The bf and I have always wanted to go to Paris, but it just was one of those trips that never got around to being planned. We found some reasonably priced tickets to Paris and we decided to get them.
Paris was, magical. It’s on the same level as Venice, to me, at least. That’s how nice it is.
First things first – Paris is huge. We always travel with the knowledge that we cannot see and do everything on our list and that’s fine. But you know, with Paris, I was a wee bit disappointed with how many things we had to strike off our list and postpone for another trip. We didn’t go to the Eiffel Tower because we didn’t want to queue. Effectively we only had Saturday to Tuesday in Paris and we were back to work on Wednesday morning so we figured we’d do the less popular places and just wander around the city and get a feel of it. The best part about living in Norway is that Paris is only a 2.5-hours flight away so we’ll go again. I’m quite sure of it as it’s always been a travel pattern the bf and I have – repeatedly visit cities we can’t seem to get enough of.
I wasn’t really interested in shopping at Boulevard Haussmann, i.e. Printemps and Galeries Lafayette because I’ve already shopped a lot this year. We walked in and did a quick round Printemps and then we got “lost” in Ladurée. Oh my goodness, if you’ve never eaten a macaron at Ladurée – you need to. I won’t lie, it is hyped, but it’s quite delicious. I have walked past the Ladurée branch in Covent Garden, London a few times and told myself that it’ll just be something sweet that I’ll regret eating once I know how many calories are in it; but in Paris I just couldn’t resist. I feel the regular macarons (at least the ones I’ve tried in Norway) seem to taste very sugary, compared to the Ladurée ones. The macaron shell texture is amazing and the flavours like salted caramel, coffee, vanilla and lemon were amazing. The bf and I brought back a few small boxes home for ourselves and for our colleagues at work. They loved it too. I think the bf and I ate macarons for dessert for about 5 days in a row. It was kind of our plan, to eat a bit of it so we’ll get tired of it and won’t miss it till the next time we encounter a Ladurée store. I think it has worked well, so far 🙂
We stayed at Charles de Gaulle Etoile and walked around this area a bit. Charles de Gaulle Etoile the star shaped plaza where Arc de Triomphe is standing in the centre. There are some nice cafes and restaurants around here. One of it is Lateral where I had a delicious vegetarian linguine dish here. The ambience of this cafe is really pleasant especially after a long day of walking.
Ahh, French Pharmacies: One of the things I love most about Paris. The sheer number of pharmacies! I think I popped into four different pharmacies to get some French skincare products. It was way too much fun. I had brought almost nothing with me on the trip so that I would have enough space in my luggage to carry back all the bottles. In retrospect it was a wise decision. I got a few bottles of Bioderma Crealine, some Caudalie shower gels and some La Roche-Posay Lipikar body lotion.
It’s interesting how Paris looks so classy. I’m constantly impressed by how expensive some of the buildings look. The buildings and their grandeur probably cost a hundreds of years ago, when they were built. That said, I can only imagine how much it must cost these days to maintain them.
The Bf, despite being from Germany, has never been to Paris before. But he has learned French at school, so I kind of just tagged along with him. He worried about our train tickets and taxi stops, while I just daydreamed and walked around with huge eyes.
We spent a good three hours in the Louvre. It’s such a beautiful museum. I’m easily distracted, but I managed to walk around the Louvre for 3 hours without feeling bored at all. We bought an additional ticket to gain entry to view the Raphael exhibition. It was beautiful. The creativity and amount of detail (writers are told to avoid ‘painstaking detail’ because it’s cliché ;)) that went into his work is astounding. The exhibition also mentioned his assistants: Romano and Penni and included some of their works. It was kind of sad that Raphael died at such a young age (37). To think, today, we often say “Life begins at 40”. As somebody who works with computers, I’m always in awe of people with artistic skills. Not that Raphael had skills, he was just, magnificent. Knowing that he had a rival, Michaelangelo, just makes him seem all the more human 🙂 The Raphael exhibition is going on until January 14, so if you happen to be in Paris from now until January, you might want to catch it.
The Louvre also has a gorgeous and very, very informative Islamic arts exhibition. It seems to be quite new (September 22 onwards) and includes the smallest item, e.g. a spoon to large mosaics that are just magical. There was a beautiful Jali screen that was from the Mughal era, that transported you to the Mughal period, right that second. We marvel so much about what is created today, but it must have been so much more difficult to create art in those days. It was also very cute how the armour that was used in some parts of India had a special type of headgear to incorporate the turbans that they wore back then.
I was very taken with Les Invalides. The gilded dome was just beautiful. We didn’t go into the area, but just walked around the main road on the outside, on our way back to the hotel from lunch at Le Clarisse. I’ve never experienced the kind of service at a restaurant that is provided at Le Clarisse. It’s a one of a kind fusion restaurant, from what I understand, combining French and Asian cuisine. HiP Paris has a very nice review of the restaurant here. I didn’t take any photographs as I wanted to focus purely on the food.
Now, speaking of food, another cool place we ate at was L’Office. It was a pleasant restaurant with yummy food. The restaurant itself was not very big so you had to make a reservation if you wanted to eat there. I had a seafood risotto with curry sauce, I think. I remember it being utterly divine. Here’s a nice review of the restaurant with some photographs. Again, I was trying to focus on the food, so I didn’t whip out my camera.
The thing I noticed about Paris is that it’s so busy. If you want to eat at a particular restaurant, you had to make reservations. I’ve never had to make that many reservations for restaurants in London, though. I guess it’s because food is a really big part of the French lifestyle and they really enjoy their food. I wish I could eat slower, actually. I usually rush through my food because I’m not good at sitting in one place for too long.
I think this is at the Alexandre III Bridge. I remember seeing this bridge in the movie Midnight in Paris. But I’m not 100% sure if this is where I took that photograph.
We also walked around the St Germain area. I wanted to go to the Diptyque store. It was a quaint shop that had a very nice range of colognes, candles, and room sprays. When I visit Paris again, Diptyque is definitely one of the places I’m going to stop by. I so want the 34 Blvd Saint Germain Eau de Toilette!
OK, so that’s me in Paris. I’m always asked why I don’t have photographs of myself when I travel. Part of the reason is the camera. I’m constantly snapping photographs. When I’m not taking photographs, I’m carrying shopping bags 🙂 Now, the other reason is the Bell’s Palsy. My left eye was still a little bit smaller than my right eye, so I haven’t been feeling very comfortable in front of the camera. Strangely, after coming back from Paris, the effects of the palsy is a lot less noticeable. My eyes are somewhat normal now and my mouth is much more symmetrical than I ever remember it to be in the past few months. It’s such a relief to know that you’re healing. I hadn’t realized that every time I brushed my teeth, I was checking my facial symmetry: the things we take for granted.