so picking up where i left off... we took the eurostar from london to paris. it was AWESOME. i have never been on a passenger train before (besides the subway) and i highly recommend it. we got to paris wednesday late afternoon and it was raining... but as elizabeth said so perfectly "i'd rather have a rainy day in paris than a pretty day at home" she sure has the right perspective! we checked into our hotel and then got cleaned up. our hotel was in an AWESOME area right beside the tuileries metro stop. the only thing i could think to compare it to was soho: more quiet than 5th ave but with all the high end and upcoming shops, tons of great cafes, walking distance to just about anything you could want. cal and i ended up going to the hotel bar and having some champagne (of course!) we went out for a late dinner that night at a great place down the road from us called flottes :
in a CRAZY coincidence my brother and sister in law ended up being in paris for a few of the same days as us. last year beauty counter did a make a wish type thing and elizabeth's sister wrote in telling them nathan's story with terminal brain cancer and how elizabeth is fluent in french and studied it her whole life, yet has never gotten to go to france! well...they wrote them and decided to grant their wish!!!! they were sending them on an all expenses paid, week long trip to Paris...elizabeth's dream trip. makes me cry just typing it. she has been the most amazing wife to my brother in such a horrible situation, i can't think of anyone more deserving of this trip than them. so they planned to go around elizabeth's birthday last year...and then nathan had a grand mal seizure and they had to cancel the trip. beautycounter said they would rebook everything anytime they were ready to go! so almost a full year later, here we are. nathan and elizabeth booked their trip so that they would be there for their 5th wedding anniversary (march 10) and when i heard thats when they booked it for, i freaked out and texted her like "OH MY GOSH THATS WHEN WE WILL BE THERE!!!!!" a huge part of me thought, i am meant to be there to use my gift to photograph them on this trip. God is putting me to work. i've been to paris before and this isn't about me. so the day after we arrived we planned to meet at nathan and elizabeth's amazing hotel around lunch (side note: none of us had international phone service, so we had to use iMessage only when we had wifi...you'd be amazed how hard it is to plan everything and HAVE to be places on time because you can't text and say you are running late)
so thursday we bought our metro passes and headed their way. we walked champs elysees playing the "what would you buy me with never ending money" game as we walked past the most expensive stores with lamborghinis lining the roads. we waited about 15 minutes on them and they hadn't showed up. we ended up having to call them from the front desk and they were completely asleep! we waited around for them to get ready and then we all headed to lunch. we decided to just stumble upon something rather than pick it and go. we ended up at le bistro 25, it was FABULOUS.
from there elizabeth wanted to see the eiffel tower so we walked down and jumped on the metro. watching elizabeth round the corner and see it for the first time is one of my favorite memories EVER.
nathan was ready to head back after the pics and elizabeth said she would go walk the streets with us. we caught a metro back to st germain and shopped around some. we ended up heading to le deux magots- the world famous cafe where the surrealists, julia childs, ernest hemingway, jean-paul sartre, and many more used to hang out. cal and i were tired but also kind of wanted some champagne. we couldn't decide between coffee and champagne...then we found something on the menu that looked like it said mini champagne with coffee....... WELL IT WASN'T. it was an espresso with a glass of cognac...SO HELP ME. we cried laughing. we didn't know if you were supposed to combine them or what... but we did?! i couldn't handle it. i made cal finish it. we were dry heaving after it went down. we ended up spending $53 on some afternoon drinks and a dessert...not sure what the hell happened but all i can do is laugh now.
after our afternoon booze adventure, we walked back to the louvre and eventually back to our hotel (after a quick stop at laduree of course!!) to get ready for dinner at cafe m. dinner that night was outstanding. lots of champagne and you could choose between a three course or five course meal. highly recommend the lentil soup there (if you like indian food.)
friday we had all planned to go to versailles together but plans changed last minute. nathan and elizabeth had already come to our hotel to go with us and so we decided we would still go! it was their anniversary and we happened to cross the new lock bridge on our way, so of course we all had to do it!
