For Christmas this past year, Kervin and I wanted to do something extra special for my mom. She has always quietly displayed interest in traveling abroad, but hadn’t taken the plunge since visiting me in Spain back in 2010. Not only is she my best friend, but my mom is the most kind, gracious, and hard working person I know. She gives and gives and is always putting other people’s needs before her own. The idea started as a tiny seed in the back of my mind, and when I mentioned it to Kervin, he immediately agreed. So about a year ago we began plotting how we could present the idea of a “girl’s trip” to my mom. Although I had an idea, I wanted to be sure it would be THE place she wanted to go. I found THESE ticket templates, and customized them to what I wanted. We stayed in Colorado for Christmas, so we sent the “tickets” to Wisconsin with a note to wait to open until we FaceTimed on Christmas Day. We feel so fortunate to be able to give back in a way that is building memories and not just material “stuff.”
We left Chicago on a flight together on Wednesday evening. We ate and drank and attempted to get a few minutes of shut eye, but the pre-trip jitters kept us from really getting much rest. We landed in Paris mid morning on Thursday and we bravely navigated the public transportation our hotel, which was just a quick 3 minute walk from the Louvre. (Side note: for those of you who don’t know, Kervin is ALWAYS the navigator on our trips which allows me to sit back and take in all the scenery. So I knew I had to bring my “A” game for this trip :))
We decided to hit the ground running and explore the city on foot. It was lightly sprinkling so we started by fueling up with some ramen. We walked by the Louvre, the Arc de Triomphe, wandered down the Champs Elsyees, and ended our evening with a view from Montparnasse Tower.
We started the following day with a WEGO Walking tour of the city. Paul and his wife Pauline were our guides for the morning and they were absolutely wonderful! We met at Notre Dame and ended under the Eiffel Tower. We jumped on the chance to ask some locals for their favorite spots and had ice cream at the well known Berthillon near Notre Dame per their recommendation.
While wandering the streets after the tour, we found a quaint little street lined with a few restaurants and a little flower shop. After lunch at L’Eclair we wandered down Champs Elysees again, this time stopping at Lauduree for macarons and a chocolate elcair.
We spent our evening on a sunset cruise down the seine (with a few glasses of champagne!) for a relaxing view.
We were up bright and early for breakfast back on what we affectionately called “our street” at L’Elcair. We had the same waiter from the afternoon before who immediately recognized us and welcomed us back. After our quick breakfast and some espresso, we headed off to meet our guide for our day bike tour of Monet’s Garden. We opted for this day bike tour which included a stop in Vernon, Monet Gardens, and Giverny. Monet’s Garden was my mom’s only request and “must see” for our trip.
Mom woke up feeling under the weather so I navigated my way to a nearby pharmacy where the employee was kind enough to help me choose the right drugs for the cold she had come down with. After returning with the meds, I took a walk around the grounds of the Louvre while she napped, and found myself at the McDonald’s under ground where I ordered a couple strawberry macarons! Now this is something I would normally never do, I don’t even eat McD’s at home, but I had to give the macarons a try and compare them from the ones we had the day before. You know, all in the name of science! 😉
I came back around 10 AM to find my mom entering the lobby of our hotel all ready to go. So we set out on foot to check out the Luxembourg Gardens. It’s a really beautiful garden set in the city. There were so many people walking or lounging in the park enjoying the beautiful day. For lunch we hit up L’as du Fallafel for some of the best fallafels I’ve ever had! We did have to wait in line, but it was totally worth it! From there we spent some time exploring the Galleries Lafayette for spices and of course, more macarons.
We spent Monday exploring the Champagne region of France with THIS tour. We were picked up right from our hotel and had coffee and breakfast during our 2 hour drive to Verzenay. We first visited a very small champagne producer where we met the owner, learned about the grape to champagne process, and tasted some of his champagnes.
We then stopped for lunch in Reims for a traditional French meal, which was absolutely mouth watering! We also toured the beautiful Reims cathedral.
The last stop of the day was at Taittinger where we toured the cellars and of course tasted more champagne!
Tuesday was our last full day in Paris! We made sure to get all our “must see” spots in. Although at this point we had walked by Notre Dame more times than we could count, we made sure to get there a few minutes before it opened to beat the lines of tourists so we could take a look inside.
We hopped on the metro and headed to Sacre Couer. I highly recommend adding this to your itinerary, it was definitely stunning! The views are breathtaking! From there we spent a few hours exploring the quiet Montmarte neighborhood, a vastly different feel from the hustle and bustle of areas closer to the Eiffel Tower.
We spent the afternoon wandering down narrow streets and simply taking in Les Halles. At this point we had absolutely no agenda. We peeked in store windows, ogled over the food, and turned when something caught our eye. Rue Montorgueil is a MUST for food lovers. It’s lined with restaurants, fish and meat markets, pastry shops, boutiques, cheese shops, you name it-you can most likely find it here!
After dinner at Caldo Freddo (mom’s favorite meal of the trip) we went back to the Tuileries Garden to sit around the fountain for one last view of the twinkling lights of the Eiffel Tower.
Here’s to being thankful for a week full of making memories! Hope you enjoyed the recap of our girls trip!