paris.

I woke up at 3:00am in California to take the 6:00am flight to NYC so I could work the red eye flight to Paris. I arrived in Paris by 7:00am and to the hotel by 10:00am - dressed and ready to go by 11:00am. There are a few time changes in there but in order to keep my sanity I won't do the math. First stop on this beautiful Halloween day - The Catacombs. I have heard it takes hours to get through the line so I am going to share with you my little secret. Note: This will work best for 1-2 people. Go to the front of the line between 10am and 11am. You will see 2 lines and to the right you may see a sign for guided tours. There will be workers standing inside of a roped off area, just ask one of them if there are any guided tours in English you can join. If so, they will give you a time to be back to that spot and you will walk right in and only pay 20 euros. The next best thing is the skip the line audio tours which are around 30 euros and can only be purchased online. Although it may be twice as much to skip the line, it is well worth it! You do not want to waste hours of your precious Paris time standing in line. 

We got our tour time and had about an hour to kill so we went to Cafe L'Ecir and had breakfast. It was adorable! I had the most tasteful cappuccino I've ever had and my friend tried the Irish coffee! We also split the cheese plate. Everything was delicious and bonus: free wifi and they take American Express!

We headed to The Catacombs and I didn't know what to expect. I hadn't done a lot of research prior so all I knew was we were about to see a lot of bones. I won't spoil too much for you but there is a lot of history involved and it is much more interesting than it is creepy. The guided tour is about an hour and a half long so you are in caves with bones for a good bit so just be prepared. There are short cuts so you can get out quicker if you feel uncomfortable. 

Once we were back in the crisp open air I quickly grabbed a Nutella crepe and we started walking. We walked through quaint little neighborhoods and passed the most adorable coffee shops. We saw old men playing bocce ball in Jardin du Luxembourg - a beautiful park I wish I would have spent much more time exploring. I noticed something so special about the people in Paris as I watched them in their cafes. No one had their coffee in a to-go cup so they could run anxiously to their next activity of the day. They sat still and enjoyed the company around them. It was refreshing to see such stillness. We finally arrived at the The Louvre.

I still have yet to do a tour of The Louvre because I want to come back when I have a few days to spend in Paris, but it is on the list. I've heard you can spend all day in this magnificent museum. For the purpose of this short trip, we walked around in the court yard, snapped a few photos and then took a cycle rickshaw to the Arc de Triomphe. This is a must see in Paris and my only regret is I didn't go to the top. They have fast passes for this online and I highly recommend getting those ahead of time. There are several combo tickets online depending on which activities you would like to do. 

We of course finish our night at the Eiffel Tower. One day I will go up in it but that day was not today. It was getting dark and we looked for a place to buy champagne but we didn't find anything, probably because it was pretty chilly. Usually there are people everywhere selling bread, wine, champagne and lots of other goodies. We watched it sparkle a few times, grabbed a bowl of soup, and took a taxi home. Note: The taxis DO take credit cards. We quickly stopped by the supermarket to pick up some wine and champagne to take home. Note: Do not buy wine and champagne in the small street markets because you will end up paying 30 euros for something you can get for 6 euros at a supermarket. 

Oh Paris has stolen my heart like I'm sure it has with anyone who has ever been. It's one of those places you can walk around forever and never see enough or you can stay in one place, sit and stare for hours and never get bored. I will leave you with 3 tips to take with you wherever you go.

3 tips to any new place:

1. Learn little phrases even if it is just "hello" and "thank you" which is "bonjour" and "merci" in French. 

2. Appreciate something you aren't used to - for me, it was the lack of to-go cups and stillness of the cafes.

3. Try something new - either food or an activity. I tried some funky looking cheese that I ended up really enjoying.

If you have any questions about Paris or travel in general, please leave a comment or visit my Ask Me Anything page.

Rachel Fenimore