The Finale: Paris

Bonjour! So, the last time we left off we were in Gerardmer, France for the Tour de France. After a few fantastic days there, we took the speed train to Paris for the last leg of our adventure.

Note: The speed train is fast. It got up to about 310 km/h, or 192 m/h during our trip!

Warning: long post ahead

Our train was about an hour late getting into Paris, so we really hustled to try to get to the flat we rented through airbnb. The hustle was all to catch the second half of the World Cup final that started before our train rolled into Paris, despite the fact that it was 9:00 p.m. and we hadn't had dinner.

Dinner that night was cereal and some salt and vinegar chips from the nearby mini market.

One of the things about travel is, you just have to be flexible. I had to throw my usual fruit and veggie requirement out the window because some days I was lucky to even eat 2 servings.

The nice part about renting an apartment however, was that we were able to save money (and not eat croissants every morning), although they are pretty tasty.

Friday (Monday) Fashion
This was one of my Paris outfits for a long day of biking and sightseeing. I tried to keep my outfits semi fashionable, but obviously comfortable seeing as how we were moving or on our feet all day long. 

Top: Zara, pants: Old Navy, flats: Naturalizer 

The next morning, we ventured off and used the local Velib bike system, which was only 1.90 Euro per day. There was a bike check in right near our flat, which made it even easier. And, they have an app that I downloaded so we were easily able to locate a check-in spot wherever we were, without needing internet. 

Velib was a great way to cover a lot of ground without spending plenty of $ on the metro.

First: a quick stop at the Louvre for a look around and then a crepe complete (eggs, ham and cheese). Mmm...

I call this one "Dodging Tourists" because as we rode down the Champs Elysees, which was open for pedestrians only on Bastille Day, we did a lot of weaving to not inflict harm on anyone. 

Arc de Triomphe

For Bastille Day they had a torch lit and guards standing watch over the unknown soldier. It was pretty touching to see. 

And of course, you can't leave Paris without trying some macarons. We stopped by Laduree and stood in line for these spendy (1.90 Euro each) little cookies. I'll admit to never having eaten a macaron before this stop, but they were delicious.

My favorite of the four I picked out was the salted caramel eaten with a cafe crema (coffee with a little foamed milk on top).

In between biking around the city, it was nice to stop for cookies at Laduree and coffee at a nearby bar for a little Tour de France viewing and some rest for the legs. 

Le Petit Palais

Thanks to Lisa's suggestion, we rented a flat in the Marais district, which  is a major center of the Paris Jewish community with cute old buildings as well as modern shops. I loved these two buildings and the restaurant sign. 

Dinner that night was at a great little pizza place within walking distance of our flat. Thanks to Yelp, I found La Briciola in our neighborhood and highly rated! A plus: the waiters were very kind and happy to explain a few French words we couldn't understand. We opted for the chef's special pizza and salad of the day and Montepulciano wine. 

Our second full day in Paris was much the same as the first: biking, stopping, eating and even a little cat nap in the park. By this time in our trip, we weren't in the mood to do many more 'touristy' things and the one museum we tried to go into (l'Orangerie) was closed and I hadn't checked ahead of time.

However, we did head to the Sacre Coeur mainly for the views of the city.

One of the cool (and crazy) things about grocery shopping in Europe is that you often have to visit about five places to get all the goods you might need for your dinner. Fruit and veggies at an open air market, bread from la boulangerie, cheese from la fromagerie, meat from the butcher, you get the idea. 

It seems much more personal and provides for high quality, direct source food, but I have to imagine it is quite time consuming for locals. There are of course occasional grocery stores that do carry everything, but they don't always have the best variety or quality. 

We grabbed strawberries & carrots from a market on our way up to the Sacre Coeur

Later that afternoon, we made our way back to the center of Paris to go inside the Notre Dame before seeking out a few nutella + banana crepes. Must figure out how to make crepes soon!

The afternoon turned out to be pretty nice, so we stopped by the Tuileries Garden to look at the grass you can't sit on (common place around Paris) and then found some chairs to sit in and nap for a bit. 

Are you tired yet? Well, we were too!

For our final night, we opted to pick up picnic supplies and bike to the Eiffel Tower and eat dinner in the Champ de Mars (Thank you, Lisa for the suggestion). A fresh baguette, comte cheese, salami, tomatoes and a bottle of Chianti and we were set!

The next morning, we packed up our backpacks for the final time and headed to the airport for the long trip home. After 20 hrs of travel and little sleep, it felt good to touch down Eugene, OR and return to summer in Oregon.

In a nutshell: the manfriend and I had a blast and loved the opportunity to have three weeks together exploring Europe without the daily stress of work. But we also came home pretty exhausted.

Don't be surprised if our next big vacation includes lying on a sunny beach or an escape to the wilderness. ;)

I hope your Monday is treating you well! 

What was your most relaxing vacation to date? And your most hectic?


Jessica Jarrell said…
What beautiful pictures! It looks like you guys had a great time, the food looks amazing. Definitely a trip you'll always remember! :) Jerame and I are finally taking our honeymoon after 5 years, we are headed to Cancun in October. I'm excited!
Ooh, I loved all of your vacation posts, but especially this one as it gave me a glimpse of my favorite city! I am glad you guys had such a great time there. You were smart to use the bikes to get around as I am sure you saw way more that way, plus it's just plain fun to bike around. I can't believe you hadn't had a macaron before this trip! You definitely had a good first introduction as Laduree's macarons are some of the best I've had!

I can see why you are craving a slow paced trip for your next vacation. Traveling around to multiple places and being one for 3 weeks would wear me out, too! I actually can't think of a relaxing vacation I've been on... how bad is that? A lot of my travel is either alone or to visit a friend/check out their city so I always feel like I have to pack as much in. I did relax more on my last trip to Paris but I still felt like I had to do as much as I could during my time there. I think most hectic was probably my first trip to Paris as I tried to pack SO much in.
missris said…
1.90 Euro per day for the bike share is a steal! That's such a great way to get around a city. I'm glad you guys had a good time in Paris! Although it definitely sounds like your trip was "go go go"! As for my most relaxing trip, I can't think of one. We tend to overbook to the extreme, plus we don't go to relaxing places. Morocco wasn't exactly low key, even if it was totally awesome.
Raina R. said…
What great timing to be in Paris for Bastille day! I am so jealous of your adventures. The food looks fantastic, and I would LOVE to try the coffee with a crepe!
It's a crying shame that you can't sit on the grass :(..
You both are so fortunate you got to do this together. What an adventure!
Loved the pics!!
Amber said…
Looks amazing!! I'm so glad you guys had such a wonderful trip. But yes, traveling like that is exhausting. Even when we just went to Ireland and Scotland for two weeks we were exhausted. On that trip we kind of talked about how maybe 10 days would be our ideal trip length, but then is it really worth ALL the travel for only 10 days? Dilemma dilemma!

Either way, your time in Paris looked magical and perfect. Paris is definitely somewhere we are hoping to return to one day. We would actually really love to spend Christmas in Paris one year!

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