Saturday March 29th at 8am our overnight bus from London pulled into the stop. We were an hour late, which normally I wouldn’t care, but the couch surf we were staying with that night had come to pick Michael and me up from the bus stop at 7am. Oops. I hoped he wasn’t too upset. We had a rough night of sleep as our bus stopped once for passport checks, then again to unload onto a ferry. Everyone was running around giving instructions in French. Michael and I just followed the crowds into the ferry and then out again after 1.5 hours. Back onto the bus. It was impossible to sleep. But we woke up as we pulled into Paris, overjoyed with excitement. Luc greeted us with a smile and we were off to his flat. After getting settled and having a croissant, Luc and his girlfriend Lea started our tour around Paris. Luc used to be a tour guide in Paris, so we were very excited to have him to show us everything around the city. We had no idea how much walking we were about to do.

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Down the street from Luc’s flat.

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Paris is full of courtyards at every corner.

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Another thing I love about Paris is that there is fresh baked goods and fruit on every street.

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Notre Dame on the left and a government building on the right.

(A little tip, if you go to visit Notre Dame, it’s prettiest from the back.)

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One of my most favorite things about Paris is that music is playing at every street corner, bridge, and cafe. Once one band is out of earshot, another takes over. It’s like Paris has its very own soundtrack.

 

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Lea and Luc in a Cathedral we explored.

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Luc and Lea wanted us to have traditional lunch crepes (not the dessert kind) so here is where we ate. Everything was in French and we really tested Lea’s translation skills as we had her translate practically everything on the menu. The lunch crepes are really delicious by the way, I’d recommend them. Mine had cheese, tomatoes, pecans, and salad.

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Another Cathedral we explored.

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Lea is a girl after my own heart, and she LOVES her sweets. She took us to a gelato stand, the best in all Paris according to her and Luc. I can’t remember the name unfortunately, but I ordered in French, thanks to Lea’s coaching. Violett and Vanille.

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We walked around a bit more, sightseeing local things. I love seeing those in addition to the touristy things.

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This man was outside smoking and I had liked how he looked, and I asked if I could take his photo. At firs the said no, then as I went to go and said sorry, he said “ok ok, wait. I’m sorry yes you can, just let me pose like this.” Apparently he would’ve gotten in trouble for sitting and smoking on his break since he worked at the nice cafe just behind him. The cafe is the photo below.

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According to Lea this is the most expensive Cafe in Paris.

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Paris men love their scarves.

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More street music. This time on the bridge of locks.
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Laduree is the most expensive and nice place in Paris to get a Macaroon. Lea helped me find the place so I could buy one little guy to try. I ate it on while we sat and listened to music at the bridge of locks. Macaroons are lovely. I’m afraid I may now be spoiled though because my first one was so nice.

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We walked through the Louvre after the bridge. Lea said goodbye to us here, she had work to do for her job, but Luc kept on truckin. I wondered if we’d see all of Paris today. We had been on foot all day, and my feet began to ache terribly. Onward we went!

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By the end of the day we reached Montmarte. I had heard about this place and I was excited to see it. You takes hundreds of stairs up to the top, and once up there you can see Paris. There are also painters at the tops of the stairs and small markets and cafes, and tiny back roads that make you feel like you’re in old Paris. This was one of my favorite places we went.
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At Montmarte.

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Montmarte.

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After we watched the sun go down on the hill at Montmarte, we walked down to Moulin Rouge.
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Finally, we hopped the metro to see the Eiffel tower. We stepped out from the metro as the whole tower was sparkling. Apparently it does this every hour for 5 mins. It was brilliant. We stood there watching for a long time after the sparkles faded. Then the whole city went dark for 5 minutes. We asked Luc why, and apparently there was some sort of power saving movement going on all across the world at that moment for just 5 minutes. We had just gotten there to see a bizarre sight of the tower standing in utter darkness. Once everything lit back up we made our way down to the fountains and perched for another shot and to watch the tower some more.

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It’s funny how something so simple, a tower of metal, can be so sublime. It looms over the town and sparkles and captivates the soul. I can’t believe I get to see all these things at just 21.
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This happy guy was my soundtrack on the way back to the flat. Once we got there I peel off my shoes and socks and rubbed my feet as much as I could through the pain. I didn’t ever look up how far we walked that day, but I know it was from 9am until probably midnight that we were out walking, and we only took the metro once. I think we saw most of Paris (the surface of it anyway) in just one day. I was excited to have seen so much, but I was honestly limping from how badly my feet hurt. Bed couldn’t come soon enough. Tomorrow couldn’t come soon enough though. Tomorrow I was excited for. We were going to Versailles.

