while researching places to go in paris, ten belles came up again and again. everyone seemed to be raving about the adorable exterior, friendly service and most of all, the great coffee. the coffee truly was worth the hype. i still don’t think it was quite on pare with intellegensia and some of my other favorite los angeles joints but it was rich and delicious and just hit the spot after wandering around all day. the cafe is tiny inside but we were lucky enough to snag a seat upstairs to people watch and enjoy the environment. after our coffee break, we took advantage of the surrounding area and explored this hip, up and coming district. the people here were probably the most stylish i saw in all of paris! i will never forget the girl i saw wearing striped ankle socks with mens pants and tank top looking oh so stylish with a cropped parisian haircut or the guy who looked straight out of the 1900s with round glasses and a baguette under his arm. if i ever get the chance to live in paris, the tenth arrondissement is definitely where you’d find me
the gardens of versailles are absolutely amazing! they are huge and every area of the gardens is a little different, from manicured gardens to sleep fields to untamed woods. the day we went, it was torrentially raining on and off but we still got a explore a big chunk of the property. when i went to versailles when i was young, my biggest regret was not visiting marie antoinette’s farm. we were so close but got lost and never made it. so this trip, it was at the very top of my list of things to do. it ended up being everything i expected and more. there were no buildings you could actually go in but the gardens and farm were so quaint and cute and it was so worth the extra walk. on the walk back, we got stuck in a rain storm so bad that we were stuck under a tree for half an hour to try to stay dry (we failed). but even with the rain, it was a great day of exploring and oohing and aching over how beautiful versailles and its gardens are.
versailles is just so beautiful. though this is my second time visiting, i was still in awe of how grand and decadent and detailed it is. growing up, i was obsessed with all things 16th century french. i would read book upon book on louis XIV and marie antoinette and the french revolution. my dream was to marry a prince at versailles and have a fairytale wedding. so when i found out that kim kardashian was rumored to be married at versailles, my 10 year old self was quite jealous. they ended up only having the pre-wedding party at versailles and we just so happened to visit the morning after the big party. on top of the history of versailles, the fact that we were standing in the same room that lana del ray performed in the night before and the lawn where the huge fireworks occurred was pretty awesome as well. another highlight was the hall of mirrors, which was closed the last time i visited. the scale is so grand, with sparkling chandeliers and gold building everywhere and i spent over a half hour just walking the hall and taking pictures. i could go on and on about how beautiful versailles is but instead, i’ll just leave you with these photos so you can see for yourself. and stay tuned for the pictures of wonderful gardens i’ll post soon
i have realized that as i have gotten older, most of my old sweet vices have slowly gone away. most baked goods are off limits because of my gluten allergy, ice cream because of my dairy aversion, candy seems too sweet, chocolate too rich, etc. but i will never tire of macarons. they are light and gluten free (usually) and when done right, just the perfect amount of sweetness and richness. so since paris is the macaron capital of the world, i couldn’t go without trying as many as possible. i was fortunate to go to paris with emily, a fellow macaron lover. i have a theory that people either adore macarons or detest them and we are definitely in the first camp. one afternoon, we decided to stop by the two macaron kings in town, ladurée and pierre hermé, to test each and see which actually was the best. after spending a pretty penny (those things aren’t cheap!) and having the hardest time finding the pierre hermé shop on the champs-élysées (it was in a high end pharmacy… who’d have thought?), we finally settled in the jardin des tuileries to test our purchases. there weren’t as many flavor overlaps as we had expected but we tried a chocolate, pistachio, lemon and rose from each store, as well as many other unique flavors. overall, the pierre hermé flavors were stronger and more unique while ladurée’s were more delicate and simple. i preferred pierre hermé while emily liked ladurée but we came to a consensus that ladurée has the best rose, pierre hermé the best lemon and the chocolate were too different to even compare. my favorite flavor of the day was vanilla bean and marie antoinette from ladurée and passion fruit and pistachio from pierre hermé but honestly, almost every flavor hit it out of the park (except for licorice and salted caramel… never again). our taste test in the tuileries is definitely one of my favorite (and yummiest) memories of the trip
