If you think the above picture was candidly captured as I sipped my morning tea and pondered life, love, and the pursuit of happiness whilst watching passersby scurry to and fro through the streets of Montmartre, you're wrong.
Self timer. Eighteenth attempt. All by my lonesome. Camera stacked on some frou-frou couch pillows. Me running back and forth, adjusting the DSLR, grabbing that blanket, and opening the windows just so. (But you didn't hear that from me.)
Our second full day in Paris was a special one because we were fortunate enough to experience this beautiful city in the rain. An absolute dream. Our apartment was a three minute walk from the Sacre Coeur and a stone's toss from Moulin Rouge, so we started the day off with a short walk around the famous neighborhood. Soon after, we decided to divide and conquer again: Cassandra and Kelly went off on their merry way to a tour bus, and me off to get my hands on some pastries.
Armed with a metro day pass and a phone full of screenshots of maps and French phrases, I... well, basically I had three screenshots too many which colored me confused and led me astray and this very nice man who was likely a
kidpostgradnapper approached me when I popped out at the wrong (and honestly, quite sketchy) metro station and asked to practice French with me. When I said nope! No parle Francais! He rebounded with a, "oh okay can I practice English with you?"
Feeling myself begin to panic (baby! such a baby!), I rushed off with a sorrrryyyyyy my COP MANFRIEND IS WAITING, when in actuality "cop manfriend" is interpreted as "warm and buttery croissants" at Du Pain Et Des Idees in my mind. This boulangerie is one of the most famous in Paris, and deservedly so. When you enter, do not pass go, do not collect $200, do not pay heed to anything else in the display cases tempting as they may be. Head straight for the twisty looking croissant thingies known as "escargot" and point to the pistachio one and proceed to rise to heaven.
Continuing my solo sojourn, I made a brief stop at Merci, the cutest, blog-friendliest shop full of treasures ranging from clothes, jewelry, furniture, stationary, and more. An Urban Outfitters on crack, essentially. There's also a little cafe that resembles the inside of an old library or a Cambridge professor's office, but I chickened out when it came time to ask "do I seat myself" in French, so I headed back out into the downpour...
... and metro'ed myself to Galerie Lafayette, the mall to end all malls. Because look:
America, up your mall game.
Lower levels dotted with every major designer you can think of, upper levels full of fun contemporary brands like Topshop and Anthropologie, watercolorists and caricaturists painting away in the food court (whattttt), and complete with its very own Angelina and Pierre Herme and let's not forget Starbucks (I kid...), this is a place full of wonder and whimsy.
But the best part is if you trek all the way to the very, very, very tippy top of the building. You'll spot some fake grass, a cafe on wheels, and some lounge couches. And before you have a chance to take a breath...
It hits you.
Friends, this is the best view of the Eiffel Tower in all of Paris, if you ask me. Which I'm aware that you haven't asked me, but I like doing good deeds. Forget the Arc de Triomphe, forget it all. Go to the Galerie Lafayette, get some shopping done (I picked up a new Longchamp before anyone could even say duty free), and enjoy the view.
And if you get really tired from all that hard work? Sample some macarons, grab a coffee and perhaps a quiche, and stake out a table in the basement of the Louvre. Reason: free WiFi.
Bonus tip for all you people caught up in the Pierre Herme vs. Laduree debate: do as I do, and get. both. eat. both. love. both. Equal opportunist here.
Before long, it was time to meet up with my travel mates for dinner. Kelly had booked reservations at O Chateau, and you guys, it was most definitely one of our more memorable meals in Europe this go around. It's actually fashioned to be more of a wine tasting, which I mean I love my adult grape juice and all, but:
A buttery, melt-in-your-mouth fois gras.
The most phenomenal, tender filet and crispy potatoes.
And a lovely trio of cheeses with honey and fig preserve. Eyes rolling to back of the head good.
Summertime London and Paris were so, so good to us. Nice and cool, sometimes to the point of needing a light jacket, a little drizzle here and there, and daylight until almost-daylight-again. (The above was taken at 11pm, like whoa.)
Oh Paris, je t'aime.
At four the next morning, we dragged ourselves out of bed and to the airport, where because we were flying a budget airline, I remembered the luggage allowance last minute (1 carry on... including purses) and freaked the eff out. Cassandra and I each bought eight-pack Kinder Buenos because duty-free shopping bags don't count towards the luggage allowance and tried to shove everything we owned into them. An amusing sight we must have been, our stuff strewn all over the airport floor as we sorted and re-sorted all our junk. Then! They went around offering free gate-check for bags, negating all of our hard work, and Kelly laughed and laughed and laughed at us.
Until they delayed our flight to Venice, which was a bit of a headache seeing as we only planned for about 24 hours in Venice, and we all stopped laughing.