June 3, 2013

Daydreamer: Fly Away To Paris


There's one thing I truly love: travelling. And I spend the day dreaming about all these wonderful places I want to go to and what I want to do there. I sometimes even take a bigger step and play the travel agency and make lists of things to do in specific places. If I've already been there, I take a look at old photos and try to remember the best things I did when I was there. I also search on blogs –and the Internet, in general– what to do. I look for travel guides, inspect magazines... And just make a boring day turn into a great one by planning some (imaginary) travels!

Today, I'm doing it with Paris: one of my favourite cities in the world. I went there for the first time back in 2008, the summer before my last year in school. The excuse I made for my parents to send me there and allow me spend my entire summer in a completely new city was my IB Extended Essay. I decided I would do it in French, so I needed to travel to Paris and practice my French language skills while exploring the literature and culture in the country. And I didn't need to insist much. Apparently –or so I remember– they agreed easily and I went away for a great summer in la ville lumière. Fun, eh?

Since then, I've been in love with this city and I've tried to go back as much as possible. In fact, this is one of the places I'll be visiting this summer again, yay! So I decided to wrap up a little guide for you –and for myself, too– with some of the things I'd like to see when I get there! I'm travelling with my sister and my mum, and it's their first time there. So I feel like I've got quite a big responsibility in showing them the best of the city! But this only means you can trust I've done my best effort in writing this post!

These are the 10 things I recommend you can't miss if you travel to Paris:

1. Bateaux Mouches Cruise

This is a boat cruise on the Seine river, that shows you an overview of the city and is absolutely adorable! I remember doing this during the sunset and eating some cheese and bread while having a cup of wine with my friends. Truly unique. You shouldn't miss it!

2. The Louvre

Yes. I know. We've all heard of the Louvre. And it's truly amazing, although a bit overwhelming! I had two months to digest it  –of course, I can't say I ever saw it completely–, so I had some more time to see it than most tourists, but it still was a hard job! However, I found this website with a treasure hunt at the Louvre that can make your time at this massive museum a lot easier!

3. Go to church!

Don't get me wrong on this one, I'm not trying to convert you at all! But there are a lot of beautiful churches in Paris you shouldn't miss! Of course, you've probably heard of Sacré Cœur and Notre Dame... But even if you go to a tiny little church you find on your way to somewhere else, it's probably worth taking a look! Church architecture is definitely one of my favourite things to see in Paris!

4. La Tour Eiffel

Who could ever think of Paris and not picture the Eiffel Tower? I remember having a picnic at 3 a.m. in Champs de Mars seeing this beautiful –huge– tower shine in front of me! More than once! I've even done it in the middle of the fall! So not visiting Paris during the summer is definitely not an excuse to skip this bit!

5. Montmartre

This is definitely one of the most iconic places in Paris. It's my favourite quartier, by far! Just try a little search on Pinterest, and you'll see what I mean! Having a walk in this place is magical, especially because you can't avoid getting touched by some art. But if you're still not convinced, you may want to visit Moulin Rouge and other cabarets that lie in this area!

6. Versailles

This palace is truly amazing––although it's not exactly in Paris. I remember when I was younger I used to go to the Met and spend endless moments just seeing the Panoramic View of the Palace and Gardens of Versailles and wishing I was on the actual place. But I could only get over that when I saw it on real life! It's breathtaking!

If you've already been in Versailles, I've heard that Fontainebleau palace is also amazing, so you might try visiting!

7. Jardin du Luxembourg

This garden is probably the prettiest in the city. I love flowers and I love to see them in Luxembourg. But it's also a great place to have a picnic! I tried it once and I'm pretty sure I'll never forget it... Although I found this very interesting article on some other great places where you can have a picnic in Paris, many of which I'm dying to try!

8. Go Shopping

I can't think of Paris and not think of vintage. Scarlett, near Champs Elysées is a must. But I'm pretty sure there are lots of places out there, offering the best of vintage in Paris! Tuula Vintage, for instance, provides us with a list of vintage shops, not only in Paris, but also in other places of the world!

However, shopping in Paris doesn't need to focus only on vintage. I remember shopping at the Louis Vuitton boutique at Champs Elysées and it was a beautiful experience. This boutique is more a museum than a shop and, even if you're only window-shopping, you should go there. In fact, if you're window-shopping, this is definitely the place where you need to go! And you can actually find boutiques everywhere, including Galeries Lafayette, which is the symbol of French department stores!

9. Eat!

You can't go to Paris and come back without gaining at least one pound! Honestly! Food is SO delicious everywhere you go! I remember when I arrived there for the first time, I had a Crème Brulée at some place on the streets –without expecting much from it– and it turned out it was delicious! The crepes at Odeon are truly amazing, too!

But, walking away from street food, there are some other places you should totally visit! I'm much more into pudding than real food, so this is my area od expertise. Angelina offers a delicious hot chocolate that is so full of chocolate that you could almost compare its texture to that of mud. But, whenever I think of having hot chocolate in Paris, I always think of Puerto Cacao. I went to have brunch there with my two besties and it was truly amazing! The hot chocolate has flavours such as amaretto, almond and mint. Delicious. But what was even better were the jams. We asked for banana, strawberry and blackberry, expecting some simple –but yet delicious– jam. But it turned out that these were also made with chocolate! So tasty! If you love macarons, you should definitely visit Pierre Hermé and Ladurée.

If you're looking for real food, I've heard amazing things of Hôtel Costes. I've never been there myself, but they say food is delicious. I remember sitting at many different bistros in Montmartre and having very good food there... But I honestly can't recommend a proper place. Maybe someone can help me with this one?

10. Get Lost!

I'm a true believer that you can never really get to know a place unless you get lost in there! I remember the first time I walked around the city with my friend Nina –a lovely German/Swiss (married Brazilian) girl that was my bestie during the summer of 2008, and I still love her and wish I could go back to seeing her every day. We were supposed to be doing some treasure hunt near the Opera for our French lesson but we ended up getting lost. The good thing was that, besides becoming very good friends, we got to see many more things in the city that we were planning on. And we even did some shopping (I got a beautiful yellow dress I wear every summer in her honour, and she got a breathtaking blue dress)! It was one of the best adventures I've had in my life!

I hope this was useful/entertaining for you! You should definitely try this travel agency game at some point! I'm sure that, if you like travelling as much as we do, you'll probably enjoy it!


Photography: Laura Beltran-Rubio

PS. I took the photos above on 2008 (left) and 2009 (right) during my visits to Paris.