Monthly Archives: February 2015

Traveling and Staying in Venice

27th February 2015

One of the places I knew I wanted to visit when we took our Euro-Trip was Venice. Venice definitely comes with mixed reviews, but to me it sounded romantic, beautiful and utterly unique. A bucket list location that is a mystery into how long it may continue to be around for. It sounded so mystical that I just felt like I could NOT miss the opportunity to visit!

The hardest part in planning our trip to Europe was traveling between locations. I know they have an amazing train system but a train from Paris to anywhere in Italy is quite a long haul and the more I kept researching the more I realized it’s also expensive! I kept stressing over this part of our trip before we booked our international tickets because I wanted peace of mind over getting from location to location before I booked flights out of different airports. I decided that I would look for flights on Orbitz like usual between Paris and Venice, and somehow AirFrance had flights for 50E from CDG to VCE… say what?! 50 EURO!? That’s cheaper than a train and way shorter!!! Trains were taking hours of our time, a flight was an hour.. I booked this flight before we even booked our international tickets because I finally felt good about traveling in Europe and on the cheap! My advice, just looked at every option possible and also Rome 2 Rio is an excellent resource as well! I highly recommend downloading the Ulmon app for Venice too, because it’s the best non-wifi map you could ask for, especially in a confusing city like Venice!

We also had to consider where to stay in Venice. Venice is an extremely expensive city but I felt like the options in terms of using AirBNB did not feel as welcoming as those in Paris and I felt like I wanted to explore the option of a B&B for our stay. I headed to my favorite travel buddy, TripAdvisor, for real reviews and photos of locations to stay. I started looking at the list from Number 1 on and emailing different owners when I found good reviews. I found a B&B called You & Me on the top of the list and emailed the owner to find availability and luckily she had a room available! Stefanie was super responsive and helpful in the process of booking. She didn’t even require a credit card to hold the accommodation which I thought was odd, but upon meeting Stefanie, I see why. She was the most friendly and helpful person we met in Italy. She was so passionate about her B&B and her wonderful home of Venice. We loved staying at her home which was very close to the Rialto bridge and easily walkable to many attractions in Venice. I just wish we had stayed longer!! I highly recommend looking into B&B’s for Venice. There are more of them than hotels and the rates are definitely better. We also had a wonderful host that gave us helpful advice and information for our stay which is valuable in a city of many dead-ends and corners! Here’s our cute little room below:

Stay tuned for my Venice recap tomorrow!

xoxo,
Amanda

Day Trip to Reims, France

26th February 2015

We had one free day while visiting during our sister city exchange and I had always wanted to visit the Champagne region of France. We happen to only have been an hour drive away so our wonderful family offered to drive us to Champagne for a tasting. We booked a tour and tasting at Mumm in Reims. Reims is the largest part of the Champagne region. Its cathedral was where the Kings of France received their coronation as well. The same cathedral was heavily damaged during WWI but was chosen to be rebuilt. I have photos of the cathedral below. Remis is beautiful and it’s also a short train ride from Paris so I highly recommend visiting!

This dusty cellar is where the cuvee’s over time are stored since the beginning of the Mumm house in Reims. The bottle in the middle signifies the beginning of the red ribbon now associated with G.H. Mumm. There are over 25 million bottles in the under ground cellar space that is owned by Mumm and founded in 1827!
 CHEERS! We brought back 3 bottles of this yumminess!
The Cathedral Notre-Dame de Reims was started in 1211 and like I mentioned, was home to the coronations of the Kings of France! It was heavily damaged during WWI and you can see in the photos, bullet holes as well as the areas that have been rebuilt because of the war. All the stained glass was pretty much replaced and almost the whole ceiling.
These are photos of the destruction inside the Cathedral.
Reims was absolutely beautiful and I highly recommend every make a short day trip to the region if you have time. The above photo was so shocking to me. It was on our drive to Reims and it was a grave site to those who died in WWI in France. I had never before felt so connected to a war like I did when I was in France. I looked at the woods thinking of the men who were in hiding there and who risked their lives fighting for their country. It was really touching to be so close to history. France really is such a special country and I can’t speak highly enough of how wonderful our time was there.
I hope you will one day think of visiting France!
xoxo,
Amanda

