It has been months since I left the United States, and this is a trip that I have been looking forward to since September. There is something about Europe that calls me back, particularly Paris. Maybe it is the thrill of being in a city that I am estranged to and know only the very basics of the language, or maybe it is the fact that every corner looks like a palace. Regardless, Paris has undoubtedly taken my heart.
The reason for my travels was family business, we went to Paris for a three-day fashion fair called Premier Vision. I will mainly focus on the travel aspect for this post and will cover the fair in depth for next week's post! So stay tuned for that!
Just like the last time I cam to Paris, I stayed at an incredibly located hotel near L'Opera Garnier. I definitely recommend looking into it if you ever want to visit Paris, Adagio Aparthotel. They have many locations all over Paris and other areas in Europe, but I would say this is the best located one.
We began our trip by going to visit the Opera Garnier, especially since my sister had not been inside it. This time around we used our own knowledge from our history classes - and from what I learned last time I went - to get ourselves around. I suggest going early in the morning, that way you get all the iconic pictures without many people in the background.
Last year my mom did not go to the Louvre with my friend and I, but this time around she was up to spending an entire afternoon there with my sister and I! I absolutely love love LOVE museums, so there was no better idea as to how I wanted to spend my evening with my family than at the Louvre.
There is absolutely no way you can ever see the entire museum in a day, much less in one afternoon. But, we did get to see some of the famous works of art that we wanted to see. I recommend going to one of the cafes inside the museum, they are a little expensive but worth it! We ended our visit at one of them, and the atmosphere is completely unique.
We had a particularly magical experience when we visited Notre Dame, there was a special mass going on! We went to the cathedral when the sun was setting, so the view was spectacular - but we did not get to go to the towers because of how late it was getting. We went inside and everything felt so pure, I truly felt Heaven's Light in there. It was the first time I ever heard a French mass and French gospel, it was such a beautiful experience that I felt I could cry of happiness.
The one place I knew I most definitely needed to go back to was Chateau De Versailles. The palace is stunning and every room is picture-worthy. But the chapel and the Hall of Mirrors are the true classic areas to take your shots. It is exceptionally hard to get a decent picture in the Hall of Mirrors, but that is because everyone takes their pictures at the entrance. If you want a great picture, walk towards the end of the hall... there was barely anyone there! Due to how big Versailles is, there are a number of places you can eat at - either inside the palace or in the gardens - I recommend eating inside, especially if you go during rain season like I did.
If you are up for a LONG walk, I recommend walking past the gardens and into Marie Antoinette's Domain. If you have seen the movie with Kristen Dunst, then you will remember this area - it is where she and her daughter would plant and carry a gardening hobby. Her domain is nothing like the main palace, it looks like a little village and it does make one feel cozy. But, she did have a beautiful pink palace within these domains so do not think she went all peasant!
It has always been my dream to be in the City of Love during Valentine's Day, and this year that dream came true! My family and I treated ourselves to a box of the best macaroons, Ladurée! There are many stores around the city, but if you want the full experience, then go to the store that's on Champs Élysées. Make sure to begin walking from where the Arc de Trimphe begins for the full experience! Once you reach the store, if you need help choosing flavors, the workers there will give you a list of flavors. My personal favorites are the pistachio and rose flavored ones!
Three new things I did in Paris where, go see the great ferris wheel - I did not go on it because those things terrify me, but maybe one day I will face that fear! I also eat a delicious crepe at the Pantheon and finally... I got a picture on a French balcony!!! I was very happy about that particular shot.
We got super lucky the day we visited the Luxembourg Gardens, it had been a very rainy and cloudy week but that day it was exceptionally sunny! The temperature went up a little and you could see the Eiffel Tower clearly from any angle. And, you could also see all the locals enjoying the weather around the gardens.
One stop you must make when visiting Paris is going up to Sacre Coeur! It is located at the top of Montmartre and it is breathtaking. And, right next to it you can find the Sinking House (it is an optical illusion, but it is still pretty cool to see!)
Just like last year, I had one weekend where I could go to another city in Europe. Last time I went to London, this year we decided to go to Milan! And, during our flight there we flew over the Swiss Alps! That was a view I will remember forever.
We stayed at Hotel Rio, a hotel that was also super conveniently located, just around the corner of the famous Duomo! Having never been to Milan, our first day was dedicated to riding around one of the Big Bus tours and getting to know the city. We were able to see the entire city in a matter of hours!
One of my favorite areas of Milan was the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, the hub of all the prestigious fashion brands! You can already imagine how hard it was for me to control my shopping impulses... in the end, I did end up making a Versace purchase. If you want one of the classic pictures from this area, I again recommend getting there super early before any of the tourists swarm it.
Another famous fashion area is Via Monte Napoleone. Here you will find all the famous fashion designer stores, most of them having more than three floors! Walk these streets and you are sure to see most of the people wearing only designer clothes. Oh and the cars? Strictly luxury only!
We happened to stumble upon an Italian fair while exploring the streets of Milan, so naturally we let our inner kids run free! I recommend eating any of the classic Italian dishes... trust me, they do not disappoint!
And just like that, another trip came and flew by! Every country I have visited in Europe leaves me wanting to spend more time there, maybe I will live there for a little in the future? Who knows.
But for now it is farewell. Thank you to my mother who always makes these trips a success and to my sister for letting me annoy her with my picture-directing screams. You two are the most important women in my life, thank you for everything!
See you soon, Europe!
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