Our first stop in France was the lovely Paris. I had been to Paris two years ago while I was studying abroad in Madrid, but Sant (my boyfriend for those that don’t know) had never been, so of course Paris made the list of places we wanted to visit. I’m just going to give some highlights from our time in France since talking about everything would make for an extremely long post.
One of my favorite things we did in Paris was visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral since it was something I didn’t have time to do the last time I was in Paris. It’s such a magnificent cathedral with gorgeous stained glass windows throughout. The cathedral is HUGE and there’s so much detail etched into all the sculptures and alters, it’s simply breathtaking. I think it would be pretty neat to get to attend mass there every Sunday.
If it’s even possible, I think Notre Dame gets even more beautiful at night! It’s definitely a must to go marvel at Notre Dame after the sun goes down, it’s truly magical.
Another fun thing we did was walk down the Champs Élysées on our way to the Arc de Triomphe. Of course, we had to do some shopping on the Champs Élysées just so we can say we did. I bought some new clothes at H&M and the bag they give you even says “88 Avenue des Champs Élysées” which I thought was pretty neat. We also decided to check out Louis Vuitton (because why not?!) and WOW. All the merchandise was SO expensive. One dress that I looked at was 2000 euros and we saw a diamond watch for… drum roll, please… 110,000 euros (about 120,000 USD). I’m not really sure why anyone would ever buy a watch for 110,000 euros but I guess there has to be a market for them since they’re selling one (sorry, no pictures of it. I was afraid the security guard would tackle me if I tried to snap a photo, haha). Anyway, after being thoroughly depressed by all the pretty shoes, clothes and jewelry I will probably never own, we decided to move on.
After some more window shopping along the Champs Élysées, we finally arrived at the Arc de Triomphe. This was another thing I didn’t get to do the last time I visited Paris and it ended up being one of my favorite things we did. We bought tickets and climbed to the top for amazing views of the Paris skyline. I would definitely recommend climbing the Arc de Triomphe for panoramic views of Paris instead of the Eiffel Tower since you actually get to have the most popular Parisian symbol in your city views… the Eiffel Tower! It won’t be in your pictures of the Paris skyline if you’re standing on it. Plus, the Arc de Triomphe is close to the same height as the second level of the Eiffel Tower and the line is much, much shorter. As an added bonus, twelve major streets converge around the Arc de Triomphe so it’s quite fun to sit and watch the mayhem of cars going every which way. I’m pretty sure there aren’t any lane lines, it’s just a free for all and you hope you don’t hit any other cars on your way around.
Now, it wouldn’t be Paris without a visit, or several, to the Eiffel Tower. It really is spectacular to just sit and marvel at. You cannot, I repeat, cannot miss seeing the Eiffel Tower at night. It sparkles/twinkles (whatever you want to call it) for the first 5 minutes of every hour after dark (until 2 AM in the summer) and it’s truly magical. It’s not something that pictures can ever do it justice, it’s just something you have to see in person. I promise it’s worth it.
We did so much more in Paris including a visit to the Palace of Versailles (which was actually really disappointing to us), but I will elaborate on that and more in posts once we return home from our trip. Our next and final stop in France was Lyon.
I really am a sucker for the smaller cities over the larger ones because I was immediately taken with Lyon. It’s such a beautiful, charming city with so much to explore. Lucky for us, there was a Festival of the Roses going on over the weekend while we were visiting which was a nice surprise. The whole city was decked out in roses including all the shops and we stumbled upon this beautiful fountain completely covered in roses. It was amazing!
We spent a lot of time wandering around Lyon and around Vieux Lyon (Old Lyon) which is – you guessed it – the oldest part of the city. We made the climb to the top of the hill where the Basilica Notre Dame de Fourvière stands and got some beautiful views of all of Lyon.
One of my favorite parts of Lyon was exploring all the traboules in Vieux Lyon. The traboules are like these long hallways that connect different streets and many of them have beautiful courtyards in them. Most of them date back to the Renaissance period and were used to make it easier to obtain fresh supplies of water and also to transport valuable goods from different streets to a merchants’ stall. The traboules were also used to move around without being seen by the authorities. It was really fun to wander around Vieux Lyon searching for the different traboules, especially since this is something that is pretty unique to Lyon.
Lyon is such a charming city and is often overshadowed by Paris, but it’s definitely worth visiting. I really enjoyed our time in Lyon and it’s definitely making it onto the list of cities I have to come back to and spend more time. I’ll go into more detail on the different things we did during our time here when we return home!
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