Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Solo Parisian Vacation

Deep breath......get ready for a long post.

Traveling has always been a passion of mine. When I was younger I took my st airplane ride as a 13 year old 8th grader.  I went with my classmates on the annual 8th grade trip to Washington D.C. and ever since I have been obsessed with traveling and seeing the world. So in January I decided I was going to take a solo trip to Paris.  I'd been to Paris one time before so I wasn't too worried about getting around town or occupying myself for 4 days.

When I decided I was going to take this trip I knew and wanted to make it cost effective as possible because I was definitely planning on doing some shopping while I was there, and there was no one to split accommodations with. So I took advantage of airline miles and found an amazing deal on Expedia for my hotel. My plane ticket was only a $160 round trip with direct flights and my hotel was about $850 for 4 days. Not too shabby considering I was about to spend 4 days in the city of lights exploring and having an amazing experience!


I left Los Angeles at about 11:45 a.m. on Saturday  January 18th and arrived in Paris Sunday January 19th at about 6:30 a.m. It was a long 9 and a 1/2 hour flight but well worth it! I have to say that traveling internationally is not as hard as it would seem. Most airports have the customs process down to a science. The lines move very quickly and you pick up your luggage, then you're waiting for your taxi within 40 minutes. I originally was planning to take an Uber into the city but because of the construction I ended up taking a taxi....which was a flat rate of €55. (OUCH!)

When I got to the hotel my room was not ready. By this time it was about 8:30-9:00 a.m. and check in was not until 1:00 p.m.. So the hotel was a gracious and gave me coffee and a croissant and I waited for my room to be ready. I took a quick walk around the area which was steps from the Arc de Triomphe and then went back to the hotel for a light breakfast. I was able to check in and get settled by About 9:30-10:00 a.m.
Pro Tip: International flights to serve meals so you may not be hungry once you get off the plane. My flight had 2 meals and plenty of snacks! 

When I planned this trip back in December I pre-scheduled all of my museum tours. I wanted to make sure I had something to do each day. So on Sunday, when I arrived, I planned to go to the Museé de Yves Saint Laurent at 11:00 a.m. The good news is that it was a 20 minute walk from my hotel!

Pro Tip: When you are traveling somewhere that is hours ahead, do what ever you can to stay awake until bedtime. 

The Museé de Yves Saint Laurent was set up in the original house of Yves Saint Laurent.  The museum took you on a tour of the history of the designer and the brand. I saw his most iconic pieces, his work space, and 2 short documentaries of his life. I was able to see what inspired him over time to make Yves Saint Laurent what we know today. Fun fact: Yves Saint Laurent started working at the house of Dior in 1955 before Christian Dior died in 1957 of a heart attack.
After the museum I decided to wander around the area and do some shopping.  Paris is the land of amazing fashion houses so I knew I would be able to find something.

Pro Tip: When shopping internationally and you spend more than about a €150 to €175 you can get the tax back. You will recoup about 12% tax. Also European prices are usually cheaper than U.S. prices. For example, if something is priced at $1850 it could be priced at  €1300. After the 12% in taxes are returned, it would be €1144. After the currency conversion that could translate to about $1260. Which is about a $600 savings if you consider paying US sales taxes on the original $1850.

After meandering around Avenue Montaigne I decided to get some lunch. It was about 30° F and I needed something to warm me up. I had Pho at a Vietnamese restaurant. Honestly it was mediocre. I had my heart set on Pho from James Bun but I wasn't able to make it over to that restaurant that day.

Since day one was pretty eventful with my arrival, a museum, shopping, and late lunch, I decided to head back to the hotel and take it easy for the night. I was pretty tired by then. I actually slept for about 12 hours that night! The good news is that I woke up the next morning rested and ready to go!


