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Another rendezvous in Paris

 It's been a long time since I posted anything here. The most obvious reason is the pandemic, but despite that, in the past year, I was still able to travel, mostly within Netherlands, but couldn't find the drive to share that. Maybe I'll do it in the next months. I've discovered a lot of hidden gems in Netherlands that are worth sharing with you. 

Anyway, this post is about my most recent visit to Paris! 7 years ago I went to Paris for the first time. Back then I had to choose between doing the trip I planned to Paris or take the exam to enter a master programme. I chose the first one and I have no regrets regarding the path I followed. Now, what brought me to Paris was my brother's birthday. He wanted to celebrate his birthday in Paris and I decided to join him. Now he owes me haha. He promised to join my 30th birthday this years in South-East Asia (that's where I would like to celebrate it).

I stayed for 3 nights (4 full days) and he stayed one more night. To get there, I took the Thalys train (door to door is faster than by plane, it's not cheaper than the plane, it's more sustainable). Within 3h30 I was boarding off in Paris Gare du Nord. My brother came from Bucharest and he arrived later that day.

The first afternoon I've spent it around Montmartre district. This district is a charming hilltop with sweeping views from its steep. It used to be the artists' village, once inhabited by Picasso and Dali, and the home of the domed Sacré-Cœur basilica (tip: the entrance is free).

Sacré-Cœur basilica viewed from the hill base
With the pandemic wearing off, also the tourist return!
View from the top
View with the basilica from a park behind

While in Montmartre, Place du Tertre is a bustling cobbled square and hangout place for buskers and artists painting visitors' portraits. Thank you Adela for sharing this location with us!
@Place du Tertre
In the neighbourhood we went two days in a row for breakfast. First at Papilles Coffeehouse & Restaurant
and second time at Buvette Paris. Thank you Alex for these amazing recommendations.
A reinterpretation of Croque monsieur with croissant

Croque monsieur is an original French snack. Literally it means gentleman's sandwich.

Going back to my storyline, to finish with Montmartre district, I've walked in the cemetery with the same name. It might sound sinister, but Paris cemeteries are quite famous. And on the plus side, if you're looking for a quiet place this is your spot. I wonder why haha?!
I learned there's a Stephen King novel with a cat in a cemetery as cover (Pet Sematary)

Enjoy the silence!
Too creepy? Leaving behind Montmartre, I went for dinner to a Korean restaurant. My brother threatened me that we will have only French meals, so I took advantage to check out without him a place recommended by Edi. 
Bibimbap @JanTchi
It was one of the best bibimbap's I had so far and after that meal I had only French dishes!
On the second day, we started with brunch at the first place I've mentioned above and strolled again in Montmartre with my brother. From there we headed to Arc de Triomphe where we had tickets to visit it.
Tip #1: buy tickets online for everything you want to visit. It saved us a lot of queueing time.
Tip #2: most of the attractions have free entrance for those under 18 and 18 to 25 nationals and/or residents of EU.
Arc de Triomphe viewed from Champs-Élysées
From the top of the panoramic terrace your eyes sweep over the whole Paris.
Climbing 202 steps was worth it!
Its architect was inspired by the Roman Arch of Titus in a single arch, but went beyond it by exceptional dimensions (about 50m high, 45m long and 22 wide) and abandoning columns.
Wanted by Napoleon in 1806, the Arc de Triomphe was inaugurated in 1836 by French king, Louis-Philippe, who dedicated it to the armies of the Revolution and the Empire. The Unknown Soldier was buried at the base of the arch in 1921. The flame of remembrance is rekindled every day at 18:30.
From Arc de Triomphe we strolled down Champs-Élysées towards Place de la Concorde. I had a place with macarons(Ladurée) saved but it was too popular and everyone was queueing in front of the shop, therefore we went to another one I had saved (PIERRE HERMÉ PARIS). Only later we found out both have multiple shops across the city. 
Macarons from PIERRE HERMÉ
After the macarons break we headed towards Seine, to walk on the promenade towards Eiffel Tower.
Pont Alexandre III over Seine is a late 19th century arched bridge in a Beaux Arts style and it's named after a Russian tsar
My brother saw on a youtube video the most instagramable spots in Paris and that's how he learned that Rue de l'Université offers the most beautiful view of Eiffel Tower and it's quieter because not everyone knows about it.
View with Eiffel Tower from Rue de l'Université

