A Sunset at Sacré Cœur – Paris, France

After finishing up my visit to the Louvre with a quick trip to the gift shop to grab some postcards for friends and coworkers, I headed outside to meet up with my friend Rachid and embark on the last adventure of the trip. Being a resident Parisian, he offered me two choices for the evenings activities- we could either take the métro to the Eiffel Tower or we could go to Sacré-Cœur, another lesser known although still famous landmark. Having never been to Paris before, I was tempted to pick the Eiffel Tour choice, but then I thought, “Ok, you never do things as expected so why start now?”, besides which, I thought it would be good motivation to come back, and bring my bf with me so we could see the Eiffel Tower together. Also, why not visit yet another church?

Choice made, we set out on a walk through the Jardin des Tuileries to find the nearest métro station.

A short while later found us looking up at the tallest hill in all of Paris, Montmartre- at the top of which was my chosen destination. Given I had just spent the day walking around a very immense museum and hadn’t stopped to grab lunch in between, this was probably not the best idea but, onward and up we went. The climb was a bit of a huff and puff for me, though of course Rachid did it easily and I could only side eye him with a bit of probably not so well concealed fitness envy. It was at least a fun climb as it was made with a friend and if I had been alone I might have just plonked myself down at the bottom and enjoyed the crisp weather instead.

The view when we finally made it to the top though, that was worth the climb a hundred times over.

We didn’t attempt to go inside the basilica as the crowds were rather large and tour group after tour group seemed to be lining up already, but I made a mental note to come back for this as well in a later trip. What we did instead was take a walk in the neighborhood behind the church, which Rachid stated was one of this most favorite areas in all of Paris. After turning the corner onto the cobblestone charmingly crooked streets, I could easily see why it had captured a spot in his heart and it grabbed a corner of mine as well.

The smell of good food wafted to us in the cool breeze, artists painted portraits and landscapes on almost every street and beautiful houses and shops lined up one after another on the winding streets and I feel like if I had been less tired (and feeling the impending stress of the next day’s journey back home) I would have liked to have stayed here well into the night.

Eventually though, the fading light from the sunset brought us back to Sacré-Cœur and I took the chance to take a couple of photographs of it’s exterior during a moment when the crowds lessened a little.

While I would never advise someone who’s never been to Paris to not take the chance to see the Eiffel Tour, for me at least, choosing instead to pick another landmark as my last visit of the trip, it was well worth it and a choice I don’t regret at all. Yes the climb is steep (though I’m pretty sure there’s a cable car type deal you can take up as well) and you couldn’t quite call this a hidden gem given the number of tour groups I saw and the accompanying souvenir hawkers posted everywhere, but. Just one full minute of gazing out at Paris laid out in front of you and everything else just fades into the background.

By the time got down the hill and had made our way to yet another métro station, I was ready to call it a day. It was still relatively early and a Friday night to boot, but I had some last minute packing to do, not to mention I had to be up tat 4am the next morning to catch my shuttle to CDG airport. And so, my last night in Paris concluded with a fiercely tight hug to Rachid and about a dozen thanks for having made the city feel that much more fun and lovely and wishes that we would get the chance to meet again soon.

Upstairs in my hotel room, I opened the balcony windows and let the noise of the city float over to me on the cool breeze and while I felt bone achingly tired and ready to head home finally, there was a part of me that would have been happy to stay another night, another week even. That’s the magic of Paris though, that even when your heart longs for home and the familiar, there’s a part of you that’s captured by the city and won’t ever be let go of.

~ m

This is my last full post about my 2017 EuroTrip adventures but my at this point tradition “outtakes post” is still coming up later in the week and in it I’ll talk about where all hotels I stayed at, give some tips about traveling in multiple countries throughout Europe and also give mention to my upcoming travel plans. Thank you for everyone that stuck with me and read along even when it seemed like procrastination was gonna make it a year before I finished!

The Petit Trianon and the Queens Hamlet- Versailles, France

Having left the incredible interior of the Palace to see what I could explore outside, I was surprised at the chilly turn the weather had taken. I am a bit of a rushed idiot sometimes- in that if i’m in a rush, I become an idiot- and had forgotten my jacket back at the hotel. Also, it had started sprinkling a bit and I of course had no umbrella. So I had the choice of either hunkering down around the palace for the next couple of hours before the bus came back to pick us up or just making the best of the situation.

I choose to button up my cardigan, wrap my scarf a bit more securely around my neck and venture out onto the grounds and into the gardens.

The further out you go into the expansive gardens, the less people you will find, and after the packed (if at least beautiful) sardine can the palace had been, I was eager to get more fresh air and less people. After grabbing a quick lunch at one of the many restaurants scattered discreetly around the grounds, I made the walk out to the Petit Trianon. This was the estate gifted to Marie-Antoinette by King Louis XVI and it was her refuge from court life. It is much smaller and as such a much more intimate experience than the Palace and while it is an extra cost you if you get just the standard ticket, I think it’s really well worth it for admirers of the young queen or anyone interested in the beautifully decorated rooms inside.

