A few months ago my husband and I chose to go on a roughly 2 week long babymoon to Paris to relax a while before the arrival of our second baby. I was in my 2nd trimester of pregnancy which is ideal for travel because the nausea and fatigue of the 1st are more or less gone, and the pain and heaviness of the 3rd trimester are still far away. I travel light because its all about the experience for me and never about fashion, so I packed a couple of sweatpants, tops and comfy shoes, and was set to go with only 1 carry on handbag and nothing else! Although I had planned a minimal effort trip with site-seeing spread out as to not exhaust myself, I found myself thirsty for this city, and we were touring like crazy from early morning to past midnight on a daily basis!
As soon as we landed and got our luggage settled in the studio we rented (much more practical than a hotel!), we took off to Champs Elysees. Being crowded day and night, you can walk up and down on either side without getting bored because of the diverse mesh of people you see, the shops ranging from fine chocolatiers to clothing stores, and the restaurants with menus displayed outside that can keep you company as you take the time to read and choose.
Bear with me as I rave about the architecture of the city, because with all the buildings being different from each other yet harmonious, its a sight for sore eyes. Almost all the balconies’ handrails are wrought iron and the roofs curved as domes with the turning of the street.
At the top of the Champs Elysees is the Arc De Triomphe, not accessible from the road but from a tunnel which goes under the round about to the ‘island’ where the arch is located.
You can bet I got many stares while I sat in the middle of the road, but hey you only get to live certain experiences once, and sitting in the heart of Paris is one I won’t forget!
The top of the arch is an option if you’d like to get a 360 view of the city.
I wasn’t enthralled with Champs Elysees in terms of shopping, I had expected to see chic women and high end boutiques, perhaps I had a romanticized image of the city in my head. Instead it was a touristic beehive with less than average stores. However what I was searching for was off the main avenue on Montaigne in a much calmer setting with repetitive architectural elements, each niche being a shop.
I live for art, and quarters which tend to attract artists and thinkers act as a magnet for me. I have a duality inside, and as much as I love the glitz, I love the indie. So as my heart fluttered in Rue Rivoli similar to lets say Park Avenue in Manhattan, it was the case at Montmartre, which reminded me of Soho in New York.
We searched for the funicular that takes us to Sacre Coeur Basilica, but since that was nowhere in sight, we took the (around 300) stairs up to reach the top. It was tough for me but I managed it with a couple of stops in between to catch my breath.
Needless to say, the view from the top was breathtaking, and all time stood still.
When we got back down, we walked through the narrow streets with souvenir shops stacked on either side. Don’t bother searching for a bargain, all items cost more or less the same.
Make sure to stop by the Moulin Rouge and take photos of this iconic Parisian theater.
Even the simplest streets have beautiful architecture, this frame reminds me of the ‘Technical Drawing’ course at university with all the details and perspective.
I thought the Eiffel Tower would be just another iron structure, but once I got a glimpse of it at night, I understood why it is the symbol of the city. Crowds from all over the world gathered around it to pose, take photos, or even simply stare and daydream.
Reserve a ride on the Bateaux-Mouches, which is a boat that takes you around the Seine river to see the city from a different perspective. Every bridge and building has a history and you will learn a lot by the narrator during the ride.
Rue Rivoli is a long street with gorgeous architecture dominated by arches on the lower floor. Inside the arcade tunnel are unique shops, street artists, and most importantly Angelina cafe.
Shopping at its best at the Chanel boutique.
Sainte Chapelle church.
Notre Dame Cathedral.
Make sure to get your lock from one of many street vendors and place it on the bridge of love!
Plan your trip to Versailles, it will take a full day including transportation, waiting in line (even if you have prepaid tickets), viewing the castle and the garden.
I’m a sucker for period interiors such as the queen’s room below.
I was on such a high from all the gilded details.
When I glanced at the garden it was hard to believe that I’ll be able to walk through it all, especially after standing in line for so long and barely feeling my feet anymore. But step by step I explored the beauty of the hedges, the birds, the music.
Romantic canoe ride with my hubby, what a strange feeling of isolation in the middle of the crowded Versailles garden.
Charming authentic streets.
The surprise birthday lunch I had organized for my husband in the Eiffel Tower with a wonderful view, that is off my bucket list!
Check the crowds below!
If you are a fan of art and architecture, you must stop by the Louvre. They have specific days during the week with late night openings, I recommend you plan your afternoon visit accordingly to save time waiting in line.
The Mona Lisa, although in a glass box surrounded by security and rope and can only be viewed from a distance, is a must see for Renaissance art lovers. Don’t listen to the cynics who say its not worth it, I personally entered the museum to view this and only this, and I stood there for quite some time admiring it with goosebumps.
You will equally admire the museum’s interior.
What is a tourist without a cheesy pose?
The modernized arch of La Defense, the business district of Paris.
Disneyland for adults and children alike.
Another favorite is the Opera (Palais) Garnier, oh how I daydream of viewing an opera, ballet or orchestra in this iconic theater.
View from the Palace balcony.
The dome of the Galeries Lafayette, worth a visit to view the interior but not for shopping because it is over crowded.
I had to visit Centre Pompidou to make one of the buildings studied in architecture class come to life.
I insisted on getting my caricature done!
Hotel De Ville.
Postcard of my belly with the Eiffel Tower!
I always thought Paris was overrated, at least that was my preconception, until I visited and it made its mark on me. Not only do I mean the grandeur, the museums, and the architecture, but also a mark in my emotions, because I will forever hold it dear to my heart as a truly romantic city. The charm of Paris isn’t in its big streets, it is in the small neighborhoods, the cafes, the bakeries and the artistic quarters.