Travel Post: Bonjour, Paris!

10:08 PM

Aside from trying goods from my favorite grocery store, one of my favorite hobbies is traveling. While working at a full time job does not enable me to travel whenever I want -- because whenever I want would be every single day --, I am lucky enough to get to travel occasionally. I find great joy out of visiting a foreign country and immersing myself in new cultures. And of course, trying all the new food! Towards the end of last year, I was lucky enough to be able to visit a destination I've always wanted to see: Paris, France.

My great desire to visit Paris is rooted from my studying basic French in high school. I learned about all the beautiful sights as a teenager: Le  Tour Eiffel, L'arc de Triomphe, Champs-Elysees, etc. When the opportunity to visit Europe arose, I immediately campaigned my boyfriend to visit France.

France was part two of our five-part trip, all of which I will be covering in this blog. We first flew to New York (another one of my favorite places in the world), where we flew to Milan and then took an Easyjet plane to Paris. Needless to say, the journey was very long and we were extremely jetlagged by the time we landed in Charles de Gaulle airport.

We decided to take the metro to the Airbnb I had booked in advance. I decided to book somewhere central to all the tourist spots I wanted to see, so we secured a place Charles de Gaulle area.

I will never forget the moment I exited the Place Charles de Gaulle metro station. I was tired, jetlagged, sweaty, and likely fairly smelly. But the first sight I saw of Paris was the Arc de Triomphe on my right, all lit up and majestic. It was so beautiful I wanted to cry.

This was my first glimpse of Paris.
Over the course of the next 4 days, we went to a variety of places. The architecture is SO beautiful in France and I loved walking around everywhere.

Palais Garnier, where the fictioned Phantom of the Opera takes place
Louvre, home of the Mona Lisa
Mona Lisa

Centre Pompidou, a modern art museum

Notre Dame Cathedral

The views on top of Notre Dame

Les Jardins du Versailles
Moulin Rouge

We ate a lot of food. In Paris, there are tons of cute cafes everywhere. And I mean literally everywhere!

I've always wanted to try a Croque-Monsieur (cheese and ham sandwich). This was SO delicious.

Baguettes in France are greatly superior compared to America's. They are light, buttery, and always baked fresh.

Crepes cart outside L'arc de Triomphe

At a Christmas fair near Le Tour Eiffel

One of my favorite snacks - foie gras on a freshly toasted baguette

Me enjoying my foie gras baguette

Hot wine is served everywhere, and you can drink on the streets
Escargot. I loved it.

A meal at a French cafe

Creme brulee was superb

Little espresso. French people don't seem to drink a lot of liquds.

This was a meal at a French fast food restaurant. Their fries were very tasty.

More foie gras. Mmmm.

Steak frites
"Parisian" sausage. This was very juicy and filling.

And macarons. So many macarons. I'm a huge fan of macarons and pastries, and the French can definitely get their carbs right. I also chose our Airbnb because it was a 10 minute walk from Laduree, which is very famous for their delicious macarons! I actually went two days in a row. I'm pretty sure the guy recognized me.

At Laduree! My heart was about to burst from happiness.
More pastries from Laduree
Macarons from a Christmas market stand

Macarons from McDonalds - Mcdonalds!! They were quite tasty too.

I was also very pleasantly surprised that I was able to get around using my basic high school French. I sometimes had conversations with the locals in all French! I was especially pleased at one bakery I visited.

Me: (in French) Do you speak English?
Bakery Lady: Yes!
Me: (in French) Okay! I would like a croissant and a baguette.
Bakery lady (in French): Why do you want to speak English? Your French is so good!
Me: (in French) Thank you! I don't think it's very good, but that makes me very happy to hear.

Prior to my trip, I heard that the French was not friendly to Americans. This was not true 100% of the time; the young French people are friendly and can speak English. I read on forums that as long as you say "Bonjour", smile, and ask "Parlez-vous anglais? (Do you speak English?)", most French people are receptive.

There were some instances where my boyfriend and I were blatantly discriminated against, though. Once we were in a cafe and an elderly couple kept glaring at us. They also muttered, "Americans" under their breaths. That was unpleasant but slightly amusing.

Streets of Paris

I absolutely loved my time in Paris, and I highly recommend a visit there if you love architecture and history. It's fairly easy to get around because Google Maps works very well there, and there is free wifi in every McDonald's and Starbucks. If you have a Bank of America banking account, it is very easy to withdraw euros because BOA's partner bank, BNP Paribas, has ATMs everywhere. That will save you the $5 foreign withdrawal fee, and will only charge you a 3% currency exchange fee. Bring a pair of walking shoes, your appetite, and a nice camera and you will have the time of your life.

Next travel post: my time in Prague, Czech Republic (which I loved even more than Paris).

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