I love Paris. I love the cafes, the cobblestone streets, the bakeries, the architecture, the language. I don’t love the second-hand smoke, the tourists (even though I am one), the pickpockets, the expensive standard of living, the lines at tourist attractions. But I still love Paris.
This was my second time in this city, and Erik’s first. So rather than make it a priority to see all the sights that Paris is known for, we chose to do more wandering and discovering. Erik never cared for tourist attractions and prefers to walk through neighborhoods and stop at coffee shops. We still went to the major sights anyway just so Erik could experience Paris and I could use my Olympus camera for pictures that I didn’t take during my first trip to this city.
Our train got into Paris Gare de Lyon and we were able to navigate pretty easily to our Airbnb, which was situated in between the 10th and 11th Arrondissement, right along Canal Saint-Martin.
When we got to Paris, the sky was gloomy and the air was chilly. My mom insisted that I visit her college friend again (whom we saw 4 years ago) just to check up on her and see how she’s doing. Her friend owns a Chinese tea shop in the 5th district near the Jardin des Plantes. The shop is called La Maison des Trois Thés (The House of Three Teas), and is the place to go if you want Chinese imperial tea in the middle of Paris. Serendipitously, we bumped into my mom’s friend and her son while we were on our way to her shop. So if it were not for fate, we wouldn’t have found her at her shop!
Right after this, we headed over to the direction of the Panthéon, just wandering around. Then it started to rain pretty heavily and so we took shelter at a cafe to wait it out since I didn’t have a hood on my denim jacket nor did I bring an umbrella. Once the rain let up a bit, we decided to ride our first Bird scooter in the city and made our way towards the center of Paris to check out the Notre Dame and exterior of the Louvre. As usual, there were tons of tourists around at both attractions, including a ton of pigeons outside the cathedral.
We also went to the Carrousel du Louvre, which is an underground shopping plaza with a food court and another entrance into the museum. This is where I knew sold the Paris museum pass, which I bought a 2-day pass for 48 euros. You can start using the pass whenever you’d like within 1 year of the date of purchase, and the clock starts ticking. So I have to use the pass in 2 consecutive days (starting tomorrow!).
Pro-tip: If you are a citizen of the EU and under 26 years old, you can get into almost any public museum (all the ones listed on the Paris museum pass) FOR FREE. You only need to show a picture of your passport! And this deal includes the Palace of Versailles. Erik brought his German passport with him so he saved big bucks. Furthermore, he can wait in the express line with me if I have the museum pass.
After fuming a bit how Erik gets to go to all these pricey museums for free, we made our way down Champs-Élysées just so he can soak in how overrated this street is. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a beautiful avenue, but way too glamorized in the cinemas. We didn’t bother going into any of the stores, though I did look longingly at the fanciest Ladurée that ever existed.
And of course, we had to stop by the Arc du Triomphe to get a picture like every other tourist out there. I spent quite a bit of time playing with the shutter speed for this shot. And we did something incredibly dangerous, which was ride a Bird scooter on tandem around the Arc. BUT IT WAS AWESOME!
So it’s actually quite hard to find non-Italian vegetarian food in Paris so we stumbled upon a restaurant that served various Italian food in cafeteria style. By the time we finished, it was late so all the Birds were gone! So we walked back to our Airbnb, which took like an hour.
Museum day! Not officially in the city of Paris, but today I started using my museum pass. We rode a tandem Bird (since we couldn’t find more than 1 scooter) to Musée d’Orsay and I swear there was something going on because I have never seen the lines outside to be so long. Even the express line was super long and wrapped around a neighboring building! There was a group of people trying to get signatures for a petition, which is a SCAM. The papers that they’re collecting signatures look like some poorly xerox’ed copy out of a page of a 3rd grade book, plus these people are really in your face and trying to shove their pens up your noses. As soon as you take the time to listen to their spiel and sign the paper, someone else is pickpocketing you from behind. Also, they target tourists, so just watch out!
After 30 minutes or so, we finally got through security and into the museum. My favorite part of this museum is the Impressionism suite, where I learned about the French Impressionists from my 6th grade teacher!
And here are some pictures of other parts of the Musée d’Orsay:
The minute we left the museum, it started to rain a bit more heavily so we grabbed some falafel wraps from a sandwich shop to-go and ate them inside the Carrousel’s fancy food court where you can get a glass of wine for 3 euros. And since we were so close to the Louvre, we made that our next museum! Again, Erik got in for free and I used my Museum Pass. All these shots of the Louvre were taken by Erik and his ever increasing talent for framing his subjects.
After the Louvre, which I was finished with in less than 2 hours because too many museums in one day make me super tired, we went to a nearby Galeries Lafayette to shop for the list of things my mom wanted me to get her while I was in Paris, which included brands like: Louis Vuitton, Clarins, and Chanel. And we found nothing she wanted so it was dinnertime!
I wanted to show Erik the neighborhood of Montmartre, the 17th arrondissement, so we headed that direction and stumbled upon Flunch, this place that is basically a French Ikea cafeteria. The prices are cheap, so the quality of food is also lower, but I had gone here at least twice with my mom a couple years ago and she loved the place. A pre-dinner snack became a full on dinner because of how full we got, so the rest of the night was spent wandering around Montmartre, seeing the Sacre Coeur, and eating at a lovely diner-themed crêperie.
Our last full day in Paris! We started off our day by heading to the Notre Dame to get passes to tour the bell towers. It’s free, but you have to sign up at a kiosk on the North side of the building. You select your language, how many people in your group, an entry time, and then your tickets will print out. So while we were waiting for our entry time, Erik and I went to the Centre Pompidou (via Museum Pass), Paris’s vast modern art museum. I was never a huge huge fan of modern art. Everything leaves me wondering, “…why?” But Erik loves it! Plus, the view from the top of the museum was great.
After Centre Pompidou, we went back to the Notre Dame and to the top of the bell towers! Up and up and up the winding staircase.
Now, it was off to the Eiffel Tower! We each rode a Bird scooter all the way there, though we didn’t go up the tower itself. Instead, we went to Trocadéro, across Pont d’léna, because that place has great views.
For lunch, we shared a savory and sweet crepe on our walk to the Arc de Triomphe, and we were able to use my Museum Pass and Erik’s German passport to get to the top of the Arc. More winding staircases!
Pro-tip: If you buy the ticket separately, it’s 12 euros. If you’re a EU citizen like Erik, you have to stand in the ticket line to get a physical ticket first before you can get in the line to go up the stairs.
The rest of our last full day was spent wandering around the Latin quarter, finding this high-end pharmacy where I was able to buy some skin care products for my mom, eating more crepes, and getting dinner near Musée d’Orsay because the restaurant had a great vegan burger.
Day 4 (our last official day in France) involved getting super lost on the way to Giverny, which you can read more about here. And that’s it! This concludes the France travel series where I spent 17 days traversing to 9 beautiful French cities. I have a huge bucket list of travel destinations so I’m super excited for my next trip 🙂
If you read through all 9 recap posts, THANK YOU! It means so much that you do, whoever you are. Hope to see you around real soon <3