If you’ve followed along with me (in any capacity), you’re well aware that I recently spent over 2 weeks in Europe. It was, after all, just about the only thing I could think about for months.
It’s funny, isn’t it? You spend weeks, months, sometimes years planning and envisioning a big trip, and then it comes and goes all too quickly, and things were just as they were before. Or are they?
I’ve been having a difficult time adjusting back to reality. Back to the grind. Back to my life as a constant state of “figuring it out”.
When you’re on vacation, the hustle, the fatigue, the overwhelm – it all seems to fade away. You have no obligations outside of deciding which wine to drink and what beautiful site should you see in the morning?
That isn’t to say vacations don’t have their setbacks. I fought some serious heart burn and a cold while away. In fact, the day of our departure and the days following I was unsure if I’d have to take an immediate flight back for an acting job. Anxiety was high as I tried to grasp – but not too tightly – my excitement for the trip.
Let’s start with our first stop, Paris. I’ll be breaking this up into two posts because – photos! So. Many.
Pro-tip: if flying to Europe, pick a big hub to fly in and out of. Tickets will be more affordable, and you can always book a cheap flight or train ride to another destination.
Last year I spent just a day and a half in Paris, solo. I had mixed feelings.
But this time? This time was different. I’ll chalk that up to being with my husband and the sunshine. But regardless, it stole my heart.
I won’t tell you how to navigate your trip to Paris. Being an extreme planner as it may, I’m not a travel agent. I don’t do budget trips, but I also don’t stay in 5 star hotels. To me, travel is my one luxury, so I’m going to do it on my terms.
I will, however, share what we did. What you might want to add to your itinerary. I relaxed on mine (which was naturally full), and you know what? All was OK. We got to everything, and oh, if we didn’t, we survived.
I’ll share what confused us and what we learned. I’m still trying to figure out how these lessons will take shape in my life back home.
FYI – outfit details and links at the very end of this post.
As per our Europe visit last year, I booked airbnbs for the length of our stay – one in each city. We stayed in the Montmartre district, which I loved – though it’s a bit further away from the big sites (which is precisely why I loved it). I won’t share the exact listing because although the apartment design was beautiful, I took one too many freezing showers, and we were missing some pretty basic amenities. But the cobblestone streets, the green ivy, the locals – it was beautiful. Just walking the streets to find the most picturesque spots is an event in and of itself. It’s easy to get around town using the metro (Googlemaps will give you all the answers) – don’t be afraid to stay off the beaten path.
Our airbnb. Just a short walk from the Sacre Coeur in Montmartre.
Day One: Due to well timed sleep or adrenaline, I somehow wasn’t dead upon arrival and mustered the energy to clean up and go out. I revisited some sites (this was, of course, my husband’s first visit to Paris) like the Sacre Coeur, which gives you (one) sweeping view of the city outside and some semblance of quiet solitude inside. We followed that up with a photobooth (just across the street from Au Marche de la Butte – the market from Amelie) and eventually found a swanky bar in a (seriously) hidden hotel, Hotel Particulier (there are no signs – follow the address and buzz to be let in at a large black gate). After eating foie graux for the first time (I told myself I would try everything new), we grabbed dinner at Le Petit Parisien, which was quirky and fun and filled with the French – we made a good choice.
Finding photobooths in every city I visit since – well, always.
Villa Leandre and Avenue Junot – one of the prettiest streets in Paris.
Wes Anderson vibes at Le Très Particulier.
Day Two: The next morning we ate brunch at Hardware Societe (I have to recommend eating a filling breakfast to start your day while on vacation – it does wonders, I swear). It was delicious and Australian, but we’d be having so much French food, so why not? Stop here to eat before or after visiting the Sacre Coeur (it’s right next door). We then visited the Sezane store, which I’d been dreaming of, but I sadly left without a thing. Found perfume at Serge Lutens (I’ve decided my Paris souvenir every time), got a cappuccino at Café Kitzuné to sip in the Palais Royal Gardens (the most serene spot in the center of Paris, I love it so), strolled by the Louvre and through the Tuileries Gardens, and ended at Le Soufflé. Honestly, enjoying a sweet soufflé (The Grand Marnier) and getting tipsy off a bottle of rosé was my favorite memory from Paris. And since we aren’t passionate museum goers, the wine made our visit to see Monet’s Water Lilies at Musée de l’Orangerie afterwards even more entertaining.
Early stages of autumn in Paris.
WIFI camera magic with my new Canon 6D Mark II (p.s. how I take photos while solo traveling).
The city of carousels. ❤
I had to recreate the lovely night I did have in Paris last year – when I met a fellow solo traveler, a girl from LA. So, my husband and I ate steak and frites at L’ Relais de l’Entrecote (go for the experience, not the best steak in the world), nibbled macaroons at Ladurée, and watched the Eiffel Tower twinkle on the hour (still so magical).
Parisian pups in store windows.
Things we learned so far:
Ask for the check. It’s not rude. Otherwise you will sit at your table for hours (which is OK too, if you so decide).
Also, at a restaurant – asking what’s popular is an easy way to make a decision.
Some things take more time than you think they will. Others will take less.
Get the bottle.
It’s OK to Uber home after a long day of exhausting the city on foot and on metro. It’s even worth it.
That said, walk when you can. It’s the best way to “live” in a city and stumble upon hidden corners. *wear good shoes – these ones were both comfortable AND cute.
P.S. Don’t forget to come back for Paris, Part Two (+ video) – and the rest of our European vacation.
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