All of the pictures, except the crème brulee, are from my own adventures in Paris. I did a lot of sightseeing on my trip, but here are some highlights.
*Disclaimer- Almost everything I ate contained tons of butter and fat, but I walked over 8 miles a day. Paris is extremely pedestrian-friendly, so you can definitely make up for the hefty caloric intake that’s about to ensue.
Where to Go:
The Eiffel Tower: Probably the most famous French icon, the Eiffel Tower is an iron lattice named after its creator, Gustave Eiffel. It was built in 1889 for the World’s Fair. The nation originally viewed it as ugly, and not reminiscent of traditional French architecture. Ironically, the Eiffel Tower is now one of the most famous landmarks in the world. There are three levels that are accessible by elevator and stairs. There can be a long wait to get to the top level, but I assure you that it is worth the trip. Try visiting the Tower at night to see the lights of the entire city.
The Louvre: The Louvre is one of the world’s biggest and most visited museums located on the Right Bank of the Seine River. There are over 35,000 objects on display, including the “Mona Lisa” and “Venus de Milo.” The building is famous for its architecture, and it was originally built as a fortress. Every corner of the museum houses pieces of a new style and era. It is absolutely awesome seeing the Mona Lisa in person. I warn you that she is tiny, in a bulletproof case, and surrounded by people.
Notre Dame: Notre Dame is a Catholic cathedral that displays iconic French Gothic architecture. It is one of the most famous churches in the world, and it is notable for its stained glass and gargoyles. Notre Dame is home to the official chair of the archbishop of Paris. Although I don’t follow Catholicism, I felt an overwhelming spiritual presence in the church. I even lit a candle for sick friends and family.
The Palace of Versailles: Located in a suburb of France, the Palace of Versailles is a symbol of the absolute monarchy before the French Revolution. The Palace was home to Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette, and it is covered in gold. The gardens are magnificent during the summertime. It’s a stunning feature of French history.
L’Arc de Triomphe: This is one of the most famous monuments in Paris on the Champs- Elysees. This monument honors those who fought in the French Revolution, and houses the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier from WWI. Climb to the top if you get the chance.
Montmartre and Sacré-Coeur: Montmartre is a hill on the Right Bank of the northern end of Paris. Montmartre has always been used as a place of worship. The Basilica on the hill, Sacré-Coeur, was built in the 19th century and is still used for prayer. It was one of my favorite parts of Paris. There were adorable shops around every corner, and each café smelled absolutely divine. I ate my first escargot dish in Montmartre.
Saint-Chapelle: This is a medieval Gothic church in the heart of Paris. It is known for its intricate architecture and stained glass windows. The glass is all original, and dates back to the 13th
Musee de l’Orangine: Home of Monet’s water lilies. This is a small museum that isn’t as well-known as the others in France, but I think that’s what gives the museum its charm and originality.
What to Eat:
Croissants: Almost every café and patisserie (bakery) in Paris will have croissants. Croissants are crescent-shaped pastries that are typically consumed as breakfast or snacks. They are made from dough leavened with yeast, and become flaky, rich, sweet, and buttery with the addition of eggs, butter, milk, and cream. I was in Paris for 6 days and I always consumed a hot, fresh-from-the-oven croissant. I think I ate one with (not for) breakfast every day while I was there.
Escargot: The infamous escargot is a dish of snails, usually served as appetizers. The snails come in the shells with a little fork to scoop out the flesh. In my opinion, escargot is slimy, like oysters, but it has tough meat, like clams. Most of the flavor comes from the sauce, as the snails don’t have much of a taste themselves. My escargot came with a basil pesto sauce. This is a MUST try for the adventurous eaters.
Macaroons: Macaroons are light pastries that resemble cookies. They contain egg whites, sugar, and ground almonds or coconuts. I always think that I’m biting into a soft cloud of flavor. They come in all different flavors. I recommend finding Ladurée for your first macaroon experience.
Crêpe: Crêpes are thin pancakes made from wheat or buckwheat flour. The liquid batter is spread onto a hot frying pan and evenly distributed throughout cooking. Crêpes are delicate, so practice is required to perfect the recipes. Crêpes may contain sweet or savory fillings. The Parisians will make them right every time.
Crème Brulee: Crème brûlée, also known as burnt cream, is a dessert of rich custard topped with hard caramel. This is usually accomplished by flambéing, or setting fire, to the sugared top of the custard with a blow torch.
Baguette: Random street vendors serve baguettes, which are narrow loaves of French bread. The bread is always fresh, soft, and scrumptious.