Paris: Day 7!

Our trip is already at an end…it flew by so fast! We headed out on the train from Forbach to Paris Sunday morning to spend the day in Paris before flying out on Monday. Once we arrived in Paris, we went right to the hotel, 5 large suitcases in tow! Rachael had to bring 3 big bags with her, one of which had a broken wheel, so we were having a bit of a struggle getting through the metro and streets of Paris with all that luggage. But after dropping off our bags, we took off to the river seine to go on a boat cruise. I grabbed a tuna and cheese panini and we took our food with us as we walked. The boat cruise was about an hour long and it took us along the river to see many of the famous Parisian landmarks, some of which we had already seen but it was cool to see them from the water. We also had a tour guide, so it was interesting to hear stories about each site. It was a bright and sunny day so we got a little sun up on the top of the boat, too!

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After the boat cruise, we headed to a nearby park and grabbed some ice cream. We sat in the park and watched the kids racing boats in the fountain. I was shocked by how many people were just milling around the park relaxing, especially for a Sunday! We then went to Saint Sulpice church, which was the church in the Da Vinci Code where the monk had to break open the rose line in the floor, so it was cool to see in person! We then headed off to find a local bar for our last happy hour…they served the drinks with glow sticks as stirrers, which was really cool. After having a few drinks we headed off to Cafe Jade, a restaurant Rachael really liked, for dinner. We had escargots for an appetizer and I ordered a croque madame again for dinner. We grabbed one last drink at one of Rachael’s favorite bars, Bastille, before heading back to the apartment to get some sleep. Tomorrow we head back to the US! We had such an amazing trip, and we definitely had a busy week, but I wish it could have been longer!

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Paris: Day 6!

Can’t believe it’s Saturday already, which means it’s our last day in Forbach! We headed to Metz for the day, which is a city about 50 minutes from Forbach by train. It was a little busier than Forbach but still much less hectic than Paris, so we strolled around and went into the shops and a chocolate store. We then stopped to get lunch at a place known for their fondue. I decided to try beef fondue, while Rachael and Sam got cheese. The waiter told me that the beef was better “bloody”, so I settled for cooking it til about medium rare (that was all I could stomach!) For the fondue you are basically served about 2/3 lbs of beef cubes, which you then put on a long fork and cook in boiling hot oil with bouillon until it’s at your desired doneness. It’s served with a few different dipping sauces, and it came with potatoes and salad, so we were all very full after we finished! I tried a French beer from the region of Lorraine that was really good. The waiter talked with Rachael in French about what she’s doing in Forbach, and he ended up bringing us over shots (and one for himself as well) of a local liquor made of mirabelle plums!

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We then continued our sightseeing by going to the cathedrale de Metz, which was definitely the most impressive church I’ve seen so far! The ceilings were massive and the stained glass was beautiful and very intricate; the pictures don’t do it justice. You can also see evidence of shrapnel that hit the outside of the church, since it was used as a stronghold during world war 2. We also walked around by the river and saw some other sights around town before heading back to Forbach.

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When we got back to Forbach, we stopped at the grocery store to grab some food to make dinner. We also had to finish a lot of food left at Rachael’s apartment! We decided to make pasta with red tomato and pesto sauce, a salad with balsamic vinaigrette, and then have store bought tiramisu for dessert. And of course wine! We had a great last night in Forbach and are ready to head back to Paris the next day!

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Paris: Day 5!

It’s Friday already, which means it’s our last day in Paris; that is, until we return on Sunday to stay for the day/night before we fly home.We had to be out of our apartment by 9, so we headed out to the train station to catch our train to Forbach, the location of Rachael’s apartment and the school she teaches at. It was about a 2 hour train ride, where we watched the city disappear and slowly be replaced by large fields and farmlands. We saw a lot of canola plants, used for canola oil and biofuel, which are visible as large yellow fields. Once we got to Forbach we had about a 15 minute walk from the train station to her apartment- uphill of course! Forbach is a very quiet town, much less hustle and bustle than in Paris. After dropping off our bags and relaxing at her apartment for a bit, we took a train to Saarbruken, a nearby town in Germany (9 minutes by train). We spent the day there shopping and wandering around the town, and of course snacking on a cheese covered pretzel! It was interesting to see the German versions of a lot of American stores, complete with McDonalds that serves a “McBaguette”!

