Went to Paris!
On my list of Places to Go from March 2014 was Paris. I spent a semester abroad there in 2001 and had a blast. I hadn't been back since, for a variety of reasons, and so at the beginning of the summer I decided that my birthday present to myself would be to spend my birthday weekend in Paris.
We stayed in a tiny but very cute and quiet airbnb flat near Les Halles (a neighborhood that I would definitely not have considered 15 years ago), and had the most stupendous weather.
I bought the Paris City Secrets book and it had some really great tips. Can't say the walking tour was easy to follow (specified turn onto a street but not left or right!), but the restaurants and other recommended things were really good.
Seriously: the sky was bright blue the whole time and it was breezy and just a little autumnal but not at all cold. While not really intending to do all the touristy things, we managed to visit the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, Saint Sulpice, Sainte-Chapelle, Sacre-Coeur, Montmartre, the Tuilleries, the Champs-Elysees, the Arc du Triomphe, the Luxembourg Gardens, Saint-Germain, and the Seine (a long walk alongside AND a boat ride). PHEW. I think next time might be a little more off the beaten path!
We walked EVERYWHERE, including down from the 2nd floor of the Eiffel Tower.
Who even knew that the Seine could sparkle?
Stood on the glass floor on the first level (eek!!)
We took a night bike tour (with the company that I had applied for a job as a tour guide with way back in 2002) and it was a blast. Paris is SO much more bike-friendly - we were in bus/bike lanes almost the whole time. Our tour guide was funny and informative and the group had a really good time (despite our nerdy high-vis jackets).
The highlight was definitely whizzing through the Louve courtyard with it all lit up - it was unforgettable. We ended with a (chilly!) boat ride with a few glasses of wine followed by a slightly wobbly ride back to HQ.
After getting up at 4.15am in London to catch the tube and walking around ALL day, we finally got back to the flat just after midnight. EPIC BIRTHDAY.
Saturday we walked through the Tuilleries, up the Champs Elysees, and then all around Montmartre and Sacre Coeur.
That sky. No, we were not in Greece.
And then Sunday we were foiled by the 2 hour line at the Musee D'Orsay so sat in the sunshine in the Luxembourg Gardens instead (terrible, I know), and then went to Sainte-Chapelle to listen to Eric Whitacre's Sainte-Chapelle. Not live - it was on my ipod, but still.
The food all weekend was delicious (and stupendously French), and we had an absolute blast. It will NOT be another 15 years before I go back!