How I took a Solo Trip to Europe- Paris

Friday, October 23, 2015 Emily Childers 0 Comments

Admittedly I've never been a Francophile, but I felt obligated to visit Paris. And boy am I glad I did.

Day 1

I arrived into London on a direct flight from Vegas and had enough time for a quick pub lunch before hopping on the Eurostar high speed train to Paris. It was a quick and pretty ride, I sat next to a man with three cell phones that I decided was an international drug smuggler. It was the only explanation. I didn't do my research and picked a hostel near Gar du Nord, which turned out to be a pretty sketchy area. Luckily the hostel was lovely and clean (with a 24 hour security guard posted out front!) so things could have been worse. In retrospect I wish I had tried to find lodging through Air BnB, although a lesson learned should never be regretted.

Making friends with the locals

Day 2

I spent four nights in Paris and would have loved to stay longer. My first morning was spent in the Louvre; a perk of jet lag is getting up early enough to be the second person in line to get in! I bought a three day Paris Museum Pass so I didn't have to stand in line to buy a ticket, just to go through security. The pass paid for itself multiple times over since I did some heavy-duty sight seeing. I highly recommend it.

Good morning Louvre!
Obligatory shot of tiny Miss Mona Lisa
Some of my favorite pieces were sculptures, which surprised me.

I also found time for a sweet treat and a quick trip to the Musee de l'Orangerie before lunch. I was dying to see the water lillies by Monet, which are some of my favorites pieces of all time. You're not supposed to take pictures but I was naughty.
So different up close, but still completely stunning. I got goosebumps just walking into the room.
Pistachio macaron with raspberries. Drool.

The afternoon was spent on a quick trip to the Musee D'Orsay, a walk through the gardens by the Eiffel Tower, a self guided tour of the Champs Elysees, and a trek to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. To say that my feet were tired by dinner is an understatement. I went from sitting at a desk all day to traipsing all over Paris through miles of museums. I was not prepared.

So many steps to get to the top of the Arc de Triomphe.
All those steps were worth it for the views.
My barking dogs finally got a rest when I stopped for an espresso (and wifi) at a small cafe. I was the only person in the place and was prepared to cut my break short when the woman working let me know she was closing soon. She surprised me by telling me I could stay while she cleaned up and offered to send me off with a free bag of food! Apparently they chucked their leftovers at the end of the day so she put together a huge bag of treats for me. Whoever says that Parisians are rude is a liar and a scoundrel!

Salad and fish over rice, which wasn't just free but delicious to boot!

Day 3

I got up early again (thanks jetlag!) and hopped on a train to Versaille. I met some other Americans on the train; they were all older couples visiting Paris for the first time. One of the gentlemen commented that he missed his hometown where he "could drive from one end to the other in fifteen minutes. None of this train and subway nonsense". I laughed and silently thanked my parents for raising me with an open mind and taste for adventure.

The golden gates of Versailles
I hadn't realized the size of Versailles; it's not just one palace but a set of gardens, paths, estates, and working farms. My sore feet were in for another long day. I shouldn't complain, it was worth every ache.

After touring the main palace and gardens I headed out to the Grand Trianon. At some point I ended up on the wrong side of a moat and walked an extra couple miles to circumvent the entire place. Whoops. At least the scenery was beautiful and the weather was crisp. Who would have thought that moats were still so effective?

Accidental hike on the wrong side of a moat.
After finally getting onto the right side of the moat around the Grand Trianon I called it a day and hopped on the train back to Paris. I took a quick break at the hostel to change shoes and freshen up then headed back out. I found that without anyone forcing me to stop that I toured at a break neck speed. I can't tell if this was a benefit or drawback of traveling alone. A quick bus ride later I was outside the Eiffel tower again, this time for a boat cruise down the Seine. For less than fifteen Euros I got to experience a Parisian sunset from the river. I couldn't wipe the grin off of my face.

I finished up my magical evening with a serious case of decision anxiety and spent the better part of the night trying to figure out where to eat. I wish I had picked the idyllic cafe deep in the second arrondissement that I was too nervous to go into, but still found a pretty tasty meal just off of the Champs Elysees.

French wine makes everything taste better, even dry chicken.
Picking up some macarons at the famous Laduree

Day 4

I was finally able to sleep in past 5am and decided to take that as a sign to slow down a little bit. I took a leisurely walk around Notre Dame, toured St. Chapelle, found Shakespeare and Company (a famous English book store), listened to an audio tour of the Latin Quarter, and lounged a bit in a park. 

Flowers at a street market 
Gorgeous stained glass in St. Chappelle
Shakespeare and Company Book Store
Leaving a note in the writing nook in Shakespeare and Company 

For the afternoon I took the metro to Pigalle to check out Montmartre and the hipster haven of Paris.

Street music in Pigalle

Lounging at Montmartre
Quick stop to take a picture of Moulin Rouge, which wasn't as glamorous as I'd hoped

The metro ride back to my hostel was packed, but fun. A little dog barked at me until I petted him. His owner was a sweet older woman who knew enough English to tell me that the pup must like the color of my shirt.

All of the walking, navigating, and thinking finally wore me down and I crashed for a few hours. I'm not normally able to nap, so this was heaven. It was tough but I dragged myself out of bed to go out to a nice dinner (by myself of course). I figured I needed to give myself a proper send off on my last night in Paris.

White tablecloths, a victrola, and charm up the wazoo

The highlight of the meal was the tuna served three ways. Delish.

I'm dying to go back and show Paris to Nick. I'm sure we'll get there someday.

Check out my other posts on planning and packing for this trip.