Break for photo-shooting

Others knew about this spot too

Night mode on - from the same spot (we returned after dinner)
And speaking of dinner, we went to a restaurant in the area (Restaurant Le Beaujolais). We liked the atmosphere, the food was delicious, the service impeccable. 
We tried for the first time escargot - cooked land snails 
After a proper dinner, French way, we continued exploring the area around Eiffel Tower.
From the other bank of Seine, Eiffel Tower can be seen in its majestic grandeur.
View from Trocadéro
The next day, was my brother's b-day and we had planned to visit Versailles Palace in the afternoon and in the evening climb in Eiffel Tower.
After breakfast/brunch at one of the restaurants mentioned in the beginning, we headed to take the RER (train) to Versailles.
On our way to a metro station we stumble upon another hidden gem - Square Alex-Biscarre

Spring has come!
To get to Versailles we took a RER going in the direction Versailles Château Rive Gauche. For getting around in the city we bought 10 t+ tickets. More info how to use it and how much it costs you can find on the official RATP website.
We bought tickets online and that saved us from queueing again. Entrance to Versailles is free for under 18 (or under 26 residing in the EU). That's not the case for me or my brother.
Exterior of the state apartments
Using the Palace of Versailles app we followed the free tours of the state apartments. 
The Royal Chapel

The Mars Room marked the start of the King's apartment

The Mercury Salon functioned as a state room, because Louis XIV actually slept in his private apartments. That being said, up to 1701, the room hosted the King's getting-up and going to bed ceremonies, which were observed by the public
As you might already noticed the rooms from King's State Apartment are named after a planet. That's because during the 1670s the decoration in the palace was inspired from sun mythology.

The Hall of Mirrors

The Queen's Bedchamber
The Queen's Apartments are a series of rooms whose layout is identical to that of the King's State Apartments to the north.

The battle of Austerlitz in The Gallery of Great Battles
I had for quite a while "War and peace" by Leo Tolstoy and I kept postponing picking it up, until weeks ago and the plot captures exactly this part of the history. It was nice to have also a visual image of the actions described in the book.

Orangery Garden
Access to the Park and the Gardens is free except on days of fountain shows.

The Gardens of Versailles
We easily spent a full afternoon on the estate and we didn't visit The estate of Trianon for which we had tickets too.
From Versailles we returned back to Paris the same way we came. For dinner we had cheese gratins.
@Le Bistro des Augustins 
That day it was my brother's b-day and after dinner we went for a picnic on Seine's bank to pop a champagne!

Picnic on Seine
And the last stop on that day was again to Eiffel Tower, but this time to climb to the top.
View from second floor of the tower

Trocadero viewed from the tower (2nd floor)

Champs de Mars viewed from the tower (2nd floor)

At the top, Gustave Eiffel designed a private apartment for himself which can now be explored.
For my last day in Paris (my brother stayed one more day after I left) we went to Louvre museum and spent the rest of the afternoon shopping.
On our way to have breakfast before the visit to the museum, we stumble upon the courtyard of Domaine National du Palais-Royal.
Columns corridor in the courtyard of the monument
After breakfast, we went directly to Louvre. I don't have to tell you that the museum is gigantic, with so many collections, that more days are necessary to explore it completely. We didn't have that time so we went for one of the trails proposed on the official website of the museum to explore the Louvre's masterpieces. Yes, on this trail we saw Monalisa too :).
The Salle des Cariatides - ancient masterpieces from the royal collections

Aphrodite, known as Venus de Milo

The Athena of Velletri

The Winged Victory of Samothrace

The Wedding Feast at Cana
This is the biggest painting in Louvre (~70m2). Veronese had the bold idea of transposing a biblical scene to a contemporary setting - a Venetian banquet. Opposite to this painting it's the famous Mona Lisa.  

Mona Lisa and the queue to see it more closely
I skipped the queue. To be honest, I find the previous painting more interesting.

Liberty Leading the People by Delacroix  

Taking selfies is an ancient practice

Psyche revived by Cupid's kiss

The Pyramid viewed through a glass window
After finishing the Masterpieces trail, I quickly took the Journey along the Nile.
The Great Sphinx of Tanis

Louvre courtyard with the Pyramid in the middle
After finishing the short visit to Louvre we've done some shopping.
  • Librairie Galignani - bookshop with tradition, claimed to be the first English bookstore opened in continental Europe. I bought "The Red and The Black" by Stendhal on my brother's recommendation.
  • Palais des Thés - tea store with many stores across the city. One of the best teas I've ever tasted. I discovered them some time ago (I got some as present from a friend).
  • Panier des Sens - cosmetics store. Although their products are original from Provence they seem to have great products using natural ingredients and they are environmental friendly.
That would be all mes amies! À bientôt!


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