French Countryside Part 2

24th February 2015

Over the next few days in France, I traveled to many smaller towns outside of Compiegne. We were able to see centuries old churches and cathedrals, eat a lovely little restaurants and go shopping in some cute shops! I couldn’t get over all the adorable kids clothes in France!! Made me wish I had a little one to shop for, but I would’ve been broke after visiting.

Part of our group was lucky enough one evening to go to dinner at the home of Isabelle and Patrice. They had such a lovely home that was part built in the 1700’s and part built in the late 1800’s! It’s just amazing the history France has!

On our final evening we went to the town of Pierrefonds, in which there was an old chateau that had been renovated by Napoleon to look Medieval castle. Rumor had it, Michael Jackson saw the Chateau de Pierrefonds and offered to buy it but they refused to sell it to him. It’s also been featured in many movies, including the Man in the Iron Mask.

The gang celebrating our final night together..
Our lovely French mom, Guilhene!
We ate dinner on this pond overlooking the Chateau.
 Too much rose perhaps? That Tavel will make you happy!

The day we were flying out of France, hubs played golf at Chantilly, one of the best courses in France and the ladies were able to tour the Chateau de Chantilly. Yes, the home to Chantilly Cream and Chantilly lace! The Chateau was very remarkable. It wasn’t a busy day, and the Duke that had lived there had a private art collection that made it feel like we were in our own private Louvre! There was even original pieces by Rafael.

 

OH FRANCE, you were truly remarkable! All these experiences truly made us fall in love with everything France had to offer. From the small towns to the glamorous city of Paris, we truly cherished our entire time in France but it was also due to the amazing relationships we were able to build through the sister city program. We are so thankful for the opportunity and hope to keep taking part in these programs!

Do you want to visit the countryside now?! I sure hope so!!

xoxo,
Amanda

The Fench Countryside Part 1

23rd February 2015

Between September 4 and September 9th hubs and I had the opportunity to travel to the French countryside and stay with an amazing host family in partnership with our sister city golf exchange program. We stayed outside of Compiegne in a small town called Rhotondes, in a beautiful country home on the river that connects the Seine to Belgium! It was just as you would imagine the countryside looking. We loved every second of our experience. Our hosts, Guilhene and Jaq, became like family to us. They helped teach us French, answered our questions about France, culture and etiquette, but they also took care of us by having pain au chocolates for us (me) every morning fresh from the bakery!! I didn’t take too many photos of our time because we were always busy doing something!

This is Guilhene and Jaq’s beautiful home in Rhotondes. It had a pool but the temperature was a little too cool to be enjoyed. We loved staying with them in their beautiful vacation home. They actually reside permanently in Paris!! (It couldn’t have been more meant to be that we stayed with them considering we rented our flat a few minutes away!)

Enjoying French cheese and wine on the beautiful porch. Cheers!
Our first day that we did arrive in Compiegne, we met with our group of Americans at the Chateau de Compiegne, to take a private tour of the Chateau that was built for Louis XV and restored by Napoleon and was one of three seats of government.
I wish that I could put on an elegant gown and just dance all night in this ballroom…
After our tour of the chateau we headed to Hotel de Ville, which always just stands for the town hall, it’s not actually a hotel. We were greeted by the mayor to welcome the American’s to Compiegne!! Such a fun experience! Like I mentioned in my previous post, I’d highly recommend everyone to look into their sister city program!
 
