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  • Writer's picturethetravelingartemis

A Honeymoon in Paris

Trip Occurred: October 2015 Blog Written: August 2020

This trip represents a dream come true for myself. I was a never girl who envisioned her wedding but I always thought about my honeymoon, which would be in Paris. This was mainly because I thought it was the only way I'd ever get to Paris. It would have to be a once in a lifetime trip. Turns out determination pays off and this was my 3rd trip to Paris; however, it was my husband's first and I couldn't wait to show him this magical city.

Our trip begins with a journey to the airport. It was very low stress as my parents were kind enough to drive us from Sacramento to San Francisco International (SFO).

We arrived at the airport early, as we are wont to do because I don't enjoy stressing about a potentially missed flight. We sailed through security and arrived at the British Airways Business Class lounge. This lounge has a particularly cool perk where you can board the plane directly from the lounge instead of having to go back into the main terminal. This has changed in recent years as British Airways has started using the Airbus and it's too big for the ramps connected to the lounge.

Our flight to London went smoothly, despite being delayed, and we easily made our connecting flight to Paris. Once we arrived at Orly the gate wouldn’t work and we had to wait 10-15 minutes for them to bring us stairs. While this didn’t take very long, I did grow a bit impatient (though kept it to myself) as after a trip across several countries and an ocean, I was kind of done.

Once we got through security, our driver was waiting for us and took us to our beautiful hotel, the Shangri-La.

This hotel was everything we could have hoped for. The staff was friendly, helpful, and inviting. To say our room was beautiful would be an understatement. The view of the Eiffel Tower was better than I could have imagined. We almost had floor to ceiling windows with gorgeous view of Paris. It was perfect!

My mom arranged for savory treats and the hotel gave us a bottle of champagne and macarons in our room on arrival. Then, because we momentarily had to wait, they gave us two glasses of champagne and more macarons. A very nice welcome. We were able to order room service and force ourselves to stay up until 8:30PM (a normal-ish bedtime). Good start to our trip!

Day 1

Our first full day in Paris allowed us to sleep in – not that we really did this trip. I kept waking up at 4AM and Jim started waking up at 3AM. Sometimes we could fall back asleep and sometimes not. This was the first day we experienced the “free” American breakfast from our hotel at 70 euros each. It was an insane amount of food, all good, but I don’t know if I ever want to eat eggs again. Dear lord, the eggs. This "free" meal was a mysterious to us for most of the trip. We knew they weren't just giving us a free breakfast and it wasn't a part of our rate. Finally, at the end of the trip, my mom realized that one of the times she called over she signed a form saying she'd pay for our breakfast. She totally forgot she did this and it was just a funny little mystery for all of us to solve during the duration of the trip.

Anyway, after breakfast and lounging about, we headed over to the Eiffel Tower for our lunch reservations at Jules Verne.

I always knew Jules Verne had its own elevator but the inside where you wait is interesting as it’s a rather cramp space inside one of the legs of the Eiffel Tower with Jules Verne posters all around. You go through a metal detector and, six at a time, enter into a small elevator, which takes you to the actual restaurant on the second level. We got an excellent window seat facing the Seine and Arc de Triomphe. You could also see Notre Dame out of a nearby window. The view, as well as the bragging rights, were definitely worth it; however, I am sad to report that the food was not. I didn’t have particularly high hopes, because I'd heard from others who had gone and weren't that impressed, but even then, it didn't live up to what I had in mind. I knew I was going to have a problem with the limited prix fix menu, cause I'm a little limited on what I eat, but everything served was so freaking rich it made eating any large quantity of the food impossible. I did not enjoy this meal. I am, however, glad we did it. The dessert was good and, again, bragging rights are kind of cool.

One more thing, Jules Verne was hot while we were there. That combined with the rich (and amount) of food definitely didn't help anything. Again, I do recommend going but do lunch and just know the food will be good but not great and not worth the price point.

After lunch we headed over to the Musee D’Orsay. Catching a cab was easy and I must say, remained easy for the rest of the trip, which was nice. Sticking to tourist attractions and paying attention for taxis stands really helped.

I’m happy to report that I still love the Musee D’Orsay. I love the building itself as well as all the Impressionist paintings held within it. Beautiful paintings by the greats: Renoir, Monet, Degas. Such a nice way to spend an afternoon.

We also helped a British girl get half off her ticket price by having her and I buy our tickets together. Funny little random moment.

