Is there any place quite as idealistic as Paris? I grew up believing it was the chicest place on earth–convinced the poodles grew cotton candy colored fur and everyone wore fabulous clothing (guess I watched Madeline a few too many times). And while there were many well-dressed Parisians, I didn’t catch a glimpse of any pastel pink pups. More so than other places I’ve traveled this semester, Paris felt very temporary. It didn’t feel like a place you could make a home, and it seemed to me that it would be difficult to assimilate into French culture. People say the Dutch are rude, but I couldn’t wait to get back to Amsterdam after my brief weekend.
That considered, Paris is full of amazing things. There’s art everywhere, stunning buildings, and crepe stands on every corner. It’s literally a tourists dream, and there was WAY too much to even attempt to do in just one weekend. I’m on a tight budget, so I did what I could to see the things I’d always wanted to while spending as few euros as possible.
Day 1. Arrived at lunchtime and ate bread and cheese ($5) while strolling along the Champs-Élysées. Visited Notre-Dame (free). Climbed to Sacre Coeur (free) and refueled with a $3 Nutella crepe because ~when in Paris~. Strolled down a flower market, posed for pictures in front of Moulin Rouge (another film that can be blamed for my disillusionment). Visited the Louvre after 6pm when it’s free for under-26 guests, and I saw the legendary Mona Lisa.
Day 2. Kinder buenos for breakfast set me back $2, and then the day was spent at Versailles. We tried desperately to convince the ticket desk to let us in for free (there wasn’t even a student discount!) but were unsuccessful and forked over €15…I’d say it was worth it. Luckily, for 3/4 of the days we were here, public transport was free! I don’t speak French so I’m not sure what the reason was, but I’m definitely not complaining.
Also on this day I walked 13 miles, so the gnocchi I had for dinner (€10+complimentary Pinot Grigio) was devoured without a guilty conscience. We frolicked around the Eiffel Tower after dark, watching it sparkle in awe. Before going to Paris, I thought that the Eiffel Tower was way too hyped up and overdone, when, in fact, it was stunning. It was amazing that something so industrial was so beautiful. Definitely a great spot to pop champagne.
Day 3. Went to a Flea Market that was super hyped up, but it was really just a less aggressive version of Canal Street. Two new pairs of shoes for less than $20 made me a happy girl, though. Afterwards, we made our way to Pont Neuf and browsed the book and souvenir stands, and I splurged for some Babar the Elephant paraphernalia. My roomie and I put a lock on the Love Lock Bridge, reassuring the lady who took the photo below that we’re friends, not lovers.
Day 4. The morning before my train left, we went for brunch and crepes and leisurely enjoyed the sunshine.
When I pictured myself in Paris, I imagined I would sit in a cafe drinking black coffee and smoking a cigarette, perhaps while wearing a beret. While none of those things happened, I still loved my time in the city of light. There are many more things I would love to do in Paris, and I will definitely be back someday, hopefully when my checking account balance is a little less depressing.