Like wine, it gets better with age
What I learned on my third trip to Paris.
The edits may be different, but in reality I don't know how different I really am.
That being said, these three chics could have helped each other out: College Lauren may have convinced Eighth Grade Lauren to buy a cappuccino instead of a Starbucks Frappucino while in a foreign country. 23-year-old Lauren could have suggested to her collegiate-self to explore the péniches (boat bars). And pre-braces Lo could reiterate berets in this city never go out of style.
I have a flair for the dramatic and this trip I was travelling with my boyfriend, Luke. He was flying from Seattle via Reykjavik and I via New York. So naturally, this being Paris I wanted to find a romantic place where we could meet up.
After looking over posts on Gal Meets Glam I picked, Les Deux Magots. A literary mecca for artists in the Post-World War I era. The brasserie has hosted the likes of Hemingway and Picasso. At least, that's what Wikipedia tells me. More modern references include a filming location for Inception.
Located in the St-Germain neighborhood its marked by a green and white striped awning and a thick hedgerow. We had a set time, where he was supposed to be there at the restaurant waiting for me. However, the Travel-Gods had other plans and after a canceled flight, we ended up meeting in front of the Opera where the bus dropped him off. As you can see we weren't too disappointed about that.
TRAVEL TIP: Roissy Bus is a great way to get from Charles de Gaulle Airport to the city. It only costs 12 euros and they run frequently so you'll never be waiting for too long.
We checked into our little loft of an Air BnB and then headed for lunch at Les Deux Magots. Luke tried his first Croque Madame and was very impressed.
St. Germain on a Sunday is magical! Everyone is out on patios eating frites while managing to look like models. Sometimes in Paris its hard to tell what is a weekend and what is a weekday. This is my favorite neighborhood in the city.
We ended our day as many tourists do: sitting on the lawn of the Eiffel Tower drinking lukewarm wine. If you can get past the locals bumping rap music on their portable speakers and the mass amounts of men trying to sell you trinkets its pretty dang romantic. We listened to street artists perform Ed Sheeran covers on the steps of the Palais de Challiot (where the photo above was taken) and we even passed by a group taking dance lessons. After dark, at the top of each hour - the tower begins to glitter in a mesmerizing way. This is my second time experiencing the light show and it never gets old.
We opted to stay at an Air BnB as we did all but one night of our trip. We had to hike a flight of stairs and it was petite, but for $72 and a prime location it was tough to beat. Located in the heart of Little Tokyo we had really good Japanese restaurants surrounding us. Don't knock French-Japanese until you try it!
Our first stop of the morning was to the concept store, Merci. The best way I can describe this is a chic bodega of luxury goods: velvet furniture, strangely shaped bars of soap and cashmere beanies. You can buy things, you can go to lunch, grab a coffee or just stare at its absolute fabulousness.
This was one of the recommendations I received from my French friend, Tatiana Giacinti. We really lived and died by her suggestions throughout our trip.
I am a coffee addict and was quite keen to try the "Boot Cafe" as it is known. It's crammed and a bit chaotic, but adorable. It was right around the corner from Merci.
Sometimes, when you visit a place more than once, you take things for granted. Sacré-Cœur and Notre Dame are prime examples - I've learned these are iconic for a reason.
TRAVEL TIP: Instead of buying a pricey lunch go grab empinadas, gyros, dumplings, a crepe - something that is easy to eat in front of one of these beautiful spots. That way you don't feel rushed, like we checked that box time to move on now.
Keep in mind, we did have days in between where we traveled. I will fill in those blanks later.
So after traveling in this little Fiat for a week we returned to the city!
Checking in first to the charming Hotel Henriette I was blown away. It is a boutique hotel so the rooms are small but the common spaces are well manicured and cozy.
TRAVEL TIP: Before I stay somewhere or visit a place I always look it up on Instagram. I will see what other people posted about it and check out if it is really my vibe. You can see an array of posts by using the location feature on the app.
By now we had become masters of the metro. Fun fact, real Parisians identify their neighborhoods by their metro stops! For example: I live in Gobelins - that was the closest stop for us to the Hotel.
We took the metro to the Champs-Élysées that morning. This is a lesson on why you do not forsake landmarks you've seen before. We were surprised to find people just walking in the middle of the street. It was for a special Sunday event! Seeing people bike and stroll on the iconic thoroughfare is something I'll never forget!
We made time to briefly visit Luxembourg Palace, where the leaves were beginning to turn.
Then stopped to grab a crepe, I am a sucker for Nutella and strawberries. After we had our sugar fix we got a load of eye candy over at the boujee Galeries Lafayette. It is a massive department store where you can buy your bread for dinner but also Balenciaga sneakers.
Shakespeare and Company will not disappoint for those with a literary mind. Not far from Notre Dame it sits in one of Paris' oldest neighborhoods, but was actually created by an American, Sylvia Beach. She gave refuge to starving artists by providing them a place to sleep while they worked. Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce are among them. They do not allow pictures inside so you'll have to go see the upstairs bedrooms and pet the resident cat for yourself. My lovely friend Caroline suggested this now treasured stop.
While French cuisine is amazing, we fell in love with the food at an Italian restaurant. By some chance, everyday of our trip we walked by this same place and each time it had a snake of a line winding around it. I wrote down the name and when we had WiFi I did some research. We went for it and learned Pizzeria Popolare is mouthwatering. Be prepared to save room for desert, you will not want to say no to the tiramisu they serve straight out of the pan! Do not let the line deter you, if you show up a half hour before the doors open at 6 p.m. you will be one of the first seated.
On our last day after what felt like walking the Seine for the twentieth time we grabbed some good coffee to settle our jitters.
Our flights left at two different times - so rather than getting to the airport early I decided to do some exploring on my own.
I have always wanted to see this basketball court in person having played AAU basketball for most of my life. Walking down the white-washed Pigalle street you would have no idea it was there at first. It's such a wonderful surprise to see all the color. There were other people taking pictures there but they we were all really respectful of each other.
I wonder what trip four will bring?