Did we take the train to Paris just to eat Chipotle twice in one weekend? I won’t say that we went to Paris just for Chipotle, but I won’t say that we didn’t go just for Chipotle either! Truth be told, a couple of years ago I read how some celebrities flew to Paris for dinner. I joked with Jordan that maybe, one day, we could go to Paris just for dinner. Little did I know that we would ever be living in Europe and would have such easy access to Paris to make this silly idea a reality.
And so that’s exactly what we did! After Jordan finished work on Friday, we took the 7:00 pm train to Paris. We arrived right at 9:00, the perfect time for dinner in the city of love. We checked in to our hotel and then jumped on scooters to help get us to our dinner destination on time. Thanks to our scooters, we made it right before the restaurant closed!
The restaurant we chose out of all the amazing culinary experiences available in Paris? Chipotle. Jordan’s favorite restaurant back home. He once ate at Chipotle so frequently one summer that he received a $200 catering credit, which he used to feed everyone at a Superbowl party and then some. So to go without Chipotle for 4+ months is a big deal! We placed our order to go and enjoyed our meal on the steps of the Seine river. I think it lived up to Jordan’s expectations… so much so that we ate it again for lunch on Sunday.
While it may have been excessive to eat Chipotle twice in one weekend, it’s nice to have some of the comforts from home occasionally. So much so that I recently ended up spending around $150 to have coffee creamer shipped over here, along with A1 sauce, red pepper flakes, and a rain jacket. Should I have spent that much money on shipping? Absolutely not. I am typically frugal with my spending, especially on things as silly as this. But am I glad that I have these items? Yes, 100%.
There’s also an American store in Lyon where we can get a few staples for a premium price. One individual-sized bottle of Gatorade cost about $5, but I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t taste amazing! Now if only we could find some Chick-fil-a sauce…
We both had taken trips to Paris before we met, so we decided that we didn’t need to do a lot of things we both had done again. Many of the iconic places in Paris were also under construction, so we don’t have too many photos to share. The Eiffel Tour had scaffolding, and the primary stop to take photos of the Eiffel Tour, Trocadoro, was under construction with gates and fences up. The Arc de Triomphe had construction around it, only half of the fountains at the Louvre were on, and obviously Notre Dame has a ton of scaffolding on it from the recent fire and planned renovations. Even with the scaffolding, the Eiffel Tour was as dreamy and magnificent as I remember. There’s just something about the Eiffel Tour that I love – maybe it’s the size, or maybe it’s how beautiful it is when it’s all lit up at night, but it’s definitely something special to see.
On Saturday, we purchased tickets in advance to spend the day at Château de Versailles. With Bastille Day, or la Fête Nationale coming up in France on July 14, we wanted to take the opportunity to learn more about French history. July 14, 1789 marked the beginning of the French Revolution where the people stormed the Bastille (a prison) to show their disdain for the Bourbon monarchy (think about Marie Antoinette). It also marked the end of royalty living at Château de Versailles as Louis XIV was forced out of the palace.
The Palace of Versailles was originally a modest hunting lodge that was transformed by Louis XIV. The palace has over 2300 rooms – can you imagine being the one to clean the place? It’s also the location of where the Treaty of Versailles was signed that marked the end of World War I, so needless to say, we were excited to visit Versailles both because of its rich history and its grandeur.
However, both of us weren’t super impressed with the tour of the palace. After the French Revolution, the majority of the furniture and items were sold, leaving the palace empty. Over time, they have been able to recover many of the pieces that were sold off to restore some of the rooms back to their original. The rooms that were restored were very intricately decorated! Other rooms were left empty for you to use your imagination on what the room could have looked like. One room in particular, the billiards room, was a large empty room with a sign stating ‘this is the location for where billards were played’.
The palace was extremely crowded and not something that we were expecting. We can’t imagine how busy it would be on a normal, non COVID-19 impacted day! Part of our disappointment was because we felt like sheep being quickly herded through the rooms and we couldn’t spend much time appreciating everything. If people stopped for too long to look at something, the employees told people to move along quickly. It was a very rushed experience. If you know me, you know I hate being rushed.
We did love the gardens though! The gardens were not maintained during the lockdown, so it wasn’t as beautiful as photos we had seen, but it was still fantastic. We could have spent all day exploring the gardens. We only covered a little bit of the grounds, and we want to go back sometime to visit the gardens again. There were so many different routes we could take and we felt like we were completely alone and in a different world at times. We had so much fun wandering through the gardens and finding “hidden” fountains.
On Sunday, we spent the day walking around Paris before our train left that evening. We visited the Moulin Rouge area in the morning because I had always wanted to see it. Next, we went to the Arc de Triomphe to get the best views of the city. It takes 284 steps to get to the top of the Arc de Triomphe. Jordan had been to the top before, but I hadn’t. He waited to tell me right before we bought tickets that the only way up was to take the stairs, but I couldn’t back out then! The winding spiral staircase was so dizzying, but the views at the top were worth it!
After the Arc de Triomphe, we visited a touristy cafe, ironically called Le Corona, for a quick snack and a panaché (beer and lemonade mixed). When we crossed the street, the waiters just ushered us into the restaurant, so we didn’t have a choice but to stop (that’s how they get you)! We then headed towards the Louvre and Notre Dame. Notre Dame was interesting to visit because it had large posters surrounding it with photos from the fire, information on the restoration, and all the work it was going to take to restore it. They are still working on removing the damaged scaffolding from the fire, and won’t be able to resume restoration work until at least 2021!
Check out our photos from Paris!
By then, it was time to head back to our hotel to pick up our luggage and head to the train station. We had a direct train from Paris to Lyon, making it an easy two-hour trip. Masks are required on all public transportation, and so we had to keep our masks on for the entire ride. Wearing the masks that long weren’t bad, and so we feel ready to take on a longer train trip in the future!
Bastille Day was low-key this year, as all the fireworks celebrations and events were cancelled everywhere in France except for Paris. Even in Paris, you could not gather to watch the fireworks, but we heard they were planning to shoot them off extra high this year so that people could see them from all around the city. Typically, the firefighters have huge parties with champagne at their fire houses, but we will have to wait until next year to experience it. Instead, we enjoyed a nice bike ride along the Rhône river in Lyon and spent the afternoon relaxing in the sun. We even briefly went “wild swimming” in the Rhône, which is considered swimming anywhere that’s not a swimming pool! The water was very chilly and a nice way to cool off after sitting in the sun.
Until next time,