Saturday morning had me on another Aer Lingus flight from Dublin to the wonderful city of Paris for one final weekend before heading back to New York!
I arrived in Paris around noon, got my bags and took the good ol’ RER from Charles de Gaulle to Gare du Nord, where I took the 2 line to get to my hostel.
I had a reservation at the Loft Boutique Hotel & Hostel and, just like with Isaac’s Hostel, I would definitely recommend them! The staff was friendly and professional (they even got excited when I tried speaking French with them since they saw my USA passport). But since my room wasn’t going to be ready for another hour I stored my luggage with them (for free!) and went off to meet my friend Trey by Notre Dame.
We found each other around 2:00 without any real plans. Since it was his first time in Paris I gave him a few of my favorite sights for him to pick from. In the end we decided to start with the beautiful (and nearby) Luxembourg Gardens! We explored the gardens and sat at the basin for a bit watching the toy sailboats battle each other.
Afterwards we couldn’t help but make our way to Le Tour Eiffel! From certain areas of the gardens you can see it from a distance so it only made sense to make our way there! It took longer to walk there than expected, with a few stops in some interesting churches, but the end result was, as always, breathtaking!
Afterwards we made our way to the other Parisian icon: the Arc de Triomphe! I’ve been to the Arc a few times throughout my life but the only time I went to the top was on a family vacation when I was 9. When we got there we looked at the line to buy tickets and saw that it was uncharacteristically short so we decided to take advantage and go to the top! Normally it’s around 12€ but if you have an ID showing that you’re 25 or younger it’s only around 9€! They don’t do student discounts though so be prepared!
The walk up the arc is a very long spiral staircase. If you’re looking to get a good leg workout with a million dollar view at the end, then this is the workout for you!
Even though our legs were burning by the end of it, it was (obviously) well-worth it because you can see all of Paris from the top!
We spent about an hour up there getting pictures at all different angles with different lightings before deciding that we should go get dinner before it got too late.
It took us a few minutes to find a place but thanks to google we eventually decided to head to Bistro des Victoires. The restaurant is a few blocks from the Louvre and the famous glass pyramid, so we couldn’t help but stop for a small photoshoot since we were there during sunset!
The restaurant itself was great. We could sense the history of the place while there, surrounded by old wood accents and aged details. I got a delicious pasta plate and the two of split a bottle of wine!
After dinner we split ways for the night since both of us were exhausted, making plans to sleep in and then head to Claude Monet’s gardens in Giverny the next day!
When I got back to my hostel I met and talked with some of the people that I was sharing my room with before heading to bed.
The next morning Trey and I met at Gare Saint Lazare around 10:00 (after I stopped at a patisserie to get some delicious croissants) in order to take a 10:20 train from Paris to Giverny.
The ride took around an hour and the train was absolutely full! We ended up sitting on the floor and had some great conversation with a mother and daughter visiting France from Texas!
The train let us off at Vernon-Giverny station and we took the shuttle bus to get to the village of Giverny. Overall the roundtrip train cost about 30€ and the bus was 10€ roundtrip, so anticipate spending some money in addition to the cost of the admission ticket.
After stopping at a small village café for a sandwich, we got in line for admission. I bought my ticket online in advance so I left to go to an entrance specifically for those already with tickets. Even though it costs a 1.45€ extra to buy the ticket online, I definitely recommend it. Trey was waiting in line for at least half an hour but I got in right away. If you’re pressed for time it’s definitely worth it.
The gardens were like a dream. Admission lets you into the side that has Monet’s house so you can explore the gardens and see his home.
Once we finished exploring the first half and touring the inside of the house, we crossed the small underpass to get to the other half of the gardens, which was home to the famous water lily pond from some of Monet’s paintings.
Our train wasn’t for a few more hours so we decided to explore the village a bit after leaving the garden, seeing some old stone buildings and a small but beautiful church, which was a big change from the enormous gothic cathedrals we were used to seeing.
The train came just before 5:00 and dropped us off after around 45 to 50 minutes.
After leaving the train station we went to Montemartre to see the gorgeous view and Sacré Cœur. It’s quite a walk uphill but the area is entirely worth it. You can even get a portrait painted for you if you’re feeling it by looking around the streets for an artist. Just be sure to find an artist on a side street instead of the main plaza since they’re significantly cheaper, and don’t forget to haggle!
Tired and hungry after another day of exploring and a lot of walking, we opted for an earlier dinner than the night before.
We went to a place that Trey had tried a few days earlier in the Montemartre area. While our waiter was pretty rude, the food was great and we were able to split a pitcher of Sangria for only 6€! We even decided to get escargot (which tasted fine because it’s drenched in sauce, but definitely had a strange texture).
We finished the night by walking to the Eiffel Tower in order to see it sparkle. Once the lights are on, it sparklers every hour on the hour for around five minutes. We arrived around five minutes before 11, finding great spots on the field just in front of the tower.
We sat there among the crowds and watched the tower, staying around thirty minutes after the sparkling ended before deciding it was time to head home for the night.
The next morning I checked out of my hostel but kept my luggage in their storage and met Trey by the Trocadéro metro stop. He had a pre-booked time to go up the Eiffel Tower at 2:16 and I had to leave for the airport around 3, so we agreed to get some pastries and lunch and explore the streets before heading to the Eiffel Tower and saying goodbye.
We found a great patisserie on Place Victor Hugo, where we decided to get fancier pastries to celebrate the end of our time in France (even though he still had a few days).
Afterwards we found a small hiking area nearby and decided to explore before heading over to the tower. While there we found some duck parents walking around with their baby!
After saying goodbye I took the metro to the hostel to retrieve my bags before taking the RER again, but this time in the direction of CDG in order to board a 7:35 flight back to New York.
As happy as I am to be back in the states, I already miss France. I miss hearing French everywhere, having patisseries on every corner, and seeing my new friends every day.
Now that I’m finished with the semester and with my undergraduate career, the only thing left for me right now is graduation this Sunday and Monday. Hopefully I’ll manage to keep this blog up in the time between now and TAPIF!
Thank you for following along on my study abroad journey!