A Trip to France: My Days in Paris

I've come back from my adventures abroad bringing lots of photographs & memories to share with you!

A few months ago I decided to book a trip to Paris to meet Amanda, my best friend, who has graced this blog many times. We haven't seen each other since I left Japan 2 years ago, she's currently living in Belgium preparing to do a Masters's degree. We decided that Paris would be a good midpoint to meet since we both never been there before. Not speaking a lick of French, I booked the flight and prepared the countdown. 

I shared news of my trip with a group of friends I've had online for the past two years or so. In this group are members from all over the world: Italy, Canada, Belgium, France, and America to name a few. When I told those who lived in France that I was going to be in Paris, we quickly arranged for us to meet up for a few days. Unexpectedly,  the meetup quickly exploded into a once in a lifetime event, where 9 people all decided to meet for the first time. 

So there I was at the airport, nothing more than a backpack in my arms and on my back, going to meet not only my best friend but an entirely new group of friends that I've known for years but never met face-to-face. 

I had a magical, amazing, perfect trip to France and I have over 500 photographs to sort through and share with you. In this post, I'll be detailing the days that I spent with Amanda in Paris. Some of my favorite photographs were taken with her. This post is going to be a bit longer than most of my other posts since I have so much to share, I truly hope you enjoy it.

Amanda and I got an Airbnb that had an amazing view of Paris. It also required us to walk up 6 flights of stairs every day, which is something that we had no idea about until we arrived, but the Bnb itself was wonderful. It was small and cozy, a perfect size for two girls. We spent our late evenings there, Amanda painting and doing her journal entry, and me laying on the bed beside her. 

Funny story about one of the first bridges we walked on:
Amanda and I were walking and saw an artist on the bridge trying to sell his paintings. When we took a closer look, we saw that they were very pretty and well done, but way too large to buy as a souvenir, and so we attempted to walk away and decline when they seller propositioned us to buy. He did not want to take no for an answer, and repeatedly showed us more of his work as well as proof the paintings were "real" by rubbing a bit off on his finger.  

When we finally got away, we traveled around a bit and saw another artist who was selling photos that looked similar. Not just similar, EXACTLY the same. We walked another 20 feet and there was another "artist" with the same photos, same colors, selling his "work" on the side of the road. It became clear this was one of the first scams we would see in Paris, and I have to admit the first guy sold us on it pretty well!

We visited a bunch of historic places and took tons of photos, which is what we do best. The weather wasn't too hot or too cold, but the wind was strong! We went to a park on the first day so Amanda could do some sketching, and it was there that I discovered that everyone in Paris is in love. While Amanda tried to sketch the beautiful buildings in front of her, a couple was kissing right in front of us, not coming up for air once. I can't say this is the first or last time I saw PDA in Paris, it became totally normal to me by the third day.

As the sun began to set, we walked in the general direction of the Arc and saw this beautiful bridge, which we later did a boat tour under. We took some night photos here and I really love how this one of Amanda came out. Before this, the sky was the most beautiful purple and pink, I would have killed for an Eiffel Tower photo! Sadly, we were too far away. 

As we got to the Arc, Amanda and I got crepes and sat on a bench to rest our legs. On the first day alone we got over 20,000 steps, so needless to say we were both exhausted. With both of our French levels being limited, we ended up getting Chinese food for dinner that we really enjoyed. It felt like such a funny thing, to sit in a BNB in the heart of Paris eating Chinese take-out, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

On the second day, Amanda and I went into full tourist mode and hit up the Eiffel Tower. The first obstacle? The Parisian transit system. I thought the subway system in New York City was confusing, but the Parisian subways really took the cake when it came to making 0 sense. 

The first thing to know: the tickets are very small pieces of paper that you need to get in and sometimes out of the train. Do not throw your ticket away once you scan it the first time or you'll be trapped in Gare Du Nord like I was. 
Second: I recommend buying a book of tickets if you plan on heading to all the tourist stops: it will save you money. When you go to the small digital kiosk, select the ticket book option that I believe is around 16 euros, trust me you will thank yourself later. Pictured below is the super tiny ticket and an unamused Amanda.

We got to the tower and approached from the back end, meaning we didn't go through the normal entrance. This ended up being a good idea though because we were able to walk around it and see the little park that surrounds it on one side and take some pretty photos from beneath the tower. 

Once again, we had a crepe and decided to take a walk in the park that surrounds the tower. I wish I had come to Paris during the summer, because the park was filled with minimal grass and dead trees, so it wasn't the most beautiful thing. 

