OK, well first of all … technically not my parents! My mom and her sister, AKA my aunt Laura, who I sometimes call my parents because they’re together a lot and it’s just easier. Second of all, I know Paris is supposed to be the city of love, but it really wasn’t that weird — going with my boyfriend and my mom I mean!
My mom and Laura came to see me in London first. I planned on doing a post on what to do when your family visits you abroad but guess what? I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING FUN! Who knew finals abroad were so hard! I had a huge assignment (12 pages!!) assigned last-minute and had to go to class for four hours each day, so my parents did fun tourist traps as I wrote my paper. It was still really nice having them around, especially because I was so stressed.
After I finished class on Thursday, the four of us headed to St. Pancras (or as I call it, Saint Pancreas) to take the Chunnel to Paris! My aunt Laura is obsessed with Paris — she went there with both of her husbands! I wanted to visit of course, and if my family is offering to pay, who am I to say no? Originally, my friends and boyfriend were going to come, but it was getting way too pricey, so my mom said only one guest and I chose my boyfriend! That is how we all ended up there! Honestly it wasn’t weird — we balanced it well.
We got in on the later side and took an Uber to The Duquesne Hotel, which is really close to the Eiffel Tower, but kind of far from everything else. If I wasn’t traveling with my family, I wouldn’t have stayed there, because it’s way too much money and AirBnB is always better! My mom and Laura don’t eat dinner (this will be a reoccurring theme), so Dariy and I decided to just wander around and see what was open and within our price range (food near the Eiffel Tower is overpriced). We happened to stumble across a really nice, gluten-free Italian restaurant with a meal deal! It’s funny because my friend said “good luck eating gluten-free in Paris!” and the first place we found was totally gluten-free. Anyway, Dariy was gracious enough to agree to eat there and we had a great meal. It was 16 euros each for a main entree and dessert. We both got pasta — different kinds, but both delicious. Then there were the two desserts offered with the deal so we each got one and decided to split. The desserts were a chocolate mousse and a raspberry sorbet. Oh my God, it was heavenly! Dariy even said that you couldn’t tell any of the food was gluten-free! After this, we went home because it was approaching midnight and we had a big day ahead of us.
On our first full day (Friday), we woke up at 9 a.m. and headed to the Musée D’Orsay. We were there for about three hours, until I was dying of hunger. My mom and aunt literally do not eat and expect Dariy and me to just be fine with no food! So we kinda rushed through the last floor, even though it definitely had the best stuff! I still liked the art though — there was some Van Gogh and Monet, but no Goya, who I really wanted to see.
I made a reservation at a place called Pink Mamma a week before. Everyone apparently swears you have to go here when you’re in Paris, because it is that amazing. Despite making a reservation, we still had to wait in a line around the block to get in. We probably could have cut because we actually had a table, but I was too polite. By the time we got in, the top floor, out of four, was full, which honestly bummed me out, because that’s apparently the best part of the restaurant. We sat on the second floor which isn’t a skylight garden, but was still cute. I ordered some pork dish and my aunt and Dariy both got pizza. I broke my gluten-free diet (not really a diet, I am allergic) to try the pizza, and it was delicious! My pork was good but nothing to phone home about. I honestly didn’t get the hype of this place! If you happen to be in the area, it’s worth going, but people made it sound like it was the best food they had ever consumed, and I don’t think it lived up to that mindset.
Luckily for us, our next stop was within walking distance; it didn’t set us too far off track. We walked about 20 minutes to Sacré-Cœur. It’s a steep climb! There are also gypsies trying to get donations and people selling cheap trinkets, quite aggressively I might add. When you finally reach the top, there is a beautiful church and a view of the city. This wasn’t too exciting to me, but the area around it is called Montmartre. It’s the old artists’ corner, and it’s very cute. There are people painting and selling their work, as well as some nice restaurants. We ended up walking down the other side and calling an Uber to get back home.
For dinner, of course, my parents didn’t want to eat. Since I’m on a budget, Dariy and I did some research to find the best cheap eats in Paris. We found a place 20 minutes away via the subway and decided to go there. This place was a hole in the wall! It looked like it would fail every health inspection known to man! But Time Out recommended it and we swear by their food recommendations, so we put our names down to wait. Finally, we get called and seated at a table for four with another couple. The menu is in French and we couldn’t understand it. I was also very overdressed! Eventually, we both decided to get a steak which was actually super cheap. I think our meal was around 30 euros total! It was so good. A great and affordable spot —we were psyched to get such a cheap meal!
We did a lot on Saturday! Dariy was leaving Sunday morning and I was leaving at night, because we had a ticket mix up. This meant that we had to make the best of the day! Dariy and I got up earlier than my parents, so we got breakfast near the Louvre. I’m going to be honest … it’s embarrassing, but we didn’t go to the Louvre. The line was so long! We had way more fun walking through the Tuileries; it was so beautiful out! Then, we wandered down the streets of expensive shops and saw a huge line waiting outside a place called Victoria. Apparently, it’s a famous place, but we were able to sneak in to the pastry shop and got two macaroons and a merveilleux. We took the treats and walked back toward the Louvre to eat them. At this point, my mom was awake and wanted to meet up. Dariy and I were a bit bummed because we were having a cute little date, but we obliged and headed to meet them at the Musée de l’Orangerie.
