Four countries in 15 days, sounds crazy, and it was, but it was so fun, fulfilling and memorable. What I love about traveling is it helps you gain more perspective and really helps to get you out of your own head sometimes. I also do feel you get a bit wiser each time. No matter how well you plan your trip, there are always a few curveballs.
To help organize our trip, we did quite a bit of planning beforehand. We made an itinerary as we had a lot to pack in into the 3 days we were here and pre-booked a lot of the things we wanted to see, which was great at providing structure to our days.
First stop Paris!
Day one we hit the ground running. When we got to Paris, we compared prices to get to our Airbnb, a taxi to the city center was going to be 50 euros, by subway 11 euros. We decided to take the subway to give us a chance to familiarize ourselves with the subway system as that would we our main form of transportation.
We dropped out stuff off at the aribnb, and went to our first stop, Arc de Triomphe. It stands as monument for those that fought and died in the French Revolution and Napoleans’ wars. It is a beautiful structure, in the middle of a busy traffic circle, and, as you would expect extremely crowded.
Our next stop, just a bit further down was Champs de Elysee, probably the most famous tree lined, 1.2 mile stretch of cafés, theaters and luxury shopping.
It’s Paris. It’s beautiful, chic and full of a bustling energy of one of the metropolitan cities of the world. Even if shopping isn’t your thing, it’s worth walking in the luxury stores because it all starts here. For most of these luxury brands, these stores are their flagship stores and it’s an experience in itself to walk in and experience where it all starts Particularly, Chanel and Louis Vuitton stood out for their beautiful window and floor displays.
We then went to the Eiffel Tower, I would highly recommend getting skip the line tickets. The line was long and with tickets the line would have been at least 2 hours. Our tickets also came with tour guide, who provided informative and color commentary about the Eiffel tower and its visitors. If you want to take pictures, it’s a good idea to get there early before your ticket time approach the park through the Champ de Mars, a large park that will give you a beautiful view and photos of the Eiffel tower.
We booked out tickets right as the sun was setting, and I would highly suggest it. The Eiffel tower at night when the lights are shining, is breathtaking and has to be seen, it sparkles.
Our day started off bright and early with a trip to Chateau de Versaille and it’s garden. It’s about a 40 mintute subway ride from Paris. We again, went with skip the line tickets. Which we’re glad we did. The line was MASSIVE at 8 am in on a Snday morning, with wait times of approximately 3 hours. The price difference between tickets was I believe $40 dollars, but we were able to skip the line and it included a guided tour of the garden and a self guided tour of Chateau de Versaille. We enjoyed the tour guide as he was well versed on the life of King Louie XVI. King Louis XVI’s identity was greatly tied to Versaille, and it’s beauty and size were intentional. It was meant to house all the nobles of Frances; to allow him to have grand parties but also to keep an on them.
In early April, the gardens were just waking up from their deep winter slumber, an the best time to see the gardens in all their glory would be summer, when everything is in full bloom.
The Chataeu is a study in excess and beauty. Everything was ornate, gilded in gold and no expense was spared to build this mini city. The chateau could hold approximately 3,000 people to give an idea of the size of the chateau.
An interesting tidbit from our guide, every June there is a masked ball in Versaille, where everyone dresses in period costume of King Louie XVI and a highly sought after ticket.
Next, it was off to the Catacombs. The subway in Paris is fairly easy to navigate, especially because we had a pocket wifi to help us navigate, but make sure you get their map, and utilize the information desk at the subway. They usually speak English and are a great resource in figuring out which lines to take.
The catacombs, were one of the most memorable places we visited in Paris, it’s slightly macabre, so if this doesn’t appeal to you; I would skip it. The catacombs are underground ossuaries that were created to address the overflowing cemeteries in Paris, with the remains of more than 6 million people resting there. It’s eerily beautiful, with the femurs and skulls artistically placed, lining the walls and even arranged into heart shapes and barrel of bones. It’s dark and the ceilings are low, really making it seem other worldy, and for me slightly claustrophobic.
We started the day at Louvre again bright and early. The Louvre is artwork in itself, with it’s two glass pyramids, that offer natural light into the museum. We again chose an early ticket time 9:00 am and we were happy to have done so, because the line was long, for people waiting to buy tickets. Must sees at the Louvre, include obviously the Mona Lisa, the staircase of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, the Virgin of the Rocks and the wedding at Cana.
Then we went to Ladurée, Ladurée, is quintessentially Paris, and their mint green exterior and the colorful macaron trees are akin to something out of Alice in Wonderland. The macarons are undeniably delicious. We tried a few macrons (okay, a lot) and we can confidently say these are the best. Are favorite by far were the salted caramel, vanilla and pistachio.
Our last stop was to head to Le mur des je t’aime, a wall filled of “I love you,” at the bottom of Montmartre. It’s a charming art district in Paris, at the top is the Sacré-Coeur Basilica, that offers an amazing view of the city. You can choose to take the funicular to the top or walk to the top. It’s a beautiful view from at the top where you can see the Eiffel tower, and I think a great way to end the trip. Paris.
Au revoir, on to Portugal!