Let me just start this by saying that Paris is an amazing place to go on vacation. A few years ago I had been to Germany, which I will talk about later, but aside from that trip, the only place out of the U.S. I had gone was Canada. And I love Canada, but does that really count?
This isn’t my typical blog post where I give a tutorial on a decoration, gift idea or give ideas for gatherings. But this was an anniversary trip, so I am blurring the line a bit by considering this trip a celebration to share on my blog. Truth is, I had so much fun, and I just was excited to write about it.
Why did we go to Paris?
As I mentioned, this was an anniversary trip. We wanted to go for our 30th anniversary, but that was March 2021, during COVID, so I didn’t want to spend 11 ½ hours on a plane with a bunch of people and wear masks everywhere. So, this was our 30th anniversary trip after 32 years of marriage. I know, you’re probably thinking, “What?? Did she get married when she was like 10 years old?”. Ok, you’re probably not thinking that, but this is my blog, so I can write anything and pretend it’s true! I’m the boss, applesauce!
Back to Paris! I really wasn’t sure what to expect. My husband had been there as a kid and as a teen. Lots of people warned me that the people in France don’t tend to like Americans, so I prepared myself for people to be rude to me. I had to prep for that, because I’m almost overly polite to people, so if someone is rude to me, I tend to take it personally.
Good news for me, everyone we met and talked to was super nice. Most people there speak at least some English, and it seemed like everyone in a retail or service industry was pretty fluent. I was pleasantly surprised!
We stayed in a hotel that was built in the 18th century and was first a mansion that was turned into a hotel. The building right next door was where the Treaty of Paris was signed in 1783. These dates just blow my mind. The Hotel Danube, where we stayed was in the middle of the district of Saint-Germaine, which is basically an area where there are a lot of historical buildings and a ton of art galleries. We went in a few art galleries, but there were also a lot of antique stores, and that’s where we found some of our favorite souvenirs.
Staying in a building that old is so interesting. Nothing like you’d find in the states. We were on the 6th floor, which was the top floor, but the elevator only went as high as the 5th floor and then you walk up the winding staircase to our floor. Don’t get me wrong on this. Everything was clean, the décor was amazing and the people were so kind, but it’s an historical building, so it’s got some funny quirks. I would happily stay there again, though. The breakfast every day was an array of croissants, bread, fruit, jams, parfaits… you get the point. Lots and lots of carbs!
The ceilings are fairly low, the hallways are narrow, and the floors are uneven in certain areas. There was a part of the floor about 5 feet from our room that had just a slight incline. My husband and I laughed so much about it because, even though we knew it was there, he tripped over it every single time we walked by it for the first few days.
When we got to Paris, it was the early afternoon, and we couldn’t check into our hotel room yet, so we walked around the area to start our sight-seeing. In fact, we walked a total of over 8 miles that day, but it didn’t feel like it because there was so much to see. Ok, let me clarify that by saying that my feet and legs were feeling it by the time we got back to our hotel, but I was so interested in what I was looking at that I didn’t notice my sore feet until then. Mental Note: Don’t wear cute boots on travel day!
THE EIFFEL TOWER
On our way to the hotel from the airport, the cab driver pointed out the Eiffel Tower to us, and I started snapping pictures from the car. I had seen so many pictures of it in my lifetime, and it seemed unreal to be seeing it with my own eyes. It was even larger than I had imagined, unlike the Mona Lisa, but I’ll get to that in a minute.
My husband had planned a tour of the Eiffel Tower one day, and it was so interesting to hear about the history of it and see it up close. We went on this giant elevator, which took us to the very top deck that is accessible to the general public. We took pictures from the deck, and, although they are amazing, it was cloudy and a little bit rainy that day, so the view is probably more spectacular on a clear day.
I took so many pictures of the Eiffel Tower that day, however, I really wanted to see it lit up. So, on our last night, we went back to the Eiffel Tower and had dinner nearby, and I was able to take a picture of the Tower lit up. It was about 9:00 p.m. but it STILL wasn’t completely dark. I was exhausted, though, so as soon as the lights came on, I snapped my picture, and we got in a Taxi back to the hotel. I’m still satisfied with the final photo.
THE RIVER SEINE
On the same day as our Eiffel Tower tour, we went on a champagne cruise of the Seine River. There are 37 bridges that cross the river, but I think we only went under 22 of them. My husband thinks it was less, but, unlike him, I was actually paying attention when the guy was talking, so who are you going to believe? Anyway, it was a really beautiful cruise and they gave us each a large glass of champagne, so that made it feel even more “French”.