I still can’t get over how real wars are when you’re in Europe. To see the actual bullet holes from war in buildings is so surreal!! This was in the courtyard of the Compeigne Hotel de Ville. And speaking of wars, it was the 100th year anniversary of the beginning of World War I and there are monuments scattered about France and below is a photo of one in the center of town in Compeigne. It’s very touching..
We obviously had a busy first day, but it was still continuing! Luckily hubs and I had been in France for a couple of days so we weren’t tired but the other Americans were a little tired. Guilhene was hosting our dinner for everyone involved in the golf exchange program at our wonderful country home and we had to stop at the bakery and butcher and I just couldn’t help but snap a few pictures of how beautiful the meats, pates and pastries were!
We had such beautiful weather while we were in France and were able to enjoy our dinner outside in the yard. Such a wonderful treat!! Guilhene baked a beautiful quiche and we were able to pick up a BEAUTIFUL charcuterie board from the butcher that I was just obsessed with! I can’t get over how wonderful the meats truly are!
We enjoyed spending our time surrounded by the locals learning about the culture and learning key catch phrases but also enjoying fabulous wine and conversation!
The next couple of days included the boys playing golf at different golf courses around the countryside and the ladies touring small towns and seeing the sites. It was so fun to see different small towns, pop into local shops and even see the outdoor markets. It was so special and especially because we were with people that knew the area and could really educate us on our experience! I even picked up clubs one day and played on the Compiegne golf course! It was home to the only Olympics ever hosted for golf! How neat is that?! It’s also a working horse track. Below is the clubhouse of Raray, which they actually shot the 1960’s version of Beauty and the Beast! It was a hunting lodge for royalty as Compeigne surrounds one of the largest forests in France.
Hubs and the pull carts that golfers use in France. There are no golf carts!
This is our group that traveled to Compiegne. Mostly it’s the Americans with their spouses, but a few of our wonderful French hosts are pictured as well! Guilhene is at the bottom in the gray sweater next to hubs! <3 her!! Hubs looks so tiny here.. too bad we walked so much on our trip, we didn’t gain any of that wonderful Europe weight from pastries and wine at every meal!
I’ll be back tomorrow with part 2 of our trip to the countryside. Oh how I wish we could go back ASAP! It was so wonderful!
xoxo,
Amanda

Paris Travel Tips

20th February 2015

I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved Paris. I’m infatuated by it, I think about it every day and I’m finding myself being a Francophile! There’s so much I want to continue exploring there and we only touched the surface on our trip. We definitely scratched off the major tourist locations, which although touristy, are still not to be missed! You could spend weeks at the Louvre, days at the O’rsay and many nights under the Eiffel Tower. I didn’t even get to go shopping! GASP! But I wanted to recap our trip, with a few helpful tips and tricks I suggest for you to help prepare for your tip to Paris, plus tips for further on in your trip!

Download these apps, you’ll thank me later:
1. Ulmon: it’s a life saver! It has a GPS map that works offline, so if you’re lost or need to find your way, it will automatically find you in the city and help you navigate your way. I was highly impressed with the accuracy of this app and if we did not have this, I don’t know what we would have done! It really helped us feel relaxed and comfortable navigating our way on our own. You can pin helpful places that you want to visit as well as the major attractions to the map. It’s available for most major cities, including upcoming ones I’ll touch base on, Venice and Rome!

2. Louvre Audio Guide: This was a great app for us to use to get a rough view of what the Louvre had to offer. We did the “Masterpiece Tour” and it helped you navigate the never-ending museum and take you to THE major pieces that a tourist would be most interested in. Don’t get me wrong, I want to go back and explore more, but the museum really IS exhausting and huge! You could spend weeks there, not just an afternoon, so the app allowed you to take in what you would really want to see in an afternoon or day. It was worth the small investment just to be able to navigate the museum because it’s confusing!

3. TripLingo: This is a great app to review proper protocol in terms of manners, local culture and phrases (from slang to proper). We brushed up on phrases like how to ask for a table for two and getting the check at the end of the meal. (If you can speak both of those phrases in French, your servers will be highly impressed! Also, if you don’t ASK for the check they won’t automatically give it to you like in the US – “l’addition s’il vous plait”.) Overall, this is a great app for phrases and culture tips.

