Oh Paris, mon amour. You know when you come back from being somewhere amazing and it feels as if it were just a dream? Yep, this is what we are experiencing right now. Our 21 day Europe adventure was filled with sites, tastes and memories that are sure to stay with us for a long time to come.
While we know you are just dying to know every single detail of our trip… we’ve decided to make a top 5+ list for each of the countries we visited, ensuring that you hear about the best of the BEST!
Our trip began in Paris, a city we fell in love with more and more each day. It was pricier than the other countries we visited, so we were glad we started here because we didn’t realize this until we had already enjoyed every last drop!
Top 5 things we loved about “Paree”:
1. “La Fête Nationale” aka. Bastille Day (July 14th)
This is France’s Independence Day and should you happen to be there during this time, it’s a show that cannot be missed! Drew and I woke up around 10am, saw part of the Bastille Day parade, grabbed a baguette, a bottle of wine, our picnic blanket and set up shop on the Champ de Mars (garden in front of the Eiffel Tower) at 4pm. There was a live classical concert that took place right under the Tour Eiffel all day and into the evening. People kept pouring in around us and by 10pm we felt like we were in Times Square for New Years Eve all over again!
The Eiffel Tower, which glitters every hour on the hour for 5 minutes starting at 10pm (when it finally gets dark), looked immaculate, and just after its first glittering display of the night, the show began. Fireworks went on for a jaw-dropping 40 minutes. It was an incredible show and we left feeling completely starstruck.
2. Going to the top of l’Arc de Triomphe for sunset
L’Arc de Triomphe, which is the crowning glory of the world renowed Champs Elysees, offers some of the most incredible views of the romantic city of Paris. 284 steps to the top, we chose to summit this monument and not the Eiffel Tower because 1. there was an extremely short line and 2. we wanted to be able to see the Eiffel Tower!
We made it to the top at about 9pm, just in time to get the perfect spot to watch the sunset and even more so, to get an amazing view of the Eiffel Tower as it started its glittering gold display at 10pm. Tip: Bring a bottle of wine :)
3. “Dans le Noir,” translation: “In the Dark”
We learned about this little restaurant, which also has locations in NY, London and Barcelona, in a little book called “Unusual Nights in Paris.” After reading about it, we went on their website, made a reservation and 2 weeks later, voila! There we were. The fantastic twist about this place, which is revealed in the name if you know a little French, is that you eat your meal completely in. the. dark. Yep, pitch black, can’t see a thing, and wait for it… the waitresses and all of the wait staff, are blind. Pretty amazing.
When we first arrived, we were given a locker to put our belongings in, they then lined us up with the other parties who had reservations at the same time and asked us to place one hand on the shoulder of the person in front of us. Our blind waitress then escorted us through tunnels of black curtains and into the pitch black dining room.
We were all seated shoulder to shoulder. Drew sat across from me and was fairly confused because not only could he not see anything, but he could not understand anything either! Pauvre bete. I helped translate as our waitress told us to feel where our glasses and the pitcher of water was – we soon learned that we had to pour the water into our glasses ourselves… that was interesting!
They began with the appetizers, then brought out the entrees and finally the dessert – which had pop rocks on it! They didn’t tell us what we were eating before hand, they just asked for any dietary restrictions, so it was a real adventure for the taste buds!
We tried to use our forks and knives for the most part, but had to feel around with our fingers a bit to know if there was any food left on our plates. It was especially fun trying to feed each other over the table, being careful not to fork each other in the face! Every once in a while we’ll close our eyes when we’re eating, remembering to be present and mindful of each unique taste :)
4. Love Locks
Drew and I did some research on the meaning behind Love Locks before we left for Europe, you can read that blog post here. Prior to our trip, we bought 2 tiny luggage locks and customized them using nail polish. As you can see from our photos, some people get real serious about their locks, ours might have been the tinniest (and mightiest!) ones there.
There are a few bridges in Paris where Love Locks are finding a home, but Pont de l’Archeveche, located just North of Notre Dame, where Gene Kelly and Lesile Caron danced in the 1951 film, An American In Paris, housed by far the most impressive collection. There was even a couple taking their Wedding Day photos! Can you find our teeny gold Love Lock with a teal heart on it in the photo below?
5. “Patisseries” aka. Pastry Shops
Walking around Paris you will notice that on any given street, there is no shortage of pastry shops. Whether you love crepes, are Vegan, won’t eat anything without Nutella or are in search of the truly unique, bien sur - there is something for everyone’s palette.
You can bet that Drew was 1st in line for the escargot, chocolate and pistachio pastry above! One of my favorite spots was “Paradis du Fruit,” located along the Siene with Notre Dame in view.
Merci Paris for being unforgettable in so many ways.
And as a bonus we cannot forget to mention our epic ride from Paris to Versailles!
And if you are in search of the best guide book to help you find your way around this incredible city, we hands down recommend the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Paris book.
Not only was this book extremely informational, but with its 3-D aerial views of places to explore, cutaway illustrations of famous monuments, a pull-out colored map marked with the sites detailed in the guidebook, as well as the Paris Metro map, this book covered every inch of the city, making sure that we did too :) We loved being able to explore the best of the best while educating ourselves at the same time:
Photographs and text reproduced by permission of DK, a division of Penguin Random House.
©2014 by DK. All rights reserved.