A couple weeks ago my wife and I, along with another couple, travelled to Paris. It was a trip that was months in planning, and by planning I mean in September we more or less said, “Let’s go to Paris over March break.” We were extremely fortunate in that we had some pretty gracious hosts for the week who were more than happy to have us. Their apartment is a mere 10-minute walk from the Eiffel Tower; you can see the top of it from their kitchen. Killer location.

We had an idea of where we wanted to go but for the most part took our time—we called it “focused meandering”. We all purchased a museum pass that allowed us into many of the attractions and in most cases let us skip the line. And boy did we get our money’s worth!

Our first full day together started at the Louvre and then moved across the river to Musée d’Orsay. We only saw a fraction of the Louvre mostly because of it’s size. We were there in the low season but there were still droves of people there. Seeing pieces of art that I only saw in books in school with my own eyes was pretty thrilling. I’ve heard multiple people say how overrated the Louvre is. I say that’s a bunch of malarky. It’s nothing short of spectacular. d’Orsay’s massive collection of impressionist paintings was probably the highlight of the day.

Paris doesn’t have a shortage of cathedrals so we visited a few, namely Sainte-Chapelle and Notre-Dame. Sainte-Chapelle is known for it’s stained glass windows that date back to the 13th or 14th century. At Notre-Dame we climbed all the way up to the top of the bell towers. If you’re claustrophobic and/or afraid of heights (or gargoyles), I wouldn’t recommend this.

We visited the Palace of Versailles the next day and had a tour by bicycle on what turned out to be a perfect day. It’s a fantastic way to see the grounds because of it’s ridiculous size. While there we visited a local market to get food for a picnic lunch—that included cheese that’s illegal here at home—that we ate along the canal.

Along with a night river cruise down the Seine, we also made stops at Invalides (which has Napoleon’s tomb), Sacré-Cœur/Montmartre, another farmer’s market, a chocolate shop called Mococha, Carnavalet, the Luxembourg Gardens, Centre Pompidou, the Catacombs, Champs-Élysées, two stops at the Arc de Triomphe, and, of course, the Eiffel Tower.

Oh, did I mention the food was impossibly good? We obviously ate out a lot, but everywhere we ate was memorable. We got into the habit of having pain au chocolat almost everyday at breakfast. It might not have been good for the waistline, but we did a lot of walking so I will continue to tell myself that they cancelled each other out.

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