Day 2

Today was all about the Louvre. Watching my husband in this was museum was priceless. Just worth every penny. He was so taken by everything. He even got yelled at twice for getting too close to the paintings.

We were able to buy tickets through our hotel before arriving onsite. We got there before the museum actual opened, so we only had a wait a few minutes to get through security and we were off.

As always, the first thing we did was head towards the Mona Lisa...just like everybody else who was there. One of these days I will go to the Louvre with someone who has been there before and head the opposite direction from the Mona Lisa. We then wandered down the hall to look at the other paintings. My husband was transfixed. It was a beautiful sight to see – he was truly in his element. We then wandered past some of the sculptures, heading towards the Venus di Milo, and stopping at Artemis and Hermaphrodite. We then went to the Egyptian section, which I had never been to. They have some cool artifacts.

Finally, we stopped for some food at the satellite Angelina’s café in the Louvre. Delicious pastries. Bad/Slow service.

We left the Louvre and started heading back in the direction of our hotel and stopped at the Musee L'Orangerie along the way. I'd never been to this museum before but it is full of HUGE Monets. Two rooms full of four wall-sized water lily paintings. They have some non-Monet paintings as well. It's a very small museum but absolutely beautiful. Highly recommend!

After that it was time for a nap back at our hotel.

A little before 8PM, we headed over to the Eiffel Tower with our already purchased tickets to have champagne at the champagne bar on the top level. A few things - 1. I had never been to the top of the Eiffel Tower. On the first trip to Paris, it was closed and you could only go to the 2nd level and on my second trip we never went up. 2. There really wasn’t a lot of people at the tower, even during the day. There were definitely people but nowhere near the crowds I’ve seen previously. 3. We had a weird encounter where someone offered to take our picture for us but we hadn’t been taking a selfie or anything so the question came from out of nowhere. We did not accept the offer. 4. Even though we couldn’t see anything (it was really foggy), it was really wonderful and romantic to sip overpriced champagne at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Highly recommend!

Day 3

Today we woke up and went to Notre Dame. I love Notre Dame and it was as beautiful as it always is. We also managed to beat the crowds, which was nice. I'm not a religious person but this church really is something else. All it has seen throughout history is truly impressive and I'm happy to hear that it will be restored to its former glory after having the roof burn down.

I still haven't made it up the stairs to the gargoyles. While I manage to beat the rush to the church itself, I never beat the line to the gargoyles and never care enough to wait. It is supposed to be a beautiful view of the city. One day!

We then wandered over to Sainte Chappelle. We got there before it opened and had to wait in a line but totally worth it – wonderful. If you like stained glass, this is the church to see. This is the third time I've visited and it takes my breath away each time.

We took a cab over to the Palais Garnier, which looked closed even though its website said it was open. Turns out, they moved the entrance to a side door. They were more packed than I’d ever seen it before. There seemed to be more tours. Large groups of people standing around. My husband was very impressed by the grandeur of the opera house. They also had a small art collection that he loved. While I recommend visiting this opera house regardless, I do say to people if you can't get out to Versailles, visit the Palais Garnier to see what French opulence looks like. There's just gold EVERYWHERE.

Also, totally random, but this is the opera house that inspired the story of The Phantom of the Opera. There is an underground lake that the author Gaston Leroux visited one day and a story was born. Unfortunately, you cannot visit the underground lake (maybe there's a special tour they do sometimes) but still the play took a lot of visuals from this opera house so it's really easy to imagine the Phantom wandering around.

It was at this point my husband started to say with confidence that Paris was exceeding all of his expectations. He had some doubts, and didn’t like all the pickpocket warnings, but was overall very pleased and impressed with all he was seeing and experiencing.

That afternoon we had Afternoon Tea at the Four Seasons, known as the George V. The George V was a nice ten-minute walk from our hotel. The hotel is beautiful and was featured in a film I love, French Kiss. Their lobby had one of the most insane number of flowers I’ve ever seen outside of a garden. INSANE! I took some pictures but they didn't turn out well so I didn't include them in this blog. This was also the first time on the trip someone gave me a little chair/stool for my purse. They must expect people with much nicer purses than mine.

The tea itself was pretty standard. Nothing really exceptional about it. This was another Afternoon Tea where the room was crazy hot, which really isn’t the environment you want to drink tea or consume alcohol in. I was a little disappointed in the tea. Glad I saw the hotel. Good people watching.

