Paris: Walks and Quality Time in the City of Love

 I have not shared travel photos on the blog for a long time, mainly because it is very time-consuming and an update to my Mac last year caused a hiccup in the ability to upload photos onto Blogger. But alas, I finangled my way around and figured out a way.... Now the test will be if I can do it again when I am read to post more photos! 

Greg and I spent two glorious weeks in Paris and Italy in October celebrating our two-year wedding anniversary and some much-needed rest from busyness. The weather was crisp in Paris but warm everywhere in Italy, so it was a great balance for early autumn in Europe. 

To kick it off, why not start with our first destination, and the city that has been pulling on my heartstrings for years... Paris! I visited in 2012 and 2013 and knew I'd want to return one day when I had a mister with whom to enjoy the city. Greg was not too interested in museums or history since he'd get a plethora of both in Rome, so Paris was a soft landing spot to wear off jet-lag and get immersed in the European culture. And what a better way to do that than walking! Paris is extremely walkable, though it is also extremely accessible by public transportation when you're feet are aching for rest.

We wanted to be intentional with providing opportunities to have quality time together, soaking up the moments rather than rushing through a million sites to see or focusing only on getting that perfect instagram photo. I am often guilty of both, while Greg is naturally more present-focused, so I made a quality time wishlist ahead of time which included things like "visit a park or public square everyday and just sit and talk and enjoy the moment". This particularly was one of my favorite parts of our trip because each time we'd sit, we'd not only rest our weary feet but also share in the wonder and awe of such gorgeous sites. We had a lot of quality time walking casually and taking in all the sites.

Here are some of the places we soaked in the Parisian atmosphere...

Places des Vosges
When we first arrive in Paris, fresh off the plane at 0800 (but it was around midnight back home), we were exhausted. We had to wait a few hours for our Airbnb to be available so we walked a few blocks to Places des Vosges, a quiet hideaway full of literary history. Victor Hugo lived in one of the buildings from 1832-1848. We were in line to visit the free museum but since we had luggage with us, were not allowed. And regrettably, we did not get a chance to return while in Paris. But it was still a relaxing place to rest on a bench and watch joggers and mamas with strollers pass by. The leaves were barely starting to turn orange and the air was cool and crisp.

Neighborhood: Marais district, straddling the 3rd and 4th arrondissements 

La Terrasse - Galeries Lafayette Haussmann
This enormous high-end mall has a free terrace that provides a stunning view of many Parisian monuments, including the Eiffel Tower. It was a sunny afternoon when we rode the escalator to the seventh floor and up a flight of stairs to be welcomed with this view. We walked around and tried to find monuments we recognized and then as soon as we heard a couple nearby speak English, asked if they'd mind taking a few photos of us. We spent around half an hour up there and though there were tourists and locals chatting nearby, it felt quiet and calm since we were far away from the honking and sirens.

Neighborhood: 9th arrondissement 

Jardin des Tuileries 
Once a palace garden of Catherine de Medici, now a public garden spanning from the Louvre to Place de la Concorde, the garden definitely has a regal feel to it, with its manicured lawns, marble statues,  and background of Haussmann architecture. In previous trips to Paris, I opted for the likewise large and regal Jardin Luxembourg, so I really wanted to stroll through the Tuileries this time around. We started outside the Louvre and made our way towards Place de la Concorde as we meandered through the gravel lanes, passing by trees with autumn leaves galore, delicate rose bushes,  ornate statues, and man-made ponds.

Neighborhood: 1st arrondissement 

Notre Dame and Latin Quarter
What is more romantic than strolling alongside the Seine with Notre Dame Cathedral in the background? We were in walking distance from our Airbnb, so we returned to this view several times. We passed by beautiful cafes and dessert shops plus caught early autumn shades on lazy trees drooping near the Seine. The air was chilly so we didn't sit much but it was relaxing to slowly meander around and chat nonchalantly, stopping for photos once in a while. And of course, I had to stop by Shakespeare & Company since we were close by. This American bookshop has been around since the 1920s and was made popular by American expat authors like Ernest Hemingway, who mentions it frequently in his memoir, A Moveable Feast (which I was reading while in Paris)

Location: Latin Quarter,  5th arrondissement

The famous hill, a village-like neighborhood on the outskirts of Paris, is the ideal place to get ditch the map or GPS and just wander down the steep, narrow, cobblestoned streets. Various scents wafting from street food vendors and nearby restaurants, musicians singing various renditions of La Vie En Rose, artists drawing sketches of seated tourists in the artist's square called Place du Tertre, a walk covered in I Love You in 250 languages, and the limestone facade of the  hilltop Basilica Sacre-Coeur. This is a glimpse back in time to famous artists who walked these streets, including Picasso, Van Gogh, Dali, and musician Edith Piaf. But it is also just a fun place to people watch, admire the colorful buildings, and gaze out at the Parisian skyline from the top of the hill. 

Location: 18th arrondissement 

Eiffel Tower
What is a Parisian walk without a close encounter with the world's most recognizable monument? We opted to skip the long lines to climb and instead walked from Tracadero to Champ de Mars to get multiple vantage points of La Dame de Fer (the Iron Lady). We sat down a few different times to soak it all in and even caught the twinkling lights as we were catching our bus back to our apartment.

Location: 16th arrondissement  


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