I have such a love for Paris, that words cannot describe. I summered out there after college, fell madly in love with this city while studying photography, and moved out again for the next summer to work with an all male modeling agency as a test photographer. I guess you could say that Paris is my home away from home. As cliche as it sounds, home is where the heart is, and my heart is in San Francisco and Paris (Tokyo too lol). Honestly, I’ll find any reason or excuse to walk the streets of Paris again. Aside from its beauty, I think I have a more personal love for this city. It’s where I found myself as an artist. It's so hard to say goodbye to Paris. Truly, it is never goodbye, but see you soon. My mother would laugh at me saying that, possibly roll her eyes as well. I see her point, that there is so much more to see in the world. Yes I agree, but there is nothing like Paris, nor the love I have for it as well. Yes, I am a hopeless romantic. Making Paris the perfect place for me. The streets, the people, the food, the wine, the architecture, the art, EVERYTHING screams romance.
I thought that by the end of March it would be a bit warmer and there would be subtle signs of Spring. BUT NOPE! It was snowing while we were out there, and yes, we walked everywhere, just like we had done in London. I always knew that Paris was more beautiful and romantic in the rain, but in the snow, it is a completely different story. It was so fun walking around considering we were there for only a few short days. Even if I was there for a year, it wouldn’t be enough time. Just beyond thankful to walk the streets again, eat crazy delicious French food and always stumble upon something new and beautiful to see. Since it was my friend Kim's first time in Paris, I made sure she saw all the iconic landmarks. Even though I've already seen them, they are still so beautiful and somehow I discover something new.
This was hands down my favorite meal in Paris and it was our first night. Not sure if we were just high off of life because we were finally in Paris, or if the food at Chez Janou was that good.... no, it's for sure both. Chez Janou needs to be top of your list of restaurants to eat at when visiting Paris. I will say though we had a dispute the entire rest of the trip because of the chocolate mouse that we ordered. Austin mentioned that it is a "communal bowl", which is really disturbing to think about. Reloading a bowl and passing that same bowl around from table to table. There is no way in America that would slide, maybe in Paris it's ok. Honestly, I doubt it, but we had this debate for the entire rest of the trip. Let me tell you though, once the pot was set on our table, there was nothing left inside to share with the rest of the restaurant. I'm a big fan of anything sweet, but not normally chocolate mouse, but I can't deny it, I was the one who licked the bowl clean!!
The Palace of Versailles & a Midnight Stroll in Paris
I've had to privilege of walking the grounds at Palace of Versailles multiple times, but this was my favorite experience. The first time I went, there was a modern art exhibit throughout the entire palace, truly ruining my experience. As an art history major, I have studied countless rooms and iconic art works showcased throughout the palace. There was one room I was very excited to see and sadly there was a big helicopter with pink ostrich feathers and big bedazzled crystals all along it, completely destroyed the experience for me. The second time I went, I went with my photography school. I was so annoyed with everyone on my trip that I took this experience to have alone time. So, I packed a big lunch and a few bottles of wine, then rented a bike on the property for the day and enjoyed a nice picnic in the park with a few fellow classmates who were also annoyed with all the other students. Sadly, I never went inside, but I did enjoy my time in the gardens.
This time was brilliant, I was with good company and thankfully it only snowed by the end of the day after seeing practically everything. I planned on us hitting Versailles first before we explored anything in Paris because it was a long adventure outside of the city. I figured we should get it out of the way and then just walk around the city as much as we could. By the end of the day Kim and I were exhausted and refueled with a few beers and played a few card games (yes, I always travel with a deck or two fo cards), while Austin and his friend we met up with Sheila walked around a bit more. Kim and I laughed about how we have never walked this much before in our lives, and then realized we had more days of it ahead of us. So sitting and enjoying a few beers was delightful!!
(See My Photography section bellow for more photos at Versailles)
By the time we arrived back into the city of Paris, it was nightfall. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and explored our neighborhood, only we couldn't find the restaurant we wanted to eat at and walked around in circles for a couple hours. I found the perfect Airbnb in the center of the city, in the 1st arrondissement, making it easy for us to find restaurants open late or just easy access to all the iconic landmarks.