Nutella crepe in hand, we were determined to take cute photos despite the cold weather and less than aesthetic chain fences surrounding certain areas of the tower. When we took photos we cycled between waiting for the violent winds to blow, taking photos during the 5 seconds of calm, then taking a gust of wind to the face again. 

After we were satisfied taking photos here, we decided to head to Notre Dame. Due to the recent events there, we knew there wasn't going to be much to see but we still wanted to go and say we did it. There's an entire exhibit surrounding Notre Dame giving details about its construction and what fire damage they are correcting which was interesting! 

Scattered around these tourist areas are shops that sell things like scarves, Paris themed items, croissant themed items, etc. When I first saw these shops I thought "Oh wow that's so cute!" but after two days in Paris, I realized there were easily over 100 stores that sold the exact same items, at almost the same prices, scattered around the tourist sites exclusively. It was essentially the France version of an "I <3 NY" shop. 

After this, we had some free time before dinner and relaxed in the Garden of Luxembourg, which I found to be so pretty. It's one of those places you could take your baby for a stroll if you lived in Paris. 

Amanda and I had Korean food for dinner, which surprisingly had a Japanese menu, so our escapades in avoiding speaking French continued yet another day. 

On our third day together, it was Amanda's birthday! 

We headed out to do some shopping at the Lafayette Galleries and within the first hour, I realized that it was horribly expensive and there was no way I was buying anything. I picked up a pair of shoes that I liked and saw the price tag: 750 Euros. I put that shoe down so fast and nearly sprinted away. 

After this we went to Montmartre which required a LOT of uphill walking and stamina. As we went further and further up, we had a really great view of the city, so it was worth the hour or so it took to climb. I got some macarons but, if I'm being honest, they didn't last very long.

There were a lot of people wandering around, as it is a tourist attraction, so instead of trying to snap a photo in the crowd, we sat on the steps and looked through all the photos we'd taken. Amanda snapped this pretty photo of a lock someone had placed.

At this point in the day, with my legs screaming in pain, I was not in the mood for photos. Amanda however was bright and bubbly, and I got this great shot of her as we started to descend back down to the streets.

Amanda and I decided to take a boat trip on impulse, I briefly mentioned it earlier, and it ended up being one of the most memorable events from our trip. It was overcast, a bit cold, and the wind was blowing hard, but the boat trip company decided to take an alternate route and sail out anyway. We got our tickets and sat in the middle of the boat since there was a sign in the front saying 'Those sitting in the front may be splashed.'

As the boat tour went on, we started to really enjoy ourselves and it was an oddly peaceful yet fun experience. We even snapped this cute selfie:

However, as we came back around, the water was a bit rough. As we passed by the Eiffel Tower, Amanda recorded a video. In that exact moment, a huge wave came up and splashed unto the boat, leaving EVERYONE soaking wet. Amanda managed to get this entire moment on video, as well as our screams right before the video cut. It's truly hilarious and we were laughing so hard we could barely breathe. 

And thus, this photo was born:

I also got this photo as we rushed to keep the tower in view.

After this boat tour, we had a reservation to go to for Chinese hotpot! Amanda and I have surprisingly never had hot pot together, so what better occasion than her birthday? I got all vegetables but Amanda and her friends Naomi and Simon got different meats and fish, and some things I've truthfully never seen before. 

I had a really great dinner with them and felt so blessed to spend a birthday with her :)

On the last day together, Amanda and I decided to have a picnic in a park before heading to her train.
We bought a bunch of food: a cake, bananas, strawberries, two kinds of chips, water and some mini tomatoes because we thought we would be a lot more hungry than we actually were. 

Throughout my time in Paris, I was NEVER hungry. I never felt like I wanted to eat and always felt uncomfortably full, and I believe Amanda did as well.  I can confidently say I did not starve while touring Paris, so I'm happy about that. 

As we celebrated her birthday in the park, it suddenly became real that our time together was ending and that this was our last morning together. Our bags were on the floor beside us as we chatted a bit, ate cake, and watched babies and dogs pass us by. These quiet moments are things I'll cherish forever, even if they seemed so insignificant at the time. 

With a heavy heart, we headed to her train station where I was to meet the other for the next phase of my trip and drop Amanda off to signal the end of hers. When we finally said goodbye, I fought back tears and gave her one last hug before she boarded the train.

I know we will meet again soon, so it wasn't goodbye! If I can, I'll hopefully see her at the end of the year in London as she moves there to pursue her Masters in Illustration.

My next post will talk about my trip to Amiens and meeting my huge friend group from Discord. As always, thank you for reading :)