We ate the pastries there while we waited for them. They were very good, and anything with meringue is an A+ in my book. My mom and aunt found us as we went in. This was a relatively quick stop — it’s basically just the Water Lilies. Dariy was itching to go because we only had two hours to do stuff before our ticket to go up the Eiffel Tower. I think my mom was happy to spend time with me, so I felt a bit awkward. We stayed there for a while, and my mom agreed to meet up later because her and Laura wanted to check out some of the shops.
Dariy and I headed toward the Lock Bridge. It was devastating! The locks were removed! Apparently, the bridge was starting to collapse, so all the locks were cut off and glass plates were put up to stop people from putting locks up. However, the lamp posts were covered with locks and someone was selling the locks illegally on the bridge. I insisted that we do it because I’m superstitious and I like these traditional gimmicky things. We got a lock, wrote our names on it and locked it somewhere we didn’t think the police would be able to cut it off. Then we wandered through the streets, something I love to do. We found Ladurée and got some more macaroons.
We were pretty far from the Eiffel Tower — three miles or so. We decided to walk back along the Seine, but it took so long that we barely made it to the Eiffel on time for our scheduled ticket. We get in line to meet up with my family, since we all had tickets to go up the Tower at 3… or so I thought! Apparently I booked the tickets for 5:30, so they wouldn’t let us on the elevator. Now, this wouldn’t work, because we had tickets for a river tour at 6! But, we’re allowed to take the stairs at any time … so we had to book it up the stairs… It’s 674 stairs total. We get to the first floor — Dariy first, then me and then my parents farther behind. We were all exhausted. We peeped around and saw they had a restaurant and snack bar. The view was amazing, but we still had another floor to go. It was exhausting, but finally we made it and it was beautiful. We looked around and took pictures, and my mom and I decided to have a glass of champagne and a macaroon (stop judging me!). That was the best macaroon I had all trip! And great champagne too. Then we began the descent since we had to get on the boat in 45 minutes.
The boat closed the upper deck because it was high tide. This doesn’t really make sense to me, but eventually we found a spot to sit on the first level. There was a very limited area outside, and everything else was inside. I was freezing! I thought this would ruin the experience for me, especially because it was too cloudy to see the sunset. But soon enough, lights all over the city were turning on and Paris was alive again. The lights are all so golden in color and they reflect off the water and it was very magical. I was shivering and kind of over it halfway through, but it was only an hour-long tour.
After we got off the boat, Dariy told me he wanted to go to the restaurant that inspired the design for Gusteau’s in the movie, Ratatouille. It was three miles away and our feet were cramped up, so we took Uber scooters! At first, I was on the back of Dariy’s scooter, but I eventually got my own. It was a bit scary to operate, but also invigorating. We arrived at La Tour d’Argent, a five-star restaurant that you need to reserve months in advance. I asked the doorman if we could peep in the place — he said no. I felt bad because this was something Dariy had expressed a lot of interest in, but he said he was happy to even just see the building.
That night, we both got mini chickens. It was so much food! It was good, don’t get me wrong, but I couldn’t finish it. After, we wanted to check out this bar that is essentially laundromat-themed. Lavomatic is a bar where you climb through a washing machine to get in. I had a lot of friends recommend it, so we waited in line for around 45 minutes. This was a bust! The only laundry-themed part is the entryway. You walk into a very small laundromat and then open two laundry machines, stacked on top of each other. You walk through and up a steep set of stairs, into the smallest lounge known to man. This is essentially just someone’s apartment that they redecorated with some cool throw pillows and extra chairs. Since we waited for a while, we decided to have a drink and then head home.
Sunday morning, Dariy left at 8 a.m. to go back to London and I overslept. My parents and I got a late start to the day. I wanted to go in the catacombs, but there weren’t any times available. I think my aunt Laura was relieved, because she said the catacombs were creepy. We decided to have an easy-going day by walking around and hanging out under the Eiffel Tower. I got coffee and breakfast as my mom and Laura bought scarves from a dime-a-dozen gift shop. Then, we took a nice, leisurely stroll to Sainte-Chapelle. The walk along the Seine was nice and we had pre-ordered our tickets so we could cut the line (which wrapped around the block). This was the most beautiful church I have ever seen in my life. My mom didn’t let me look at pictures before we went, because she wanted me to be surprised, and wow; if you haven’t seen the chapel before, I suggest going without knowing what it looks like. You will be blown away.
We spent the rest of the day in the Marais district. This was the cutest place with the cutest shops! The streets were so narrow, lined with thrift shops and boutiques. We wandered around and my mom, Laura and I got matching bracelets. They were these tiny beaded bands that were good luck. Plus, they were only two euros, so might as well. I also got a few head scarves and a shirt for a few euros. We ended the day at Musée National Picasso. Picasso is one of my favorite artists, so this was a dream. It is a beautiful museum; I learned a lot as well as got to see some pieces I really liked, as well!
Paris was definitely my favorite location that I visited abroad. Even though I was balancing my time between my boyfriend and my parents, I am happy I got to experience such a beautiful place with all of my favorite people.
Maia Luders, Study Abroad Correspondent
Maia Luders is a junior in the College of Communications studying Film and Public Relations. Maia also has a focus in English and enjoys reading and writing. She is currently studying abroad in London, England and interning for Guinness World Records as a Public Relations assistant. Maia is excited to travel and experience Europe for the first time.