France - Part One, Paris!

Towards the end of last year, Cecile (the mom of my surrobaby) and I separately had the idea that now was the time for us to come visit with them. A was 1.5 years old at that point and we were all dying for us to see where he lived and how he was growing. We started planning. Gwen's Spring Break was approaching too quickly, so we settled on Fall Break (plus a few days), and started making arrangements. Earlier this year we booked the plane tickets and we knew it was really happening!

After waiting and conversing excitedly about our adventure for so long, the 19th of October seemed to sneak up on us. It was so crazy that the day was here, and we were off to Europe.

On Thursday morning we packed the final items in our bags, triple checked that we had our tickets and passports, loved on Daisy a whole bunch, then headed off to the airport.

We had a quick, easy flight to Chicago, where we grabbed some food, then switched over to our second flight. That one was a long one, almost 10 hours overnight, flying into Paris. We didn't sleep much - an hour or two for Gwen, less then an hour for Trav and I - and arrived a little after 9 am Paris time. Thankfully we were so excited to be there that we were able to power through our first day.

We hopped in a cab and headed over to our AirBnB, where we met Cecile... who greeted us with fresh baguette!

After we got into the apartment and dropped our bags off, Cecile made us some jambon-beurre for lunch later and we headed out for our first day of exploring.

Place de la Bastille, July Column

We headed through a gorgeous park, Plaza des Vosges, is the oldest planned square in Paris, which has had many famous residents.

It also had a sand pit in the center which interested Gwen a bit more... 😃

We headed on then to Saint-Paul-Saint-Louis church.

We stopped for our first glass of French wine then, getting the feel for their street seating. We approved...

We moved on to City Hall then, which made me feel quite at home! It was like being back in Philadelphia again!

We ate our sandwiches here, enjoying the amazing weather (we really lucked out with the Paris in October weather we got!) and the amazing view.

After that we pressed on again. Maybe you recognize this just slightly well-known church?

Notre Dame is absolutely stunning. It deserves its fame. With its vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, and sense of history, it is worth the stop.

We didn't meet any hunchbacks, but we did spend a lot of time gazing up...

At that point we were getting tired, but we had one last thing to view.

The Seine, and a picture on one of its bridges, was practically a Paris requirement. We walked along the river then, on our way back to our apartment, which gave us a different view of Notre Dame.

We had an earlier night that night, eating dinner at home and getting everyone to bed. Gwen slept in bed with us, while Cecile took the couch bed... it wasn't the most restful night as Gwen tossed and turned, and actually started laughing hysterically in her sleep at one point!

Day Two we woke up a bit tired still, but ready to go. I had a bit of a headache to start, but revived after we ate some baguette with butter and jam, and drank some tea. Thankfully I did because first thing that morning it was time to hop on the Metro to the Louvre!

We stopped in quickly at first, just to grab our tour tickets for later and make a stop at the Mona Lisa before the crowds came.

Then it was back outside for a view of that well known pyramid!

We at lunch in the cafe then, and soon it was time for our tour. It was an hour and a half long, in English, and ranged through the museum to many of their more well known pieces.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace...

The Mona Lisa...

The Venus de Milo...

Plus so many other amazing, gorgeous pieces.

Including my favorite piece, Le Sacre ou le Couronnement de Napoleon, The Coronation of Napoleon by Jacques-Louis David:

I could have stayed with just this painting for the whole length of the tour. Stunning!

After the tour, we probably walked around for another hour or so. Gwen was amazing. She did so well with the whole thing. She was attentive and walked the entire time.

I'm always proud of my girl, but this trip especially, she impressed me.

After that we moved on, seeing the Obelisk, taking in views of their House of Representatives, and enjoying a walk through the city along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées.

We made a special stop for me next, getting tea and macarons at Laduree!

I absolutely love macarons, so this was a stop I was quite excited for!

I drank some amazing tea, and tried some beautiful macarons! Salted caramel, orange blossom, chocolate orange, and my favorite, rose.

After fueling up, we moved on. We saw the French version of the white house, and the American embassy.

Then we walked on, finally arriving at the Arc de Triomphe. What a phenomenal view at night!!

We made our way towards home then, with a quick stop at Le Baron Rouge (Cecile's favorite little hole in the wall) for a drink.

We arrived home, tired, but very content. We walked a whopping 9.8 miles that day (compared to 5 miles the first day, and 8.4 the third!). Gwen had been a champ all day, so when we arrived back and she was starving, I was happy to make a small concession, and get her some McDonald's.

Actually, one of my favorite ways to get a feel for a new city is to venture out alone, so off I went to find the local McD's and see how I could do on ordering with my limited French! It went fine and I felt very accomplished.  😉

Sunday, Day Three, we loaded up our bellies, then headed off first to explore Montmartre.

We came out of the Metro and headed towards the Sacré-Cœur Basilica, but then circled around to see all that lay adjacent to it.

This included enchanting old cemeteries, artist residences, and some really beautiful old streets.

After that we enjoyed the view of Paris from the steps of the Basilica...

We also had to stop and see Moulin Rouge, just to say we did!

After that we headed to another of my must see stops, the Paris Catacombs! This was a new one for Cecile, and it was absolutely fascinating.

Trav and I are a bit into the macabre anyway, but this was truly fascinating from a historical standpoint. (Some on it here and here.)

We walked around a lot the rest of the day, and took the Metro to various places as well. We visited the original Chanel store, Gallerie Laffayette, Place Vendome, and the Colonnes de Buren, to name a few.

Another full, delightful, exhausting day!

Day Four, Monday, was our last day in Paris.

After eating breakfast and packing up our bags, we headed to our last must see: the Eiffel Tower!

It was a fun view of the city, and a neat look at a well known icon.

We stopped for lunch after that, enjoying some genuine French Onion Soup. Then it was down the street to hop on a boat for a river cruise on the Seine!

It was a different way to enjoy some of the beautiful parts of Paris we'd already seen from the street.

It was also our last stop before heading South to Nice!

We grabbed our bags and hopped on the train, about 6 hours and 600 miles down to Southern France.

Next up, our time in Nice, next to the gorgeous Mediterranean Sea!


  1. Your trip looks fabulous! I was so not prepared to come around a corner and see Winged Victory the first time I was at the Louvre. It's still one of my favorite memories.

    1. Such an amazing moment for sure! That place is unbelievable!!


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