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We headed back to Forbach in the evening to relax at Rachael’s apartment with a snack and some wine. I also tried a new French beer, Desperados, which was a beer “flavored with tequila”…it tasted like a corona/bud light limarita, but was 5.9% alcohol! It was decent, but not something I would go out of my way to drink. We then headed to dinner around 9:30 to a place in town known for their tartes flambees. These are basically very thin crust pizzas with a cream and cheese-based sauce. I got mine topped with Munster cheese, bacon, and onions. It was delicious and very filling! It is a specialty of the region so Rachael wanted to make sure we tried it while we were here. We also had more wine of course! Now we are heading to bed; we should be able to sleep in tomorrow before heading for a hike in Forbach and a trip to the city of Metz.

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Paris: Day 4!

I can’t believe it’s Thursday already! Today was supposed to be rainy, but since it was a French holiday, the Eiffel Tower was one of the only things open; the Louvre and other museums and sights were closed. So we headed there and took a lot of pictures outside, luckily before it started raining! We were going to wait to go up to the second level of the tower (the top was closed), but it was about a 3-4 hour wait and it started pouring, so we decided to go to the Sacre Couer instead and take pictures from the top of that, since it’s on top of a hill in Paris. On our way to the church we passed by the Moulin Rouge, as well as a wall that says “I love you” in almost 150 languages! It then started pouring, so we stopped at a cafe nearby and sat outside (under an awning/heat lamps) to people watch and get lunch. I tried the croque Madame (grilled ham and cheese with a fried egg) with salad. We also all got vin chaud (hot wine), which is red wine heated with sugar, cinnamon, orange, and lemon. Perfect for the cold rainy day!

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The Sacre Couer is an old church, situated upon a hill in Paris, so by paying only 6 euro and not having to wait in line, we were able to climb to the top of the dome and see some of the best views in Paris! There were about 300 stairs to climb to the top, and it became progressively tighter, so it was not for the claustrophobic! However, the views from the top were so worth it! The dome goes all the way around in a circle, so you can see the whole city from up there. It was a breathtaking view; pictures don’t do it justice! We then went down and walked inside the church, then headed into the little square nearby to see the works being created by local painters. I bought a watercolor painted by a local man, which I can’t wait to frame and put in my room! We stopped in some souvenir shops, then headed back home to stop by the grocery store; Rachael was cooking dinner for us at our apartment!

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Since it was a rainy night it was nice to stay in and relax with some wine and cheese while Rachael prepared dinner, coq au vin (chicken with wine sauce, carrots, onions, and mushrooms). Rachael’s friend Kasey, who she met while abroad but is also teaching as an assistant in Paris right now, came to join us for dinner as well. For dessert we got premade creme brûlée, which just needed to be broiled. Rachael was a master chef and everything was delicious!

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Paris: Day 3!

We begin our third day by heading to Versailles, which is about 30 minutes outside of Paris by train. It was sunny and in the low 60s, so after waiting to get a ticket we decided to walk around the gardens first, in case it decided to rain later. All I can say about the gardens is they were massive! It was like a maze of trees and bushes and flowers and fountains. We wandered around for about an hour and a half and still probably only saw about an eighth of the whole landscape. We also grabbed lunch while walking; a chicken, mozzarella and tomato panini!

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We then headed inside to tour the palace. We saw Marie Antoinette’s bed chambers, the hall of mirrors, and various other rooms. Everything is gold and there are beautiful paintings and chandeliers. The palace is massive, with hundreds and hundreds of rooms…I can’t even imagine how only one family lived here. What are all these rooms for?!

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We then headed back to Paris in the afternoon to go to the Louvre, the museum that houses the Mona Lisa, the Venus de Milo, and various other famous paintings and sculptures. There are also many artifacts from Egypt, Greece, and other ancient cultures. If you were to stop and look at every display for 30 seconds, it would take over 9 months! With so many things to see, we decided to focus on some of the big attractions as well as the Egyptian artifacts and the Italian paintings. We then grabbed a crepe (I got banana, Nutella, and coconut) before heading off to find a happy hour and dinner!

