I was standing on the balcony of the Le Centre Pompidou overlooking the entire city of Paris, with the Eiffel tower off in one direction, and the beautiful Sacre Coeur in the other. The entire city started to hum in unison. France had just scored their first goal in the final game of the World Cup. I look over at the love of my life and have to pinch myself: am I really here? Is this really my life?
We had arrived in Paris less than 24 hours earlier (bless the speedy Eurostar train from London) and managed to watch the city light up with fireworks for Bastille Day, and already we were watching France’s football team (yes, speaking like a local) make history. And aside from these important events, this trip has personal significance as well. We all have those life-altering experiences which shake us so deeply at our core that life is never the same. So here I am, in a life I could never have imagined a year ago, traveling with a new sense of gratitude and appreciation for the little things. The main thing being my partner and best friend, Lucas.
Our favourite area of Paris was Pigalle with its eclectic dive bars, delicious food, and the iconic Moulin Rouge (watching a childhood dance friend from Calgary perform in the show was pretty epic). And what kind of tourists would we be without a quick shoot in the colourful gradient basketball court, Pigalle Basketball, before hitting up Pink Mamma (delicious Italian food in the most Instagramable restaurant)? Pigalle borders Marais which boasts cool vintage shops, speakeasies, and is also home to the Sacre Couer Basilica — a great spot to watch the sunset with tourists and locals alike.
We stayed near the Eiffel Tower which was convenient and central, albeit a bit touristy for us if we were to go back. The food is rather overpriced and mediocre at best, but being able to grab wine and a baguette and walk to the Eiffel Tower or the river is cool. Not to mention we were basically in the party after France won the World Cup, and that was pretty damn special. Next time we’d probably stay somewhere in the 18th arrondissement.
Being Lucas’ first time in Paris, and my first non-work trip here, we obviously had to hit up some of the main attractions. Aside from visiting the Louvre during the day, we also visited the beautifully lit, empty Louvre grounds in the middle of the night as per a recommendation from a friend. We enjoyed a boat ride down the Seine River during sunset, as well as another smaller ride through the famous canals which were both fun.
Our last full day was one for the books. We ventured to a new neighbourhood, the 13th arrondissement which boasts some of the coolest murals and street art (Lucas was in heaven) by artists like Shepard Fairey (you know that famous Obama “HOPE” poster), Conor Harrington and D*Face. We went to La Felicita, the newest restaurant from the same group as Pink Mamma (an earlier favourite in Pigalle) and we were blown away. Claiming to be the largest restaurant in all of Europe, this converted train station is amazing with its beer garden, five kitchens, large cocktail bar, food market, and an incredible front patio. Oh, and perhaps the coolest restrooms so make sure you visit each stall. La Felicita was so good we went back for dinner — but if you’re not there shortly after the workday ends you’ll be in a long line. Yes, this 4500 square metre restaurant is currently so popular there’s often a lineup!
Paris was beautiful, exciting, memorable and so much fun. We tried our best with our subpar high school French, but no matter how far we’d stray off the tourist path, we were always greeted with English too. Getting around is pretty easy if you’re near a Metro station like we were, but wear comfortable shoes because there’s lots of walking! And don’t forget to come with an empty stomach if you want to enjoy all the food and drinks this city has to offer. Paris, je t’aime! I can’t wait to go back.
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