We woke up the next morning after our first wanderings through Paris feeling a bit tired but very excited about everything else we would be seeing that day. We arranged to meet Natat about 11am underneath the Eiffel Tower (how romantic) and I worked out it would take us about 45 minutes to walk there from our hotel (or an hour if we stopped to look at things, which we probably would!) but we still had plenty of time to take it easy this morning. We headed down to have some breakfast at about 9am. We got breakfast as part of a package at our hotel, so we decided to see what it was like and if it was no good, we’d eat out the next morning. But we needn’t have bothered even thinking about that – I had the most amazing croissant (ok I had three) I have ever had in my life and they had a great selection of little cheeses and meats to eat, along with some fresh fruit. Mum and I were both very happy. Nat told me that you can’t get a bad croissant in Paris, so don’t think you need to go out to a fancy little bakery to experience the best!
After stuffing ourselves for the day ahead, at about 10am we grabbed our bags and headed out onto the streets to navigate our way to the Eiffel Tower. We were very lucky where we were staying (in Saint Germain) as it is very central to most things and there was lots to look at as we walked. We walked past a couple of shoe stores that had some really beautiful leather boots in the window, but unfortunately the shop didn’t open until 10:30, so I missed out – but I would have need to visit a shoe shop by the the time this day was over, so it worked out in the end. After walking through some beautiful streets and park areas, we finally made it to the Tower and found Nat. Up close, the Eiffel Tower is exactly what you imagine it to be – completely impressive. I would have loved to have gone up and seen the city from the top, but we got there too late and the line was ridiculously long. If we’d have stood there to get in, we would have been there all day. But seeing it from the ground was enough and it’s just another excuse to go back to Paris!
From the Tower, we made our way to the Champs Elysees. We were going to meet up with one of Nat’s friends for a coffee which I was very excited about. I hadn’t had a coffee since I left Sydney almost two and a half weeks earlier. As I was so sick when I arrived in Italy, I didn’t much feel like milky products (although I managed to drink wine everyday – weird). That coffee is probably the best I’ve ever had in my life – I was missing it so much! But before we had that coffee, we stood marvelling at the Arc de Triomphe for a few minutes, taking copious amounts of photos and wondering how the cars whizzing around it didn’t crash into each other. After our coffee we went to a bakery and bought some food for lunch, which we were planning on eating in the Tuileries Gardens – thankfully the sky was a little clearer than it had been the day before, so we were hopeful that we wouldn’t get rained on while eating our lunch. From there, we did a little bit of shopping on the Champs Elysees, looking at beautiful shops and buildings. Naturally my love for macarons found me outside Laduree – although I didn’t go in as I was holding out to buy macarons from Pierre Herme, who is my macaron idol. I found a concession shop of Pierre Herme in one of the department stores on Champs Elysees and bought a dozen macarons to enjoy later. Then we got on a train to the Tuileries and sat in the sunshine eating our lunch looking at the beautiful gardens around us. I would pick that place again any day over eating in the fanciest restaurant in Paris. After lunch, we wandered through the gardens over the Louvre, which is just a short stroll away. Unfortunately as with the Tower, we didn’t get to go in as we only had the one full day to see things and therefore not enough time to walk through the Louvre. But the the building itself is a work of art and is certainly worth the time spent viewing it from the outside – if only to see people striking funny poses for photos with the famous glass pyramid in the background.
