“Paris is Always a Good Idea.”
Ever since I can remember, I have been obsessed with the French culture. It all started when I was about 4 or 5, and I discovered a show called “Madeline.” It’s about this little girl who lives in France. She spoke French and went on adventures. Even at a young age, I wanted to learn how to speak French and to learn more about the French culture. I was able to do that when I took French in middle school, high school, and for one semester in college. Through all of the French lessons I had both in school and from information I gathered on my own, I always dreamt about going to Paris. Although, I never thought I would ever be able to go to Paris (I actually never thought I would ever have had the opportunity to go to Europe at all). I had this thought up until this year when I was presented with an opportunity to go to Paris, and my life has definitely changed in some sort of way.
I liked the time I spent in England, but there was something so different about Paris. Paris was magical. It was a dream come to life for me. To be honest, I actually started tearing up as the plane touched down in France. It feels like I was able to live out one of my life goals. I am still in complete shock that I went to Paris, but I enjoyed absolutely every second of it.
Adam and I were in Paris for a couple days, and each day was packed with a ton of sightseeing. As to not bore you too much (this is the 4th “My Travel Diaries” in a row, after all), I have picked out some of the highlights from my trip to Paris for this post. Here are some of my favorite things that we did in Paris:
Where WE Stayed
We decided (literally 4 days before we got to Paris) to get an Air BnB. It was cheaper than most of the hotels and we were able to get an entire flat with a kitchen to ourselves. Our flat was in the Latin Quarter right across from the entrance to Jardin des Plantes, a beautiful botanical garden in Paris. We were also only about a 15-minute walk from the Notre Dame. Our flat was in a great area and had gorgeous views of city streets and the garden. There were also a number of delicious restaurants and pastry shops right below where we stayed.
What We Ate and Drank
Le Grenier de Notre-Dame
Like any time Adam and I are in a city, we wanted to go to a vegan restaurant in Paris. We found Le Grenier de Notre-Dame, a vegetarian restaurant, that is apparently one of the top vegetarian restaurants in the world. The food here was absolutely incredible. I got “L’assiette Berbère,” which was described on the menu as having “full-grain rice, crunchy vegetable ratatouille, sliced seitan, tofu croquette and white tofu… with herbs and soy sauce, duo of red and white cabbage with figs and honey, figs, prunes and sweet sauce.”
Adam got “L’assiette Macrobiotique,” which was described as having “full-grain rice, seasonal vegetables, smoked tempeh, red beans « azukis » and « wakamé » seaweed with soy sauce and tomato sauce [and] raw seasonal vegetables with homemade vinaigrette.”
Both of our meals were indescribably delicious. I’m not a huge tofu person, but I loved how this restaurant made their tofu. It was the first time I had seitan, and I was definitely impressed. Each bite of both our meals was like heaven. Honestly, we weren’t even sure of what we were eating because it was just a bunch of meatless ingredients on a plate. But, it tasted so amazing. I’m really sad that this restaurant is only in Paris. It’s definitely on my top 5 list of veg-friendly restaurants now.
(Also, I was able to order this meal entirely in French using some of the words and phrases I had learned from middle school to college. I’m still really proud of myself.)
I didn’t have to go to Italy to get amazing gelato. One night, I was craving ice cream around 11 PM. Gelati d’Alberto was open late and only about an eight-minute walk from our flat. This place was so good we went twice during our trip. The first night I was there I got two different flavors: Cookie and Kinder. It was really sweet (as gelato should be). The flavors used big pieces of the cookies and Kinder Chocolates, giving it a nice crunch. The second night I got Cookies and Kit Kat. While the Kit Kat flavor was delicious, I prefer the Kinder flavor.
The sorbeto at Gelati d’Alberto was vegan! Adam ordered his chocolate and mango sorbeto on a cone, and the workers made it into the shape of a rose. When we went back the second night he got chocolate and strawberry on a rose-shaped cone once again. He really liked his sorbeto both nights but said he preferred the chocolate and mango combination.