Day 4

Our first tour and day trip outside of Paris. We took a Loire Valley chateau tour. The first stop was Amboise, a defensive castle on a hill with a great view and Da Vinci’s tomb. It's surrounded by the very cute town of Amboise.

We did have a weird experience on this tour where we stopped at cafe for 10 minutes before we entered the chateau and we could not tell if the drinks were a part of the tour or not. We ended up just paying for them (just in case) but I'm pretty sure we were the only ones who did. Weird.

Anyway, nice chateau and after seeing Da Vinci's tomb it made me realize I've now seen the tombs of every single Ninja Turtle except Donatello's. Something to do the next time I'm in Florence, I guess.

The next chateau we visited was the Chateau de Chenonceau. This is definitely the prettiest chateau in Loire Valley. It crosses the Cher River while still allowing some river traffic to pass through it. This chateau also has some nice grounds you can visit such as gardens and a working farm. As part of our tour we had lunch on the grounds at L'Orangerie, which is their nicest restaurant. They also have a space for wine tasting and picnicking. I enjoyed this chateau and lunch! It was my favorite of the trip.

The final chateau we visited was Chateau de Chambord. I believe this is the biggest of the chateaus we visited (actually I just looked it up and it's the biggest in the Loire Valley). It's on impressive grounds and was built as a hunting lodge, which made my husband and me joke the entire time we were there about the humble hunting lodge and how it's smaller than ours (which of course we don't actually have).

Keeping with the Da Vinci theme of Amboise, there is a chance Da Vinci helped design aspects of this chateau and, if he didn't, he definitely inspired it (like the double helix staircase). There was also a couple of weird things here (as shown above) of a statue looking out a window, a deer statue with a cross coming out of its head, and picture frames with boar heads.

This was a very nice day. I've been to France twice before but never saw anything outside of Paris. It was fun to tour the beautiful estates in the beautiful French countryside.

Day 5

When I was planning our trip, I asked my husband if there was anything he specifically wanted to see. His reply, "Disneyland Paris". I was kind of surprised and originally a little resistant. Why were we traveling halfway around the world to experience something we can reach by plane in less than two hours (Disneyland is an hour and half away by plane from Sacramento)? Turns out, it was a fantastic idea! Disneyland is still Disneyland, no matter what continent it is on, and it was interesting to see American culture marketed to Europeans.

I admit, seeing Main Street was weird. It's America in France. Also, as you can see, there are a lot of similar rides between Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. The Indiana Jones ride is an outdoor roller coaster. Thunder Mountain Railroad is the same but is on an island in the middle of their river. Space Mountain is a full-on roller coaster. Also, there's a lot more smoking. I guess they do have designated smoking areas, like Disneyland, there are just more of them here... that and people not caring that there are designated areas and just smoking wherever. Another interesting thing is that while Disneyland Paris is in France, there are a wide variety of Europeans who come to the park. Fantastic people watching, just like Disneyland. I'm glad we went. Not sure I'd go again but it was definitely something different to experience (even if I've gone to Disneyland in Anaheim a million times).

They do have two parks here: Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios Park. We did not make it to the second park. They have a Tower of Terror in this park and a Ratatouille ride (and restaurant) that I have some interest in. They also have a studio tram tour (I guess cause it's a Studios Park) but I've found that unless these tours are on actual backlots (like Universal Studios Hollywood) these types of rides are always kind of lame.

Day 6

Another tour day but this time it was to Champagne!

Before I get into details on this trip, I will say that I think my recommendation would be to not go on a tour and instead just get someone (a driver) to take you to the wineries and try different champagnes. I'm not sure I felt the tour added much except time to my day. It did take us to Reims Cathedral, which I probably wouldn't have visited otherwise, and it was very interesting. If you're in the area I recommend visiting.

Our first stop of the day was a small winery called Champagne Egrot and Filles. We walked the grounds with our guide explaining how they make their champagne. The tour ended with a tasting of two of their bottles. Downside to small wineries is that most of them don't ship to America.

Next it was time for lunch and a tour of Reims Cathedral. Its full name is Notre-Dame de Reims and you can easily see from the pictures that it is in the same style as Notre-Dame de Paris. An interesting aspect of this cathedral is that it has modern stained glass. I've never seen anything like it before. Very beautiful.

We also stopped at a small, local cafe and had a nice lunch. I wish I remembered the name of the restaurant.