i've been to versailles twice now and yet still never been in the actual palace. its always a crazy line with tons of people and thats not my jam. the metro ride to versailles is only about 30 minutes, super easy. you can get tickets right across from the train station when you get off and avoid the lines at versailles, which we did. we bought tickets for marie antionettes house (petit trainon)..so when you get to the palace you head left and bypass all the people in line and walk right behind the palace through the breezeway to the back lawn. we saw a restaurant right there called ore and we went for it. lunch was FABULOUS (i had a croque monsieur), reasonable, and the design was even better.
after lunch we rented one of the golf carts in the back so we could quickly do the gardens and petit trianon... soooo the actual palace is 7 times the size of the biltmore, just to put things in perspective. unless i am living in paris, aint nobody got time for that. so i suggest doing petit trianon and the gardens. BUT do NOT miss marie's gardener's homes...i would take one of those homes in a heartbeat!
after versailles we head back into town and shopped around a little. we actually stumbled upon the inception bridge! pretty awesome being where leo stood! then went back for dinner at brasserie vagenende ...another amazing meal with lots of champagne! i loved this restaurant because it was so PARISIAN. the interior was so over the top. loved it!
saturday was our last day. cal and i had decided to walk from le marais area to bastille and then catch the metro up to montmartre and sacre cœur. the last time i came to paris i stayed in bastille with my mom in the hotel speria which is an UNREAL bang for your buck (literally rooms around $100 a night!) and i wanted to show cal that area. plus they have a carhartt WIP store there where you can get carhartts in actual slim fit that you could never get here in the states. totally different styles of carhartts and they are amazing. we got a fabulous crepe from a lady on the street, breezed through the awesome bastille market, and then made our way up to montmartre.
we planned on meeting nathan and elizabeth up there around 3, so we stopped go get lunch before. we picked one of the first places we came to called pomodoro. it wasn't too crowded, the pizza was THE BEST I'VE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE, and the waiter spoke english (always a plus!)
thin crust. not a ton of sauce. and everything tasted really fresh. i can't recommend this place enough. so after lunch we headed up the 24832947239847923093824 stairs to sacré cœur to meet nathan and elizabeth. unfortunately he was having some seizure type stuff and had to take a valium and leave so we only got to snap a few pics before they caught an uber.
our last night we went to le grand colbert, per a recommendation from my friends keller and lyderic (lyderic is from france and knows his shiz.) this place is rich in history and they even filmed somethings gotta give there:
i had the filet with french fries and peppercorn sauce (amaze!) and cal ordered some monstrosity the had one of every living creatures from the ocean. we laughed until we cried at him. it was such a great last night with the family.
i have so much to say about this trip that i don't know how to condense it all down. first of all, the most massive thank you ever to al and maury for gifting us the trip of a lifetime and to my mom, becky, gail, mary, and kimera for keeping the kids for us. we have the best family you could ever ask for and we love you all dearly. SO THANK YOU!!!!
next, if you haven't been to paris yet and you care anything about art and/or aesthetics ...start saving for your trip now!! its the most inspirational place i have ever been and the minute i leave, my heart longs to go back. when i got back my dad asked what it is i like so much about paris and i think it boils down to this.... from my perspective, paris appears to value their artists more than anything. art is so important. whether it be clothes, buildings, interior design, culinary design, painting, landscaping, roads, floors, sculptures, etc its all highly valued. as an aesthete, this is major to me. every walk is inspiring. i feel like here in the states so many just build whatever is most cost effective, especially with homes.. lets get some cheap siding, cheap floors, throw some cheap home depot lights on, and its done! i'm also a practical person, so i get it...but theres something to be said for going the extra mile to make everything beautiful....not to mention, it doesn't have to cost more to look good. you just need someone with a good eye to do it. THATS where paris wins in spades.
it's taken me a solid 4 days to try to adjust back to life here... i always come back wondering why am i living in knoxville with this huge world out there to explore. on the flight back we flew over labrador, canada... after flying over ocean for so long i caught a glimpse of the most majestic mountains i have ever seen, covered in snow. i got tears in my eyes. theres so much world out there with so much beauty i have never even seen. makes you wonder why you take the same beach trip to the same place every year.
its hard, but so worth it to step out of your comfort zone and go to new places. but i hope cal and i can challenge each other to do more of this. life is short and its a mighty big world out there.