Packing:
In terms of packing, we were about to travel for just over two and half weeks and I knew how important it was to only pack a carry-on and boy am I glad I did! Example A, our flat in Paris was 4 flights up an old building, carrying a suitcase.. I mean, it was a no brain-er!  And don’t get me started on the trains and the cars in Europe. They are much smaller than what we are used to! Our host family was even happy we only packed a carry on.

Here is almost an exact graphic of everything I packed for our trip! I bought a Samsung 4 wheel carry-on (similar to this) before we left, which was very helpful. You’d be surprised at how handy 4 wheels are over two wheels! You must roll everything and make it tight to have plenty of room and it really does work wonders. I packed all the below in a carry on (minus my hat). You can use shoes to stuff undies and socks into and if you bring a jacket that’s bulky just wear it on the plane. Pretty much my wardrobe consisted of things from Old Navy because they don’t wrinkle bad, I can have many pieces for a low price and if they get messed up I won’t be too sad! Black t-shirt dress, black tank dress, two skirts, tanks, tees, and the ever classic in Europe, the denim jacket! Scarves, hats and shoes changed up the outfits from day to day.

Black t-shirt dress – you can dress up with sandals and a necklace, dress down with sneakers, wear with a denim jacket or chambray shirt and change up with scarves, perfect!!
Chambray Shirt – again, wear it over the black shirt, with a skirt or even skinny jeans!
Longer black dress – same as the above dress, so many ways to change it up but still have another option in your arsenal!
Patterned or Solid Button Down – good with skirts, over dresses, and of course with jeans!
Silk Top – a little dressier for things like dinner. Great with a black sweater over jeans or with a skirt, even paired with a denim jacket. Versatile is what I love!
Long Skirt – perfect for the Vatican tour in Rome since you have to have your knees covered, and perfect for a warmer day with a tank, or cooler day with a jacket or sweater.
Short skirt – can dress up with the silk blouse, dress down with a tee and sneakers!
Scarves pack a few to change things up!

If you have any more questions about packing, Stacy Reeves put together this amazing article as well! Packing is a HUGE part of your trip, so don’t underestimate how valuable planning this element of your trip is. I felt like all summer I stocked up on things that would be helpful to pack and finding a comfy pair of flats! I purchased the Cole Haan with Nike air for the trip and they worked quite well. But make sure to buy the BandAid friction blocker stick, it works WONDERS!!

Eating and Getting Around:
If you’re a foodie like us, I highly recommend that you do some research for restaurants you might be interested in visiting. I like resources like Travel + Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, etc. Many restaurants require advance reservations to get a table, so head the warning in advance! Also, take into account that in Paris there are awards for best baguette and croissant. I wish I had known more ahead of time to have been able to scope these locations out, because I have yet to have anything in America that compares.. Here are the restaurants that we ate at on our trip to Paris:

Paris also has many forms of travel. It really is a walkable city depending on where you’re staying. In the 7th, we were incredibly close to the Eiffel Tower, Les Invalides, Musee Rodin, Musee d’Orsay and le Seine, so we walked many places and were rewarded with gorgeous glimpses of the real Paris. There is also the metro, Bato Bus, and things such as Uber and LeCab. My biggest advice is just figuring out how you’re going to get to the airport to the city. I recommend a cab or Uber so you can get your barrings and not deal with public transportation. I may be comfortable with it in New York City but I was not comfortable with it in France upon my first time being in Europe!

If you’re continuing on to another location either before or after Paris, make sure to check out this site, Rome 2 Rio, for assistance in finding the best route to and from your location! One of the most difficult situations for me was figuring out how to get from Paris to Venice.

