Finally, I give you my extremely overdue Paris trip photo diary! Some pictures are repeats that I already posted on my Instagram, but many are new. I hope you enjoy them. :)
If you just want to read my solo travel tips, scroll straight to the bottom of the post!
My first Airbnb apartment was so perfectly Parisian!
Sundays are a true day of rest in France, so my friends and I decided that it would be the perfect time to get out of the city and head over to Disneyland Paris. We noticed there were a lot more children/families there compared to Disneyland in LA. Also, a lot of the restaurants closed up inside the park at 7pm, which made no sense to me, but it did also mean far less crowds for the nighttime fireworks show.
OH MY GOD. I don’t know if I am just out of practice with teacup spinning or if the teacups in Disneyland Paris needed some oil or something, but my friends and I STRUGGLED to get our cup spinning! It was pretty embarrassing haha.
Guys, no joke, the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in this park beats the one in LA. A lot of the ride was inside pitch-black tunnels, and it made it feel like we were going so much faster!
Looking west at the sunrise from Sacré-Cœur.
Versailles’ rooftops were gorgeous!
I loved all the door details!
If you followed me along on Instagram, you might recall the story behind this photo. Taken right inside the entrance of Marie-Antoinette’s estate (The Petit Trianon), I had to wait five minutes for the two seconds I needed to get this shot without anyone walking into frame. Talk about a tough thing to pull off!
Taken during the 3-hour wait to get into the Catacombs. A little tip for anyone who wants to visit this place, get there EARLY. Like, 8am early. The wait for those people was exactly 2 hours since the Catacombs opened at 10am, and for anyone like me, who got there at 9:45am, we waited 3+ hours. I don’t even want to think about the people who got there after lunch!
Your next question is probably: Was the wait worth it? Yes and no. I think a 2-hour wait would have been perfectly fine, but there are very few things I’d ever wait 3 hours for. Had I not already been in line, I would not have waited that long. That said, walking through all those tunnels and seeing so many stacks and rows of bones and skulls was really something else. It was haunting, especially when you realize that people actually hand-carried and arranged all these bones for a living.
Couldn’t resist posing with this cute/weird pink thing at the Printemps department store!
I am so in love with the rooftops in Paris.
The last of the love locks on Pont des Arts before they took them down. I like the idea of the love locks, but symbols of love should never be the reason a structure falls apart. I’m glad Paris took action!
One of my favorite restaurants in Paris has to be Comptoir de la Gastronomie! This is one of the few places I ate at in 2014, and I made it a point to go back.
Solo travelers: What are your thoughts on selfie sticks? A few of my friends said I should have brought one on my trip, but I refused to be that person. And in the end, I had no regrets. I always just asked other tourists to take my photo and they were happy to oblige. :)
Ah, Monet’s garden. It was very lovely, but so very small! Honestly, this place was not my favorite. It took about 1.5 hours via train and shuttle bus just to get to Giverny, and it took me the same length of time to see the whole garden and house. I didn’t time it right, either, because I had to wait about 40 minutes for the return shuttle bus before the 1 hr train ride home. Had there been a shuttle bus schedule, I would have lingered a bit in the small town until the right time.
I don’t want to disenchant anyone from going to Monet’s garden, but I do want to caution and say that in my opinion, it’s not worth visiting if this is your first visit to Paris and only have a few days there. Because this was my second trip and I had 3 weeks to do whatever I wanted, I was was fine taking up half a day for this little side-trip.
If you are planning a trip to Paris and want to venture out to Giverny by train, you will want to take the SNCF train from Gare Saint-Lazare to Vernon/Rouen-Rive-Droite/Le Havre. You can use the automatic ticket machines, but I personally found them to be confusing and instead went to the counter to buy my ticket from a live agent. They usually speak enough English to give you directions on how to make sure you buy the right ticket and get on the correct train. :)
Once the train arrives in Vernon, follow the crowd to the shuttle bus stop. You will pay for your round trip shuttle ticket upon boarding. (Note: Have your Euros ready because they don’t take credit cards.) The shuttle takes about 15 minutes to arrive in Giverny, and it’s another 10 minute walk to the entrance of Monet’s Garden. I recommend buying your entrance ticket in advance so you can avoid the line. More info about ticket rates, hours, etc. can all be found here!
I spent a good chunk of my second week in Paris (aka my first solo week) shopping. I went to every department store and shopping neighborhood I knew about, and it was fantastic! I loved being able to leisurely peruse through all the stores at my own pace.
Coco Chanel’s famous staircase! I’m still freaking out that I actually saw them in person this time.
My second Airbnb was a modern taste of Paris. I loved that I had a queen bed to sleep in (at home, I only have a double!) and the closet was huge! It was a girl’s dream!
I trekked out to the 12th Arrondissement to visit the Parc Floral de Paris on the final day of my vacation. It felt like I had left the city completely and was in a whole other world! If you have the time, I highly recommend this park. There was lots of green grass to sit and picnic on.
My final meal in Paris was at Bouillon Racine. The restaurant was so pretty and if you appreciate Art Nouveau, you will absolutely love the decor there! The food was also delicious, of course. :)
I spent my last hours walking from Notre Dame to my favorite bridge, Pont Alexandre III, for one last leisurely view of Paris. It was such a quiet night, and it was the perfect way for me to say au revoir to my favorite city.
* * * * *
My three-week adventure was everything I wanted and needed. I’m sure a few of you are wondering why I chose to stay so long in one place, especially since most people spend that amount of time touring all of Europe, but it was really important to me that my trip be relaxing. I wanted to take my time and fully immerse myself in the culture, and I quickly learned that Parisians are not morning people — a real win for me since I love sleeping in!
I was a bit worried going into the solo-portion of my trip because I was afraid that I would be a walking target to pick pockets. But as it turned out, I felt very safe the entire time! To anyone thinking of traveling alone to Paris, it’s really not a big deal. This list is not exhaustive, but here are my biggest safety tips:
- Use common sense and city smarts (i.e. don’t put your phone in your in back pocket), and trust your gut.
- Be alert and aware of your surroundings, especially around big tourist attractions and on the metro.
- Don’t fall for scams! If anyone comes up to you with a clipboard asking you to sign a petition, or if they ask if you dropped XYZ, firmly say “Non!” and walk away.
- Avoid looking like a tourist; dress like the locals and keep your camera in your bag.
- Women should wear a cross body bag and keeping it zipped at all times. (I went one step further and always kept my hand draped over the top of my bag for added security.) Don’t put the bag down on the floor or draped over a chair, either; always keep it attached to you.
- When at a restaurant, don’t leave your phone or camera on the table.
Does anyone else have any travel tips they want to share? Please leave them in the comments!
My Paris posts are almost wrapped up now. I just have one last outfit to share, and then it’s back to the regular programming. Thanks for reading! :)