The first time I went to Paris, I was 18 and finally able to appreciate what a privilege it was to travel abroad. I was the Secretary of the French Club during my last 2 years of high school, and it took us that long to raise the funds to actually travel to France. It was a 9 day excursion (including the 2 travel days we lost to 15 hour flights), and it was definitely heavy on the educational tours and day trips.
Don’t get me wrong, it is beyond amazing that I had the chance to walk around Versailles, see the Mona Lisa in person, and learn about the history of the Eiffel Tower. Those are musts when going to Paris for the first time, so I’m glad I did all of that while in school.
As an adult, I was excited to go back to Paris and experience the luxe and leisure vibe I love about this place (and also the wine).
I would suggest going back to read my posts about my time in Barcelona, Florence, Rome, and the Amalfi Coast so you can get a feel for the journey I had been on at this point. And as you may have guessed, Paris was definitely the highlight of my trip. Maybe even my life (sounds hyperbolic, but I’m serious).
Back to the trip. Diana and I arrived in Paris after a 12+ hour travel day. It was close to midnight when we finally found St. Christopher's Inn Hostel Gare Du Nord where we would be meeting back up with Monica, one of the girls we were traveling with in Barcelona.
The hostel was pretty cool. There were a lot of people around because there is a nightclub/bar area right in the middle of the place. So if you’re looking for a party, you’ve found it. Anyway, they staff was kind and helpful, and the room was perfect. It was small but clean and practical.
After settling in, Monica and I walked over to a small restaurant to grab a bite and catch up a bit. While we waited for our food, Monica told me about her week in Croatia, and I told her about our week in Italy. And if you’re wondering, yes, it was pretty late. Probably past midnight. But there were still people out and about. It felt so Parisian.
Once we got back to our room, I took a shower, got things ready for the next day, while trying not to unpack too much since we would be moving to an Airbnb in the morning.
In the morning, we left the hostel and headed out into Paris and to our Airbnb. This little apartment was a dream (our Airbnb in Amalfi is still my favorite, but this was a close second)! The interior décor was modern and masculine. And the balcony overlooking Rue du Faubourg Saint-Denis and the Port Saint-Denis arc was breathtaking.
The weather in Paris was gorgeous and warm (a little too warm at times, but ok), so we cooled off in our new home for the next few days, and then headed out for some groceries. We bought eggs, fresh veggies, fruit, and orange juice at the market right across from the apartment, left them back upstairs, and then went on our way to our first stop of our Paris adventure: the Yves Saint Laurent Museum.
The museum was everything I’d hoped yet not anything like I had imagined. To be walking in and around his old studio, to see his designs, sketches, fabric choices, handwriting, so close and in person was humbling. I was very emotional walking throughout each room, amazed at how lucky I was to be there.
Now, throughout this entire trip, I had my mind made up that I would be purchasing my first designer bag. I was convinced I would buy a Gucci Marmont. It would’ve made sense to buy it in Italy. But while I was there, I kept forgetting (shows you how much I really wanted it). But now in Paris, after learning so much more about Yves Saint Laurent, I knew I needed something special to commemorate this trip. More about this later.
After the museum, we wandered around Paris before deciding to visit the famous Champs-Élysées. This is definitely a tourist heavy spot, but so worth it! We got some crazy amazing shots right in front of the Arc de Triomphe. Just remember to be careful! And try to help other tourists with photos if you see them struggling. It’s such a bummer to be in a picturesque place and have to rely on your T-Rex arms to get the shot.
My favorite part about our time in Paris is that we got to enjoy it at our pace. So the rest of our first evening was spent strolling down along the Seine, buying a couple of bottles of wine, some decadent pastries, and having a picnic below the Eiffel Tower while we laughed about our travel mishaps, screamed when we saw the rats running around the grass, and planned our adventures for the next couple of nights.
I think once we got back to the street our Airbnb was on, we ordered a couple of pizzas from a crowded little restaurant and went upstairs to continue our crazy conversations (wine can do that).
Our second full day in Paris was pretty chill. We had a little bit of a late start, but had a wonderfully at-home breakfast thanks to Monica. Then we headed out to explore some more via the metro. We got separated for a bit, but by mid afternoon we were back on the Champs-Élysées where we had a cup of coffee alongside a couple from New York.
After a coffee break, we couldn’t help but go into Zara and shop for a few hours like nobody’s business. Once we were done trying on the entire store, it was the moment of truth. Time to make that big purchase.
