Tom couldn’t take time off from work, so I decided to travel solo. I’m a sucker for travel deals and could not pass up the opportunity. Although the plane ticket was inexpensive, the hotel was not. I couldn’t find a good deal after an exhaustive search on the internet. In the end, I decided to roll the dice and tried Priceline’s “Name Your Price” for a hotel. The hotel I received was Le Meridien Etoile which is located in the 17th arrondissement. Although the hotel is a bit removed from the city center, I didn’t mind. The very clean and efficient metro is a block away. However, I only used public transportation twice. Instead, I chose to walk EVERYWHERE! It allowed me to wander side streets and find hidden gems. Another great benefit to walking: I think I clocked in 8-10 miles of walking everyday which allowed me to eat and drink guilt free!
Paris was a surprise for me. I didn’t think I would enjoy the City of Lights, but it has become one of my favorite places that I have visited. The atmosphere was perfect. The architecture is beautiful, the food is delicious, and the people are friendly. Yes, Parisians are friendly! When I travel, I always try my best to be courteous and undemanding. If you are a rude traveler, locals will be unkind in return. In Paris, I tapped into the remains of my knowledge of High School French and used it with greetings and ordering off menus. Even if you say things incorrectly, the effort you put into communicating with locals will be appreciated. Also, if you are like me and dine at “non-touristy” places, a little bit of French will help you figure out what to order! However, usually someone at the restaurant (or shop) will know English if you don’t understand French.
During my week long stay in Paris, I visited all of the usual sights: the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Sacre Coeur, the Musee d’Orsay, the Notre Dame, and countless other spots. There are so many terrific landmarks in Paris that it’s impossible to do and see everything in one week. Instead, raise the white flag and surrender. See your top sights, but then sit back and enjoy the scenery. Take a cappuccino break at an outdoor café. Sip on wine or champagne amidst the beautiful Parisian landscape. And, of course, eat everything! Try a warm nutella crepe as you take a stroll in the Tuileries Garden, sample flaky croissants and tasty macarons at a neighborhood bakery, have a picnic of local cheese and fresh bread at the Luxembourg Gardens, dine outdoors in the Latin Quarter or in the Marais, and taste the deliciously rich Berthillon ice cream. No matter your taste, dining in Paris will surely exceed your expectations!
Normally, I don’t shop on vacation and would rather spend money on experiences, sightseeing, and food. However, everyone told me I have to splurge and purchase a Louis Vuitton handbag in Paris as it is less expensive than in the States. I was hesitant, but decided to stroll into their flagship store on the Champs Elysees and see for myself. The store is airy and the displays are beautiful. Even if you don’t plan to purchase a handbag, definitely visit the store to see the gorgeous shop. The one drawback about the store is that it is packed with other tourists and shoppers. If you are looking at a bag to purchase, although it may be a bit of a wait, you are assigned a sales associate who is with you, and only you, throughout your entire shopping experience. With the amazing service, I was able to see many different handbags. I was also armed with my smartphone and got online and compared the cost of handbags in Paris to those at home. Shocking, but true: the prices are considerably less expensive in Paris. An additional bonus: you also receive your VAT refund. Be sure to file your paperwork for the VAT refund at the airport before you depart. In the end, I let my guard down and gave in to my desire for a handbag. The amount I saved is nearly equal to the amount I spent on my plane ticket to Paris. That’s serious savings. It helps me feel better about my purchase thinking about how much I saved (versus how much I still spent!)
My trip to Paris was absolutely lovely. I thoroughly enjoyed the people, the sights, and the food. However, it would’ve been nice to share this experience with Tom. Hopefully soon, we will travel to the City of Lights together as it truly is a magical place.