Hope these little tips and tricks help you plan your trip. I LOVE to plan a trip so if there’s anything I can help you with, please don’t hesitate to ask!

xoxo,
Amanda

Paris Day 4

19th February 2015

On our final day in Paris we had one activity scheduled, as you might guess it was the Louvre. Before we headed out on our final day though, we stopped on Rue Cler again for petit dejuener. Again we attempted to blend in with the crowd during a weekday and try our might at ordering breakfast in French. I ended up ordering only brioche and hubs ended up order oeufs and brioche. (His french is obviously better than mine..) The brioche was amazing though. The restaurant was called L’Eclair and it had amazing coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice as well. I also fell madly in love with fig jams while in France. AHHHmazing. The coffee is also amazing. Did I mention that the bread and pastries are amazing too? Yeah…
After breakfast we hoped on our Bato Bus and headed to the Louvre.
SECRET TIP! A little known fact around Paris is that there is actually a second entrance into the Louvre. You’ll notice a HUGE line outside the pyramid because the “real” entrance IS under the pyramid, but if you enter on the side of the Seine there is actually an underground entrance to the mall area in which you can access the ticket line for the Louvre. It definitely looks like it’s not legit, but if you look for the lions on either side of the Arch de Triumph du Carrousel there is a staircase leading down into the mall area and viola!! Skip the lines!
I’ll also note that we had purchased the Louvre app on our iPhones to use while visiting the museum. It’s such a crowded place and it’s so massive in size that it’s incredibly easy to get lost. We used the Masterpiece Tour while visiting so that we could see all the major pieces of art that are a significant attraction to the Louvre. It also helped because it told you where to walk and where to go and also entertained you while walking to your next location. It probably took 2-3 hours and in a museum where you could spend weeks, it was nice to have some direction and to learn what we were looking at!
Venus de Milo above
Victory of Samothrace
Probably one of my favorite galleries that is majestic in person!!
OH there’s the Mona Lisa… and her ridiculous paparazzi!
I barely gave much thought and time into taking a good picture of her, the crowd was overwhelming and a little tip about the Louvre as well… IT’S HOT!! The AC barely works because of it being an older building and the ridiculous amount of people that swarm the museum every day of the week. Also be sure to CHECK ALL MUSEUM TIMES because some are not open certain days of the week! More paparazzi below of Mona..
These are photos of Napoleon’s actual apartment inside the Louvre. Definitely make time for this as it’s not on the masterpiece tour but it really is incredible!
You can barely see, but there’s the massive crowd at the main entrance.
After exhausting ourselves in the Louvre we sat down for some “typical” French food.. Escargot and Nutella crepes that were WAY overpriced but worth the time we were able to sit down and rest our little feet. We had a big dinner planned for later that evening at the only restaurant I made a reservation for in Paris.
Pretty Paris.. This really never gets old..
Pantheon on the way to dinner.
For our last meal in Paris I had done some research on restaurants and one restaurant kept popping up time and time again. Les Papilles. It sounded fun and interesting without being super pricey but I felt would garner us an authentic Parisian experience. The chef goes to market each day and hand selects his ingredients for his menu which is a complete surprise every day as well. So you don’t choose what you want, the chef simply prepares it for you. Four courses, as typical of a French meal, for around 33E per person! Once there, the chef collects wine so you simply choose a bottle of wine off the shelves and they’ll serve it to you, or the chef will personally choose a bottle for you. It’s such a fun experience! To get a table at this TINY restaurant you HAVE to make a reservation and you must confirm your reservation day of by email or phone call to retain the table!!
 
First course, Zucchini soup
Second course, Osso Bucco
Third course, camembert cheese, a favorite of the French! We followed the cheese with a apricot panna cotta, which I normally don’t care for, but it was delish! I just didn’t take a photo of it unfortunately. It was a lovely experience and it was so nice not choosing what I wanted to eat and just having it prepared for us. The kitchen was so small at this restaurant that they were constantly cleaning dishes while cooking. I’d definitely recommend Les Papilles to anyone visiting Paris!
After our lovely meal we headed back to the Seine and caught the Bato Bus for it’s last round of the evening and to take in Paris one last time at night. It was the first time we rode at night and it was c’est magnifique!

