If you can’t crash the wedding, why not crash the honeymoon? Two of my good friends, Sam and Sarah, were married this April in Oklahoma, but due to the distance I was unable to attend. So when they told me their plans to spend their honeymoon in Europe, I jumped at the chance to meet up with them. I found a cheap flight to Paris for a long weekend, and flew out on Friday night to meet them.
The airport bus dropped me off at the Arc de Triomphe, and I began to walk to their hotel. Amazingly, I saw them ahead of me walking down the street. I snuck up behind them and surprised them on the streets of Paris – Oklahoman friends reunited in Europe!
After setting down my bags and tasting some delicious macarons, we set out to visit a bar my friend had recommended. It was a little bit of a walk but it was a nice night and a great way to explore the city. We ended up at Buddha Bar, which we quickly realized was much more posh than what we were dressed for (I still felt the gross airplane on me, and was just wearing jeans and Converse), but we entered and conveniently found a table with a great view of the massive Buddha on the first floor. Cocktails were wildly expensive (but that’s Paris for you), but we still had a nice time catching up and listening to the strange music being pumped over the speakers. Next we thought it would be fun to visit the speakeasy that my friend and I had gone to the year prior. According to Google, it was open until 2 am, but when we arrived at 1:10, they were closing for the night. Instead we wandered down a large party street in the area until we found a bar that suited us.
Last year when I visited Paris, the city was experiencing record flooding. The Louvre was closed for a day, and it was impossible to see the paths by the river, let alone walk along the Seine. I never saw the Eiffel Tower lit up at night due to fog, and the famous outdoor cafes were all pushed inside. Rachel and I still had a lovely time exploring together and I loved it, but this trip to Paris I was #blessed with perfect weather and almost too much sun (we got just a smidge sunburnt).
Sam and Sarah had booked a tour for us of the Eiffel Tower on Saturday in the afternoon, so we spent the morning taking a leisurely walk in that direction, passing by a cute flower market, George Washington’s statue (America!), and took many pictures of the spring flowers and blooming trees. We had a little lunch right by the Eiffel and then met up with the tour. Fortunately taking a tour means you get to go through the group security lines, and although we still had a bit of a wait, it was nowhere near as long as the individual lines. Up we went in the elevator to the second floor, where we received a short history of the tower. Then we were free to explore. We got in line for the elevator to the top. Last time I was at the Eiffel Tower, there were barely any lines at all. Mainly because it was drizzly and you couldn’t see much anyway. This time, it was April in Paris on a gorgeous Saturday, so there was a bit of a queue. We made it to the top, took silly pictures, drank champagne, and even witnessed a proposal.
We had planned to visit a museum afterwards but simply didn’t have enough time, so we decided to visit Montematre and Sacre Couer in the evening. The steps were full of crowds, and we witnessed a great street performance of a man and his soccer ball, which was quite the feat of athleticism. Later we enjoyed dinner at a nearby restaurant and sat next to the most amazingly awful date of a British couple. While the girl was in the restroom, the boy ordered a bottle of red wine. When they switched places, the waitress brought out the wine and the girl wanted to send it back, as she didn’t like red wine. Clearly they had not been dating long if he didn’t know this about the girl, but we were surprised they would be in Paris together if they didn’t know each other that well. The topics of conversation all seemed so strange and the boy spent some time “mansplaining” to her about German fairy tales.
The next day was the Paris marathon, which meant the city was packed and streets were closed. We decide to avoid this completely by visiting Versailles. After some confusion with the tickets for the train, we finally made it out there. After making our way through the security line, we saw the line to get into the palace seemed insane. It wound around like a snake through the courtyard, so we decided to bypass that for the moment and visit the gardens instead. In the morning they play music and the fountains flow, which was nice, but I expected a bit more from the “performance.” We made our way to Marie Antoinette’s personal chateau and gardens, which was quite lovely and had a beautiful pink blooming tree that we took some nice pictures under. By the time we walked back to the main palace, it was late in the afternoon and we hadn’t eaten lunch yet. The line was still incredibly long! I asked some people near the front how long they had been waiting and it was over an hour. Already a bit sunburnt, hungry, and wanting to see more of Paris, we decided that returning to Versailles would be good motivation to return to Paris. Sam, Sarah and I took the train back into town to grab some lunch (delicious brunch at a great place Marcel and we ordered so much food it was obscene) before visiting the Musee Rodin. At this museum is ‘The Thinker’ statue and many more works by the artist. Everyone had suggested visiting because the rose garden was supposed to be spectacular, but of course, they were not in bloom for our visit.
It was close to evening so we got some bread and wine and went to a park near the Eiffel Tower to watch it light up and sparkle. It sparkles for five minutes every hour, starting at 8. It was so beautiful to sit and enjoy the show, and also do some great people watching as people took selfies and posed like Instagram models in front of the tower.
The next morning: the Louvre. We already had museum passes (great idea, worked so well), so we decided to get there early for the opening, and I’m so glad we did. We arrived around 9:15 and there was a little bit of a queue for security, we got in and went straight to the Mona Lisa. There were already people there, but not nearly the crowds I was expecting. After seeing the enigmatic smile and taking some silly pictures with my blue sunglasses, we had breakfast at a cafe and planned our route of attack for the massive museum. As the day progressed, more and more people were crowding the halls, and I was glad we had seen the major attractions before the swarms. We looked out over the courtyard and a huge queue had formed – I dread to think how long those people waited in line to enter.
After a delicious lunch of basically all cheese, we fit in some shopping at Bon Marche and other cute stores in the area. We had a delicious dinner at La Favorite That evening we finally made it to my speakeasy Moonshiner and I was able to take them through the pizza shop to the secret hidden bar at the back. There are no signs, and if you didn’t know it was there you would have no idea. Maybe you would wonder why people kept coming and going through the freezer at the back of the restaurant, but would shrug and go back to eating your pizza. We ended our night at the hilariously named bar, Sherry Butt.
Sam and Sarah had a train much earlier than my flight back to Hamburg on my final day, so I visited the Musee d’Orsay after we parted ways that morning. First we had stopped to get them farewell macarons, of course. The museum had a bit of a queue as well, and I had my bag with me. There was a sign saying luggage was not allowed in the museum and I worried I wouldn’t be let in after over an hour in the line. Fortunately they had a coatroom that accepted my small bag. The museum has great works from Monet, Manet, Renoir, Cezanne, Degas and van Gogh. I spent hours looking at these beautiful paintings, and it was one of the largest collections of beautiful, famous art I had seen other than the Louvre!
After the museum I walked along the Seine to visit Les Deux Magots, a famous cafe where Picasso, Hemingway and Sartre used to frequent, and I had a little beer. Then more walking along the river to Notre Dame, before catching my train to the airport.
It was a wonderful, sunny, beautiful trip to Paris and I was so happy to be able to see my friends. There is so much to see and do in Paris, I could easily go back for another week and still be overwhelmed!