Welcome to post number one of three recapping my Vacances de la Toussaint travels! I had so much fun on this trip, so I am excited to share it with you!
I was lucky enough to have a friend from TCU who is studying abroad in Vienna this semester join me for the week, and it was nice to travel with someone familiar while exploring some unfamiliar places. We spent October 23-25th in Paris, the 25-27th in Brussels, and the 27-30th in Amsterdam/Rotterdam. We managed to cover a lot of ground in a single week: three countries, four cities, and over 100 kilometers worth of walking and exploration! On y va!
Day 1: Lundi, 23 octobre 2017
Monday was a pretty relaxing day as far as traveling goes. I took the train from Clamecy to Paris, arriving around 13h30 and walked to my hostel. We ended up booking our stay at the same hostel I stayed at my first night in Paris, so it was nice to be familiar with the route and surrounding areas. After dropping off my bags, I immediately visited one of the amazing crêpe/galette stands right near my hostel (this one was a kebab galette!) for a late lunch.
Given that I didn’t pack my winter coat for my time spent in France, I put myself on a mission to buy a nice winter coat in the few hours I had to myself before Alli arrived. Now, I love shopping but I hate spending money on myself—as my parents always say, I’m the “expensive child” (#sorrynotsorry that I know what I like and I have expensive taste). After walking through a few shops and trying on who knows how many coats, I finally found the perfect one at Zara AND it was within my budget (albeit hardly).
Unfortunately, by this point, it was lightly raining outside and I had forgotten my umbrella back to the hostel, so I walked back to my hostel in the rain while trying (and failing) to protect my bags from the rain as much as possible. Now you may be asking, “Why didn’t I take the metro? That’s what it’s there for!”. Remember what I said about hating to spend money on myself? Why take a metro when my left and right feet are perfectly capable of getting me from point A to point B?
I made it back to the hostel and while waiting for Alli to arrive, I made friends with a nice, young British guy in the hostel lobby. After chatting with him for a bit, Alli arrived and after getting her things situated in our room, we walked around and explored Paris in the rain. On our way back, we ate a nice dinner at a restaurant right by our hostel called Assiette aux Fromages.
One thing I really appreciated about our waiter was, while I’m sure it was obvious to him that we were American, he continued to speak French with me even after hearing my American accent. It’s the little things that make me happy, and that is definitely one of them 🙂
Day 2: Mardi, 24 octobre 2017
For as relaxing as Monday was, Tuesday was a whirlwind of walking and exploration! After grabbing a quick breakfast from the morning markets, we started the day walking through the Jardin du Luxembourg and taking cute pictures.
Alli decided to take a tour of the opera that morning, so I decided to cross something off my travel bucket list: visiting La Sainte Chapelle! Wow, what a beautiful, beautiful place!! I didn’t know even know it existed before I asked my friends and family on Facebook for suggestions on things to do in France, but I am so happy I asked because it was incredible.
A funny story about this visit: I was standing in line to get my ticket and when I showed my pass d’education (which allows me free/reduced admission to a lot of national monuments and museums), the guy working at the counter looked at me and said, “You’re a teacher?”, clearly confused by how young I look and how I managed to have the education pass. I explained to him that yes, even though I young, I am in fact a teaching assistant. Evidently, he wasn’t convinced by my response and only let me in after I told him I was under 26 years old.
Here are a few pictures from the interior—if you are ever in Paris, I couldn’t recommend going to La Sainte Chapelle enough. The normal entry price is 10 Euros and as I heard a group of tourists say, it is worth it!
After Saint Chapelle, Alli and I had agreed to meet back up again at the original Ladurée for macarons. To say I was excited is an understatement.
We walked up the street to see the Arc de Triomphe and grabbed a quick sandwich on the way.
After taking a plethora of pictures, we walked to the Eiffel Tower! The first time I was in Paris, I didn’t make it out there so I was unbelievably excited to see the Tower up close and personal. Since we didn’t make it out there until the afternoon, we spent a lot of time waiting in line to get our tickets to walk up the stairs, but it was so worth it! The view was beautiful and honestly, it was a dream come true.
By the time we made it up and back down the Tower and took pictures on the lawn, we had spent nearly three hours there. We were beat! We decided to take the metro back to our hostel, relax for a bit, and grabbed dinner at an Italian place near the hostel. Alli managed to catch a second wind and headed back out to see the Eiffel Tower in all its sparkling glory, but I decided sleep was much more important and fell asleep within minutes of laying down.
Day 3: Mercredi, 25 octobre 2017
Originally, we had planned on spending a few hours at the Louvre on Wednesday morning before catching our bus to Brussels, but we got a late start that morning and decided against it. Instead, we grabbed breakfast from the morning markets and walked to the Notre Dame to explore. After walking past the church so many times, it was nice to actually go inside and see what it looked like. I feel like every church I go into in France is unbelievably beautiful and the Notre Dame is no exception! Next time, I think it would be cool to go on one of the free tours they offer to learn a little bit more about the history of the church.
After the Notre Dame, we headed just across the street to Shakespeare and Company Bookstore. The store is unique in the fact that it exclusively sells English books of any and all kinds. It was a really, really cool store and any person who loves reading or literature should definitely give the place a visit! If I could explore France one bookstore at a time, I’d be a happy girl 🙂
By the time we finished looking around at Shakespeare and Company, it was time for us to head back to our hostel, grab our bags, take the metro to Bercy station, and catch our bus for our next destination: Brussels!
Thanks for reading to the end! Check back next week for Parts 2 & 3 of my vacation recap.
Until next time,