The décor was light and bright and the location was close enough to the sights but far enough away that we were definitely in a real neighborhood. And the locals were French gay Asians, which obviously means nothing but incredible things.
Getting Bubbly in Champagne
One of the day trips we took was to the lovely Champagne, France where we booked a semi-private tour with this company called France Bubbles Tour. We got insanely lucky though because we were the only four people who booked, so our semi-private tour was 100% private. Our guide, Justine, was also kind of amazing. She wasn’t one of those tour guides who wears a vest with 14 pockets, holds a microphone and makes heinous jokes. She was cool, knowledgeable and genuinely interesting. Besides the obviously amazing champagne tastings at various cellars, the biggest highlight was lunch. I know lunch is always the best thing ever, but this lunch was especially great. Justine took us to the village of Dom Pérignon on a little hill. Yes, thee Dom Pérignon. Fun fact: Dom Pérignon is NOT just something P Diddy rains on his hoes in da club. He was actually a person who was actually a monk who actually is the one who invented champagne. Also known as the real Jesus in my book.
I assumed given the name, this village would be touristy and painful. But that could not have been further from the truth. It was quiet, quaint and completely precious. Vines and blossoms overtook the stone buildings and the view was nothing but rolling hills and silhouettes of other completely precious villages. We had lunch at a small restaurant where Justine recommended doing the tasting of four champagnes (um, yes please) with a plate of local delicacies (um, kind of scary). This meal was nothing short of perfection. We drank champagne of different varieties and ate things like beet mousse, local cheeses, and giant macaroons, all the while enjoying the backdrop of this perfect little town.
Getting Lost, Solo Style
There was one day when the other girls I was traveling with wanted to visit The Louvre. Now, if you’ve been to Paris before (which I already had prior to this trip) you know that a visit to The Louvre, especially in July, is a full on experience. It’s amazing and worth it and all of that, but it’s like, a thing. So while I definitely wanted them to see it, the idea of standing behind 219 people in fanny packs all cramming to take a photo of a 2’x2’ Mona Lisa, sounded basically like salmonella poisoning to me. So I decided to have a solo day.
While I had no clue what I wanted to do during my day on my own, I envisioned a very Eat Pray Love kind of thing where maybe I’d meet an old philosopher in a coffee shop who’d teach me the meaning of life, or I’d find some underground secret passageway no one had ever discovered and I’d write a fictional novel based on it. Shockingly, nothing thing like this happened. What did happen was I learned why Paris is called “The City of Light” and all about the fine art of taking a hot minute.
The best part about this solo day was that every moment was 100% up to me. While I loved traveling with my friends, when you’re in a group you have to always be considerate of what everyone else wants to do. On my own, the only one I had to consider was myself. And let me just say, it was faaaaaabulous. I basically spent the day getting lost. I walked down kind of spooky, yet stunning alleyways. I spent an hour sampling scents in a small perfume shop. I had chocolate ice cream and rosé for lunch overlooking the Seine. I perused a vintage shop to find unique doorknobs to bring home. And all the while I kept finding myself in awe of how incredibly beautiful this city was. I know it might sound cliché, but there’s no light in the world quite like what you find in Paris. Let me preface by saying, I’m not usually one of those people who notices things like ~*~light~*~ but I actually did in Paris. I’m not sure if it really was the light of the city, or that maybe I normally don’t have the time or energy to just be somewhere and notice things like it. Like 99% of earthlings, I usually spend my time bulldozing through one moment to get to the next because I’m likely late for something and therefore stressed out. But on this sunny day in Paris, I had nowhere to be and no schedule to follow, so I took my time. I sat and examined, I explored and observed. In my usual life routine, sitting at a café for two hours on a Wednesday would give me anxiety because I would feel like it was a total waste of time and I could be doing 19 other things. I don’t know if it was the freedom or the rosé or the departure into the slower European way of life I’ve heard so much about, but I did nothing both carpé diem the shit out of that day. And I’ve never felt so fulfilled from “wasting” time in my life.
