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Parisian Dreams and Wedding Themes: A Blissful Trip to Remember

Two weeks ago, I received an invitation to my cousin's wedding, prompting a last-minute trip that I couldn't resist - especially when the destination was none other than Paris! The city's charm, beauty, and cultural richness have rightfully earned its reputation as a romantic haven. What better place to witness and celebrate the union of two people than in the City of Lights?


Excited about the prospect, I quickly booked my flight and hotel accommodations. With the essentials taken care of, I sat down to plan my itinerary. Armed with a fresh Google Spreadsheet, I began by meticulously logging my budget, creating a list of travel essentials, and jotting down ideas for activities and experiences.


Being a visual learner, I found immense value in creating a Google Map (Paris, France | February 2024) to better understand the layout of the city and plan my visits to various attractions. It helped me optimize my time and navigate efficiently through the streets of Paris.


To explore additional options and activities, I turned to Viator, a platform that offers a variety of tours and experiences. This allowed me to tailor my itinerary based on my interests and ensure that everything aligned with my budget.


With the preparations in place, I eagerly anticipated the upcoming festivities and the chance to immerse myself in the enchanting atmosphere of Paris during such a joyous occasion.


DAY 1. Flight and Accommodations


My 10-hour nonstop flight from Los Angeles to Paris with Air France went smoothly. I managed to get some rest, thanks to my Audible audiobook, "The Court of Wings and Ruin" by Sarah J. Maas. Oh my goodness, this series is sooooo good! Despite being late to start it, I'm thrilled I did. Highly recommended!


The Court of Thorns and Roses Series

by Sarah J. Maas


Upon arrival at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, the 40-minute ride to Hôtel Bleu de Grenelle felt familiar as traffic and roads reminded me of my daily commute through Downtown LA during rush hour. Approaching the city, the sight of the Seine River and the sparkling beauty of a majestic tower left me in awe. I couldn't believe I was finally in Paris!




Choosing Hotel Bleu de Grenelle for its proximity to my desired locations, I found comfort in its cozy room - a typical, tiny, and quiet Parisian space that I'd call home for the next 3 days. Conveniently located across from a Metro Station, the neighborhood was filled with restaurants, small shops, and convenience stores.


To start my Parisian adventure, I opted for some comfort food from McDonald’s. After all, what better way to conclude my day 1 in Paris than with some French fries right?



DAY 2. Embracing Forever - An Unforgettable Wedding Journey


I traveled to Paris primarily for my cousin Pam's wedding to her now-husband, Eric. Their journey began over 14 years ago in the Philippines, but due to distance, they chose to part ways. Despite moving on with their lives, the lingering question of finding "the one" persisted.


Then, the pandemic happened. Whether it was a spur-of-the-moment decision, fate, or that little spark in her heart, Pam mustered the courage to send Eric a simple birthday greeting. Their rekindled connection gradually evolved into a beautiful friendship, described by Pam as an unexpected blessing.



A decade later, they rediscovered each other, reigniting their love story. Their union was celebrated with the exchange of vows in front of family and friends. I had the privilege of witnessing one of the most beautiful weddings, and it was an absolute honor to be part of their special day.


DAY 3. Unveiling Culinary Delights - Walking Food Tour by Secrets Food Tours


On Day 3 of my Parisian adventure, I dedicated my time to exploring the city's gastronomy and indulging in French cuisine. To make the most of the experience, I decided to join the Paris Walking Food Tour with Secret Food Tours through Viator. Given the choice between exploring Montmartre and Notre Dame, I opted for the latter on this sunny day -  the perfect backdrop for a culinary adventure.


Our group gathered at Pont Marie, where we met our knowledgeable tour guide, Matthew, and embarked on a delightful journey that included eight stops.


Our first stop was at Hôtel de Sens, a historic building constructed in the 15th century. Originally the residence of the Archbishop of Sens, it transitioned through various purposes, including a royal residence and later the home of the Paris Archives in the 19th century. While learning about the historical significance of the location, we savored freshly baked croissants from La Maison d'Isabelle. These traditional croissants, made with laminated dough, provided a decadent and buttery experience. Fun fact: the croissant's crescent shape was inspired by the symbol of Vienna.



The tour continued to Pierre Hermé Saint-Louis, a boutique that opened in June 2022. Pierre Hermé, often hailed as the "Picasso of Pastry," is renowned for exceptional macarons. The boutique offers a wide array of unique and unexpected flavors, going beyond the traditional offerings. Some popular flavors include Ispahan (rose, litchi, and raspberry), Mogador (milk chocolate and passion fruit), and his signature salted caramel. I tried the Ispahan flavor, a delightful combination of rose, lychee, and raspberry, showcasing the artistry of French pastry.



En route to our next destination, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Paris, we crossed the Seine River. Notre Dame, a masterpiece of French Gothic architecture, has faced challenges throughout history, including attempts at destruction during the French Revolution. The devastating fire in 2019 led to extensive damage, but restoration efforts will allow it to reopen to the public on December 8th, 2024, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.



