Merci, Paris.

Our first big adventure of the year was off to France for a week of exploring, eating, wine tasting, and a small life event đź’Ť(more on that below…). Brandon has an annual training in Finland around this time each year so with a free flight to Europe for him, frequent flyer miles for me, and European friends with guest rooms, we try to tack on a visit to a new city. each year.

Our first trip was in 2015 when I joined him in Finland (in January!) followed by a trip to Copenhagen, Denmark – where I used to live – to show him my old stomping grounds.

Us at the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen

Then in 2016, we visited our good friends Alexa and Jonathan in London. This time, I met Brandon in London and skipped the cold, dark northern, Finland.

This year, with our friends Justin and Perri having just moved to Paris (just 3 weeks ago!) we headed to France for a few days. We did some serious touristing averaging 5-8 miles per day of walking around the City of Lights sprinkling in frequent stops in their quintennialy quaint cafes to sip on wine and indulge in all the French delicacies that make this one of the gastronomical capitals of the world.

Some of the Paris highlights:

Montmartre:

On the first day we went to the hilltop that holds the charming Montmartre where cafes, winding alleys, and the domed Sacré-Cœur basilica overlooks the city. It was the perfect kickoff to our city as we got a sense of the city from above.

Sacré-Cœur basilica
View from Sacré-Cœur steps

The Catacombs:

Underneath the city, the bones of 6 million Parisians can be found in their final resting place. Around the time of the Plague, vast quarries below the city provided the materials to build the city, then in turn, became a solution for a growing problem of spreading disease and lack of space for a growing population. The bones were blessed by the Church then stacked in a way to honor the dead. As creepy as the place was, it was mindblowing the sheer number of remains and realizing this was all built in the Middle Ages.

One of the tunnels of the Catacombs

Picasso Museum:

The world renowned Spanish artist settled in Paris developing Cubism and Realism in the early 20th Century. When he died, his family couldn’t afford the estate taxes so donated many of his works to the State to be sold or displayed in a public museum. Located in the old HĂ´tel SalĂ©, in the 3rd Arrondissement, the works show the development of the beloved artist over his years living in Paris. We always get the audio guide when we visit a museum because the extra history and explanations really make the visit better.

Picasso’s Woman at the Desk and Brandon getting his Audio Guide ready

Notre Dame:

Visiting the iconic church was amazing because you look at both the intricacies and details in architecture and art and realize this was built in the 12th century!

The inside of Notre Dame

Fontainebleau:

On Saturday, we headed out of the city by car to visit Fontainebleau, the residence of Royals and Emperors. A tour of the grounds and the exquisite Apartments was amazing. The detail everywhere you looked was very impressive. This was also where Napolean surrendered before his exile.

Napolean’s Library

Monet’s Water Lillies

On Monday, I needed to get some work done and Brandon had already left. Justin and I did manage to get out and check out the only museum open on a Monday, MusĂ©e de l’Orangerie which houses Claude Monet’s famous Water Lillies. I thought they were paintings like any other but in they are two rooms of HUGE panoramic lilies. The small museum also houses works by CĂ©zanne, Matisse, Picasso, Renoir, Rousseau, Soutine which was an amazing surprise.

Champagne!

On Tuesday, Justin and I rented a car and headed 1.5 hours out of the city (2 hours with rush hour) to visit the Champagne region. While we did try to go to a smaller Champagne House, to get a more unique experience, it was recommended we go at least one of the big houses due to their tours.

We got the Imperial Tour at Moet and Chandon and due to the off-season, we got a private tour (no one else booked it). They are the largest in the region and have 18 miles of caves under the city. We walked among hundreds of thousands of bottles lying in wait for a celebration. Then toasted at the end of the day to a wonderful trip.

20,000 bottles in one cave waiting for years to ferment and then pop!

Eiffel Tower:

Speak of celebrations….

We knew we wanted to go up the Eiffel Tower so we booked a trip online in the morning for 5:30pm on Friday. (Highly recommend this! Otherwise, you could wait 2 hours in line and with reservations, you walk right in). However, we realized that we also had reservations for a 7:00pm show called “How to become Parisian in One Hour.” (Also highly recommended!) So with just 20 minutes to get up and down, we got up there at dusk and slowly could see the lights coming up in the city. Justin then asked if he could take a picture of us and then Brandon said “Well this seems like a good time then…”

And…

When he pulled out the ring in his pocket…
I said “Oui!”

So it was quite and eventful trip. A huge thank you to Justin and Perri for allowing us to crash with them in their temporary housing. We can’t wait to come back and visit. It is truly a City of Love!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.