Au Vieux Paris D’Arcole
You know how you hear a lot people talking about Paris being, dare I say it, magical? Well, they aren’t lying. And one of the places I visited where I thought, good god Paris is fucking magical, was a little restaurant called Au Vieux Paris D’Arcole. I had seen photo of it on Pinterest before our trip and while it looked cute as FCK, I assumed it was just another one of those highly edited and highly overrated Pinterest travel discoveries. It wasn’t. I stumbled upon it during my solo day and while I had previously had it on my “things I’d like to see” list, I hadn’t necessarily made a distinct point to visit it. So when I found it out of nowhere, I knew I had to take a seat.
First of all, the outside is just as cute, if not cuter than it was on my Pinterest board. The tables were a hot purple and the building was covered in vines and blossoms. I walked up to the restaurant and was immediately welcomed by a smiling waiter. “Just one,” I said (PS restaurant-ing alone is never something I would be cool enough to do in the US, but it’s so common in Paris that you feel almost un-cool if you don’t). “Ah, I’ve been saving this table especially for you,” he replied. Normally this could be a semi-creepy gesture, but his warm eyes and the picturesque surroundings made me melt into the chair.
Given this is the oldest restaurant in Paris, I would have assumed it would be dripping with tourists, but to my surprise it was just me and a few other people. Then I looked at the menu and understood why. The menu was…aggressive. If I hadn’t been seated at this adorable purple table in such a beautiful setting, I probably would have booked it. Everything was raw, heavy, etc. To be safe, I ordered the chicken, which my waiter exclaimed was “the best chicken in Paris,” and a glass of rosé (duh). Even though roast chicken seemed like a little much for lunch, he was kind of right about it being the best in Paris. So I sat with my chicken and glass of rosé that my waiter kept filling “as his gift” and admired where I was. It was one of those rare moments where you kind of can’t believe your life. When planning trips, we all have a vision of what you hope it will be like. And given this trip was to Paris, it was easy to create wild and beautiful visions in my head. And in this moment, those visions couldn’t even begin to match the beauty of my reality. After two hours of eating and drinking and taking it all in, I was finished. BONUS: there’s a cupcake shop next door almost as charming.
Being Athletic as FCK in Giverny
Normally I would rather eat a light bulb than do any type of exercise on vacation, but our day trip to Giverny could be my first exception. Our plan was to take a train to a small town and then bike to Giverny. While I was secretly dreading this (even though it was my idea), it ended up being my absolute FAVE thing we did.
We started the morning by almost missing our train to a little town called Vernon. Once we boarded at the exact moment it was leaving, we choo-choo-ed through the French countryside where we were passed through charming villages that looked straight out of a Disney movie. Vernon itself was just as charming as the tiny villages we passed. It’s a small, historical town on the banks of the Seine full of 12th century chateaus, churches and quaint homes. With only about 2,600 people living there and its proximity to the water, it almost had a cool, beachy vibe. After a quick lunch, we rented bikes from a small café for only €14 which is a little over $15. The first bargain of our entire trip! After I was able to find my balance after not having ridden a bike in like 18 years, it was a quick and beautiful 20-ish minute bike ride to Giverny.
It’s hard to put Giverny into words. I feel like I have to use the kinds of words I’m normally embarrassed for other people when they use them. Words like “enchanting” and “magical.” But that’s exactly what Giverny was…enchanting and magical. There were flowers everywhere and the buildings again looked like something out of a Disney movie. I was in 100% in love. We spent most of our time there visiting the house and gardens of Claude Monet. This garden was a garden on steroids. Everywhere I looked I was embraced by cascading blossoms, bold colors and willow tree branches. It was incredibly tranquil and easy to understand why Monet chose this piece of the world to settle in and be inspired. And why so many followed him.
I Might be Moving to Africa
I’ll make this one short. On our second night we somehow found ourselves in a local bar in the Latin Quarter called Barrio Latino. I danced with an African man who smelled like chicken flavored ramen noodles and asked me to move to Cameroon with him to become his African Queen. Consider my pants peed in and my life made.
My top Paris restaurant picks:
- Mini Palais (a table on the terrace is a must)
- Chez Ralph (be sure and try whatever their cocktail of the day is…definitely worth it)
- Chez Julien (the perfect Parisian restaurant)
- Derriere (hipster but very cool atmosphere)
- The restaurant at Hotel Costes (ideally try and get a table on the terrace, but the inside is just as amazing)
- Bertie’s Cupcakery (head here for a post-Notre Dame treat)
Did I miss anything!? Comment below and tell many any Parisian hotspots I MUST check out next time…