Since we’d already made a trip across the pond to visit the Emerald Isle in September 2018, we figured we’d take advantage of cheap flights within Europe and see another city.
From Dublin we flew to Paris to spend three days in the City of Lights. We’ve been to Paris before, but we knew with only three days it would be a perfect locale to roam around and would also be a great backdrop for us to celebrate our wedding anniversary – it is, after all, also known as the City of Love. ❤️
We took the Metro from the airport to our AirBnB in the Latin Quarter. Walking up to the building we knew we picked the perfect spot – it was directly across the Seine from Notre Dame.
Access to the building was through a large, wooden carriage door. Our studio apartment was on the top floor of the seven storey building. The person who met us to provide the keys and walk us through the unit apologized that the elevator was not working that day and would be fixed tomorrow.
Now, although our luggage qualifies as carry-on, one of the last things I wanted to do after lugging it from Dublin, to taxi, to plane, to Metro, to AirBnB, was to hoof it up seven flights of stairs.
Frank and I exchanged glances with a mutual understanding that when the host says the elevator will be fixed “tomorrow,” that we’d never likely see the inside of that elevator over the next three days.
The studio apartment was beyond charming, with wooden beams and a bohemian decor. It was tucked into the eaves of the building and had an expansive run of windows, which provided a spectacular view above the rooftops of the neighbouring buildings.
We dropped our bags and set out to explore the Latin Quarter and beyond.
Evening had set in, yet there was still a buzz of activity in cafes and bars along the streets. Groups of young people sitting along the stone walkway that lines the river, many smoking, drinking and generally enjoying each other’s company. A lovely first night.
Our only real organized activity for this trip was to get to Versailles. Neither of us had been to the palace on previous trips so we wanted to make that happen this time around.
Before arriving in Paris, we booked a Versailles cycling tour.
The morning of the tour we met the organizers in the train station. They provided our train tickets and told us where to get our bikes when we got to the town of Versailles (20 km from Paris) and that we should pick up whatever we wanted for lunch from any of the vendors in the central market.
The extravagant palace, the exquisite gardens, and the extensive man-made lakes sit on more than eight square kilometres. We wouldn’t have stood a chance to see much beyond the palace without bikes.
We spent the late morning and early afternoon with the tour group and guide, cycling to various parts of the grounds. At each stop we heard about life back in the late sixteen hundreds through to the French Revolution a century later. We stopped for a picnic-style lunch at the far end of the grounds by a lake with a view of the palace in the distance – as one does.
Having soaked in the sights of the palace grounds, the guide dropped us at the entrance to the palace and bid us farewell, which allowed us to tour the interior at our own pace.
Strange as it sounds, the interior was the least interesting part of the day for us. Every room was over-the-top. Bling upon bling. It was crowded and we raced through checking things off: Hall of Mirrors ✔️ marble floors ✔️ elaborately painted ceilings ✔️ baroque furnishings ✔️ gilded everything ✔️✔️.
It was probably by design that the opulence and extreme excess enjoyed by French royalty were far outside of Paris and kept from the eyes of the regular French folk.
Several times in the palace we crossed paths with fellow cycle tour chums Lynne and Tom – a genuinely warm and sociable couple from Michigan. It was a bit difficult to chat with others on the bike tour because we were always on the go. Being in the palace, queued up from room to room, provided more of a chance to get to share travel stories.
We lost track of Lynne and Tom in one of the palace rooms that was awash in pink. Lynne, we learned, is all about pink. In fact, if memory serves, they even have a pink AGA cooker/stove at home.
Once we were out of the palace, we made our way back to the train station and arrived in the city just in time for dinner – at a café, al fresco, on a cobblestone street in the Latin Quarter. Mais oui!
To our utter amazement, when we got back to the apartment, the elevator was working. Our bike-weary legs were beyond grateful.
Days two and three were roaming days. We literally just walked around and soaked up the sights of the streets. At one point we happened upon a caravan of buses converted to boom-boxes, each blasting music surrounded by hordes of people dancing in the streets. It seemed like a mini version of what we experienced in Saõ Paulo during Carnival.
Countess times, while walking, we’d see a building and swear that we could have been in Buenos Aires. French-style architecture is something we never tire of seeing.
While strolling along the “rues,” who did we run into? Lynne and Tom! How coincidental, but fate is funny that way. They were on their way to take a boat tour, but this time, before we said our goodbyes, we exchanged contact information.
We’ve been lucky to meet and stay in touch with some really stellar people over the years – and Lynne and Tom are among the best. They were our best souvenir of this quick trip to Paris.
Someday, we’ll arrange to meet up with them again. They’re avid travellers and we’ve even shared our highly recommended places to stay, including the Vieques Garden House, which they’ve since been able to enjoy with friends.
Lynne is a gal after our own hearts. We don’t know any other woman who is able to travel for weeks at a time with only carry on. You go, girl!!