From the Louvre, we headed towards Palais Garnier, also known as Opéra de Paris – the famous Parisian opera house. Most people would be familiar with it as the setting for Gaston Leroux’s novel The Phantom of the Opera and subsequently, the setting of the musical adaptation of the same name by Andrew Lloyd Webber. This building also is very impressive and as it turns out, very expensive. I have just read that as of 1875, when building finished, the cost was 36,010,571 francs, which even by today’s standards is a lot of money. It is a very beautiful building though and I would say was worth every franc that was spent on it. Another beautiful piece of architecture to see in this area, is Galeries Lafayette, located on Boulevard Haussmann. It is a multilevel department store – similar to David Jones here in Australia – and houses some of the worlds most expensive brands, whatever you think of it is probably there. But we didn’t go in there for the shopping. Nat said that we had to go in just to see the ceiling of the building – a huge stand glass dome. Opulent doesn’t even begin to describe this amazing piece of work. You really have to see it in real life to appreciate how beautiful it is – photos do it no justice. If we didn’t have more of the city to see, I could have stood there all day looking up at it. We were feeling pretty tired and sore by this time and while the daylight hours were nearly over, the night ones were just beginning. We headed towards Boulevard de Clichy which is the location of the Red Mill – or Moulin Rouge if you’d like to be proper about it! When we got there it was just before sunset, so the lights were already on and while it looked pretty good, Nat said we should come back a bit later when it was dark and we could see the lights properly. So we decided to go rest our feet and enjoy a glass of wine while we waited. We had probably about 5:30pm by that time and we’d been walking around most of the day, so it was nice to sit for a little while and relax. But once we’d finished our wine and the sun was gone, we were on our feet again (I would have sat there all night if mum and Nat had let me) and headed back to the Moulin Rouge which was now shining in all it’s glory. If you can can can (see what I did there?), you should definitely make the time to see this in daylight and at night, you’ll appreciate it so much more!
I was about ready to call it a night by this point, but we soldiered on and make the walk up the hill to Montmartre. This is a place I would be happy to live in if I was to move to Paris. Lots of restaurants to choose from, cute little shops and once you reach the Sacre Coeur, the most amazing view over Paris you could imagine. It is a place where artists and creative-types have gathered and it has an artistic air about it that felt very different to me from the rest of the city. We walked through the Sacre Coeur and enjoyed it’s silence for a little while, then started on the walk back down hill to the Moulin Rouge, me stepping in what I thought was mud en route, but ended up being dog poo – a big one which thankfully didn’t smell as we sat in the taxi on the way back to our hotel. Then mum and I walked Nat to a bus stop right near the hotel which would take her home, making plans to catch up the following morning before we left for the airport. Then it was back to the hotel to try and clean the yuck off one of my shoes, which was the only pair I had brought to Paris with me. Thanks mum for trying to clean my shoe as I could not handle the smell! On closer inspection, it appeared I had worn my shoes out, as they were completely cracked right across the middle. After sticking my stinky shoe near an open window in the bathroom for the night, mum and I fell into our respective beds at about 11:30pm – according to my pedometer we had walked about 35km that day! No wonder we were sore and exhausted.
The next morning we enjoyed breakfast (including multiple croissants) in our hotel, packed our bags and checked out. We were heading to Jardin du Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens) to meet with Nat before we headed to the airport. My shoe was still very smelly from last nights mishap, and I didn’t particularly feel like being stuck on a plane with it for two hours on the way back to Rome, so it was the perfect excuse to go visit one of those shoe shops I had spotted the day before and try on a pair of ankle boots which had caught my eye. A couple of hundred Euros later, I walked out in a pair of lovely new boots and dumped my $5 Target shoes in the bin out the front of the shop. Then we continued on the Jardin du Luxembourg, snacking on my Pierre Herme macarons as we went. We arrived at the gardens a short time later and spent about half an hour walking through there, admiring the beautiful Autumn foliage. There was one particular plant that looked like it was on fire, the leaves were so bright on it!
Then sadly it was time to leave the city. Nat walked us to a train station where we got on a train out to the airport. We said our goodbyes to her which was really sad, but I was glad to have seen her again even for such a short amount of time. I was sad to be leaving Paris as well – it is such a beautiful city and I felt strangely at home. But all good things must come to an end, as must all good holidays. After being away from home for nearly three weeks I was ready to have my feet back on Aussie soil – I particularly missed my boyfriend and my little bird (not necessarily in that order). After nearly twenty hours in the air from Paris to Rome to Dubai to Bangkok to Sydney, we finally made it home, our holiday was over and we were back to the real world.