One last time walking by Madam Eiffel.. She never gets old that’s for sure. Until next time Paris. You were amazing and I still can’t get you out of my mind..

Au Revoir Paris, j’taime!
xoxo,
Amanda

Paris Day 3

18th February 2015

After our amazing photo shoot with Stacy, we headed back to our apartment to change and head out for our next day of sightseeing. We didn’t have too much planned for this day, but from our flat, we decided to walk towards the Musee d’Orsay and make a pit stop to the Musee Rodin since it was really close to the flat. We have some pieces of Rodin right here in Raleigh and it’s beautiful so I was excited to visit the museum. Instead of visiting the inner museum though, we decided to pay the 2E and just visit the gardens. I heard they were beautiful and our weather was still perfect so it seemed like a fun stop on our walk around Paris.

After our visit to the gardens, I desperately wanted to eat macaroons from the famous Laduree macaroon shop. There happened to be a location very close to the Musee d’Orsay so we started wandering towards the macaroon shop, taking in the back streets of Paris and trying to find a location for dejeuner. I couldn’t help but take photos of this AMAZING building below. How great are the colors?!

I can’t remember where we had lunch but it was relatively close to Laduree so I could finally get my macaroons. We walked in and said bonjour and spoke our few French phrases to the surprise of the man behind the counter. (I can’t even begin to tell you how helpful it is to be polite and speak even a few phrases in French. It goes so far and everyone is so appreciative!) He proceeded to speak to us in French and we told him we really didn’t know any but said our French was very good! We were stoked to hear that! Maybe he was just buttering us up for their amazing macaroons.. I choose to get a keepsake box from the shop.

Since we were in no hurry, and that’s how I recommend everyone take in Paris as well, we walked down to the Siene and decided to eat our treats with a splendid view of the Lourve. What’s more Parisian?!

iPhone snap of us eating our treats!

I love this shot hubs took with his panoramic app on the iPhone. Just a neat little perspective from where we sat eating our Laduree macroons and framboise (hubs personal favorite) and taking in everything Paris had to offer us!

After our amazing little break we headed over to the Musee d’Orsay. It’s an AMAZING museum with amazing artists, some of my favorites, like Degas, Monet and Renoir. The thing that makes this museum so spectacular though, is that it was built in the old train station that was operating up until the early 1900’s! So about 100 years ago this was a bustling scene in the center of Paris. It’s absolutely stunning and the art is fabulous too. We didn’t spend too long in the museum as I started to get tired and my feet started to hurt so I’d love to go back sometime.

After the museum we went off in search of dinner. We ended up at another establishment by chef Constant, called Les Cocottes where everything is cooked in little pots. It was a neat restaurant with yummy French dishes. I also captured this stunning photo of the 7th that evening that I thought captured the feeling of the back streets of Paris.

We finished the evening in the most romantic way possible. Probably one of the highlights of my life really. We stopped in a little market after dinner, purchased some Rose and beer and grabbed a blanket from our flat and headed out to catch the Eiffel Tower light show in all it’s glory. It was such a fun vibe on the Champs de Mars. There were locals, teens, families and tourists all alike, hanging out and enjoying a gorgeous evening. Although there are people always trying to sell you “beer/wine/wine/beer” in case you forget to bring your own.

