Wednesday, March 23, 2011

p a r i s

One of the perks (probably the main one) to moving over to London to work temporarily is the fact that it is so central to every other European country. With that in mind, Paris was the destination for this past weekend. It is only a 45 minute to 1 hour flight (about the equivalent of Vancouver to Edmonton, although, not nearly as glamorous ;)). Since it was such a convenient flight, I chose to take a flight straight after work (at 7pm) – I am not going to do that again. It was a major rush trying to get to Heathrow in rush hour, on the Piccadilly line. But I made it and to France I went! 

Instead of booking a hostel, I thought I would try something else. An apartment owned privately but rented out for vacationers. It was in the 10th arrondisement and right by 2 metro stations. Furthermore, it included 3 beds, a kitchen that was fully stocked, a TV and a washroom. It was great – and only for about $95 CAD a night. So if you are flying anywhere next, give a try – they allow ratings much like expedia does so you can have a better idea of what other travellers thought as well.

Now, going into Paris, I had heard a lot of stories and people’s thoughts on the city. It is known to many as a romantic city with incredible architecture and history. I  haven’t been told many bad things about the city at all, other than to try to speak a little French while I am there – even if I am terrible at it. So I practiced my bonjours and merci’s a little while before I left. I arrived late in Paris that first night and it was pouring rain so it wasn’t the most pleasant welcoming party but I was exhausted and just wanted to get into my apartment. When I finally found it, I settled in and planned out days 1 and 2.

Day 1 – On the very first day, I had a laundry list of things that I wanted to see and get through. But I will start with the sights first. When you first come to Paris, I think there is an expectation that there are a number of sites that you have to see at least once.

Eiffel Tower

What a breath-taking structure. You see it all the time in pictures – whether they be of miniature ones for the dreamers or the real pictures from travellers all around. The thing is, until you actually see it, you have no clue. It is enormous and to see something like that right in front of you kind of leaves you without words. I came to see the tower in the afternoon and I pre-booked a ticket to reach the summit where I could see an overhead view of Paris. It was so worth it… even if the queue was borderline insane. I met a ton of Canadians and a family from New Jersey as well while I was waiting in line so it made time go by a little faster J

There are multiple viewing points for the tower. The first in front of the Ecole Militaire where you can get a view of the tower with the Parc du Champ de Mars in front of it. The second is from the Palais de Chaillot. Both provide impressive view points but I prefer the one in the Parc du Champ de Mars – it gives you a natural green foreground to use and the Tower is closer J.

Oh and it goes without saying, come here at night. On the hour, the bridge will twinkle in bright white and blue lights and it is bound to leave you without words (just shutter clicks). I must have taken 50 shots or more of this monumental structure.

Musee du Louvre

The famous pyramid entrance to this museum is known to many around the world. It really makes it very unique and picturesque. I took a few photos but sadly, when I came back at night time, the yard was already closed so I had to settle with some day time photos with overcast skies. Since I only had 2 days, I opted to not go inside this time but I would love to when I come back later in the summer!

Arc de Triopmhe 

This famous Arc de Triomphe is a structure well visited. It is also famous for the fact that 12 roads converge on this monument – which is situated in a the middle of the enormous round-about. For those in Vancouver, this is not the neighborhood round-about that we see which slows down traffic… no, this is a round-about that fits seemingly any cars that are daring enough to go through. Since I am not daring enough to even try to drive in Paris, I can only guess that there is a system to this madness but it works! The details carved into this structure are incredible and is just another example of a structure that leaves you in awe. You can also pay 9.50 Euros to walk up to the top (quite a few stairs) where you can see probably the most impressive view of Paris. I honestly prefer this view of Paris more so than in any other place in the city because it allows you to see the Avenue des Champs Elysees as well as the Eiffel Tower in the not so far distance.

There were other very impressive sites as well, including the Notre Dame, the Saint Chapelle, the Sacre-Coure in Montmartre (I loved this area… you could tell that in the summer this place would be a great haven away from the touristy sites and would provide that café scene that so many love about this city), and the Pantheon. I didn’t get a chance to go inside every one of these places but some pictures are below.


