I was alone in Paris…
… on my second time there. I decided to make the most of this trip by heading to places I missed my first time around, plus return to what I think is about to become my favorite restaurant in the City of Lights.
First on my list was the Christian Dior exhibition happening at the Musée des Arts Decoratifs. I had taken the train from Amsterdam through Brussels and to Paris' Gare du Nord station, arrived at noon, took a taxi to my Airbnb (stayed in the exact same one in the Trocadero I booked my first time to Paris!), and rushed straight out to Rivoli to queue up for the show (I didn't book ahead because I didn't know exactly what time I'd make it to Paris and out of my Airbnb).
I didn't mind waiting though, it gave me time to pat myself on the back for actually remembering how to navigate the Metro (good job, me!). Also, why complain about standing in line when you're surrounded by these beautiful buildings?
I'm not a *fashion person* myself (I practically live in t-shirts, jeans and sneakers) but any form of design is a constant source of inspiration for me. I'm going to write about the show in another post because there's a lot I have to say about it. It was sheer luck that I was in Paris at the exact time the exhibition was on though—it was dreamy, I learned a lot, and the production value was incredible 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
Once I was done with the exhibit, I decided to head over to the Palais Royal. Famous for its arcades and gardens, I wanted to check it out because it's one of those sites that keeps popping up on my Instagram Explore Feed but I never actually bothered to look at. There were a ton of people trying to get their perfect IG shots while I was there, btw (can't blame them—those black and white stripes are too pretty).
If you make your way here, you shouldn't just stop at the arcades because the gardens are also worth a look. Paris, why are you so gorgeous??? 😭😭😭
After my time at the park, I decided to head over to Colette, which was just a few steps away from my designated dinner spot (more on that below). The iconic shop was on its final run and I was hoping I to catch the Glossier pop-up there (I didn't. BOO!). I felt sad knowing that the iconic store would soon be closing its doors soon—doubly sad because I couldn't find anything I actually wanted to buy there. So instead, I took a photo (it wasn't even a good one, but there was a line and a flurry of people outside the doors).
Anyway, my entire jaunt around this area of the city, was really, carefully crafted so I could grab dessert at Le Soufflé, where Queenie had her epic tasting course on my first trip to Paris two years back.
I had a full hour before the restaurant would open, so I decided first, to grab an onion soup at one of the cafés—I was ravenous (didn't catch lunch or snacks at all because I was so busy running from the train station to my Airbnb to the museum!), Angelina was still closed (shakes fist), and needed to get something in my stomach, stat.
Once 7 PM rolled in, I made my way to the restaurant (first one in!) and ordered a sumptuous chocolate soufflé. I normally order the Grand Marnier but since that's what I had my first time there, I thought it would be better to choose something different. Chocolate is always a good choice and I found amazing satisfaction in poking a hole in my soufflé and pouring that sauce in. Mmm.
My second day started at another museum—the Musée d'Orsay. Home of Paris' best and brightest impressionist works, I knew it was about time I hit this spot since I had gotten the Louvre out of the way on my first trip.
I loved the atrium of the museum and how you're literally surrounded by All. The. Scuplture. Also, check out those pretty coffers on the ceiling! D'Orsay is structured so that you can go into smaller wings devoted to specific time periods, artists or styles, making it pretty easy to navigate (as compared to the maze of the Louvre).
I truly love Van Gogh. Even if I had just come from Amsterdam and spent an entire morning at the Van Gogh Museum, I still had to visit his wing in Paris. It was nice to see his works here after having had a more detailed / lengthy education on his bio. I felt like I had so much more context to go by and I actually spotted certain paintings that were missing at the Amsterdam museum over here! (Made me feel like Carmen Sandiego!).
The top floor of the Musée d'Orsay is composed of one long stretch of iconic painting after iconic painting. I was under time pressure on my visit because I had booked an early afternoon walking tour—I could have probably stayed a full three or four hours here, but instead had to rush through (and by "rush" I mean spending about two hours to get through the whole museum). Of course, there's always time to pause and take a photo of one of Degas' ballerinas.
No trip to d'Orsay is complete without checking out its rooftop. The view of the Seine from here is impeccable. I spent a couple of minutes taking photos and enjoying the view, after which I made a MAD dash down to the Metro, wasted a ticket because the routes had me super confused, and resurfaced back to street level to hail a taxi to get me to the other side of town to St. Germain.
I needed to get to here because I had my full nerd on and booked a French Revolution walking tour with my favorite company, Localers. If you've gone through my previous posts, I talked about how I was super into Marie Antoinette and all the malarkey that went on during that period of time. When I saw that I could actually go on a tour through historical revolution sites, I immediately hopped on.
There's a lot to be said about France's history, so I'm not going to clutter this post with what I learned on the tour. (Will save that for next week!) That said, we made our way around a circle starting and ending at St. Sulpice and the amount of history packed within the small streets within this neighborhood is more than I ever expected to find.
I ended my packed day at Galeries Lafayette, where I was checking out a bag for one of my friends. Another bonus about heading to this historic shopping site is its proximity to the Opera—still my favorite tourist spot in the city.
I came just in time to catch the sunset on the Lafayette rooftop. I don't think I'll ever tire of finding these views. I couldn't have chosen a better way to end my second day in the city.
I am a complete and utter Disney person and when I saw that the forecast for Saturday was ALL SUN ALL DAY, I decided to throw caution and culture to the wind and make it a theme park day.
In keeping with the kid-at-heart theme, I first headed over to Bonton, a designer kids' shop with one of those photo booths I'd found in Berlin. After snapping my photo, chatting with other tourists who were queued up for their own black and whites, and buying a couple of presents, I made my way to Disney.
