Friday, September 13, 2013

Summer European Vacation, Part 4--Paris

He turns the big 4-0 today!
I can't wait to share with you the gift I made for him. You may remember my 40 Blows post, if you missed it, click here.
Now, I wanted to share with you my last post regarding our Summer European Vacation. You can check out the previous posts here, here and here.

Summer European Vacation part 4 Travel Tips & Itinerary Suggestions (Paris)
I loved this leg of our trip. Paris was everything I was expecting. So romantic, so rich in history. I absolutely loved every single second of was worth every penny!
Now, you might remember that it was only my hubby and I that took this little trip, which was to celebrate our 15th Wedding Anniversary (read about our love story here.). We left the kids with Grandma and the rest of the family in England (so nice of them!) while we took the trip to Paris.
I did a lot of research. A lot. I had visions in my head of what to expect and I felt prepared. Until we arrived. Oh, that's right. I don't speak French. Yikes! But thanks to the Forum on Trip Advisor, I knew the appropriate ettiquite. And it worked.
So here are the pictures and a little commentary of our romantic rendezvous to Paris:
It started to rain as soon as we got off the subway. Welcome to Paris!

Must see: Effiel Tower
Our first stop was a few blocks from our hotel. It was of course to see the Eiffel Tower.
No, we didn't climb up it. No, we didn't go up the elevators either.
Yes, I have a husband that doesn't like heights.
We still enjoyed it from the ground.

We walked around on the first day, just to take in the city. We had a late lunch/early dinner a few blocks away from our hotel. It was recommended by the hotel and it was worth every Euro we spent.
Locks of Love: Must do when visiting Paris

We stopped at the bridge titled Locks of Love. We paid 10 Euros for a padlock and put C+D and the date and found a "special" place for our love lock. Next, you are supposed to toss the keys in the river to claim your love with last forever. Only, we didn't know this until the last day and didn't get a chance to go back and throw them in. We still think our love is timeless.
Seeing the Effiel Tower at Dusk, another must do when visiting Paris
We stopped back at the Eiffel Tower at dusk to watch them "light" the tower. It is so cool. Breathtaking. One of my favorite moments. Everyone crowds around in the park and at 10pm, the show begins. It sparkles. Everyone oohs and ahhs. Here is the video I took. (first video I've ever uploaded, so I hope it works!)
The next day we bought tickets for the Batobus and the Red Tour Bus. Both worth it. It's a great way to hop on and off at different tourist locations. We saw:
Norte Dame in Paris

Notre Dame. So beautiful. We didn't go inside, but can just imagine the beauty.

Louve in Paris, home of the Mona Lisa

The Louve. It's massive. We aren't artsy people so we didn't pay to go in. I think you could get lost in that place. It's over 652,000 square feet. The famous Mona Lisa is displayed here.

Arc de Triomphe, another thing to see when visiting Paris

We drove by the Arc de Triomphe and decided to get off the bus to visit it. There was some sort of ceremony going on at the time. We didn't stay long because we didn't want to distrupt the service.

Arc de Triomphe, another thing to see when visiting Paris
This is from the official website: The triumphal arch is in honor of those who fought for France, in particular, those who fought during the Napoleonic Wars. Engraved on the inside and at the top of the arch are all of the names of the generals and wars fought. There are inscriptions in the ground underneath the vault of the arch which include the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from World War I where the Memorial Flame burns and have made the Arc de Triomphe Paris a revered patriotic site. 

Great way to get around Paris, on the Batobus

Here's the Batobus we took around. It's like a water taxi.

Hanging out on the riverfront at night in Paris
Sorry about the quality of the picture. I still wanted to share this with you because I thought it was one of the coolest things (besides the historical sites) about Paris. In the evening, the locals gather on the riverfront and hang out with their friends. Bring a blanket, wine, cheese, bread and just chill. This was on a weeknight, too. The river was lined with people. I wish we had something like that back home.

Take a FREE Walking tour in Paris with Discover Walks

From a post I read online, I found this FREE Walking Tour, given by locals. It's a company called Discover Walks. They wear pink vests so you can recognize them. In Paris, there were several different options, we decided on the Paris Landmarks tour. IT WAS AWESOME! AND FREE! Although, you are encouraged to tip...and you actually want to when it's over. Our guide was great, funny and very socialable. Highly recommend this tour.

Must do in Paris: Have Gelato...Amorino Gelato
After the walking tour, we treated ourselves to Amorino Gelato. A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! I didn't even think about how many calories there were in that bad boy! The hubs and I shared this, by the way and it was plenty!

Take a leap at night in front of the Effiel Tower

That night, our last night in Paris, we took another walk along the river. Looking up, we saw the Eiffle Tower and Carousel. I've always wanted to do a "fun" picture, so this is what we did! I jumped, hubby snapped the picture! LOVE IT!! Ok, so I am a little crazy! (but FUN!)

Must do in Paris: Visit a neighborhood Boulangerie
Before heading home the next day, we went down the side streets around our hotel. We found some gems! This Boulangerie was one of them. We saw locals going in and coming out with fresh bread, one after another. So, we had to stop in. We opted for a breakfast treat. So good.
Paris was everything I imagined it to be. It was a perfect way to celebrate our 15th Wedding Anniversary.
Travel Tips:
  1. Research, research, research. Try Trip Advisor--it's very informative!
  2. Visit side streets and watch where the locals go--you'll want to follow!
  3. Visit the Eiffel Tower during the day, evening, dusk and dark. It's amazing how different it looks in the lighting.
  4. Comfy shoes is a must.
  5. Take a walking tour.
  6. Say Bon Jour to all store owners, restaurant servers and business people. Then ask if they speak English. Most likely they know enough to help you.
  7. Tipping is different over there. Your bill (especially when you pay by credit card) does not have a line for a tip. It is not expected. Appreciated, yes, but the wait staff and other service people (cabs) don't live on tips alone like they do here in the States.
  8. Book an English-welcoming hotel. This was huge for us. They were so helpful, too.

Hope you enjoyed the little trip to Paris and the highlights!
I plan on putting together a list of travel tips as well as packing tips that I learned from this trip! Anything else you'd like to know? Have you been to Paris? What was your favorite part?

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