One of my weekends while I was abroad this past spring a few friends and I jetted off to Paris for the weekend. I knew from the getgo that I wanted to visit Paris during my time abroad however many people were very apprehensive after all the terrorist activity that had occurred there just a few months before. However, I shared my philosophy with them, that being, you can’t live your life in fear because that is what they want. Obviously you can’t be stupid and you have to be on your guard at all times but I didn’t want these terrible events to prevent me from visiting such an iconic and beautiful city!
It took my friends and I a while to actually pull the trigger and book this trip due to the costly plane tickets and wanted to find a decent airbnb. But we finally were heading to Paris!! I was so excited and I knew that we had such little time that I wanted to plan out the weekend. I researched the heck out of what things were must sees. Pinterest is always my go to place to start and I found so many good posts on what to do and what to skip.
While we usually flew out thursday nights for trips, we ended up finding a cheap super early 6:30 am flight (which meant we would be getting up at 3:30 in the morning…) and this way we would save money on not having to pay for an extra night in Paris. Plus this still gave us basically an entire first day to explore. I was also very excited because one of my best friends who was studying in the south of Spain would be joining me on this trip! We flew into Charles DeGual airport where we met our other roommate who was flying in from Barcelona. We figured out the train system, bought tickets and headed to our airbnb. We couldn’t check in right away so we decided to grab brunch. We ate at this adorable little cafe. We then headed to the Airbnb to drop off our luggage and freshen up a bit before we headed out for the day.
Our first stop was Notre Dame. We hopped on the metro when we got off it was so surreal walking up the steps and emerging into the heart of Paris. I couldn’t believe I was actually there. We walked around exploring Notre Dame for a little before deciding to climb up to the tower of the cathedral. The line was long but manageable. After 35 minutes of waiting we made our way to the front. Normally you have to pay to get up to the top of one of the towers but we decided that we would try to see if our student visas would get us in for free. Sure enough because we were technically considered European Union residents we were able to get free entry! Score!! We climbed the more than 300 steps up a narrow spiral staircase to the top. The views were stunning and you could see the Eiffel Tower in the distance. It was actually a little overcast while we were up there but it made taking photos easier without the blaring sun.
After that we of course had to stop for crepes and then we made our way over to Sainte Chapelle Cathedral, where we found out that it was closed for a concert but would be open the next day. We then just sort of wandered through Paris with our end destination being the Arc de Triumph. We walked and walked and walked, stopping here and there to marvel at the beauty of Paris. We walked down the Champs-Elysee, which is like the time square of NYC with all the name brand shops and restaurants, until we reached the Arc.
We were able to go up to the top of the arc for free with our student visas so definitely bring your passport and visa along if you are a student studying abroad! We got up there right as the sun was beginning to sink and the views were truly breathtaking! We climbed another 300 or so steps up a winding narrow spiral staircase to the top. After barely making it to the top (being dramatic here 😉 we were very winded but boy was it so worth it! We also couldn’t get over how far we had walked from the start of our day over by Notre Dame! After spending quite a while waiting our turn for the great photo op locations and snapping tons of photos we headed back down just as the sun was sinking into the horizon.
We found a mediocre restaurant for dinner but we were just so hungry from such a long day of exploring we didn’t have the energy in us to hunt for a good spot. Food is food right?! We made it in to the restaurant just in time because the skies opened up and it began to pour. When we finished dinner it was just drizzling out so we decided to head over towards the Eiffel Tower. When you are in Paris you have to watch it sparkle! We hadn’t researched it before had so we asked a worker who said that it began to twinkle every hour beginning at 11 pm. We had about 40 minutes to kill so we just hung out along the river across from the tower chatting and waiting for the magic to happen. And when it did let me tell you, it was magical. I looked ridiculous with my phone and go pro ready but I made sure to get some footage and then turn everything off so I could take in the beauty without any distractions.
After the light show ended we headed back to get some much needed rest.