Magnifique. Ètourdissant. Charmant.
What an incredible weekend spent in the City of Light. Never in my life did I imagine I would climb to the top of Notre-Dame, enjoy Macaroons at the Palace of Versailles, watch the sun set in front of the Sacre-Cœre, sip champagne on top of the Eiffel Tower or see it sparkle at night. Sending a huge thanks to one of my roommates, Kylie, for being my travel partner for the weekend!
The food in Paris was so phenomenal that it truly deserves a whole blog post devoted solely to it. On Friday, we met up with Cecelia, a friend of mine who is studying abroad in Paris, and see took us out to a lovely restaurant called Chez Mademoiselle. She convinced me to step up my game and try something new, and I must say I’m glad I did. Foui Gras for an appetizer, Risotto Scallops for the main course, and Creme Brûlée for dessert. I highly recommend all of it (and a red wine to complete the meal).
But the list doesn’t stop there. I drank the best hot chocolate I’ve EVER had in my life. E. V. E. R. Let me repeat, EVER. It literally tasted like rich, creamy melted chocolate truffles and I don’t think I’ll ever be able to drink regular hot chocolate again. I also ordered a croque monsieur which changed my whole perspective on ham and cheese sandwiches. The sandwiches in Paris are served on the best bread or baguettes and the cheese is to-die-for.
It was recommended to me to try a hot dog, and I am certainly glad I did. When you order a hot dog, its served on a baguette with two hot dogs, generously topped with melted cheese, and Dijon mustard on the side. Normally I’m not one to order a hot dog when I’m out and about (hotdogs kind of sketch me out unless I know they’re all beef… maybe it’s the farm girl coming out in me), but this time it was fantastic.
I could continue trying to describe the food, but instead I’ll list the other honorable mentions: the crepes, the chocolate croissants, the melt-in-your-mouth macaroons.. and basically all of the rest of the food in Paris. Oh! And the wine.
Moving on, we arrived in Paris at our hostel at about 12:30 am on Thursday, so Kylie and I woke up the next morning and rode the metro into the heart of the city. After we finally managed to find the sign that said Soirte (exit) we stumbled upon the Arc de Triumph, which was much larger than I expected, as soon as we got above ground. After snapping some photos there, we found a small café on our way to the Eiffel Tower where we had our first taste of food in Paris – our first chocolate croissant and coffee – and it was heavenly. After that, we decided our goal was to drink champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower, which is exactly what we did. To me, the view and the experience was 100 percent worth the wait in line at this point in the year. (If it was peak tourist season and the lines were ungodly long, I would probably reconsider). We rode the elevator up to the first floor, second floor, and then the top. Yes, the view was stunning from every level and I’ll never forget feeling so incredibly happy.
From there, we walked along the Seine, through the Tuileries Garden, and to the Pyramide du Louvre and Louvre Museum where we stopped for a touristy photo op.
We didn’t go into the Louvre, so I’ll have to save that for next time. After enjoying the view, we kept on until we reached the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Being at the Notre-Dame Cathedral was a dream come true for me. I’m not sure why, but I loved the movie the Hunchback of Notre Dame when I was growing up and I’ll admit… I think the gargoyles are the coolest things ever. A little background on the Notre-Dame Cathedral: the building was completed in 1345 and is located on the île de la Cité. There are tons of gargoyles surrounding the cathedral and their symbolic purpose is to ward off/scare the evil spirits… but their practical purpose is for water run-off from the roof. Kylie and I were able to climb to the top of the towers, and we arrived to a spectacular viewpoint a mere 387 stair-steps later.
By this time on Friday, the sun was about to set, so we made the trek up to the highest point in the city, the Sacre-Cœre, which is a Roman Catholic Church and basilica. Watching the sunset here is a popular ordeal, evident by the crowd enjoying the lovely evening while sitting on the steps of the basilica.
The next day, we made our way to the Palace of Versailles – well worth the trip if you have extra time during your stay in Paris. Splendor, magnificence, grandor – all words that describe this home of past kings and queens. All aspects of the palace were marvelous. The gold-gilded everything, the artwork, the gardens. Here we also enjoyed time in the famous Hall of Mirrors, and I had to stop and wonder… how much does one chandelier in the Hall of Mirrors cost? If you figure it out, let me know.
Saturday night Kylie and I experienced the true Paris nightlife, and let me tell you… it was a darn good time.
Sunday was more of a leisurely day for the two of us, but in line with the rest of our weekend, it was nothing short of amazing. We spent a short amount of time in the Galeries Lafayette (a very classy old department store) and then strolled to the Sainte-Chapelle which is a royal Gothic-style chapel that Saint Louis ordered to be built between 1242 and 1248 to house the relics of the Passion of Christ. Saint Louis is the young man who became King Louis IX at the age of 12, and when he got older he became famous for his role in the crusades. The Sainte-Chapelle left me in complete awe and I considered the 6,458 square feet of stained glass windows to be one of the most jaw-dropping, most beautiful things I’ve ever seen. To give you an idea of the intricacy of this place, 1,130 biblical scenes were depicted in the stained glass. I would have been completely content with sitting there for hours, maybe even days. Words can’t describe it.
We ended our last night in Paris by watching the sunset over the Siene River on the Lock Bridge.
All in all, this weekend was magical and reminded me over and over how blessed I am to have this opportunity through the College of Agriculture at Purdue. These experiences and memories are irreplaceable.