Every hour on the hour, madame Eiffel sparkles for 15 minutes of glory like the above video. It really is SPECTACULAR to see in person and it’s so magical. I’d love to come back to Paris and go up the Eiffel at night to really see the “city of lights”, but we sat under the Eiffel for two hours and watched the tower sparkle twice. It was probably THE highlight of our trip really. It may seem odd to rave so much over the Eiffel Tower, but really it is that amazing in person and being there with the one you love, is even more special.
Bonne nuit!
Amanda

Paris Photoshoot with L’amour de Paris

17th February 2015

Before we went to Paris I had the idea that I really wanted to do a photo session by the Eiffel Tower. It just seemed like such a great idea and once in a lifetime experience and I knew traveling by ourselves would limit the amount of photos we would take as a couple. Hubby does not take photos and I do, so a lot of times it’s photos of hubs and that’s it. We probably should’ve invested in a selfie stick but really…

I started browsing for photographers and found Pictours Paris and Flytographer. Flytographer is a really neat idea because they do photo sessions all over the world in different cities, so if you’re going on vacation somewhere other than Paris, I’d really consider looking them up! With that said, they both seem like great options and I sincerely thought about both of these mediums until I found the site L’amour de Paris and realized that Stacy Reeves is an ex-Pat living in Paris from Texas and does mini-Eiffel tower photo shoots!

I really loved the idea of using an American while in Paris for our photo shoot to make us feel more comfortable and to get her opinions on things to do and see in Paris. Her site is amazingly helpful as well. She has great tips on her site for a romantic trip to Paris including  restaurants, accommodations as well as tips for packing. I would recommend Stacy to anyone looking to have a photo session in Paris!! She was super easy to work with and her photos are incredible! Everyone thinks our photos are photo shopped because they look so incredible and the Eiffel Tower looks like a back drop, but I swear they’re real!!

Obviously hubs and I decided to get dressed up for our photos. I knew I wanted to be a bit girly chic in the photos and why not dress up in one of the most stylish cities in the world? I opted for this pink Kate Spade number because I loved the silhouette and figured the color would really pop. I thought about just black and white but when I saw that dress online, I knew I had to pick it up for our photos and I’m so glad I did! Hubs wore his custom Indochino suit for the occasion. I love how the photos turned out. We ended up using one of the photos for our Christmas card through Minted and it was perfect because it had pink font! It was like the pink dress was meant to be! What do you think of the photos?! Stacy made us super relaxed and it was the best photo session hubs has done because Stacy helped direct you to pose too so it made it that much easier. Like I said, definitely check out L’amour de Paris if you’re EVER going to Paris and want a keepsake that you cannot replace. It’s something we can treasure forever. <3

xoxo,
Amanda

Paris Day 2

16th February 2015

On our second day in Paris we wandered over to Rue Cler to attempt to have breakfast. We were really proud while we were there to try not to offend the locals and try to communicate with what few French phrases we knew so when we wanted breakfast we sat down, but apparently we just said we wanted coffee so they took our plates and napkins away and we enjoyed a coffee… and then I made hubs let me stop for a pain au choclat, win win. Plus Rue Cler was so cute for pictures that morning.

After petit dejuner we decided let’s just go to the Eiffel tower and go up! It was so beautiful so we took advantage. We decided to walk up to the first level because there was no line. (A little known secret, it’s cheaper to walk up the 320 stairs to the first level and catch the elevator from there, so you can also avoid the line at the bottom!) Hubs is afraid of heights so walking was not his cup of tea because the stairs were metal grates with holes and you could feel the tower moving ever so slightly so we just stayed on the first level, but it allowed for amazing photos!

An absolute amazing fete of technology and ingenuity. I am still enamored at how amazing the Eiffel Tower really is. It really is everything and more. I would recommend anyone visit the Eiffel Tower and numerous times. Day and night. Next time I’d like to go up at night. I hear it’s particularly stellar at sunset.. Next time. The good news was, every day we walked by the Eiffel Tower and I could not have been more happy about it! Again, thankful for our 7th Arrondissement flat!!