On my 2nd day in Paris I had a guided tour at the Museé du Louvre at 11:30.  I'd been the Louvre once before but it's much different when you have a guide explaining all of the amazing pieces you're looking at. They're able to provide so much more insight than you'll ever know by just reading the placard. The tour was about 90 minutes and once it was complete I walked through the museum to  look at a few other pieces.  I also met 2 really nice ladies from San Francisco on the tour so they came along with me to explore the museum.
Pro Tip: When traveling alone you will always meet people, so don't be afraid to talk to people. Most of the world speaks English and strangers are curious and intrigued by the idea of someone traveling alone so they will ask you questions and provide advice on what to do in the area.

After the museum I wanted to look for candles. France is also the land of scents so I knew I would be able to find some luxurious candles. I had done a little research and I planned to go to Cire Trudon in the Saint Germain neighborhood.  Cire Trudon  has been around since 1643 and whenever I see these candles in the U.S. they're very expensive (because they are imported) and quite luxurious!

When I found the candle shop I was mesmerized. It was a cute store on a small side street and it smelled amazing. When I walked in there were candles arranged beautifully around the store and the woman behind the counter was so kind and generous to me. She gave me free samples and made suggestions on the candles that I would like based on the types of scents I told her I was into.  I left with 3 candles and couldn't wait to get home to burn them.

By this time it was time for a late lunch. I stumbled into a restaurant around the corner called Le Comptoir. It was delicious. The menu was in French so I looked around to what the locals were eating and just pointed to something that looked delicious! I ordered marmite de daube de joue penne et carrot, which translates to beef cheek stew pot with penne and carrots. It was delicious! I had a glass of red wine too of course!
After my late lunch at Le Comptoir I continued walking through the area and somehow ended up in the art and design district. I saw so many small galleries with beautiful artwork. Everything from paintings, to sculptures, to beautiful curtains with amazing fabrics. It was so beautiful.

I made my way back to my hotel and rested for a while. I then went back out to the Champs-Élysées to walk around and do some people watching. I ended the night with a small sweet treat and a cup of coffee at Lauduree


By day 3 of my trip I was fully on Paris time. So I got up early, got ready, and headed over to the Eiffel Tower.  I had been to the Eiffel Tower once before, however I knew visiting Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower in all its glory would be remiss. I had some time before my tour at the 3rd museum so off I went. The Eiffel Tower is breathtaking and I am amazed at how beautiful.  There were couples taking engagement pictures, wedding pictures, and baby announcements. It is so amazing and so iconic that I completely understand why anyone would travel so far to get the perfect shot.
After my rendezvous with the Eiffel Tower I headed across the street for breakfast.I knew I had a bit of time before my 11:00 a.m. tour at the Musée d'Orsay. So I went to Le Wilson right across the street and had a delicious french breakfast.  After breakfast I hopped on the metro and headed over to the museum.

Pro Tip: If you plan to travel to Paris be prepared to take the metro. The streets are small and there is so much traffic. The metro is the most efficient  and cost effective way to get around's cheap! €1.90 each way!

I was running a little late to my museum tour but I was able to catch up with the group. The tour  guide walked us through the museum providing details on each of the masterpieces. I am so amazed by the amount of artwork  in the museum and the amount of knowledge these tour guides have to have. I saw Van Goghs, Monets, and Manets, as well as so many beautiful sculptures. It was so cool to see all of the artwork I've only seen in history books.
After the museum I had time to kill before meeting up with a new acquaintance for coffee and crepes. So I headed to Sèzane to check out their store. A friend of mine told me about the brand so I of course I wanted to see! It was a beautiful store with amazing jewelry, shoes, handbags, and beautiful sweaters and jeans. I left with only sweater....because my luggage was getting heavy.

Later on the evening I met up with a new acquaintance for coffee and crepes at Breizh Cafe. They were great. Honestly I'm not the biggest crape fan however the jam that was on these crepes was unreal! And the coffee was delicious! Strong and good...just how I like it!
Pro tip: Don't be afraid to talk to the locals! You never know who you may become life long friends with.  If anything, you will definitely get some great advice on where to go and the best restaurants to try!

