Back in March, there was some sort of holiday on Thursday the 19th so I asked my school if it’d be OK if I missed that Friday as well in order to travel (it was the only day all year that I planned on asking to take off for travel reasons). I was given the OK so I booked a trip to Paris. This would be my third trip to Paris in four years (I’m spoiled, I know). Many people asked, “Why do you keep going back to Paris? Why don’t you go somewhere you haven’t been before?” This is true. But there is something about Paris that always leaves me wanting more. I seriously can’t get enough of the city. It’s so beautiful, classy, and cultural. There are also SO many things to do that my Paris to-do list is never complete. Apart from Spanish cities, it has quickly become possibly my favorite city in Europe, even though I know it’s cliché to make Paris your favorite city. What can I say? Audrey Hepburn was right when she said that “Paris is always a good idea.”
I finish work really early on Wednesdays so I was able to catch a 3 pm flight out of Madrid. I was so tired from going out the night before for St. Patrick’s Day that I could have easily passed out on that flight (it was siesta time after all). However, I hit the lottery with my fellow flyers: a whole school class of what appeared to be 3rd of ESO (9th graders or 14-year-olds) going on a school trip. As if I don’t deal with these kids enough during the work week at school. Not only that, but out of the entire plane, I was lucky enough to be directly in front of the three loudest and most talkative girls in the entire class. Needless to say, there was no siesta time for me on that flight.
By the time I got to my hostel in Montmartre from Charles De Gaulle airport it was late evening, so I couldn’t do much, plus I was exhausted. I walked around the area a bit (which actually seemed like a run-down part of Paris. But at least the hostel was nice and cheap) and grabbed a quick to-go meal from Carrefour. My hostel gave me a super upgrade from a 10-person dorm room which I had booked to a 3-bed ensuite (with our own bathroom & shower)! Since it was a 3-bed dorm, I got my own single bed (yay to no strangers sleeping above me!). Also, my roommates didn’t come back until late and they left early the next morning so I basically had the entire room to myself. It was amazing and just what I needed.
The next day was very relaxing. I started the day with my hostel’s free breakfast of fresh croissants, bread, and coffee. Afterwards I spent the rest of the day roaming around the city. I ate a ham and cheese crepe in the gardens behind Notre Dame which actually happened to be from the same place that my mom and I got crepes from four years ago on our trip to Paris! Then I did some shopping and walked through the gardens at the Louvre. I wanted to go into Musée de l’Orangerie so see some of Monet’s masterpieces but I had forgotten to tell my Thursday private lesson that I needed to cancel therefore I was on a hunt to find wifi.
By the time I found wifi it was time to head up to the Moulin Rouge to meet up with the Sandeman’s tour of Montmartre. It was a great tour and I learned a lot! We saw Van Gogh’s old house, the old brothel (now a restaurant) where the prostitute he was in love with lived, the cabaret that Picasso used to always go to, and the café that is featured in the film Amelie. We ended the tour wandering around the inside of the Sacre Coeur.
I spent the rest of the weekend with my friends Kat and Trisha who booked tickets to go to Paris when they found out that I was going. Trisha and I stayed in a studio apartment that we found on Airbnb while Kat stayed in another Airbnb around the corner. Apparently old Parisian apartments are separated from their toilets. So our apartment’s toilet was in a private room down in a cellar-type area. It was sooo creepy, especially at night because the light in the hallway didn’t work. We called it our dungeon bathroom. Our shower was also an interesting experience. It was this strange, individual pop-up shower in the corner of the apartment. It was TINY. I can’t imagine even a slightly overweight person being able to fit in it!
Trisha, Kat, and I all met up on Friday morning to do Sandeman’s free walking tour of the city. It was a lot colder and windier than we thought it would be. We were freezing. Our tour took us places like to what’s left of the love lock bridge and to outside the Louvre. Unfortunately, after last year’s incident of part of the love lock bridge crumbling due to the weight of all the locks (actually right after I was in Paris with my sister!), the city doesn’t let you put on love locks anymore. Most of the bridge was boarded up to prevent people from attaching locks. It’s sad, and it feels like the end of a travel era!
On my Paris bucket list this time around was going inside the opera house, or the Palais Garnier, so after the walking tour we went in to have a look around. It was gorgeous! I’ve never actually seen Phantom of the Opera but, like most people, I’m familiar with the story and I know that the Phantom lives beneath Paris’ opera house, so it was cool to actually be inside! I would love to see a show there one day.
We were starving after the opera house, so we immediately set out on a hunt for food. Unfortunately there weren’t many options around the opera house so we hopped on the metro to the third arrondissement. We went to a place called Paris Beaubourg, located right next to the Pompidou Centre, where I had the most deliciousssss burger! One memory that I’ve really taken away from this time in Paris was how incredible the food was. I was literally in heaven with every single meal. Either I was oblivious before or Paris has really stepped up its food game, but everything was amazingly delicious!
On our way back to our apartments we saw our first signs for Charlie Hebdo which we were surprised by because we expected to see a lot more things related to the terrorist attack. I had booked this trip in December and when the attack happened in January I was really nervous to travel there in March because Europe was still on a terrorist alert. Everything felt fine and normal while we were there and there didn’t seem to be much talk going on about the attack.
