I wound up having some truly amazing adventures in Paris, but I have to be honest and say that some of the days were hard, especially the very first one. After my trip, I'll write a post about my reflections on solo travel (for the most part, great so far) but I think these posts with all the pretty pictures tend to glamorize my travel a little bit. Which is not to say that I'm not having a really amazing time, most of the time, but I'll also try to be honest when it's not as easy as pie.
My first day in Paris was a toughie. Going from travelling with your best friend to travelling alone is HARD, man. It didn't help that Paris was sticky and very, very hot. Plus, lets not mince words: Paris, while beautiful, can also be very overwhelming. Luckily, Snapchat! Honestly, I can say that snap chatting with my friends and sisters was a lifesaver when I felt really lonely that first day, and other days since. But that first evening I dragged myself out to Sacre Coeur, the gorgeous cathedral on the hill with views of Paris spread out in front of you, and ate a horrible tourist sandwich (it had fake eggs in it, I'm not joking..) and drank Fanta (which I had never been fond of before Paris but which I drank an obscene amount of while there…so refreshing!) and felt a little better but still lonely. Then I stumbled onto an absolutely amazing soccer juggling and acrobatics street performance that I can hardly describe (see the second photo from the top) which I watched three times and inexplicably made me feel much better.
And not all my days in Paris were as hard. My French exchange student from high school lives in Paris now and we had a lovely evening drinking rosé and eating gazpacho and zucchini gratin in her tiny, adorable apartment. I caught the end of the Tour de France with a few Australians I met on a tour, which was busy and fun. I wandered around by myself and had the best fallafel, and then sat in a park and figured out the rest of my trip. I knew two coworkers from Montreal, and met up with both.. it was so lovely to see a friendly face both times. I got to get driven around in a car and see lots of different castles around the outskirts of Paris. I tried macarons from two different shops and a croissant from one. I had a lemonade at the cafe Les Deux Moulins from the film Amelie and it felt so cool! I got to (sort of..) learn how to dance West Coast style swing on the quais of the Seine. On another night I felt a bit lonely (ironically the night I got upgraded to a hotel room from a 12-bed dorm due to an administrative error..ironic because it was so cool at first! And then I felt isolated..) I did what I do best: sought out food. This time from a very popular food truck that serves, strangely. burgers and fries. I figured I'd eaten enough Camembert sandwiches and French picnics, plus I was in line among exclusively Parisians, it was not a tourist attraction in the slightest (so I must have been doing something right).
So I got to make a lot of really fantastic memories. I got to talk to real Parisians in French. I got to experience solo travel while I still had friends nearby. I slept in my first hostel, and in my first hotel room alone. I made friends. Even though there were lots of ups and downs, the general trajectory was up, and it was the perfect place to start my trip.
I am now in the absolutely stunning San Sebastián, Spain and loving it completely.
- L'As du Fallafel: I don't even like fallafel normally, but this one was so good I went back the next day. So tasty, not expensive (for Paris), and tucked onto this adorable street in Le Marais neighbourhood. Can we talk about how their caramelized eggplant was the first eggplant I think I've ever enjoyed??
- Pierre Hermé: I tried both this shop and Ladurée, and although I think I was more charmed by the actual shop of Ladurée, I think I liked the macaron from Pierre Hermé better. It was a close call though, so you'd better try both just in case.
- Shakespeare and Company bookstore: an adorable English bookstore close to Notre Dame, it is so quaint and has such a rich history. Despite my tiny bag, I bought a souvenir. (I am officially much too much of a sucker for books..)
- Place des Vosges: the perfect little park in Le Marais. It's clean and quiet with beautiful fountains and is the perfect place to eat some fruit and enjoy la belle vie.
- Montmartre: the most charming area of Paris in my books. Just wandering down the streets or checking out the amazing street art, or exploring the big, old, beautiful, creepy cemetery, it's just wonderful.