Weekend in Paris – ‘Joie de vivre’ (The joy of living)

If there’s one thing that I’m going to miss this year, is the ability to travel overseas. The impact of the Global Pandemic on how we travel will be life-changing. Some European countries have started welcoming tourism but the reality (and I speak for myself) it’s going to take some time for us to travel. Covid-19 is still such a reality, the world is now just learning to navigate around it.

I continue to be grateful that my curious nature afforded me the opportunity to travel before the world went on lock-down and in the process created memories that last a lifetime, which I now get to share on my blog.

Today’s throwback, I get to reminisce about a weekend I spent in Paris celebrating my milestone birthday. I have never been big on having birthday parties but I have always been big on experiences and the simple joy of living for the moments that take your breath away. 

I went with Paris because I saw in the news that the Eiffel Tower had re-opened and the Musée du Louvre will be opening on the 6th July and I had a sudden sense of Nostalgia.

Whether it’s your first, second or third visit, Paris never fails to amaze – the mixture of architecture, art, cafés, fashion and rich history, there’s a never-ending list of things to do, see and eat.

I have fond memories from our first girls trip to Europe, Paris was one of the cities we visited (besides dragging our luggage through the subway, getting lost for half the morning in the rain trying to find our hotel and quickly learning the basic phrase ‘salut, parlez vous anglaise?’ just so we can get help) the trip was such an epic adventure. We did all the typical touristy things, shopped and ate a LOT of bread. I have a weakness for bread but Paris takes it to a whole nother level. By day 2 of the trip, I was not interested in eating any type of bread. 

Friday

I landed in the City of Lights, well prepared and with a bit of travel experience this time around. Getting to the hotel did not take the entire morning, I had a semi-planned weekend itinerary and wanted to just immerse myself in Parisian culture. 

Eiffel Tower Summit

I decided to re-visit the Eiffel Tower the first attempt was a complete disaster. We had bought tickets to reach the summit but the lines were so long. At some point while we were being ushered, it felt like we were cattle being herded into a kraal. What made it even worse was the weather, it just got soooo windy (Cape Town type wind). By the time we reached the 2nd floor, we had lost interest, called it quits and never reached the top floor. 

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This time around, I went with a guided pre-booked tour. The experience was great, from the meet and greet to the actual summit, the tour worked so well. There was a bit of history on how the tower was built. We went up starting on the 1st floor, then 2nd and eventually the Summit. The views of the city are simply spectacular. 

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Views of Paris from the Eiffel Tower
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Views of Paris from the Eiffel Tower
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Views of Paris from the Eiffel Tower
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Views of Paris from the Eiffel Tower

Dinner at L’Artisan du Burger

On my walk back to the hotel, I stumbled upon L’Artisan du Burger – The art of the great chef’s burger. (In South Africa, we would call it a place that sells “Burgers that went to Private School”) What attracted me to this place was the interior, the furniture is made of wood, stone and slate.

I had what they call the Floral Park – a vegetarian burger. It was good, the fries were even better. It’s a lovely place for food on the go. It’s a Meat-eaters paradise. 

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Saturday

My morning ritual when I travel is getting up early and going for a morning walk or run. You get to genuinely appreciate a place in its empty state. 

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After my run, I kicked off the day with a typical French breakfast – freshly squeezed juice, strong coffee, pain au chocolate (chocolate bread) or croissant. The one thing that Paris has an abundance off, is street cafes.

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I walked along the banks of the river Seine, I found that the Seine is a great way to explore the city. If walking is a challenge, they have river cruises which are a great way to see Paris. Along the banks, you will find what they call Les Bouquinistes – booksellers of used, antiquarian books and art. Great place to buy a souvenir.

Along the walk, I passed Notre-Dame, the most famous of the Gothic cathedrals of the Middle Ages. Its currently closed for restorations after it caught fire some time back. 

 

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@ParisAMDParis
Les Bouquinistes                    Image Cred: @ParisAMDParis (Twitter)

“Everywhere is a walking distance, if you have time” – Steven Wright

When you walk, you really do get to experience Paris. Some of the sights that I saw while walking –  Ponte Neuf (Oldest bridge in Paris) and Ponte de Arts (was once famous for the Love padlocks that were later banned and removed as they started to damage the bridge) Musee de Louvre, Place de la Concorde and Grand Palais.

I ended up on The Avenue des Champs-Élysées, one of the world’s most famous commercial streets that connect the Arc de Triomphe with the Place de la Concorde.    Arc de Triomphe is the most monumental of all triumphal arches.

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Champs-Élysées
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Arc de Triompe

The street is a shoppers paradise, from French brands, to Luxury brands and affordable ready to wear brands. I’m not much of a shopper but I particularly liked the Abercrombie & Fitch store, felt like I was entering a Palace. 

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If you are foodie, you are spoilt for choice from fast-food to French bistros to Michelin-starred restaurants there’s something for everyone. They say a trip to Paris is not complete without having a genuine Macaroon – the quintessential French cookie. Stopped at Le 86 Champs which brings together three things for which France is most revered: food, fragrance and the pleasure principle.

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Sunday

Sundays are for Art + Architecture + Food.

Firsts stop was Musée du Louvre – the world’s largest art museum and a historic monument. We all know that the highlight for ‘us’ tourist is the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci. If time allows, I highly recommend spending time exploring the museum, there are so many other great works of art.

The Carters (Beyonce and Jay-Z) music video “APES**T was shot at the Louvre and shows some of the popular artworks. 

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Top left : The Winged Victory of Samothrace. Bottom left: Venus de Milo (Image cred @TheLouvre) Top right: The Mona Lisa. Centre: 12-ton Great Sphinx of Tanis, with a lion’s body and a human head (Image cred @TheLouvre). Bottom Right: The Raft of the Medusa

The Louis Vuitton Foundation Museum

One word sums up this building  ‘Masterpiece’ if you love architect, this place is a must see. The museum houses a permanent collection of modern and contemporary art belonging to the Foundation.

My next blog post will be dedicated to my experience at the museum. Including it on this post will not do it justice. I spent a couple of hours here and got to experience Architecture + Art + Food all in one place. Truly a Splendid Experience!!

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