After meeting with my new acquaintance I headed back to the metro tor dinner. On my walk I discovered an amazing chocolate store, Chapon Chocolate. I picked up a few treats for friends and family and headed to dinner. 
Ok so here's the deal. I'd been looking  forward to eating at James Bun  since I booked my ticket! so, when I made it there I was so excited! I ordered Pho and Bánh mì and the waiter looked at me like I was crazy! I told him that I traveled all the way from Los Angeles to have this meal so set your judgment aside! He laughed assured me he wasn't judging and served me my food. It was  perfect. It was a cold night (again) and the soup hit the spot! I immediately went to my Google Translate app and told the Vietnamese cooks that the meal was delicious! They laughed and said thank you!
After dinner I hopped right back on the metro and headed back to my hotel and I was in for the night.


Since it was my last full day in Paris I wanted to make sure I did exactly what I wanted to do. I got up, got ready, got a little something to eat and went over to the Musée des Arts Décoratifs

I had been to this museum on my previous trip to Paris, however I had only seen one exhibit. This time I wanted to make sure I saw as much as I could in addition to the current exhibit they had.  So I started at the bottom and made my way all the way to the top. I had originally picked up an audio guide but then decided not to use it.  There were about 6 floors to the museum. Or which I thought! Turns out that there was a whole other side of the museum I didn't get an opportunity to see. Quite frankly I could have stayed longer but I was pretty tired. Exploring 6 very detailed and vertical floors of a museum can be a bit exhausting. Plus this was day 4 of museums....I was tired. The temporary shoe exhibit at the museum this time was very interesting.  They showed shoes from so many different cultures and for so many different purposes. Even down to the sneakers and the high heels that we wear today. 

After the museum I went for lunch at L'entrecte De Paris for lunch. I had the most delicious steak and frites ever!  And of course a glass of red wine because...DUH!!!

Once I finished lunch I made my way to the center of the city to do more exploring. I went into a skate shop and picked up a T-shirt for a friend and discovered Indira, a great turban and jewelry store, on my way back to the metro.  I ended up spending about 35 to 40 minutes in the store just chatting and talking about the merchandise with one of the employees.  I left with one turban and as soon as I got on the plane I immediately thought that I should have left with two! 
I left the turban shop and headed to the metro. I again was killing time until I was ready for dinner so I went for coffee and a pastry. Ok so here is the deal. There is something about the pastries in Paris. I don't know if it's the ingredients, the water, the air,or what but every single pastry I had in this city was amazing! The chocolate in the croissant I had this day was unreal!!  It was perfect. The croissant was warm, soft, and so buttery. The chocolate was even melted perfectly. My mouth is watering just thinking about it!
When I finished my coffee and pastry I decided to go back to the hotel for a while. If anything I wanted to drop off the 2 bags I had and relax for a moment before heading back out for my final night in the city. I decided to take a long walk through the area on my last night and ducked into a couple of stores just to browse then headed to Le Souffle on a recommendation from one of the employees in one of the stores.  

I was still pretty full from delicious pastry however I managed to finish the amazing ham and cheese souffle. The American couple next to me recommended the chocolate souffle for dessert but I just couldn't fit anything else in. 

After dinner I slowly walked back to the metro station and headed back to my hotel . There was a convenience store across the street from my hotel so I grabbed one last individual bottle of wine and was in for the night. 

Pro Tip: Keep your clothes half packed so your final day is not spent making sure you have everything. There is less of an opportunity to leave something if you are always putting your belongings in your luggage. 

The next morning I got up and got ready. Made sure there was nothing left in my hotel room and headed out the door. I made my way to the front desk and called my Uber. My final ride through the city was amazing. It was still dark so the city was lit. I felt a little melancholy as I leaving the city of lights and headed home. Everybody I spoke with in Paris was so nice and kind to me. I've taken many solo trips before, mainly for work, but this time traveling alone to another country was an experience for the books! I didn't once fee lonely or like I should have someone with me. I did exactly what I wanted to do with no compromise. 

If you've never traveled by yourself before take a chance and buy that plane ticket. Book that hotel . I read something on-line a while back that said something liked, you can always make more money but you can never make more time


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