Did you ever hear about the bridge in Paris where people would attach padlocks? The bridge is called Pont des Arts, and people would put their initials on a padlock (or “love lock”), and attach it to the bridge and then throw the key in the river. The locks had to be cut off in 2015, because at that point there were an estimated 700,000 padlocks on the bridge, which equaled the weight of 20 elephants, so when part of the bridge collapsed, they had to cut them off.
There are places near the bridge where they display groups of the locks that had been attached to the bridge. I was kind of disappointed that we couldn’t actually put a lock on the bridge, because I had seen an episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills where they visited Paris and got to add their padlocks. Please don’t judge me because I just admitted watching that show. Yes, I watch reality TV on Bravo. It’s my guilty pleasure.
THE PALACE OF VERSAILLES
I’ll be honest. I didn’t know much about this palace before this vacation. We had a scheduled tour that took us through a good portion of the palace, and then we were off to explore the 2,000 acre gardens on our own. Of course, we didn’t actually walk 2,000 acres, but we saw a lot of it. Enough of it.
The palace was built by King Louis the 14th which was built on the site of a hunting lodge that King Louis the 8th built in 1623. Then the palace was actually built in phases between the years 1661 and 1715.
For a girl who was born and raised in California, seeing buildings this old is almost too much to comprehend! Every surface in the palace was painted or had fabric on the walls. There was so much gold. I mean, just a whole lotta gold. The paintings, the furniture, and the chandeliers are so beautiful. Beautiful for a palace. Obviously, everything would look hideous in your or my home. I took a picture of the only chandelier that is original (from the 1600’s) to the palace.
By the time we had finished the trip in the palace and then walked through a lot of the gardens, I was tired and hungry. Some may say I was ‘hangry’. For instance, my husband would probably use that word. Anyway, there was a place in the gardens where you could get food, and the place had two lines. They were fairly long, but not unreasonably so. We got in one line behind this girl (I’m guessing about 12 years old), and I immediately noticed her mom was in the other line. She was playing what I would refer to as ‘the line game’, where she wanted to see whose line went faster and then they would both get in that line.
First, let me just say in my defense that I am a very patient, maternal kind of person. I would never, ever hurt a child. But, for some reason this girl was really getting on my nerves because I knew that her mom was a bit ahead of us, and it was just making me feel like our line was one person longer than it needed to be. I kept saying to my husband, “This is so unreasonable of me. Why am I feeling so frustrated? Why does this matter so much to me?”. I’m not gonna say that I ever felt violent (because that would be stupid to admit on the internet), but I was hungry, tired and I wanted my crepe! No kids were harmed in the procurement of my crepes.
Just to let you know, I was right. Her mom got to the counter first. And this ridiculous, unreasonable side of me was thinking, “yeah, in your face, kid!!”. Then I got my crepe and sat on a bench and life was all good again.
THE ARC DE TRIOMPHE
So, this is another popular, old landmark in Paris. Napoleon the 1st commissioned it in 1806 and it took over 30 years to build. It’s 164 feet high, and you can actually go up on a deck and look out over Paris. Honestly, we saw it on a cold, rainy day, and the last thing I wanted to do was go up on that cold, windy deck with a ton of people, so I took a few pics and we moved on. But at least I can now say that I’ve seen it in person.
This, my American friends, is where the Mona Lisa is housed. Some of you may be surprised to find out that this painting is only 30×20 inches in size. We were with a very small tour group, and when we walked into the room with the Mona Lisa there were barricades around it, and you had to get in a long line that winded around just to get in front of it to get a photo. It seriously looked like the line for Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland, or the TSA security line at the airport.
Our tour guide was super nice and told us that we’d walk past it on the side and snap a picture before security told us to ‘move along, people’. So we started walking along the side, and I paused, put my camera in the air, and got my picture. Easy peasy. And no ridiculously long line.
We also got to see so many other amazing pieces of art. This tour lasted about two hours, and we hadn’t even seen 10% of the Louvre. But it was very interesting, and we got so much information and also saw the Venus de Milo, which is a sculpture, made of marble and created sometime between 150 and 125 BC. It’s fascinating to see something that has been on the earth for so many centuries.
I have more to share about this trip, including the trip to the Paris Flea Market (so awesome!), our experiences in cafes and restaurants and our trip to Germany, where I was assaulted by an old lady! That’s for sure my favorite story of the adventure.
Thanks so much for stopping by my website and reading my words. I hope you will find something fun and celebrate it!