 We took the Bato Bus everywhere because the days were just to glorious not to be on the Seine and the price wasn’t too unreasonable. It’s effectively a taxi water service, so don’t expect a tour while on the Bato Bus, but do expect to stop at all major attractions in Paris along the Seine and enjoy the beautiful scenery from the water and not the metro.
 Ponte de Arts – Lovelock Bridge
 Carrie <3’s Big
 Cliche French lunch – French onion soup, Tuna Nicoise, Creme Brulee
 I adored how much activity was present on the Seine, everyone seemed to gather and eat, hang out and just enjoy life in the beautiful city. It was so glamorous!
 I could think of worse places to get married than Paris, but that’s quite the dress to haul around.
 Cathedral de Notre Dame
After viewing the inside of the cathedral we decided to climb the 400 spiral stairs for what I think has to be one of the best rooftop views of Paris!

I mean really, how beautiful is this city?! So incredible!!!

After a long day of walking up a million steps, we ended the night with dinner at our host family to be for Compiegne. The family actually lives in Paris and ironically lived a few blocks away from where we were staying in the 7th. I wish I could’ve taken photos of how gorgeous their top floor apartment was, but that would have been embarrassing, but it was beautiful!! Definitely what you’d want to aspire to have in Paris. 3 bedrooms, balconies, and an eat in kitchen. Even better though, was the company. We truly loved the family we were able to spend time with in Compiegne. She would definitely be my mom away from home! We miss dear Guilhene and Jaq all the time, but more on them later.

xoxo,
Amanda

Paris, the City I Love! Day 1

12th February 2015

Just in time for Valentine’s day, I’m so excited to begin to recap Paris! I can’t even describe how wonderful this city truly is! I knew going in I’d probably love Paris and I was nervous it wouldn’t live up to my expectations but it surpassed my expectations. It was just so charming and you could tell people really lived there and not just traveled there. There were families, babies, couples and children all over. There were clean parks, wonderful museums and the beautiful Seine. Granted, we had amazing weather the four days we were in Paris, 70 degree average and sunny every day, but I don’t think I could hate Paris even on a cloudy day.

I’m obsessed with the architecture and charm, the cafes, the bread and pastries!!! We took our trip pretty slow and really only did one touristy thing a day but really allowed time to order lunch and dinner and really feel like a Parisian (which also included wine at every meal of course!)

We left Raleigh on August 30 and arrived in Paris on August 31st. We took the night flight and didn’t sleep too much on the flight over but we pushed through on our first day in Paris.

 Au Revior Raleigh!
 Bonjour Paris!

We took a taxi to our flat on Rue Chevert and walked around the corner to Rue Cler to have lunch at Tribeca that was recommended to me by a local friend. It had to be our most nerve wracking part of the trip. We hesitated thinking, do they speak English? Will they understand us? Are we sticking out like a sore thumb? Yes, yes and yes.. but c’est la vie! Let’s eat and drink champs!

After lunch we decided to walk around, see what Paris had to offer. We didn’t want to wander too far from our flat so we ended up at Les Invalides, the military museum and we decided to purchase tickets. We were able to see Napoleon’s tomb and the chapel that lead to the tomb and then toured the largest military museum in the world. The museum was fantastic, but we started to get tired and everything was of course, written in French so we couldn’t really appreciate all the things on display. Regardless, the gardens were gorgeous and I could see the Eiffel tower so I was giddy and I was in France with my wonderful hubs!
  
 

Following an exhausting day, we had researched a few restaurants a head of time and decided we wanted to try Cafe Constant by renowned Parisian Chef Constant. We had heard there would be a wait and there was. Unfortunately, it seemed most people that were waiting were tourists which made me a bit sad, but it was Sunday evening as well. (When we passed by during the week it was not as busy.)

I’m really sad because I can’t quite remember what exactly we had, I had a travel journal that I documented everything in while we were away and left in on my flight home from Rome and I’m STILL devastated that I did this. We did end with profiterole with ice cream and hot chocolate topping the pastry. YUM! Then we got to walk by her majesty at night.. simply BREATHTAKING. Literally, I teared up seeing her at night for the first time.

That was just our first day in Paris! Can’t wait to share the rest of our story!

xoxo,
Amanda