Spent three wonderful days in Paris! I am not uploading pictures because I took so many and it took 2 hours to put them on facebook, but please feel free to follow the link below!
An American Girl in Paris, Part Une:
An American Girl in Paris, Part Deux:
Finally done with classes and couldn't be happier! Spent the day doing laundry and packing. Left for Victoria Station at 8:00 and boarded a bus to Paris. It was the cheapest way but the most uncomfortable. Our bus driver didn't like air conditioning and going through customs in a bus is worse than airport security! We then drove into this tunnel that was like a bunch of little garages. A door closed in front of us and behind us and we were trapped. Think like the compartments in the bottom of the Titanic that were meant to keep it from sinking. Apparently the thing we were in was a train and the bus shut off and we were carried under the ocean in this train. Those that were with me (Tiffany, Brian, Lora, Anabel, and Brittany) said it was the worst trip ever and ridiculously hot. I slept the whole way and woke up in France!
After finally getting off our smelly bus we ended up at CDG Airport, we navigated our way to the shuttle and went to our hotel. Unable to check in, we took turns getting ready in a bathroom and made our way to Paris via the Metro. We arrived at Notre Dame and I was so excited to finally be there! We had lunch at a cafe next to Notre Dame- I had le mixte sandwich (not sure what cheese was on it but I loved it!), sandwich, and a cafe mocha. We then walked around the area and made our way inside Notre Dame. I was amazed at all the things I remembered about it from my art history class. There was even a mass taking place inside in Latin! After touring inside Notre Dame we journeyed along the Seine towards the Louvre looking for ATMs and bathrooms on the way.
The walk was gorgeous and I loved seeing all the buildings and the Eiffel Tower in the background. I didn't think Paris was as dirty was everyone says it is and didn't run into a single sterotypical rude French person who hated Americans and wouldn't help us or couldn't speak English. We passed many cute stalls and touristy shops. We finally made it to the Louvre and it was so huge and it felt surreal to be there. We walked along the inside/courtyard and made our way to the famous pyramids, taking lots of pictures along the way. We were really lucky to have such nice weather as it was sunny but still cool out.
We then made our way through the park in front of the Louvre and finally found bathrooms. We had to scrape together Euros to go though, luckily I had some left over from Italy.
The parks and fountains were like something out of a postcard and I could have stayed there all day and laid out or had a picnic. But we continued on and arrived at the beginning of the Champs Elysees aka where credit cards come to be maxed out from designer shops. At the end of the Champs is the Arc de Triomphe which is where we were headed. After window shopping a bit, we finally got there. Everyone was so exhausted from the trip and it was late afternoon so we decided to head back to the hotel and check in.
Our hotel was pretty nice but it was by the airport and a long trip to get into Paris and back. I learned a lot about myself and the type of people I can travel with on this trip. My flatmate Tiffany and I took charge on most things and found it frustrating at times that those that were with us depended on us for everything. So thanks mom and dad for making me an experienced, independent, not an idiot traveler.
Back at our hotel I got out the Rick Steve's guide book and managed to get us reservations at one of his top five restaurants in central Paris, Le Florimond. Its mainly a couples restaurant and number 28 of 6,000 something restaurants in Paris and I managed to get us a reservation for six. We all got cleaned up and dressed up and made our way back to Paris.
On the way, half of our three day metro passes had been demagnatized and would no longer work. Two had made it through while myself and three others had not. They begin to look around for someone to help. Frustrated and determined not to miss our reservation, I hoped the turnstile in my Juicy Couture dress and kicked in the door with my 5 inch heels and then took off running to catch the connected train. My stunned flatmates eventually followed and we made our reservation on time.
The food was amazing and the restaurant owner was so excited to have us there. He ended up kissing each one of us on both cheeks as we left. We started off with Pinot Noir and little appetizers of rice and veggies. My first course was lobster raviloi, my main course was duck, salad, and potatoes, and for dessert I had bourbon cake things layered with ice cream. It so good and we were there for hours enjoying our French meal.
We left a little after ten and made our way to the Eiffel Tower for the light show, stopping on the way to get Champagne. It was amazing to see and we probably would have stayed longer had half our group not been freaking out about the people around us and it began to pour. We had a slight adventure of getting home via the metro which closed earlier than we were told and we got as close to our hotel as we could and then took a cab. Getting to our hotel, there were closed and half the group began swearing, yelling they hated France, freaking out and being counterproductive while I just laughed. Thanks again mom and dad for making me traveler. We finally get inside and went to bed.
Slept in till about 10:00 (breakfast was free after 10:30) and made our way to Versailles. Versailles was breathtaking, especially the gardens, and words really can't describe it. Pictures don't even really due it justice either. Tiffany, Lora, and I wandered around the gardens together and then split up at Marie Antoinette's estate. Tiffany and I went through it pretty quickly (compared to the hours you're supposed to spend there) and then made our way up to the palace. We stopped on the way and got fresh squeezed orange juice, possibly the best I've ever had! However some Asian girl tried to cut in line and ended up knocking into us and Tiffany spilt half her juice on her white outfit. Oh karma. We went inside the palace and then went to the gift shop and I got a magnet, a place mat that's the map of Versailles, and paper dolls (just like the ones I used to get on Vacation from historical places).
Tiffany and I then made our way back to Paris and had lunch. Once again I had Le Mixte sandwich (its the cheapest and delicious!) and a blonde beer. We then finished off our meal with delicious ice cream that was so rich we had to share. Chocolate in France is ridiculously rich. We wandered around Paris some more, seeing more sights including Moulin Rouge, a bunch of museums and cute buildings. We made our way back to the hotel around 9:00 and called it an early night.
Tiffany and I got up very early and had previously mapped out our journey to Normandy. We did everything we had planned, taking the Metro into Paris, switching to the line with the train station, buying tickets to Normandy telling the ticket lady we wanted to go to the D-Day beach, and getting on the train. What we didn't realize is how Normandy and the beach is. We arrived at the town of Deauville and after tracking down the information center we realized just how far we were from the D-Day beach- about an hour and a half car ride. We went to the beach, took pictures (so close yet so far!), ate a quick lunch (crepes), looked around the town (it was a cute little typical French town), and then took our return train to Paris.
Upset about not making it to Normandy and then being right on the ocean so close to London and having to backtrack we did the only thing we could... shop! We went back to the Champs Elysees and this time did some damage. Some of the designer stores were closed though which was probably a good thing, although I was kind of sad to not be able to go in Chanel in Paris. There was this nice huge golden gate with a garden and a line to get inside and we both wondered what incredible French store it could be. Getting closer we realized it was an Ambercrombie and Fitch! lol ridiculous! Tiffany and I shopped at Tara Jamon, a French designer you can only find in France besides her line she did for Target four years ago, and I got a cute coral dress on sale! We then went to Laduree where I got amazing macaroons (expensive but so worth it!) and ate dinner at a little cafe. We window shopped some more and then made our way back to the hotel, grabbed our bags, and headed to the airport to meet up with the others and take our bus back to London.
Overall I LOVED Paris! It wasn't as dirty as you think and everyone was so nice. Another misconception about Paris, I did not see that many nicely dressed people! Londoners dress nicer than Parisians! I had fun learning little French phrases and could have stayed there for days. Except I might have to be a beggar because everything there was so expensive. I would love to go back and see Chanel, climb Notre Dame, the Eiffel Tower, or the Arc de Triomphe, see the inside of museums, eat more French food, find the fancy McDonald's, book my own hotel inside the city, and win the lottery so I can shop more!