V & I love to travel. That, and food, had been one of the things we bonded over when we first met. However, our biggest problem has always been getting enough time away from work. So, in the last 5 years, most of our travels have been restricted to places we can visit in a week (this, of course, included travel time as well).
This year, however, with plenty of advance planning, we were able to get 12 days off from work in April and we decided to visit Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam.
6th April 2018
We arrived in Paris quite early, around 8 am, and after an uneventful journey through immigration we made our way to Hotel Ibis Montmartre (Tip: Save big bucks and buy a train pass for the duration of your trip). On reaching the hotel, we were told that an early check-in was not possible, so we stored our luggage with them and decided to head out for a day of exploring.
The first item on the agenda was breakfast! We had researched beforehand and found that about 10 minutes from our hotel was Le Grenier à Pain – a bakery which is well known for its award-winning baguettes. We, however, stocked up on croissants, pain au chocolat and the Fougasse (crusty bread topped with goat cheese and tomatoes) and made our way to the Opera House (Palais Garnier).
There we sat on the steps, eating a warm, flaky pain au chocolat, and watched the world go by.
We then walked down to Place Vendôme.
Then ahead to Place de la Concorde where we admired the Luxor Obelisk and sat in the giant ferris wheel which gave us a great view of the Parisian skyline.
We then made our way back through the Tuileries Garden, where we found a stone bench under the trees to enjoy a hot chocolate and macarons.
Next, we walked back to the Paris City Vision office on Rue de Rivoli (near the Statue of Joan of Arc) where we picked up our tickets for the City Bus Tour, Eiffel tower and Seine river cruise. For this trip, all our sightseeing bookings and entry tickets had been through Viator and we had absolutely no trouble at any point (No, this post has not been sponsored by Viator!).
7th April 2018
We left early in the morning from the Paris City Vision office for Mont Saint Michel in Normandy (it is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites), an island which has been carved away from the mainland by the tides. At the top of the hill rests an old monastery and abbey with houses at the base surrounded by heavy fortifications. The place is steeped in history and I would definitely recommend a visit to anybody going to Paris.
8th April 2018
We had booked “Skip the line” entry tickets to the Palace of Versailles and spent half the day wandering open-mouthed through the grandeur of gold, glass, and tapestries.
We then met up with my cousin and along with him we went to see the Sainte-Chapelle which is across the island from the Notre Dame Cathedral. The entry fee to the Sainte Chapelle was Euro 10 and on entering I was sure we had been fleeced! It was pretty, no doubt, but nothing extraordinary, or so I thought! In a corner of the Chapelle, we saw a small staircase going up and followed the other visitors to the top. There we found the true beauty of the Chapelle! Stained glass, from floor to ceiling, in beautiful reds and blues – it was absolutely breath-taking!
We then took the metro to Parc des Buttes-Chaumont where we (finally!) sat for some time and took in the greenery.
Next, we went to the Grande Arche de la Defense (to the west of Paris). Completed in 1989, this is a modern take on the Arc de Triomphe. We sat under this giant structure drinking coffee and catching up before heading back to our hotel for some much-deserved rest!
9th April 2018
After a quick breakfast of baguette and some coffee we reached the Moulin Rouge to meet up with our guide Ana (of Localers, Paris) for a walking tour of Montmartre. This was a great experience! Our guide was extremely knowledgeable and friendly, and the pace of the tour was very comfortable. We were taken around some of the landmarks of Montmartre like Le Mur des je t’aime (The Wall of I Love You), Le Passe-Muraille, Dalida’s Statue, Dalida’s Home, Clos Montmartre (the only vineyard in Paris), Place du Tertre before ending the tour at the Sacré-Cœur.
In the afternoon, we “popped in” the Louvre (yes, we popped in… Neither of us are too keen on museums, however, we decided to book a “Skip the line” entry ticket and play it by ear), spent a couple of hours looking around before heading back.
This marked the end of our stay in Paris and the next morning, we left for Brussels. I’ll be back soon to write about Part II of our European adventure!
I hope you enjoyed this small glimpse into our experience and that it inspires you on your next vacation!
Hi I’m Sonal. I love to travel, eat and read. My dream is to combine all three passions, pack my life into a suitcase and haversack and explore the world!