There are only two places in the world where we can live happy: at home and in Paris
– Hemingway –
I dare say that within a few hours of arriving in Paris, we fell deeply and madly in love with the city! We’ve spent a decent about of time in major cities around the world and never before have we so instantly felt like we were home. Every street had so much character and history; every building begged for you to come inside; every bakery made you stop, close your eyes, and take in all the smells; every restaurant left you perfectly satiated and longing to learn to cook like the chefs… Oh Paris, you are absolutely perfect in every way!
We do want to share our journey with you all and show you how we saw this amazing city! I’m going to try and be brief with my thoughts but also share places that we really think are worth highlighting. I’ll also split up the posts to spread out all the beauty. When we were preparing for our trip, we quickly realized that you can’t fully prepare for Paris. Paris begs for you to simply explore and fully immerse yourself in the city. You can have a list of must sees/dos but the best advice for visiting Paris is to shed your agenda and get lost in the soul of the city. At the end of this post I’ll share a few tid bits of logistical travel advice on later posts, but first photos. These are a mixture of photographs we took with our “real” camera and our Iphones, cause even we are guilty of not taking out the real camera while traveling.
We got really lucky and our flight landed in Paris at 6 AM so that meant that after dropping our bags off at the hotel we had a full day to explore Paris for the first time. For the first leg of our trip our hotel was located in the 1st arrondissement and when you walked out of the hotel the back of the Louvre was about 200 feet away. This was a perfect location since we were in the heart of the city center and could walk to almost anything! We also had several metro stations around our hotel and this was perfect for visiting Montmartre and a few museums that were outside of city center.
Within our first day we tried to go ahead and see a few of the more iconic places as a way to get used to the city, adjust our internal clocks, and feel ok with being touristy for a day. First up was a visit to St. Germain with coffee at Cafe de Flore. We fell in love as a couple discussing philosophy and we are big fans of Sarte and Beauvoir, so it was pretty fun to sit in the cafe that they frequented. It is the oldest coffeehouse in the Paris and from that aspect it is neat but beware, the waitstaff aren’t eager to let you linger. Most cafes will not rush you but this one is clearly visited by many tourist and they want a high turn over.
After being caffeinated (which Parisian coffee, hello so good! I’m not a coffee snob but the coffee there is personally a favorite of mine!) we headed to Saint Chapelle. I have to be honest, I’m a crier when I’m happy and at this point the happy tears started… and pretty much didn’t stop for the 15 days. The stain glass in this cathedral will literally take your breath away! It is a smaller cathedral but so worth your time!! I wish I had taken more detail shots of the individual panels in the room. On my list of must sees, Saint Chapelle is number one.
Saint Chapelle sort of set the tone for our trip, to completely immerse in the full experience of where we were. As we honed in to all of our sense, we found ourselves lost in our environment. I remember sitting and staring at the stain glass for a long time and feeling overwhelmed by how intricate all the panels were. I closed my eyes, took in the smells, the cold of the stone, heard the footsteps on the stone and simply imagined the first time Louis IX walked through the finished chapel… this was part of the reason we didn’t take as many photographs as we thought we would. You just can’t capture the essence of Paris..
After Saint Chapelle we went and saw the outside of Notre Dame. We chose not to go in because of lines and also we were still overwhelmed by Saint Chapelle. Personally we preferred the backside of Notre Dame to the front, from an architecture standpoint, and while the front was crowded, no one was on the backside! Also this day was extremely cold and I was digging Philip’s scarf head wrap 🙂
Being near the Seine is magical. The bridges that take you from the left to the right bank are out of this world! Each one is so unique.
The buildings. Oh my goodness! Every. Single. Building. Is. FABULOUS! I could have photographed them all! This was one of my favorite corners of the Louvre.
We knew that we would be hitting up a lot of art museums. As photographers, paintings have always been a huge influence in our work and we both thrive as artists when we are surrounded by art. Knowing that the Louvre is so incredibly massive, we picked only one small section that we wanted to visit and study (most the art we wanted to see is housed in other museums). The Louvre is one hundred perfect worth visiting, even though it is always packed and is massive. The copious amount of art housed in one place helps you to realized just how important art was to culture and that it needs to return to the forefront of our culture!!
Our first dinner in Paris was at Le Fumoir. Food is really important to us, in that we love French food! I was so looking forward to all our meals in Paris and we were not disappointed! There are over 16,000 restaurants on Trip Advisor for Paris and a good friend of ours recommended that if you pick from the top 500 you can’t go wrong! He was so right! Heading into the trip we had a list of restaurants that was knew wanted to go to but we also left ourselves open to being spontaneous and to finding great places. Le Fumoir was directly across from our hotel and I would have eaten there every night! The library room gave an extra special feel to the place and complimented the food perfectly.
Day two took us to Musee D’Orsay, one of our favorite museums! The statues that line the great hallway set the perfect tone for the museum. We allowed ourselves to slowly take in every room and look at each piece of art and also enjoy the views from the upper rooms.
For good reasons Paris is La Ville Lumière, the city of light. In the evenings, we simply could not believe the copious amount of lights on each building. The Parisians truly understand how to use light to showcase their buildings. There were days when I longed for nightfall so that the city would become illuminated!
Standing so close to the Louvre allowed for us to wonder around the promenade right before the gates were closed. There is simply nothing better than being in this space all by yourself.
We also really enjoyed walking along the Seine alone at night. The river is so incredibly peaceful and sitting with your lover on a bench, watching the river, is the perfect way to end and evening.
Well I wrote more than I thought… I hope to be a little bit briefer on the future posts! Hope you enjoyed!
Savannah and Philip