As I hinted in my previous post, I have a new Paris travel guide to share with you! But before I publish the guide, I wanted to share one final Parisian travel tale from 2018 – a trip I took to the City of Light back in May with my Gramma!
I have to say, 2018 has been an amazing travel year so far. Kai and I went to Asia for the first time in March (well, second if you count the Anatolian Side of Istanbul), I traveled to the Dominican Republic and Mexico for work (Mexico blog post to come), and Kai and I did a long weekend in Tel Aviv which is perhaps my new favorite city in the world! But some of the best trips of 2018 weren’t to exotic places or far from home – in fact, the most memorable trips of 2018 were in Amsterdam! I had a few first time visitors from the States this year which really made 2018 one for the books! My sisters came to Holland over the long Easter weekend in March. It was Liz’s first time in Amsterdam and Jess’s second, and I loved showing the girls my home and getting to know them better through lots of quality time and travel. Then, in April, Amie and Katie, two of my best friends from Maine, made a visit to Amsterdam for King’s Day. It was a short but sweet visit, where we did a lot of walking, eating, drinking, and dancing. There’s something about best friend time that really rejuvenates the soul, and I am already looking forward to our next girlfriend hang! And last but certainly not least, in May my Gramma came to Amsterdam for 10 days! It was her first time to visit me, but hopefully not the last :) It was a burst of amazing visits from some of my favorite people, and these are the trips from 2018 I hold the most dear in my heart.
Anyways! Now that we got all of that mush out-of-the-way, let’s chat Paris! My Gramma cracked me up while we were planning this trip, because her only mandate for our 36 hours in Paris was NO PLANS! But there was a small *caveat* to that statement, which was that she *did* want to do a tour of the city, go to the Louvre, take a French cooking class, and see the Eiffel Tower. I’ve been to Paris quite a few times, so I was happy to explore Paris to my Grandma’s liking. As long as there’s French food and some walking to burn off the calories from the French food, I’m a happy camper!So what did we start our Paris trip with!? None other than big plates of French food :) We were staying in an Airbnb in the 2nd arrondissement. The space was super cute and perfect for a quick overnight visit to the city, but we couldn’t check in until noon time and our train arrived in Paris at 10.30am. So we stopped at a bistro for lunch, where we each ordered french onion soups, and a salad and crudités with dip to share. However, this being Paris and all . . . our ‘salad’ (below) was actually a bed of lettuce with an open face cheese sandwich and chips on top, and a fried egg to boot! No complaints from me, as it was delicious – but definitely NOT a salad!! This is why I love traveling to new places – you never quite know what you’re going to get!After lunch, we dropped our bags at the apartment and went to hop on the Big Bus Tour we’d booked.
Which involved a healthy bit of walking through the city.The day was beautiful, and we took our time walking through the Jardin du Palais Royal and admiring the blooming foliage and pretty fountains. Despite having been to Paris numerous times, I’ve never done a hop on hop off tour. It was perfect to do with my grandma, because we could see all of the famous landmarks without walking a huge distance. To be fair, my grandma is VERY capable of waking around – in Amsterdam we covered six miles in one day alone! But Paris is incredibly spread out, and much more hilly than Holland. So the bus really helped us save on the time we would have spent walking from one attraction to the next, and we got to cover a lot more ground in our 36 hours in the city! We went with the Big Bus company as they have two routes – the classic route which winds through the heart of Paris, and the blue route which tours through Montmartre. We did the red route, as we planned to spend the following day in Montmartre. I also loved the bus because it offered a new perspective on the city. Typically I take my photos from the sidewalk, but zooming down the center of the road on the top of a double-decker bus really gave me a new perspective to capture the city from. And my gramma loved listening to the history of the city and the background behind some of Paris’s famous landmarks on the tour’s audio guide. As I’m familiar with the city, I could easily point out the landmarks the audio guide referenced. I think this would be the only drawback of the tour if you’re a newbie to the city – as you’re constantly surrounded by beautiful architecture, it could be hard to match up the landmarks to what was bring referenced in the audio guide.We hopped off the bus at Trocadero so we could take some photos along the Eiffel Tower, and so my grandma could get an ice cream! We strolled around for a bit, took a few more photos, and then got back on the bus to check out the last leg of the tour.