Paris is a place that is known for its sophisticated pallet as well when it comes to food. Everywhere you look in this city, you find tons of café’s and brasseries. People enjoy sitting out amongst the sun in and just sipping on a glass or two of wine while munching on a perfectly baked croissant. Unfortunately, because I was in such a rush, I only got to do this once. But boy, do the French know how to cook. Something as simple as a double café expresso, scrambled eggs (this is not the kind of scrambled eggs we know in North America… it was just a little on the raw side with intention and it tasted amazing), some bread, a croissant, and a freshly squeezed orange juice shaken with ice could make your day. I left not feeling stuffed but good and the food was just so tasty.

While in Paris, you have to enjoy some of the basics of their diet. On Saturday night, instead of dining at a restaurant, I bought some baguette from a patisserie, some 30 month old comte and creamy brie from la Fermitage and some local red wine and I was set for the evening. It was a great way to unwind.

 While reading David Lebovitz’s blog, I came across a suggestion to try out this confectionary haven called, A l’Etoile d’Or Owned by Denise Acabo, it was a little shop that offered an incredible variety of chocolates. I felt like I wanted to try every other item but… not only was time not on my side, I could only afford so much room around my waist. I ended up buying several different items but I did try the salted caramel butter candy and it was, I’m not going to lie, a little taste of heaven – so smooth and tasty. 

I also got a chance to meet Denise and am I ever glad that I did. I do not understand French other than your basic words but she chatted me up like I was a local. In both French and English, she explained to me which items she loved (apparently many) and why. Although, I could only nod and smile half the time, one thing was clear: this was her passion. Now that – in addition to her delicious creations – is something to envy. What a superb personality.

On the second day, it was a beautiful, sunny day and it made it perfect for a search for ice cream. With that in mind, I went to Berthillion’s  - a location famous for its sorbet. I had the chocolat noir and the piche with my cone… perfect for a nice, sunny day. I just sat by the river and watched people go by… couldn’t think of a better way to spend the afternoon!


Well that is about all I want to write for now. It is already at essay length so I apologize for that. There is so much more that I want to write about this city but I will hold off. It was a great two days and a great way to spend the weekend. I could easily spend at least another week here before I could be satisfied. Paris is a beautiful city. The French language is also very appealing and so easy to listen to. I would come back in a heart beat J So for now, bon soir, Paris, until next time!


  1. Oh I have been hanging out for this post! Loved it :)

    A l’Etoile d’Or is on the list for my (as yet unplanned) next visit. Gorgeous photos as always!

  2. Great shots and details. I miss europe more! :( You have great post processing. Do you lightroom presets or actions? If you do...which ones? Thanks and keep it up! :)

  3. Wundervoll...liebe all die kleinen Details...

  4. WHOA. this is amazing kelven!! It looks so pretty there. and your photos are awesome, as usual :)

    Miss you buddy! Talk to you soon!

  5. What a wonderful journal of your trip. Seen pictures of Louvre and Eiffel Tower so many times yet you managed to break from the cliche and made fresh and amazing images.

  6. Oh my! How incredible!! Aazing travel photos - I think you should put them together into a coffeetable book! Especially love the last one! Enjoyed your description of your experience. Now I really really really want to visit Paris =)

  7. Dang dude, these are all awesome. I totally stunk at photography the last time I visited Paris (like 10 years ago!). Your images make me want to head back there just to redeem myself.

    You're right about the food! Heck, I had a day-old, pre-made sandwich at a convenience store at midnight while in Paris...and even THAT rocked. =P

  8. so freaking envious. i need to stretch out my stomach a bit though, before i can truly enjoy paris. :P

  9. isn't Denise fantastic? I went out to her shop when I was in Paris in 2009 and it was one of the highlights of my trip. She is quite an amazing character. wonderful pics of Paris! It makes me want to go back and take pictures there all over again!!

  10. fantasic photos. i especially love your take on the Arc and the Eiffel Tower. good thing i stumbled upon your blog. I will be in Paris next month, and am already excited!