After warming up in Seville for the first few days of my study break, my boyfriend and I headed to France. It had been a while since I had practiced any French, but I did successfully get us out of the airport to the train, so I think all those years of French class finally paid off. Paris in October was very different from Seville–the weather is much cooler and the coffee is much more expensive, but the incredible fall leaves were well worth what we paid for our café crèmes. We got to see some cool art, eat some great food, and celebrate my boyfriend’s birthday, so I included our favorite spots and memories from our Paris weekend here.
We got to our hotel Thursday afternoon, dug our jackets out of our bags, and went on a walk to see some sights. Our apartment was in the 5th arrondisement, so we walked along the Seine for a while before crossing over to battle the crowds up the Champs Elysées and get our obligatory picture of l’Arc de Triomphe.
Once we had fulfilled our tourist duties, the sun was setting and I realized I was running on the one protein bar I’d eaten at the airport. So, we stopped at a cafe for some wine and burrata before heading back towards our neighborhood where we grabbed dinner before collapsing into bed.
The next morning, we got up and went on a walk through Luxembourg Gardens, which was very close to where we were staying. There are huge fountains, lots of sculptures, and neat rows of trees that are bright orange and yellow this time of year. We got coffee at the little cafe right in the gardens and sat outside in the sun watching lots of kids, dogs, and well-dressed Parisians wearing scarves pass by our table as we sipped café crème.
After coffee we decided we needed another warm beverage, so we headed to Deux Magots, the always-busy, famous cafe once frequented by famous artists and writers including both Hemingway and Picasso. We had to order their famous, impossibly thick hot chocolate, which was SO worth the braving the crowds for. I’m still thinking about it.
Fueled by molten chocolate, we then headed over to the Musee d’Orsay to see some art. We definitely walked off all of our chocolat chaud by spending the whole afternoon wandering around the many collections of sculptures and paintings. We got to see pieces from Van Gogh, Renoir, Manet, Monet, and one of my favorite paintings ever by Rosa Bonheur (the cows pictured below!) Seeing this painting in person was really cool–it is much bigger than I thought, and I liked being able to stand where she stood in front of it and see all of the little brushstrokes on the fur and in the dirt that make it so impossibly realistic.
That evening, we took the metro to Montmarte to watch the sunset from Sacré Coeur. After many steps up the hill, we reached the beautiful basilica at the top where you can see the whole city. Lots of people were there sitting on the steps talking, drinking, and taking in the sights. Would definitely recommend this spot! The basilica itself is insanely beautiful, and the view is even better.
We then walked around the corner to grab dinner outside at a little bistro where we tried some escargot! Turns out snails taste pretty good when they’re covered in butter and garlic.
We spent the best Saturday morning sitting in the sunshine in Luxembourg Gardens. We watched the toy boats float around the fountain in front of the Luxembourg Museum and I sketched for a while. I could have sat in those green chairs forever with the yellow leaves falling, trying to draw all of the little windows in on the museum facade (there are a lot, as it turns out).
Saturday afternoon we walked over to Ladurée for some macarons and to check off another famous Paris bucket list item. We decided the pistachio one was our favorite, but we also tried raspberry, chocolate, and rose. We got a perfect little table outside and ordered Viennese coffees to go with our macarons.
Post-macaron, we decided to walk over to the Tuileries Gardens. We grabbed some picnic snacks including olives, figs, and hummus (a surprisingly good combo) and sat in the gardens until the sun went down.
For dinner, we celebrated Davis’s 21st birthday at Closerie de Lilas, another favorite spot of Hemingway. This whole trip basically ended up being a Hemingway tour, but he really was on to something with this one. It was definitely the best meal we had the whole week, and the restaurant itself was so cool. We ate under their glass veranda not far from their classic red leather booths while a man played live piano. I could imagine Hemingway across the room from us at the bar drinking a dry martini. I had incredible fish with some sort of magical french tomato sauce that I can’t even describe in words, and Davis had fantastic lamb. For dessert, Davis got a live rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ in french from the piano man and a french pastry that our lovely waiter poured molten chocolate over. Not a bad place to celebrate 21 🙂
Sadly, Sunday was our last day, so we went for one last visit to Luxembourg Gardens. We got coffee and then sat on a park bench for a while soaking up the nice fall weather before our flights. Eventually we had to leave our favorite park behind, but we swore to come back somebody for another birthday at Closerie de Lilas and some more hot chocolate. I thought about that hot chocolate my whole flight back to Copenhagen, and I’m still wishing I was sitting there outside with a warm teacup full in my hands, but I guess we’ll just have to go back 🙂