Leaving behind the Petit Trianon and it’s english style gardens, I meandered my way down some paths, got turned around a couple of times and then ended up coming out from the woods near the the Queens Hamlet. This area was another part of Marie-Antoinette’s escape from the pressures of courtly life and it was really interesting to view this area, walk around the farms and cottages and imagine the nobles who also visited the palace coming out here to attend the small parties hosted by the queen.

Of course, finding bunnies here was also a small highlight- I immediately snapped some pics to send to Julia back in Germany. Versailles bunnies are just as cute as regular bunnies and if they happen to have an extra air of specialness about them well, you can’t really fault them for that.

I did a bit more walking around, just leisurely following the paths that thread throughout the area, enjoying the scenery and feeling like i’d really gone back in time. Eventually though, I headed off with purpose, in search of the Grand Trianon and back to the palace to finish up the day.


A Riot of Splendor and Gold- Versailles, France

We awoke extra early that day so we could make it into Munich to catch my train to Paris.By early I mean, 4am early and I’m still not sure how Julia forgave me for making her wake up so early to drive me into town and help navigate me through München HBF, especially when she had to go to work right afterwards. Have I mentioned how much of an amazing person she is and how lucky I am that she let me stay with her? If I haven’t, you can be sure I’ll expand on that even more in my last Out-Takes post.

The train was thankfully caught well on-time and I was beyond grateful it would be a one way no transfers journey as I was sure I would have messed something up otherwise, given how tired I felt after a pretty sleepless night (as the night before I had gotten a call from work regarding a job I had applied for the week before I left on this trip-so fun). My fellow passenger was a bit of a weird guy but we left each other alone and apart from peeking over at my journals as I wrote in them, he was a perfectly fine silent travel companion.

The plan had been, once I made it to Paris, to meet up with my friend Rachid. Things of course rarely turn out to plan and by the time it was 3pm I had only just managed to check into my hotel and catch a breather. At this point I had to really consider, do I have the energy to meet up with my friend for the first time ever and make a good impression or will I end up very tired and stressed and hating myself a little? There were also some documents for work I needed to look over and sign so I ended up staying in, getting room service and enjoying the beautiful view (and the incredible sound of the bells from Notre-Dame just a bit down the street) from my room while resting my weary body from the last 12 days of constant traveling. At this point I had been in 3 different countries (4 if you count my unexpected prolonged stop at Dublin airport) and was appreciative for a chance to rest. Rachid was incredibly understanding as well and we made plans to meet up the next evening after I made it back from the Palace of Versailles.

The next day, not quite so bright and early as the day before, I made my way to the tour company that would take me to visit Versailles. I wouldn’t normally have gone for a tour but I was traveling alone and transportation to and from Versailles was included and it was skip-the-line entrance so I figured, well why not?

It wasn’t a guided tour, so once they got us out there and through the metaphorical front door, we were set loose with our maps and audio guides and told to meet back in about 8 hours at the front of the main gates.

To say it was packed inside would be a severe understatement. It was filled to almost overflowing with people and at first you really think, alright, is this worth it? And if you’ve read even a couple of my posts on here you’ll know i’m the first to say, “Yeah ok, lets go find somewhere else” but, truly this place is worth sticking it out for. Marble, granite, gold leaf- you can’t turn your head without being confronted by it. Decadent art and wondrously beautiful paintings upon paintings everywhere as far as the eye can see. Every single inch of what you walk through is like being submerged headfirst into a whole other realm of existence.

What was especially interesting to me was being here after having visited places that were so heavily inspired by it, from Herrenchiemsee to Linderhof. I thought I understood well enough the language of opulence but, being here made me understand exactly how little I knew of it.

For those of you unfamiliar with the history of Versailles, here’s a handy link for you to read over . For those of you that are familiar with it, we can dive right into the surreal experience that is being in the Hall of Mirrors.

The crowds fade away into insignificance when you step into the Hall, and nothing else matters- not the noise, the people bumping into you, nothing. For a good minute and a half your brain is completely riveted by the majestic beauty of the room and the tribute it embodies to the artistic and political triumphs of France. Unlike the palaces I visited in Germany, photography is allowed here and as you can see , I full took advantage of it.

357 mirrors adorn the 17 arches opposite the windows encapsulating and showcasing the economic prosperity of France since at the time these were great luxuries (even now I doubt you know anyone that just has a whole bunch of opulent mirrors everywhere in their home just for show).

All in all, even with the crowds, the experience of being here is by itself worth the price of admission.

I walked around a bit more inside for about an hour until I realized with an almost frightening jolt- there’s a whole bunch more to see outside. The immense gardens and other residences just waiting to be visited. And so outside to explore I went.


(P.s If you’re wondering about the tour I took, the hotel I stayed at and such, i’ll be covering all that plus detailing out some very big do’s and don’t for whenever you first travel to Europe in my last post.)