I promise to write a whole post about my shopping adventure here. For now I’ll just say this, I was sweating bullets, nervous, but so proud of myself. I never once talked myself out of the purchase or second-guessed my decision. To this day, I have zero buyer’s remorse. I love my bag for what it represents to me personally.
Anyway, once I was done dropping money like a Hilton heiress, we were on the hunt for somewhere to have an authentic French dinner. We stumbled upon Baroche, a small bistro type restaurant (with really handsome waiters) that looked so cozy and welcoming. We had been walking all day so we plopped down in our chairs and ordered some refreshing mojitos.
Now this wasn’t a rushed thing. Our waiter gave us time to relax, chat, enjoy our drinks. And after about an hour of enjoying our appetizer, we got our French Onion Soup. About a half hour after that, we were served our entrée. I ordered the Farm Pork Loin & Grilled Octopus which is served on pureed carrots with saffron, pickled red onions, and chorizo. So delicious! I ate every bit of it! Then of course, we had dessert. We went with a Fresh Raspberry Tart that was to die for!
We were totally stuffed after dinner but still decided that we should go out to a bar that Diana had been wanting to go to called Lavomatic. So we got all glammed up and arrived at the bar only to be told by the bouncer that it was too full and we were not going to be able to go in tonight. We were bummed, but gave us a reason to come back to the city of lights one day! So we decided to just head back to the Airbnb and call it a night.
I got to wear a beautiful black lace dress with my boots, pearl belt, classy shades, curly hair, Balmain red lip and my Saint Laurent Lou Camera Bag. I felt amazing!
We took an Uber (we relied heavily on Uber while in Paris) to the Louvre where we sat right by the glass pyramid to chow down on some Spring Rolls dipped in Peanut Sauce. I should also add that everywhere we went this day, we pretty much held an impromptu photo shoot because we were not only dressed to the nines, but it was our last day here!
So once we walked around the romantic gardens and covered our shoes in the white dirt all around, we made our way towards Notre Dame Cathedral.
This was before the infamous fire, and during this time of year, they were doing these light shows in front of the building, so it was closed off when we got there. We still got to hear the incredibly powerful ringing of the bells while we ate a delicious chocolate Nutella crepe, shopped in the little souvenir stores, and sat along the Seine to admire the sunset.
The last think on our agenda for the day, for our trip really, was to visit the Eiffel Tower once again. And one of my bucket list items was to get on one of the carousels right next to the Eiffel Tower. It was so surreal. Such a perfect night filled with perfect moments.
As we bid adieu to the Eiffel Tower, we realized we were hungry. So what better way to celebrate our last night, and last few hours in Paris (in Europe, really), than by buying a ton of McDonald’s to-go and washing it down with some authentic Parisian red wine?
We played some Carol G, Taki Taki (which had just come out and was super popular even all across Europe) enjoyed our wine, and packed our suitcases which had exploded all over the poor Airbnb.
I slept maybe a couple of hours before it was time to say goodbye to Monica and Diana who would be heading to London and then home. I was left alone at the Airbnb to think about how lucky I was to have had this once in a lifetime experience in Europe. I also sat there and tried to come up with the best plan to get to the airport with so much crap.
I decided that I’d take the plunge and pay the $100 Uber ride from downstairs to my terminal rather than 3 trains and an uncomfortable bus ride.
I’ve flown solo before, but never in a foreign country so I was nervous and concerned I was going to squish or scratch Lou (thankfully I didn’t).
I arrived at the airport pretty early (again, I was nervous), so I had lots of time to do my souvenir shopping (I bought so much chocolate, when I got home, I was literally that meme of Oprah giving away cars).
I also made a quick stop at LaDurée where I was in awe of the décor and picked up some pricey (but scrumptious) macaroons to share with my parents and niece who is an aspiring pastry chef.
The flight home was not terrible. I watched a few movies, listened to some music, made a stop in Dallas, watched another movie, until finally I was in San Jose.
My parents, niece, and even Wally picked me up from the airport! I was so happy to be home. And I couldn’t wait to finally sleep in my own bed.
Paris will forever have my heart, but Salinas will always be home.
Thank you for reading through my European trip blog posts! I can’t believe it took me a whole year to write, but I hope you have enjoyed them! I think this means it’s time for another trip right?
Thanks for reading!
-The B of V