5 Boulevard des Filles du Calvaire
I waffled, at first, about going to Disneyland because spending a whole day at a theme park by yourself seems kind of sad and pathetic. Judgement aside though, I figured that missing a day at Disney just because I didn't like the fact that I didn't have anyone with me would make for an even sadder case.
No regrets—I am so happy I went anyway.
I've loved trips to Disneyland and Disney World since I was a kid. I remember that Euro Disney opened just before I started high school, and I vowed to myself that one day, I would make my way there!
I used to mock It's a Small World when I was younger, but since turning 30, it's become my favorite ride. The song literally makes me cry. LOL.
No trip to Disney is complete without watching the fireworks and the show this year was exceptional. Again, it brought on the tears. I also had the perfect view (Pro Tip: Plant yourself on the square before dusk and all the people come!). I bought myself a souvenir tub of popcorn for dinner and watched the magic unfold!
Because of an airline kerfuffle, I had to cut my Paris stay a day short. I'm glad Disneyland stayed on my list of places to see because it was really worth my time.
PS: Paris is home to Sleeping Beauty's castle and Princess Aurora is my favorite princess. Meant! To! Be!
My final day in Paris was totally free. I didn't make any plans—I just wanted my feet to take me wherever.
Anna, my Airbnb host, graciously left me a list of places to visit and food to try, and La Jacobine was on top for its Hot Chocolate. Pretty coincidental—it's located in the very same alleyway that I visited on my French Revolution tour.
For brunch, I had a super hearty stew which I did not even attempt to finish. I thought it was a good idea to indulge since it was my last day. Gotta love hearty French fare. And roast potatoes. And bread. Le sigh!
The piece de resistance of course, was the Hot Chocolate which, like Anna said, was excellent. I'm glad I went out of my way to try something aside from Angelina. This was also excessively large, by the way—despite my honorable attempt to drink everything up, I couldn't do it.
59-61 Rue Saint-André des Arts
After my traipse through St. Germain, I decided to keep walking. Eventually, I ended up at the Luxembourg Gardens, which an acquaintance I'd made back in Florence had talked about. She and her sister had scored a lovely apartment with a view straight into the gardens and stayed there for a couple of weeks.
Before crossing the street though, I had to take a photo of this cat sitting at a cafe window. So much French ennui going on in this vignette, non?
I love myself a pretty garden. They were dressing up a couple of spots in time for fall season, I think, because aside from all the pinks and pastels that were still in bloom, I was beginning to see a smattering of bolder, more Christmas-toned reds all around.
I love traveling in the fall because we get none of these colors and crisp autumn weather back in Manila. Seeing the leaves turn is 😍😍😍
Eventually, I found myself by some of the Sorbonne's buildings and all the way up to the Pantheon. Because I'd already had so much French Revolution background, I decided to pay admission to see the site of the National Convention + the tombs of many famous folk.
After exploring the underground for a couple of minutes, I found myself getting creeped out by the idea that I was surrounded by dead bodies that have been there for centuries. I practically ran out of the building (no kidding). The fact that the Pantheon's architect's heart was actually encased in the wall that takes you down to the tombs made me queasy, so…
It was a good thing I got out when I did because the skies were turning a majestic gray—somewhere in the city, it was about to rain and Paris couldn't have looked more cinematic than it did at that exact moment.
Clear through, I could see the facade of the Madeleine, so I decided to just head to the opposite side of the boulevard.
The Madeleine was one of the churches I noticed my first time in Paris, while on the Hop On, Hop Off. I thought it would be a good idea to end the afternoon in the church. I'd been away for six weeks at that point and my trip was nothing short of a miracle. It felt only right to take a little moment of silence for gratitude.
The rain didn't push through after all and just like that, skies were blue again.
Place Vendôme wasn't too far away, so I decided to explore the boutiques and shops that led to this famous spot. Madeleine has a pretty good selection of shops—perfect if you've got some money to burn on luxury brands and big labels.
I had to take a moment to appreciate Louis Vuitton's flagship's facade.
At the end of my last day in Paris, I decided to walk around the neighborhood—back to the Arc de Triomphe, which was the first Parisian landmark I ever came across on my very first trip to the city. The roundabout is just a couple of minutes away from my Airbnb and really is a sight to behold, no matter how many times you come across it.
I love how the Eiffel Tower pops up in unexpected places, along side streets and buildings.
And on my very last night, it decided to finally shower and just as I was saying my last goodbye to the Eiffel Tower, a rainbow appeared and everything was perfect.
I bought myself a baguette from one of the vendors, listened to the buskers play songs from La La Land and felt completely content.
On my final morning in Paris, I decided to explore the many neighborhood cafes at the Trocadero and found a spot at the super busy Carette. I'd been skipping meals since I got to the city so I wanted to treat myself to a full on Parisian feast—croissant, fresh juice, hot chocolate, et al. As in many of my romps around the city, I quickly struck up a conversation (half in French! I was so proud of myself) with the people sat at the next table, who appeared to be regulars. The man beside me said that the Hot Chocolate here is not to be missed. Ever.
I agree! La Jacobine was good and Angelina was good, but this, too, was pretty premium.
After breakfast, it was time to head back and pack my bags and say goodbye (once again) to the apartment. It's been months since my trip and I still wish I could wake up to views like this.
I walked five flights down with my backpack and my case and made it sweaty and alive, ready to meet my Uber which was going to take me back to Charles de Gaulle.
I couldn't have picked a better place to end my big vacation in. I know Paris is cliche and can be quite a tourist trap, but I don't think I'll ever not want to visit this city. I'm already bookmarking sites for my next time there. *fingers crossed I make it happen next year*