My Birthday In Paris (As Told By The Croissants I Ate)
Croissant Number One –
After arriving in Paris close to midnight, Kim (my good friend from college) and I went straight to our hotel from the airport via bus and then cab. We checked in and almost immediately fell asleep. The next morning we woke up and went to visit Kim’s cousins who live in Paris. It was our first adventure into French food and we were treated with amazing croissants (I think possibly the best we had the entire trip?), pan au chocolat, various flavors of macarons, and a homemade quiche Lorraine.
(Side note: I’m low key having a love affair with macarons, but shh don’t tell the croissants.)
That afternoon we went to visit the Palace of Versailles. Here’s my recommendation if you ever go: don’t waste your time on the palace. Kim and I got a late start on the day so we only had six hours to spend there. We walked through the palace for about 45 minutes, being herded through massive tour groups, sweating profusely, and experiencing new levels of claustrophobia. The rooms were packed with people much taller than us who pushed and shoved to get through, making it impossible to actually appreciate any of decorations and artifacts. When we finally found freedom outside in the fresh air, we began exploring the gardens. On the map, it seemed definitely doable in just a couple hours. Holy crap, were we wrong. We spent the next five hours wandering around the gardens and barely explored a fraction of them. If you plan to go to Versailles, give it an entire day and spend it all in the gardens. Seriously, I cannot tell you how many times I played around with the idea of moving to Paris just to get the annual pass and go there every week. So much to see and do. You can rent boats and paddle around the Grand Canal. Totally worth it.
ALSO – stay until closing. We were some of the last people there and it was empty. Like actually empty and wow, what a sight. Definitely worth it wandering around the gardens during golden hour with no one around and to walk through the courtyard at the entrance, which was full of people earlier in the day, but was just ours as it started to get dark. Versailles is a must-have experience in itself, but being there alone was something special.
I didn’t have a croissant at Versailles, but I did have some incredible crème brulee, so here’s a picture of that instead.
Croissant Number Two –
That night we went to go check out the Moulin Rouge. Not go in, because hello have you seen those prices? (I’ll go back someday when I’m rich and successful.) But I wanted to see the lights and check out the area. (The next day, on my birthday, we had tried to go to a slightly cheaper burlesque show but the timing didn’t work out and now I have a new bucket list item that really should have been a bucket list item all along…)
Croissant Number Three –
Birthday breakfast! aka birthday basket of croissants because when in Paris. I got to celebrate my 25th birthday in my 25th country and to mark the occasion I invested in those giant number balloons to take a sick photo in front of the Eiffel Tower. It was all going according to plan (kind of – those balloons are damn hard to wrangle) when Kim accidentally popped the 5. She felt really bad about it and kept apologizing profusely but my disappointment only lasted about half a second before I started laughing. The best laid plans, amirite? I got the shot I wanted anyway and saved the 2, which we had subsequently dubbed an ‘S’ without its counterpart.
We got to watch the sun set behind the Eiffel Tower and saw the lights come on and listened as everyone applauded when the lights started twinkling. From there we went to dinner. After the endless croissants (and macarons) all day, we weren’t super hungry but went to Les Cocottes, as recommended by a friend who has spent a lot of time in Paris, and got Caesar salads. Now, you might be thinking, “seriously? Caesar salads as a birthday dinner?” But holy shit, if this isn’t the best damn Caesar salad on the planet…(Need a recommendation for a great restaurant near the Eiffel Tower? Go to Les Cocottes, order the Caesar salad and a glass of wine, and have an amazing dinner for an affordable price.)
After a few glasses of wine, we had a good buzz going and decided to go sit in Champ de Mars for a few minutes before heading back to our epic AirBnb. While there, we were approached by the men walking around with ice buckets full of wine and champagne. We decided to split a bottle of bubbly before heading back to bed. As we were about to leave, two Parisian guys sat with us and bought us another bottle. We ended up getting much drunker than we had intended.
Our plan was to wake up early the next morning and watch sunrise over the Eiffel Tower. I had my alarm set and sat up long enough to see the view from bed but the hangover took me back down for another few hours. I guess that’s what happens when you drink two bottles of the cheapest champagne on the planet…
We spent the rest of the day relaxing in various parks around the city, hopping back and forth between sun and shade. Let me be completely frank with you, my expectations for Paris were not very high. I really just had this romanticized idea of turning 25 under the Eiffel Tower and wanted to fulfil this fantasy. Turns out, though, I fell in love. Paris is such an awesome city and there is so much more to explore. I can’t wait to go back someday and spend three weeks instead of three days. Maybe three months. Maybe three years. I honestly did not want to leave and I can’t wait to return. (And the croissants and macarons are only like 75% of the appeal.)
Croissant Number Four -
No memory of where, when, or why this croissant was ordered but it seems like a good way to finish off this post.