At the beginning of the year, we once again planned on not traveling so much this year, since we have a ~wedding~ to save for later this fall! But, as always, the best laid plans often go awry, and when the opportunity came to spend some time in Europe this summer, of course we jumped on the opportunity. Although our recent trip to Hawaii seemed more of a honeymoon trip to most people, I thought we probably had even *more* fun on this Europe trip, since M loves cities and we were able to spend some leisure time sitting at cafes and eating, rather than running around hiking and doing water sports all the time! As always, we moved quickly – while I ended up being in Europe for around 3 weeks, M and I were able to spend a week of it on vacation, visiting Paris, Prague, and Dubrovnik before heading off to London. Although all of our flights ended up being free, Paris was the cheapest to fly into in the EU, and it’s probably on of my favorite cities in the world. I very rarely like returning to the same location for vacation, since there’s so much more to see in the world – but Paris is one exception (in terms of cities). So much culture! So much good food! So many beautiful sights everywhere and cute shops! The last time we visited Paris, we were both students – so it was nice coming back with disposable incomes. We picked our other two cities as M had never been to Prague, and I’d had Dubrovnik on my list to visit for a variety of reasons (not least of which was the Game of Thrones frenzy – more on that to come in future posts!).
The great thing about living on the east coast is that most flights to Europe are overnight, and with the addition of Norwegian Airlines, extremely affordable. So we took a redeye to Paris, slept on the plane, and landed in Paris the next morning ready to take on the city. We were thankfully able to get an affordable hotel right by the museum district (I much prefer getting small, affordable hotels that are right in the center of the action in cities rather than more expansive hotels outside the city center). Paris is huge (or at least much bigger than Boston, but that’s not saying much…..!) but hotel was in such a central location that were able to quickly hop on the train and visit all the museums & cultural sites quickly.
We spent a lot of our three days wandering the city and eating food (and drinking wine!). Paris is truly a magical city. Yes, some areas are dirty and overhyped (the area around Basilica of Sacre-Coeur as an example), but the abundance of culture and good food more than make up for it. Some of my favorites this time were visiting Musee d’Orsay, taking a river boat down the Seine, and people watching in Trocadero (best views of the Effiel tower here!).
Some of the delicious food we ate:
We also spent a day visiting Versailles. While the lines were ridiculously long, it was totally worth it! The palace was pretty crowded so I didn’t get to spend as much time admiring all the intricate details in each room, but the gardens were expansive. The fountain shows were pretty great too. The train to Versailles is a quick commuter rail ride. Buy your tickets ahead of time online, but you’ll still have to wait over an hour in line for security. It’s one of those places that you have to visit once in your life, though
One note is that the Parisian airports are VERY far from city center if you take public transportation, compared to most other European cities (besides London). Bring your walking shoes, grab some pastries from a bakery, and wander the city to your heart’s content!
We also visited the Pompidou Museum (Contemporary Art), since it was one of the only museums open on Mondays. It was huge – and went a bit over my head. But just goes to show you that there’s something for everyone in Paris 😉