A lot of friends and family have inquired about our recent trip to Europe. The easiest way to reach the most people is to blog about it, so the following posts will chronicle our trip in three parts — one for each city we visited.
If you’re not into travel tips or vacation photos, feel free to skip these next few posts!
Note: I’m only linking places that were memorable and where we had a nice time, or would be helpful context for the reader. Anything that is omitted is done intentionally.
Part 1: Paris
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past month, you’re aware that there was a terrorist attack in Paris recently. This tragedy unfolded about two weeks before we were set to depart. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t a little uneasy about travelling at this point, and not just to Paris — getting aboard any overseas flight would have caused the same amount of anxiety for me. Everything turned out fine, thankfully, but it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and be smart when travelling.
We had a nonstop overnight flight from Detroit to Paris. Neither of us slept all that well, but were excited to land and make our way into the city. After clearing customs (and a two-hour line to do so), we collected our luggage and jumped on the metro.
Travelers’ Tip: Paris’s international airport, Charles de Gaulle, is a 20 mile/hour-long trek from the city center, so you’ll need to have a plan for getting into the city. I have, in the past, utilized a cab service, but it’s pricey. This time I did some research on taking the metro and it ended up being the perfect option for us.
The metro dropped us off about two blocks from our hotel, Legend Hotel. We booked Legend Hotel using the Hotel Tonight app, which specializes in last-minute deals around the world (and you can use promo code MSTIEVE to get $25 off your first booking!). We ended up getting two nights for the price of one. The hotel was fairly standard for Paris: compact, but comfy. The bed was especially welcoming and we ended up napping for a couple of hours after mercifully receiving an early check-in.
The first night I had a bit of work to do (this was a work trip, after all), which consisted of joining some University alumni for a bit of a tailgate before the final regular-season football game of the year. After tailgating at the base of the Eiffel Tower, all other tailgating will pale in comparison!
Outside of getting to know some of the local alumni, this gathering was a great chance for us to take the temperature of some of the individuals living in Paris in the wake of a terrorist attack. The feeling was unanimously of rebuilding: although the events of past weeks had left everyone shaken, life goes on.
Eventually we made our way over to the bar that was showing the football game. I was proud that we made it to the fourth quarter when, upon realizing the score wasn’t going to swing in our favor, we made our way back to the hotel for some much-needed sleep.
The following day, we started our journeys with some fresh croissants and not much of a plan. Because of the recent attacks, the number of people out and about (both locals and tourists) was significantly less than normal. We were able to use this to our advantage to see sights like Notre Dame and the Louvre without waiting in tremendous lines.
Travelers’ Tip: Paris is an incredibly walkable city — there are cabs and the metro lines, but you’ll miss so much by using these modes of travel. Strap on your walking shoes and take a stroll around the city!
One of the things I was most looking forward to in Paris were the Christmas markets. We spent quite a bit of time in the Champs Élysées market, which felt happy and festive where other parts of the city were so obviously still in mourning.
We ended our second day in Paris with drinks with friends and a quick dinner on the way back to the hotel. Troy also got his first true Parisian crepe!
Up next: London.