J’aime Paris

Hello! We took a few weeks off from traveling (for fun anyway), but this past weekend, we were back at it with… Paris! My parents were visiting and we thought it would be a nice surprise to book a long weekend in Paris for the four of us. Obviously, they were thrilled. It was Jaro’s first visit too! We decided to be budget-friendly and rented a car & apartment. This is the way to go, hands down (or up, waving wildly about, perhaps?). Far more reasonable than a train or plane or hotel. And much more flexible too.  We used the housing rental site HouseTrip and had a great experience. Highly recommend!

So moving along to the actual trip… On Thursday afternoon we headed out of Amsterdam and were in Paris in about 4 hours. So fast! So close! Why haven’t we gone before?! It’s my favorite city!! But I digress. We got to our cozy Parisian apartment (isn’t that fun to say? Parisian apartment?) and scurried out to the first (and arguably most recognized) site in the city (and arguably the world) – The Eiffel Tower.

Jaro meets Eiffel (it was love at first sight)

Traveler Tip: I don’t care what they say, THIS is the first thing to go see when you are in Paris. So you feel like you are really there. After walking around the area for a bit, we headed back to the apartment for a very proper dinner of French cheese and wine and passed out because we had a busy day ahead.

While Jaro worked on Friday (hey, his life isn’t all a vacation), my parents and I hustled over to Versailles, the chateau to trump all chateau’s. After all, it was built in the 17th century to show off the power of the French monarchy back in its hay-day. I hadn’t gone out there when I visited France in college, so it was great to share this experience with my parents. In a word, it was… oh wait, I’m speechless. I can’t think of just one word. The sheer size and insanely glam decor of the place blew me away. Not to mention the massive gardens (not in bloom – must go back in summer) and Marie Antoinette’s separate Grand Trianon, Petit Trianon & Hamlet off in the distance (also worth checking out if you have the time and the energy).

Dad & I in the Hall of Mirrors

Mom & I at the Grand Trianon

We were there for about 6 hours. Absolutely worth the long, expensive quick, super cheap train ride out there. Seriously. Traveler Tip: Go.

We returned to the apartment to meet with the Jaro and then headed to another favorite area of mine – Montmartre. It’s filled with picturesque cafes, bistros and is home to this bad boy:

The majestic Sacre Coeur

Traveler Tip: You can wander inside Sacre Coeur fo free. We then strolled around the neighborhood, stopping for wine and to watch portraits being done in Painter’s Square. It was lovely. We wrapped up the day with a casual meal at a Lebanese place that was surprisingly delicious.

The next day was “Tour Paris’ main attractions” day. Since we had such a short time there, we thought it was best to do our own walking tour of all the major highlights in the City of Light. We started off at the Arc de Triomphe, meandered down the Champs-Élysées, along the flea markets on the Seine’s banks, to the Place de la Concorde and then something coincidental magical happened. We stumbled upon Paris Fashion Week mayhem inside the Tuileries Garden. The hoards of paparazzi was really something. But the fashion. The fashion. For a faithful Vogue reader like me, it was pure heaven. I couldn’t pull myself away. I think I instantly stood up straighter and considered my casual wardrobe choices since moving to Amsterdam, where fashion is extremely laid-back and muted. And then we saw a smurf Katy Perry, laughed, and went to lunch. Le sigh.

After a quick bistro bite, we walked over to the Louvre, considered the magnitude of going inside and passed. Next time. We kept moseying down the Seine and eventually reached this:

Love (locks) and Notre Dame

Traveler Tip: It’s free to go inside! Worth checking out; the architecture is stunning. Later that night, we dined in a cozy neighborhood bistro serving traditional Lyonnaise dishes. Perfection.

On Sunday morning, prolonging the inevitable, we had a leisurely breakfast of bakery items from a little shop down the street:

Back on the road by eleven, we stopped in Gent, Belgium for lunch and then natually were greeted with rain once in the Netherlands. All in all, it was the perfect little weekend escape. Can’t wait to go back (now that I’ve realized how dangerously close/easy it is…).