Come morning, we woke up to the most beautiful site I've ever seen.... snow on the roof tops of our apartment building. I truly will never forget seeing white powder snow sitting on top of the black rooftops of these iconic structures.
Le Lourve to Champs-Elysees to Le EifflelTower & Everything in Between
Knowing we had a lot to see in only 3 or 4 days short days, I planned everything accordingly. Yes, I am a bit of a control freak and I like to have everything organized, but hey, you need a person like me on adventures like this. I'm the sort of person who has fun doing absolutely anything, especially knowing that everyone I am with is happy, then I'm happy. Plus, I made sure we got up and explored as much as we could with such little time we had. So, on our first day in the city we did A LOT! We started with the Lourve, took a break for tea time at Angelina's, then we made our way through Tuileries Jarden, to visit museum l'Orangerie and soak in the masterpiece Water Lillies by Claude Monet, to cross Concorde to Champs-Elysees, where we enjoyed macrons and wine at Laduree, to the Arch de Triomphe, then to end our tour with the ever so beautiful Eiffel Tower.
I know I've been to the Lourve so many times now, I cannot count anymore, but it is the most overly crowded museum I have ever been too. So crowded on an off season, that it isn't really worth seeing anymore. If you haven't been, yes, by all means you should go. When I lived there, I had a friend from my childhood who's sister was a tour guide at the Lourve. I used to follow her along her tours or just get access from her and explore myself. Call me crazy, but I can sit and analyze a single work of art for hours. My friends both work at the local museum in our hometown, so checking out all the museums was high on my list for us.
l'Orangerie was our next big stop after breaking for breakfast at Angelina's. This small and round museum holds the most beautiful masterpieces of Claude Monet. Seeing the paintings online do no justice. There are just so many works of art that need to be seen in person, and the Water Lillies are definitely one of them. These round walls give a rippling effect to the paintings. This is a place where you can sit and be mesmerized for hours. Sadly we didn't have that much time and made our way to the Champs-Elysees to see the Arch de Triomphe. Of course we made a stop for wine an macrons, giving us a sugar high and a decent buzz.
The last portion of the day was to see the Eiffel Tower at sunset, but sadly in the snow there wasn't much of a colorful sky. It really wasn't that exciting to see the Eiffel Tower only because you can't walk under and look at the point from the middle. Plus, everything was gated off and it was muddy everywhere. Sadly, it wasn't so majestic... speaking of majestic...Want to know how small this world really is?! What are the odds of running into someone you know in Paris on an off season?! Slim to none right?! WRONG! NO JOKE... When we walked around the Eiffel Tower, I saw this girl in a beautiful pastel blue coat and thought to myself, "damn I wish I had my pink pastel coat". After a long day of adventures, walking, and eating nothing but sugary sweets, we were starving for something more filling before dinner (all we did was eat on this trip and I lost weight because we walked everywhere haha). We stopped at some random cafe, where Kim had escargot for the first time, and we had another bottle or two of wine. I looked outside the window and there was the girl in the blue pastel coat, only I finally got to see her face and it was my girlfriend Catherine. No idea she was going to Europe when we were back at home, and I saw she was in Ireland when I was in London, BUT HAD NO IDEA SHE WAS IN PARIS! Of course it was a serendipitous and I ran outside the cafe screaming her name. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT!! I was already planning to see my friend Jerome that I met when in Tokyo for dinner that night and had to invite them as well. This was my favorite night in Paris and we were all a bit drunk by the end of the night... or maybe it was just me!! HAHA!!
