To celebrate being married for an entire year to the best guy ever, the husband and I went on quite the vacation! Our entire whirlwind adventure started on August 15th when we left for Paris, a city he had previously visited but I had not.
We left our local airport early in the afternoon and flew for what felt like an eternity. I am not a huge fan of flying long distances (the planes go very high in the sky and I am terrified of heights), but I managed to make it through the whole flight without any tears (or sleep-not recommended). Upon our arrival at Charles de Gaulle airport I was amazed and impressed at the efficiency of getting people through customs and to their bags. It was a breeze.
We decided to immerse ourselves as much as possible in the public transport systems, and found a ticket station to catch the train into Paris. Riding through the city and people watching, taking in the surroundings, and really just being in the moment was an incredible experience.
We came to our stop and headed toward the streets of Paris. My husband is an incredibly thoughtful human being (that’s one of MANY reasons I married him), but I am always blown away by his thoughtfulness. I thought the stop we were at was a few blocks from our hotel, turns out the husband had another plan.
As we climbed the stairs out of the train station and onto the streets of Paris, I couldn’t help but hear and feel the buzz of energy that was surrounding the city. I looked around me, felt the warmth of the sunshine on my face, and soaked in the beauty of the blue sky above me (as opposed to around me). We walked towards the corner and as I started to turn, there it was.
Notre Dame Cathedral.
I stopped in my tracks, gasped in awe, and then, started to cry at her magnificent beauty. After close to thirteen hours of traveling, we had arrived. It was overwhelming, and exhilarating, and the only thing I had left at that precise moment was tears; of joy, of bewilderment, of excitement, of pure love.
After composing myself and thanking my husband for creating such a wonderfully thoughtful surprise, we found a taxi and headed for the Derby Eiffel Hotel, a charming boutique hotel less than a mile from the Eiffel Tower. We checked our bags in with the hotel and then out we went to explore Paris. We walked past the Paris Military Academy, a grandiose complex that houses several buildings and training facilities, and down to Champs du Mars to behold one of the greatest feats of engineering.
To say the Eiffel Tower is impressive is an understatement. It is that and so much more. It is, quite simply, awe-inspiring. To think about what they were able to accomplish given the materials they had to work with is incredible.
We were able to watch the light show (which starts at midnight and lasts about five minutes) both nights we were there and were even able to sit on the balcony at our hotel to watch it the last night we were in town. It was the best way to spend a first wedding anniversary.
We explored the Rodin Museum, walked back down to Notre Dame, cafe hopped our way through the city and ate some incredible food during our time in Paris.
Paris was everything I thought it would be and more, and nothing like I thought it would be both at the same time. Other people’s opinions and experiences in Paris were nestled safely inside my head, but I refused to let them cloud my own experience. The most common negative things I heard about Paris ahead of the trip were 1. Parisians are rude and 2. that Paris is dirty. I’ll address both criticisms.
1. Parisians are rude
Possibly. However, this was not my experience. Granted, we went in August when many people are on holiday elsewhere, but those who were still around were incredibly kind. Our server at Cafe des Officiers was as friendly as could be!
As we were walking along the Seine we came across two cute, little, kitchy, Eiffel Towers that are sold as touristy items. We looked around and saw a merchant closing up her stand and asked her about the towers and she told us that they were supposed to be keychains but were missing the rings so she can’t sell them – and she gave them to us – for free. That doesn’t sound like the rude Parisians that people told me to expect.
Our servers at L’Petit Fernand were so nice! My French sucks. It is so terrible. I can ask two questions, poorly; ‘what is this?’ (Qu’est-ce que c’est) and ‘may I have more white wine, please?’ (Puis-je avoir davantage vin blanc, s’il vous plaît). And I say both with a terrible American accent. But our servers LOVED that I attempted to ask them in French, however poorly it might have been.
2. Paris is dirty
People have been living in the area that Paris encompasses since at least 9800 B.C. It has seen two world wars. It has over 2 million people that currently inhabit the city. What do you expect? A pristine, sparkling, city?!? What struck me more, was that there is a lot of graffiti in the city. But overall, I think it just looks like a city that has been around since before America was even a country. There’s gonna be some dirt and grime. I think it adds to the city’s allure.
Overall, Paris was an absolutely breathtaking adventure. I am so happy that I was able to share such a wonderful experience with my favorite person in the world, celebrating the first of many anniversaries to come!
Stay tuned for the next leg of our European adventure…London.