Gelati d’Alberto is another place in Paris that I wish was closer to me.
Adam and I couldn’t get over how many cheap wines there were in Paris. We also couldn’t get over how it’s perfectly legal to drink alcohol in public. It was pretty cool to see people enjoying a bottle of wine by the Seine or in front of the Eiffel Tower. Anyway… since wine was so cheap, Adam and I tried a different bottle every night. Usually, I’m a red drinker, but I actually liked the white and rose wines I tried in Paris. See the pictures below of some of the wines I tried.
I love my desserts, so I was in sugar heaven while in Paris. I went to a pastry shop almost every day to get a fresh dessert.
This pastry was like a chocolate souffle and a REALLY fudgy brownie put together. It was crunchy on the outside but incredibly soft and rich on the inside.
This one was my favorite. It was a chocolate tart with a graham cracker crust, ganache, and a hint of hazelnut.
This “crumble” (the term the pastry shop employee used for “crumb cake”) was very moist on the bottom. It had a layer of baked apples in the middle, and it was topped off with buttery cinnamon-flavored crumbs that also had a hint of cocoa powder in them.
(Also, just wanted to note that Panera actually does a really good job with their French bread. The bread I had in Paris tasted very similar to Panera’s.)
What We Did
We hit most of the tourist sights of Paris during our first two days there. We saw the Eiffel Tower on the first day. It was larger than life – quite literally. It was very mind-blowing to actually see it in person. You could never try to imagine how big it actually is until you see it. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the chance to go up it, but we did spend a great deal of time sitting in the park gazing up at it.
Arc de Triomphe & Latin Quarter
On the second, day we took a metro to the Arc de Triomphe. The architecture was so intricate. It was so big and overwhelming that it made me feel small and humbled.
After that, we walked Champs-Élysées all the way to Le Louvre. Of course, we saw the Mona Lisa. It was actually a lot smaller than we had thought it would be. We also took a glance at the Egyptian Antiquities which included art, tombs, and other artifacts from Ancient Egypt.
We ended our day with a long walking tour through the Latin Quarter, which actually took us right back to our flat. It was a very long, productive sight-seeing day. We ended up walking about 13 miles!
Seine River Cruise
I wanted to see the Eiffel Tower at night, so the best way for us to do that was by taking a river cruise of the Seine from the Notre Dame. We saw a number of different Parisian monuments lit up at night, but the most notable was the Eiffel Tower. It lit up like a gigantic, sparkling Christmas tree. It was magnificently beautiful. If you’re in Paris and short on time, I definitely recommend taking a Seine river cruise to see a lot of the sights.
My Favorite Memory: The Lock
As much as I loved the Eiffel Tower and all of the delicious French wine and food, I think my favorite memory was when Adam and I left our love lock in the city. There were locks all over the city, but we wanted to put ours someplace we would remember. We found a stairwell along the Seine across from the Notre Dame that didn’t have too many locks on it yet. We forgot to write on our lock, so Adam scratched it up a bit to look different from the others. We took a few pictures of it and with it and attached it to the banister together. Then, we held the key together and threw it in the Seine (Adam said that’s what we were supposed to do…). I took a video of the lock’s surroundings and took a screenshot of my “current location” on my Maps app so that Adam and I could come back one day. We left our love lock on the banister during our last night in Paris. I couldn’t have asked for a better ending to a memorable time in the beautiful city.
My time in Paris was absolutely amazing. I spoke a little French, drank a lot of wine, had some yummy food, and saw magnificent sights with my boyfriend. I don’t know how it could have gotten much better than that. I hope I will have the opportunity to go back to Paris one day, but I feel so lucky to have even gotten this one chance to go. It truly was a dream come true.
Au revoir, mes Poupées!
Tired of all this travel talk? Listen to some music! Read “Current Playlist #5: Summer Vibes.”