(See My Photography section bellow for more photos from this day)
d'Orsay to St. Germain to Montmartre
With all of us dealing with a heavy hangover, we decided to sober up and walk around d’Orsay. This was the first day we really slept in and didn’t get to venture out until late afternoon. To be bluntly honest, I don’t remember much other than how hot the museum was. I was so focused on not getting sick, that I couldn’t enjoy the museum as I had hoped. What I do remember are the multiple rooms of vintage furniture. I don’t remember if it was a permanent exhibit or not, but it was really beautiful to see the different shapes and designs from many different areas. Thankfully not the only one with a hangover, we all decided to get out of that hot sauna of a museum and make our way to St. Germian. No joke, I think we may have attempted 3 other restaurants before we finally said yes to one. We would go, sit down, sit and people watch, then decide we didn’t want to eat there after all. We were walking zombies with this damn hangover. Finally feeling like humans again, we decided to make our way to Montmartre and watch the sunset over the city. WHAT A BEAUTIFUL SITE!! I forgot how beautiful the view was from the basilica steps. It was nice to sit and enjoy the view for a moment. Kim and Austin decided to go inside, where I decided to go explore. The first time I went to Paris, we took a photo of a street artist, having a cigarette while he enjoyed a quick espresso. The following year, when I moved back out, I saw the same man. I went with an art school I was enrolled in at the time, and one of my professors was from the same country. While they were talking, I quickly got on my iPhone and searched my facebook to find the photo I took of him. The man started cracking up! He said, as a trade, he would sketch a quick painting of myself if I emailed him the photo I took of him. Of course I said yes!! This year I was on a mission to find him, but sadly everyone was gone for the night. I decided, while I wait for my friends, to enjoy an espresso right at the spot I took a photo of that artist, then do a little window shopping. I was on a mission to find little baby berets for my cousins back at home. Our last stop for the night was to show Kim where Vincent Van Gogh lived in Paris, the famous big blue doors. The first time I came across these doors, I was doing a photo shoot and was upset that everyone was taking photos of my model. NOPE! They were taking photos of the famous door. Ha, we had no idea! So of course we had to do dinner right next door at this quaint restaurant I had always wanted to go too. It looks like an adorable cottage, where on a cold winters night, you would want to snuggle up by the fire. Well, if ever you go to Paris, to see Va Goghs door, make sure to have dinner at the little restaurant on the corner, you won’t be disappointed!
(See My Photography section bellow for more photos from this day)
Notre Dome to Musee de Pompidou to Our Final Parisian Meal
Our final day in Paris was beyond depressing. We were all quiet, kicking our feet as we walked, basically wallowing in the fact that it was our final day in this beautiful city. I had planned for us to rent bikes, but the public bikes were no longer running. It was amazing, you would swipe your edit card and would be charged a day rate or hourly, then park them at any station you would find scattered throughout Paris. Thankfully though our Airbnb was so central to everything, we walked to our last landmarks. The first was Notre Dame and shockingly enough, I have never been inside. WOW! It was a bit eerie, as all churches are to me, but this one was fascinating. In the back there were large panels, showing the progress of this church and how long it taken to build. Did you know that it was commissioned to be built in 1160 and the first stone was placed in 1163, and was completed in 1345? It took over 182 to be completed. Blows me away constantly that the people of Europe are living in buildings and walking along streets that hold so much history. There inso history in America, hence being referred to as “The New World”. Well, there is little, but nothing in comparison to the rest of the world.
Anyways, as the day went on, we decided to spend the remaining time sitting at a cafe and drinking our sorrows. We didn’t want to leave Paris. I was so tempted to see how we could extend our trip, but unfortunately we had to get back home. As the time passed, we talked about our favorite memories from the trip and we laughed harder and harder as we drank the bar dry. By the time sunset we forgot about one last museum, Musee de Pompidou, which we sadly missed. We got there to see the free exhibit for 5 minutes before they kicked us out. Kim can at least say she saw something there, but really she sadly saw nothing. Nonetheless, the quarter around the museum is always lively and it was a fun night stroll to where dinner was. It was our last meal and we feasted as if we were literally our last meal on earth.
(See My Photography section bellow for more photos from this day)
Most people will argue that Paris is dirty, over rated, and that the French are assholes. Though some of that may be true, but truthfully it is the most beautiful city in the world, filled with love, life, and charm. Being a hopeless romantic and an Art History major in college, its text book that I would fall in love with the cliche. Truthfully, I believe I am more in love with Paris because of who I am out there. I have never felt more at home or more comfortable to be myself. Find yourself a city or island or under a rock that makes you feel like you’re home.