 

 

Sunday March March 30th.

At 11am we were on our way to Versailles! Oh I had dreamed of this day so long. I had always wanted to see Paris, and most of all Versailles. I had heard so much about its beauty and I wanted to see for myself. As soon as our train got to the stop I bounded from the train, leaving poor Michael trailing behind. We rounded the corner and immediately saw brilliant gold glinting in the sunlight up ahead of us, and we were still 5 blocks away from the entrance. I let out a little squeal of excitement. Michael rolled his eyes. He didn’t understand what I was so giddy about. I guess I didn’t really either. I had no huge reason behind it. I had just always dreamed of seeing it. And here I was. We dashed past the other tourists and out to the far garden where Marie Antoinette had her country estate, because we figured that would leave the Palace more empty when we got to it just before closing time.

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Inside the King’s quarters, a stop between the palace and Marie Antoinette’s estate.

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Cottages at Marie Antoinette’s estate.

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Cottages at Marie Antoinette’s estate.

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Some friendly animals being kept at the estate. Marie Antoinette had wanted a little village all for herself, that’s why the estate was created.

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Wandering back through the gardens back up to the palace.

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Walking back up through the gardens. FINALLY we will get to see the palace! The gardens were huge. We spent about 4 hours wandering through and seeing the estate, and we probably only saw half of it. It truly was spectacular.

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The front gate.

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Inside the palace

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The famous Hall of Mirrors.

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Symmetry was the trend in all of Versailles. I’m a fan.

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We got back from Versailles and decided to take a train into town since there was still daylight. Michael and I got a Panini to share and sat on the side we hadn’t yet seen of the Eiffel Tower while we ate. I watched the sky turn light blue as the tower turned a hazy rose-gold color, to match the pink tree blossoms below. All I could do was stare and take it all in. God’s creation is so beautiful.

 

 

Monday March 31st

We slept in a bit today, as we’ve been walking so much in Paris. First thing that we decided to see today was the Grand Opera House. Oh my it did not disappoint.

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l’opera garnier

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l’opera garnier

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Inside the Opera house again.

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After that we walked about a mile towards the Louvre. We wanted to be able to walk around to see some art inside! We sadly couldn’t make it to that and the Impressionist museum, which I partially regret because I later found out that is where the famous Venus painting is kept. Ah well, as Michael and I have been saying.. “next time.”

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In front of the Louvre. Paris really is the town of love. I’ve never seen more people giddy, giggling, holding hands, and kissing each other.

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Inside the Louvre.

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There she is. The Mona Lisa. Something I’ve found so interesting is that people pay money to come to Paris. Pay money to get into the Louvre, then wait in line to run up to this painting, (which is very similar in technique to many of the other pieces in the gigantic museum) only to run up and snap a selfie in front of it then take off. No one even actually looks at the painting. No one even knows why it’s that important. Everyone is just told this is important and it’s recognized, and I feel like we all just want to check it off our list and be able to say “ya I’ve been there. Here’s the proof! Look how cool I am!” I mean, I myself too was in that position, minus the selfie.

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After the Louvre, we waited around by the Pyramid entrance for Luc. He was going to show us around again. My feet weren’t ready for another one of his tours. But hey, we’re only in Paris for a few days. Michael and I shared a crepe and watched the sun begin go down on the gorgeous glass building for quite some time, then Luc showed up around 7pm.

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We took a few more photos as the light played on the architecture, while Luc snapped some street photo shots.

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Paris you are so beautiful.

Luc took us all around to a few other bridges and to the Arch de Triumph, and a few other things I couldn’t name you. I had my camera away and was just enjoying seeing everything. We stopped for a few groceries to make pancakes in the morning. Lea had asked if I had a pancake recipe, so I thought I’d make her and Luc pancakes in the morning and leave her a recipe from scratch as a thank you for them hosting us.

 

Monday April 1st.

We were up early to make pancakes for Luc and Lea like planned the night before.

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I got an approval from Luc, Lea, and Michael. The pancakes were good. Extra vanilla extract always helps the recipe a bit. After breakfast and packing, we were off for our train. We hadn’t expected that because it was the 1st of the month, all the locals would be topping up their train card. We waited in a line of probably 50 people, panicking that we would miss our bus. But, we got through the line far faster than we thought, and made through the metro and to our bus in time. On to Belgium! ­čÖé

For any confused, my posts aren’t up to date, I’m currently in Berlin, Germany, but my next post will include photos from Belgium and the Netherlands!