Monday, 21 July 2014

French Vacation Part 2: Paris

Ah Paris! This is definitely a city I love, and it was my second time visiting. I love the aesthetic, and more than anything the pace of life. Parisians' know how to live!

I always find it so interesting experiencing a place for a second time. The first time I visited I was 19. I had done an exchange during my first year of University and we were traveling as a school over our midterm break. I definitely took it all in, and loved every second of it. But I think because I was young and living in Europe at the time - I took it a bit for granted. Coming back reminded me how magical Paris can be. And how much there is to see and do. I probably could have spent another week in Paris (*but I guess that just means I will have to plan to go back*).

Hotel: Hotel Esmeralda 
Cost: 120 Euros/Night 

We actually ended up staying at this hotel twice. The first visit was during our initial Paris stay for 5 nights, and then again for just one night before we flew back to Canada.

The location was perfect. You could literally see Notre Dame from your window. And for the location, you would be hard pressed to find a better rate, especially with this view.

The view from our room

The rooms themselves could either be described as having European Charm or "charming" (used extremely ironically) depending on which one you got.

During our main stay, we were in the attic and this room was "charming". It was extremely narrow, hot, and musty. The room also had a noticeable slant - as in you felt like you walking up or downhill depending where you were standing and where you were going.  

Our return visit was completely different. And we stayed one floor below. The room was a good size, clean, comfortable, and offered European Charm. The kind of charm you expect when you stay in little places like this - slightly mismatched furniture, exposed wood beams, unique colours, and the like.
I would definitely go back, but I would request room 14 or below. We stayed in room 12 on our return visit and found it quite comfortable. Rooms 15-18 are in the ones in the attic, and I expect they all leave a little something to be desired.

The Must-Sees You Know:
There are certain sights in Paris that everyone knows, and everyone goes to see. There is a reason everyone goes to see them - they are spectacular! And I definitely agree, You Must-See...
- The Eiffel Tower
- Notre Dame
- The Arc de Triomphe
- The Louvre (we went twice - there is so much to see)
- The Musee D'orsay

The Must-Sees You Might Not See:
And then there are a few sights that a you might not think to see. I saw and did quite a few things I missed the first time I was in Paris. And there were a few locations on the hubby's action packed vacation agenda that surprised me. (Confession: I can take almost no credit for the things we see and do on vacation. This is all Jamie and his meticulous research skills)

Hotel Invalides:
So when he put the veterans hospital on the agenda, I was not really expecting much. I actually thought it was kind of a strange choice, but the man does his research, because the veterans hospital looks like this....

Who would have expected that? It is also home to Napoleon's tomb.


When you think of the art in Paris you probably immediately think about the Louvre and the Musee D'orsay. But this little gem is worth the visit! Monet's Waterlilies were breath-taking. They have them displayed the way Monet originally intended - in a figure eight, so you are completely immersed in them. I was definitely moved by it.  

Dare I say I liked it better than then the D'orsay? I think I may have. Or at the very least I just preferred the way they had it curated. They had all of art exhibited by artist, so you were able to see how their work evolved and easily compare their style. I really enjoyed their collection of Picassos. And just thought whole thing was a pleasant and unexpected surprise.

The Ballet
Okay so admittedly, I love the ballet. I grew up dancing as a kid and this is generally my cup of tea. But the theater is stunning and I thought the performance was exceptional. 

If the ballet is on when you are visiting, I definitely recommend you see it. And if not, than just try to visit the theater (it is the one Phantom of the Opera is set in), and is pretty amazing in its own right.

Sainte Chapelle:
So there are obviously a lot of really beautiful churches dotting the entire city, but this one really stood out for me. When you walk into the chapel you are surrounded by all of this beautiful stain glass. The effect is breathtaking. Not to mention the craftsmanship involved in the stain glass itself.

Pastries! You simply must try the pastries! Parisians' take this stuff seriously, and it shows. We stopped at a few of the city's most talked about Patisseries. Pierre Herme had the best macarons and the most unique flavours. My favourite was Isaphan - Rose, Litchi, and Raspberry. And La Patisserie des Reves offers a magical experience and some amazing pastries. Their Paris-Brest is supposed to be the best in the city, and it did not disappoint.

Stay tuned tomorrow for What I Ate Wednesday and more yumminess. You know I ate well while I was in Paris.
Love Your Favourite Darwinian Fail,