Thursday, July 5, 2012

From Paris with Love

Here is the final part of my trip to France this past June.

So after a quick weekend in Paris, four days in the French Riviera, it was time to round out the trip by finishing it off with a few days in La Belle Paris.

From our late night train into the city, we found our hotel, very quickly fell asleep, and got up nice and early to see the sites. Since the free tour was a quick overview of most things, we went and hit some of the highlights. Be warned, this day was jammed packed full, and gave most of us sore feet.  It is possible to do all of these activities in one day, but you may pass out at the end!

First we went to the Arc de Triomph. It is way bigger than I imagined it. (Tip..if you don't bother going to the top, it is free and no line!)

 Next we strolled down the Champs d'Elysees

 Next the Effiel Tower! (I forgot to mention in the first post that we had been in Paris for about 24 hrs before seeing the Eiffel tower.) It is one of my favorite structures so I was pretty pumped to see it!

 Tip: If you walk up to the second level it is cheaper and there is way way way less of a line. We waited maybe 20 minutes to go through security.
Line for the elevator..suckkaas

It was a bit of a hike to the 2nd level but the view was great! We didn't bother going all the way to the top because it would have been a good view, but we had other plans! I also learned that I am slightly afraid of heights. I think the openess of the ironwork scared me. 

Next we stopped by Notre-Dame, but there was a big event going on a huge line up. So we planned to return the next day. We got some nice photos of the outside though. The building is amazing.

So instead of wasting time and money to go to the top of the Effiel tower, we went out to Montparnesse tower...super modern "ugly" tower...

but it has an amazing view.

By this point it was getting late in the day, so we headed back to hotel, barely made it to supper, ate the worlds largest crepe for dessert and came home to bed. We had full intentions of being normal 20some year olds and going out..but I for one just couldn't handle it. Site seeing trumps partying in my book...does that make me old??

The next day was our last day in France!! Noooo! Mike and I let the girls recover for our Amazing Race style of taking trips and ventured out to the Louvre. Now this day was kind of all over the place. We first tried to go the Louvre for a scheduled tour, but the one in the morning was booked. The good thing was we went early so we got our ticket when the line wasn't big. TIP: Go into the Louvre from the Metro, where the line is tiny! So instead of the Lourve in the morning we chose Plan B and went out to Montparnesse to the Catacombs tour..but that had the world's biggest line up. So instead we did Plan C and we went back close to the Eiffel tower and went on a...wait for it...

Yes I am a super nerd, and thanks to Mike being a good sport I got so see some cool sewer stuff.. unfortunately smell some sewer stuff too. 

On our way back to the Louvre we had some delicious crepes!

We made it back to the Louvre, and had a great (quick tour) it was more expensive, but totally worth it, got to see the highlights and get some history..our tour guide was kind of crazy though, and the whole thing felt a little rushed. 

Everyone says the Mona Lisa is disappointing, so I guess I was expecting worse, but it was actually pretty cool. The Louvre itself is an amazing building (like Versailles) so the works of art are surrounded by a beautiful building. 

After the Louvre, we went to the Pont des Arts to do something a little romantic. There are tons of locks on this bridge, and couples lock the lock and then throw the key in the Seyne. 

The older couple who took our picture kind of laughed at us...but still it was a very nice moment!

Right before going to supper we went for another fly by visit of Notre Dame. There was actually a mass going on, so it was really powerful to see the church in action, not just as a tourist attraction.

After a wonderful supper with Brittany and Trish (and Brittany's France roomie, her roomie's brother, and her roomie's brother's friend) we had one last thing to do to call the trip complete....

See the Effiel Tower Sparkle!!!

On Sunday we sadly had to go back home. We came home feeling full, content, exhausted, and happy. I ended up seeing the Eiffel tower and the CN tower in a span of 24 hours, and sorry Toronto, you just can't compete with Paris!

The trip may have been very fast, but it was amazing for every second. I am so happy I got to spend my first trip to Europe with two of my best friends, and my wonderful boyfriend (how is that for sappy). 

Anyone else craving Macaroons?

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The French Riviera

Here is Part 2 of my trip this past May/June to France! 
Part 1 here, of the first two days in Paris.

La-Seyne-Sur-Mer is a tiny little town on the Mediterranean Sea near Toulon. This is where my friend Brittany was living to teach English for a few months. Monday was our first day there and unfortunately the weather didn't want to cooperate. It was rainy but not too cold. We spent the day relaxing and walking around Toulon. 
Mike and I were being the Statue in the Back...but we just look silly
Apparently the weather also deterred us from taking pictures in Toulon...oopsy! We stopped at a cafe and sat and chatted and drank our amazing coffee and ate amazing Francy! We ended the day with some amazing Pizza at Brittany's apartment and just relaxing and drinking wine.

The next day the weather was Perfect! But we didn't realize that it was Labour day in France and everything was closed, no buses, shopping etc. It didn't matter though because we headed to the Beach!!! After spending a whole winter in Toronto, the prospect of a ocean beach had me literally giddy! The walk to get the beach was very nice, it was so neat to be in such tropical place, but it still be in Europe. I loved it. And the Market was amazing, everything was so fresh and tasty looking...and the cheese...oh the cheese!

Sooo nice!!!
The next day (also gorgeous weather) we left La-Seyne-Sur-Mer,  and headed west towards Nice and Monaco. Trish and Brittany got off the train in Nice, and Mike and I continued on to spend the day in Monaco, before rejoining them in Nice.

Monaco was amazing, but definitely just a day trip unless you have lots of money to spend. Mike is a huge Grand Prix fan so of course we had to walk the track! It was pretty neat to see them setting up for the race.

And the best part...we won 10 Euro at a Casino in Monaco! Yay! We headed back to meet up with the girls for amazing supper at this tiny little Italian inspired restaurant, shut the place down, and wandered the streets of Nice. 

We stayed at this amazing little bed and breakfast run by a girl not too much older than us...and the best part was she had KITTIES!! 

The next morning we woke up to another amazing day. The weather was absolutely amazing, and we spent the day exploring Nice (we rented bikes, super fun!). If I could have added another day to the trip it would have been in Nice I think. I loved it there! Oh and the Gelato was sooooo gooood!

The day went by much too fast, and suddenly we were back on the bullet train, heading to Paris for our last weekend in France!! Blog post to follow!

I fell in love with the south of France. The food, the beach, the relaxing feel of all the cities. I was so sad to go. If given the chance I will definitely go back!

Who else loves gelato??? Is the weather always that nice in Nice??