Once we’d completed the entire loop, it was late afternoon and we were starting to get a bit peckish. We walked to from the Opera house (where the tour ended) to the Tuileries Gardens, where we admired the sculptures and stretched our legs.We strolled by Angelina, which had no line out front, so we decided to stop in for an afternoon tea.I got the high tea, which comes with a hot cocoa and a tower of sweet and savory snacks, and my gramma got a small quiche which she said was delicious! We enjoyed our meal slowly, and then went to tick another item off of my grandma’s bucket list: a visit to the Louvre!I’ll share this tip again in my next post, but there is a secret to avoid the long lines at the Louvre – go in the evening! On Wednesday and Friday, the Louvre is open until 9.45pm! So after having an early evening snack, my grandma and I walked over to the Louvre around 6.45pm and strolled in to the museum with no line in site. We walked downstairs, purchased our tickets and by 6.50pm were inside the museum – zero waiting or fuss!Is the above photo the best shot from the whole trip?? I think so!The only thing I will say about an evening visit to the Louvre, is that the museum is HUGE, and it’s impossible to explore the entire space in three hours. We had also gotten up quite early to catch our train to Paris, and I was quickly losing steam. So we took our time strolling through a few of the rooms, checked out the Mona Lisa (it’s a beautiful work of art but not quite sure what all the fuss is about!) and then slowly made our way out of the museum around 8.30pm.
Miss Mona.Miss Gramma!At this point, I was ready for a glass of vino, but it had been a long day for both of us and ultimately we decided to go back to our flat and hit the hay! Which was just fine with me, because we had a special activity lined up for the next morning – a private cooking class with a chef in Montmartre!As you know, I work for Booking.com, so I *try* not to book with Airbnb unless it’s a must (they are a competitor after all!) However, they had some really interesting looking cooking classes that felt a lot more authentic and personal that those offered on TripAdvisor. So we booked this cooking course with Anne, which took place in her home in Montmartre!We met at Pain Pain, a bakery by Anne’s apartment, where we picked up some fresh pastries and bread for breakfast. We then walked up the road to her flat and took a seat at her breakfast bar – where she cooked us poached eggs and fresh butter to accompany the bread and pastries, and then we made French cookies together :) My grandmother had a ball – chatting about ingredients, cooking techniques, and recipes with a friendly and welcoming French chef!We ended the morning on the roof, where Anne kindly snapped a photo of me and my grandmother together in front of the Sacré-Cœur.I’m so lucky to have these memories with my Grandma that I will cherish forever!With a few hours to kill before our train, we took a cab to a baking store Anne had recommended – however, as it happened to be a holiday in France, the shop was closed. So we went next door to one of my favorite French restaurants, Au Pied de Cochon. I first discovered the restaurant several years back, as they are open late (perfect when you’re training down from Amsterdam after work on a Friday!) and they serve all of the French specialties.They have classic bistro seating outside, and are right next to the, Eglise Saint-Eustache, a stunning cathedral. So you can have your lunch and then do some wandering around in the area. There’s also a lovely artisan market that runs along the cathedral that sells fruit, vegetables, nuts, cheese, clothing, and jewelry, the latter being my personal favorite at the market :)We ended our day as the trip had begun – with a final pit stop for French food! Anne has actually written a book about the best spot for fries in Paris. So while we were at her place, we thumbed through, pointing out a few that looks good. As we were walking to the train station, we noticed The Frog & The Underground, one of the fry places we thought looked spectacular, and had to stop! And so we polished off a big basket of fries and two rosés!It was a crazy fun 36 hours in Paris with my Grandma – I am so lucky to have not only such a fun adventure buddy as a grandma, but also a whole new catalogue of amazing memories to share with one of my favorite people.I can’t wait to see what my next adventure with Gramma will be!