Our culinary journey continued at Les Galandines in Paris' Latin Quarter. For lunch, we enjoyed La complet, a Breton Galette made with buckwheat flour and filled with ham, cheese, and eggs. Accompanied by cidre brut, a dry cider and served in a petit bol (little bowl), this meal was a delightful taste of Brittany.



The tour included visits to Fromagerie Laurent Dubois, Charcuterie St Germain, and Eric Kayser for cheeses, savory quiche, and a delicious lemon tart, respectively. Armed with these culinary treasures, we concluded our adventure at La Demoiselle Bar à Vin, a private wine bar, where we indulged in our finds alongside glasses of Bordeaux wine. It was the perfect ending to a 3.5-hour culinary exploration of Paris.



EVENING OF DAY 3. Twilight Tales - Exploring the Allure of Le Calife


To conclude day 3 in Paris, the evening was dedicated to a delightful fine dining experience with the family. We had made reservations at Le Calife, a renowned restaurant and cruise boat that offers dinner cruises on the Seine River. Le Calife is celebrated for its exquisite dining, providing guests with the opportunity to savor gourmet meals against the backdrop of spectacular views of iconic Parisian landmarks. The combination creates a unique and memorable experience that is quintessentially Paris.


Unfortunately, our plans for a cruise along the Seine River were thwarted by rain and high water levels. Despite this setback, the evening was far from dampened. The time spent with family, the joy shared, and the exchange of stories made this night the true highlight of our day. It was a reminder that sometimes the most cherished moments come not from flawless plans but from the warmth and connection shared with loved ones.



DAY 4 - Unveiling Parisian Secrets - A City Unscripted Walking Tour, Highlights and Hidden Treasures


On Day 4 of my Parisian adventure, I embarked on a journey of exploration, uncovering both the

hidden gems and iconic attractions of the city. My chosen adventure was the Paris Private Custom Tour with a Local Guide, Hidden Gems & Highlights, booked through Viator, and guided by the knowledgeable Antoine.


Our cloudy day began with a visit to the iconic Eiffel Tower. The sheer magic of witnessing this marvel, whether in the soft hues of daylight or the sparkling night lights, left me breathless. Antoine then led us to Hôtel des Invalides, commissioned by King Louis XIV in 1670 as a residence and hospital for disabled and elderly war veterans. The centerpiece, the golden-domed chapel Dôme des Invalides, is the final resting place of Napoleon Bonaparte, and the complex now houses the Musée de l'Armé which showcases a vast collection of military artifacts, weapons, armor, and historical exhibits spanning from ancient times to the present.



As we strolled along the Siene’s river bank near Pont Alexandre III, we reached the Musée d'Orsay, housed in a former railway station. The museum is celebrated for its extensive collection of French art spanning the period from 1848 to 1914 and  primarily focuses on art from the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements.



The journey continued to the Louvre, a stunning palace with details dating back to the 12th century! Each sculpture and statue narrates a compelling tale, unfolding a vibrant history that traces its roots from a medieval forest to its evolution into a majestic palace and to what it is now - a massive public museum encompassing over 650,000 square feet, which houses an extensive collection of art and artifacts, including the famous La Joconde (Mona Lisa) and Venus de Milo. This will no doubt be one of the museums I will be visiting on my next trip back to Paris.



Place Vendôme, a famous square in the 1st arrondissement (district) was our next stop. With its historical significance and association with royalty, nobility and French elite, it is now known for its high-end shops and luxury hotels, including the Hôtel Ritz Paris. The Colonne Vendôme, a Corinthian column erected by Napoleon Bonaparte to commemorate the Battle of Austerlitz, stands tall at its center.  The column is adorned with a statue of Napoleon depicted as a Roman emperor.  After some "window shopping", we hopped on the Metro to Montmartre, the "Arts District."



Lunch at Pain Pain, featuring Quiche Lorraine and delightful desserts like Éclair au chocolat and Paris-Brest (a to-die-for pastry!), was savored with a beautiful panoramic view of Paris from the Sacré-Cœur Basilica. Despite the cold, rainy day,  the overwhelming feeling of joy definitely warmed my heart.  Place du Tertre, a small square in the heart of Montmartre where artists set up their easels to paint and display their work, was our next stop. It showcased a vibrant atmosphere with artists, street performers, and cafes.  I could not resist and tried some Vin chaud (hot wine), with its warmth and aromatic spices that made it a delightful drink during the cold weather.





The bohemian charm of Montmartre continued with its narrow streets, quirky shops, and creative ambiance. The final, unexpected stop featured a fascinating sculpture called Le Passe-Muraille (The Passer-Through-Walls), depicting a man passing through a stone wall, created by French artist Jean Marais in 1989 and is based on a short story by Marcel Aymé with the same title. 


Undoubtedly, the last four hours encapsulated the whimsical and magical allure of Paris - a journey that will forever be etched in my memory, evoking a perpetual spirit of wanderlust. This is an experience I will always remember and hold close to my heart.




A la prochaine fois, Paris. 



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