Another thing that has been on my Paris bucket list for quite some time was to go to this bar that I first heard about during my semester abroad. Some people I knew that travelled to Paris during study abroad came back and told me that they went to a bar where the coctails are served in baby bottles. Yes, it’s very very random, but it’s also unique and sounded like a fun experience! So I dragged Kat and Trisha to Zéro de Conduite in the sixth arrondissement to drink some alcohol from baby bottles. Each drink was given the name of a cartoon character and the way this bar’s ordering system works is that they give you a whiteboard and you have to draw that cartoon character and then give it to the server. So if your Spongebob actually looks like Tommy Pickles then I guess that’s too bad! I ordered the Dora the Explorer and Trisha and Kat both ordered the Scooby Doo. When the server gave us our drinks, I realized that mine tasted a little…..juicy. As did Kat’s and Trisha’s. So I flipped over our menu and realized that there was a whole list of more drinks on the back. Not only that, but the two sides were split between “with alcohol” and “without alcohol” (in French of course). Turns out we ordered from the without menu without even knowing there was another side. So how did we spend our wild Friday night in Paris you ask? Drinking actual juice out of baby bottles. We were so embarrassed and we felt really stupid, but at least they were tasty! Haha.
Our plan for Saturday morning was to have breakfast at a café that appears in one of Kat’s favorite movies. After arriving, we were told by the waiter that they actually weren’t serving breakfast. So instead we just ordered coffee and then moved on to another café across the street where we were served by an adorable older French man that didn’t speak a lick of English and none of us spoke French, but we got along just fine. I got a tasty open-faced nutella and banana crepe because that combo in a must when in France.
After breakfast we made our way over to the one– the only– the Eiffel Tower! That view will just never ever get old. I bought a couple baguettes and made Trisha have a baguette sword fight in front of the tower with me. I was a huge Mary-Kate and Ashley fan growing up (what 90s girl wasn’t?) and in their movie Passport to Paris they had a baguette fight in front of the Eiffel Tower so OBVIOUSLY my inner 10-year-old self needed to recreate it! Trisha and Kat were good sports about it. Afterwards, we attempted to go to the Musée d’Orsay but of course the line was outrageous so we opted out of that decision.
That night we had “reservations” for a cabaret at Au Lapin Agile in Montmartre, the same cabaret that Pablo Picasso used to go to. It was recommended by my tourguide of Monmartre as a cheaper but still good alternative to the Moulin Rouge. When we arrived at 7 for our “reservation” the place was closed and the sign said it wasn’t open until 9 pm! It turned out there was a mixup when Kat was emailing the owner and we thought he told us to come at 7. To kill time before it opened, we walked to get some dinner and drinks. Again, Paris did not disappoint me with its food. I had delicious French onion soup. After dinner we headed back up to the cabaret and this time it was open (thankfully). I was looking forward to being able to pay the student price of 20 euros but it turned out Saturday is the only day that you can’t get the student discount! So we all ended up paying the full price of 28 euros, but it’s ok because it was an incredible experience.
The second we walked in it felt like we were thrown back in time. The entire place was dimmed with red lights. When we first walked in we were in the lobby and kitchen area. Then up the small set of steps and behind the curtain was the main sitting room. It was a very intimate setting and I didn’t realize we would be sitting IN the show. The performers were in the middle sitting around a table while the audience were scattered around the edges, clapping and singing (if they knew the words) along. We were given a welcome shot that had some sort of strange berries at the bottom but it was good. There was an energetic piano player and the music was fun, old French folk tunes. The performers did such an incredible job making us feel like we were in Paris in the early 20th century and the place was so well-preserved.
After the show Trisha and I rushed to the Trocodero to see the Eiffel Tower twinkle on the hour. Unfortunately we just missed the midnight showing so we walked down to the Arc de Triomphe and by the time we walked back to the Trocodero we saw the last glittering show of that night. Such a spectacular sight. Even moreso that late at night when only a few other people were around!
On Sunday Kat and I didn’t have much time to do a lot because we had to come back to Madrid that night. So the three of us went to get lunch near our apartments. On the way, my left leg felt really numb and I couldn’t figure out why. When I went to go feel it I realized that it was SOAKED. I looked in my bag and my entire water bottle emptied out! Fortunately my phone was OK but my camera was a goner. Thankfully I chose to take my back-up camera on this trip and therefore it wasn’t my good camera that got ruined, but still, I was upset about this camera dying. There wasn’t much we could really do so we just went on with our day and got lunch (another amazing burger) and then did some souvenir shopping until it was time for Kat and I to catch the bus to the Beauvais airport and then our flight back to Madrid.
Sidenote: We picked an excellent weekend to go to Paris. The city decided to be “green” that weekend and as a way to promote public transportation and help prevent all of the pollution from cars, Paris’ metro was free for all on Saturday and Sunday! It was great!
As always, Paris never fails to make me fall deeper in love with it. It was yet another great trip and there will for sure be more trips there in my future.