what else can I say: Notre Dame is stunning! it was the first place we decided to go on our first morning and it was rainy and cold and we were dressed completely wrong. on top of that, the lines were out the door and there were people everywhere. Emily and I decided to go back to the room, change then come back and begin again. and when we returned, it was a totally different scene. the sun was out, the rain clouds dispersed and the lines had disappeared! hallelujah! we got to explore the inside, which was amazing and reminded me so much of the york minster, one of my favorites places in york. here are a few pictures i captured when the sun came out
when planning for paris, one of the non-negotiable stops was shakespeare and company bookstore. it is a precious little American bookstore along the seine with a wealth of history. writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, James Joyce and my favorite, Ernest Hemingway, would gather in this little bookshop to write and share ideas. it’s even referred to in Hemingways classic, a moveable feast! in more recent history, this bookshop is where celine and jesse reconnect in before sunset, which is arguably one of the most important scenes in the whole trilogy. walking through the tiny hallways of the shop with those scenes playing in my mind, I almost felt like I was in the film. though there was no photography allowed inside, I snuck a few snaps with my iPhone. I just couldn’t pass up such perfect photo ops! the books are ridiculously overpriced or else I would have bought the before sunrise/before sunset screenplay, seen below. it is more a place to brouse and sit in the reading room or many nooks and corners to read for a while. all in all, if you ever find yourself in Paris, this is definitely somewhere to put on your list!
when I was 11, I went to montmarte with my family. I was young and completely overwhelmed but the bohemian vibe with artists painting everywhere and beautiful views was indelibly marked on my mind. so when we were planning where to go this trip, I knew I wanted to re-experience montmarte again through new eyes. montmarte was close to our hotel but it took quite a few days to actually get over to that part of town. after getting lost (typical), we finally saw sacré coure beckoning from afar. probably in all of Paris, montmarte is where we felt the least safe. there were tourists everywhere and people haggling us to buy things and guys telling us we’d be prettier if we smiled (so odd) and honestly, it was pretty stressful. we were beginning to feel like montmarte was a lost cause when we began to descend the hill and stumbled upon the cutest cafe I have ever seen. they had the largest array of gluten free treats I had seen yet in Paris and conversation cards (in English!) and glorious lemonade and seemed like an oasis after our hot and stressful bout. we stayed for hours and people watched (all the customers were intimidatingly cool) and chatted and enjoyed the good food and decided our trip to montmarte was pretty great after all.
i don’t know about you but the first thing that comes to mind of when i think of paris is the eiffel tower. it is so beautiful and iconic that walking around the corner and seeing it standing there almost gave me a heart attack. really, its spectacular! emily and i decided to picnic at golden hour in the park under the eiffel tower and it was glorious. we had a quintessentially french meal of baguettes and goat cheese and fruit with rosé and stared at the eiffel tower and laughed and talked and had such a memorable time. but how couldn’t we with that kind of view?
a few nights later, we trudged (darn stairs) up to the top of the arc de triumph to watch the eiffel tower light up. a few people from emily’s class told us it wasn’t to be missed and they were so right. first of all, paris is gorgeous at night. the view from every angle was stunning! but the pièce de résistance was the sparkling light show from the eiffel tower off in the distance. there was a huge crowd but we got a pretty good spot and settled in to watch the five minute show. afterwards, we walked around the arc de triumph and along the champs elysees and admired the beauty of the city of light at night.
after my semester in york, i spent a week in paris with my beloved roommate from ohio, emily. she was doing a may term in france and invited me to crash with her in paris. such a dream! it was a spectacular adventure despite random bouts of torrential rain and at times faulty directions (i blame google). some highlights include following in the steps of my favorite movie before sunset (more on that soon), church at hill song paris, amazing evening meals and catching each other up to speed on our lives, copious amounts of french bonbons and pastries and day trips to versailles and monet’s garden. everything was absolutely magical. here are a few random, quintessentially parisian pictures but get ready for a downpour of posts coming at you soon.