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We grabbed some happy hour mojitos, getting some much needed rest after walking around Versailles and the Louvre all day. We then headed to dinner around 9 o’clock (it seems so late!); we ended up at a little local place Rachael has been to, which has a completely different menu each day. So all the ingredients are fresh and there’s always something different! We decided to try pate with fig bread and onion compote for an appetizer; pate is goose liver, which you spread on the bread…sounds really gross but it was actually good! For dinner I tried salmon (mid-cooked, which is apparently the most they will cook meat…no well done here!) with tagliatelle pasta and a red cream sauce. It was delicious and we were super full and ready for bed! We got back to our apartment around 11:30, so we were awake at midnight to see the Eiffel Tower sparkle, which it does for 5 minutes at midnight each night. We have a decent view of the top of it from our window!

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Paris: Day 2!

Can’t believe it’s our second day here! We finally got a good nights sleep, so this morning we were up early to head to the catacombs. In the late 1700s they decided to move the remains from the largest French cemetery to unused limestone quarries (due to public health reasons). Visitors can walk through the catacombs and see the bones and skulls in the old quarries, which are under both the metro and sewer systems. Sounds morbid, but it was really cool to see and worth the 2 hour wait (and only 4 euro to get in)!

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We then headed to the le marais, the Jewish area in Paris, to get falafel for lunch. It was really good; basically it’s fried balls of chick peas in a pita with eggplant, cabbage, hummus, and some sort of dill/yogurt sauce. We also stopped and got macarons, which are little French cookies…I got pistachio and coconut! From there we took the metro to the Louvre, which was closed today, so we just took pictures outside and at le Jardin Des Tuileries (the gardens)…we will head back to see the inside of the Louvre later in the week.

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From there we headed to the champs élysées, which is a famous street with a bunch of fancy shops (like Louis Vuitton). I bought my first Parisian non-food/drink purchase, which was natural a new purse…but it had sequins and bright colors, so two of my favorite things! We then went to see the arc de triomphe, which is at the end of the street, and took some pictures there. Unfortunately it started raining, but we took the metro to a good viewing point to take pictures of the Eiffel Tower (we plan to go see it and climb up in it Thursday).

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Since it started raining harder, we decided to head back the apartment for a bit. We stopped on our way to get some groceries, and while we were there I had to get bounty bars…they are basically like almond joys without the almonds (and we all know I love coconut). We got wine, cheese, and a baguette, so we had our own happy hour and snacks at the apartment!

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We then headed to ile de la cite, a touristy part of Paris, for dinner. We had another 3 course meal (for only 12 euro); this one came with a complementary glass of wine! I also ordered a bottle of Kronenbourg, which is a French beer…it tasted like a lighter Stella. For the meal I ordered French onion soup, moules frites (mussels in wine sauce with French fries), and apple pie. Everything was great and we were super full! Tomorrow is supposed to be really nice, so we plan to head to Versailles and the Louvre, then go out at night again!

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Arrival in Paris!

I can’t believe one day has already gone by here in France! We arrived around 1 PM (7 AM EST) and took the train to meet my friend in another part of Paris. From there we went to our apartment, which in a nice neighborhood and is set up like a studio, with a bed and a couch along with laundry and a kitchen. We then set out to get some groceries for the week. Turns out France has a “sugar tax” on cookies, candy etc but fruit and veggies are super cheap…now I know how they stay so skinny! We then got our first French meal…mine was a quiche Lorraine (ham), which was delicious!

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We then set off to do some sightseeing. We walked from our apartment towards Notre Dame church and the Seine. We went in the church and walked around outside, seeing beautiful flowers and the bridge of locks.

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As soon as we needed a break we headed to a bar for happy hour! Apparently happy hour here starts as early as 4 and can go as late as 10. I tried a raspberry mojito and a screaming orgasm (yes that is the real name)…both were half off for happy hour! We then got on the metro and headed to another section of Paris to get dinner. The place we chose had a “prix fixe” menu, meaning you pick one appetizer, entree, and dessert for a set price (16 euro), which is a really good deal! I chose escargots (snails), beef bourgignon, and creme brûlée. So good!! Then we called it a night since Sam and I are running off a few hours of airplane sleep…need to get our rest for another busy day tomorrow!

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