Ahh Paris, the city of lights, love, and broken cameras. Oh yes, my friend, you read that right. We’ll get to that story a little later along with a recap of my Paris and London trip, but first let’s talk about these two! Nic and Ashley were honestly my favorite part about Paris! Was it the fact that they spoke english and were a familiar face in a sea of strangers? Maybe. Haha, but seriously, it’s really that I genuinely enjoy spending time with them. They are always down for an adventure and they always make me laugh. Those are two of my favorite qualities a person can have! That and Nic has a British accent which is always fun.
It’s been a dream of mine to do a photoshoot in front of the Eiffel Tower at the Trocadero for as long as I can remember. It’s such an iconic location and all the pictures I’ve ever seen of it, have this magical surreal feeling about them. So when my husband and I booked our trip to Paris, I knew I had to do a Trocadero session! It was at the top of my list of things I wanted to do in Paris. As luck would have it, Ashley and Nic were actually wanting a Parisian portrait session because they had just celebrated their one year anniversary living in Paris and would be moving to Oman in a month. They wanted pictures to commemorate their time together in Paris and have something to remember it by before leaving the city to embark on a new journey.
So Nic and Ashely got all dressed up and met me in front of the Eiffel Tower at sunrise and we captured some magic of our own. I had so much fun photographing them! They were amazing in front of the camera and I could have seriously stayed there all day taking pictures of them. Afterwards we walked across the street and ate croissants at a café while we drank espresso and caught up on life. We convinced Ashley to ditch work for the rest of the day and meet us later for lunch and cocktails at the Minipalais. I can say that now because she doesn’t work there anymore! Nic couldn’t get out of work, but he promised us we’d get to see him again before we left Paris and a British gentleman always keeps his word. I just made that up, I don’t even think that’s a real thing. It sounds good though doesn’t it?!
Saturday morning jet lag gave me an unsolicited wakeup call at 5am local Paris time. What else is there to do at 5am except research where the best and closest boulangerie is for you to get croissants at as soon as they open? Which happened to be 7:30am in case you were wondering. This was one of my favorite things about Paris, besides the croissants, the day starts at a reasonable hour. You don’t even see people on the streets until after 9am. Here I have friends trying to get me to go exercise with them at 6am. That’s what I like to call an “ungodly” hour and Parisians understand this in the same way I do. We aren’t morning people. Ever. Unless it’s for freshly baked croissants or Sunrise Trocadero sessions. Since my new pal jet lag was forcing me to be a morning person, I took a sunrise stroll to the local artisan boulanger Eric Kayser and grabbed some croissants and coffee for my husband and I.
This morning walk ended up being one of the best moments of my life. The sun had just come up, the air was crisp, the church bells were ringing, the streets were empty except for me and one lone monsieur who was outside opening a sidewalk café for the day. He greeted me with the most friendly, “Bonjour!” and then started speaking to me in French. I smiled, returned his friendly bonjour, and then politely told him in French that I don’t parle pas français. He replied, “¿Hablas Español?” and right then and there I proceeded to have an entire conversation in Spanish while on a street in France with Enrique from Colombia. I don’t speak Spanish fluently. Or even very well, but I almost minored in it in college so I can definitely have a casual conversation with someone. I think my brain was so just excited to actually understand what someone was saying to me in a foreign language and the Spanish just came flowing out! That morning walk by myself in Paris brought me so much joy and I’ll remember it as long as I live.
I could probably write this blog post about our trip to Paris and London forever, so to sum it up for you in a nutshell, I really didn’t care for Paris. My husband didn’t like it either. It’s strange though because we both love big cities. The architecture in Paris is stunning and it’s really a beautiful city, I just didn’t ever really like it the whole time we were there. It felt really chaotic to me and honestly, really overrated. There were definitely things I liked about the French culture, like the way they dine and the importance of joie de vivre. We loved the Fat Tire Bike tour of Versailles we took. Shopping at the little markets in Versailles for picnic supplies was a highlight and such a cool experience. Shout out to OJ for being the best bike tour guide ever! We also absolutely loved Colin and his amazing stories he told while tending Bar Hemingway at the Ritz. It was Fashion Week in Paris so the haute couture around The Ritz did not disappoint.
Through the Paris rain we made our way to the Gare du Nord train station to hop a train to London. Ahh London. SO refreshing! We absolutely adored London. People have always told me the food in London sucks. I have no idea why they say that, we actually liked the food better in London than we did in Paris. We ate all the British food we could like Fish & Chips, Yorkshire Pudding, traditional English Breakfast, and tried to find a Pub Roast, but they’re only served on Sundays. I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd so we went to a Harry Potter Speakeasy called The Blind Phoenix and then went to The Cauldron which is a Harry Potter craft cocktail making potions class! It was probably the coolest thing I’ve ever done in my life! We had SO much fun. Then the next day we went to a traditional English pub called The Grapes and played trivia with Sir Ian McKellen. Yep, we hung out with Gandalf, playing trivia in a pub. NBD (low key freaked out). London was charmed in every way and we didn’t want to leave to go back to Paris.
We took the train from London back to Paris and as we were leaving the train station, my camera bag, which I thought was secured to the handle of my suitcase, soundlessly slipped off onto the cobble stone passenger loading and unloading zone outside of the train station. I didn’t see it happen, but it was immediately ran over by a car. Thank you to the kind lady that yelled out, “Madame, Madame votre sac!” or I would have never. even. known. That bag not only held my camera, two lenses, and a laptop, but also had my wallet and passport in it. Thank God she saw it and flagged me down. After merci-ing her over and over I immediately opened my scuffed bag and checked the contents to see just how disastrous this was going to be. My camera body had dents and cracks, but miraculously would still take pictures. The lenses survived unscathed (thank God again and always), but my laptop, on the other hand, did not. Cue Taps and a moment of silence. Just a friendly reminder to always make sure your things are firmly attached and to always insure your valuables!
On our last morning in Paris, we met Ashley and Nic at the Eiffel Tower for a breakfast picnic starring fresh croissants, Laudurée macarons, and mimosas. This became another part of the trip that I absolutely loved and was the perfect way to end our visit. Since I’ve been back I’ve had some people ask me if I’d ever go back to Paris. Honestly, I would probably go back only for something photography related. Paris is a very photographable city. So I’d love to take maybe a photography workshop or photograph a wedding there or even just photograph more couples. I’m so drawn visually to the feel and look of Paris and I really wanted more than anything to love it as much as I thought I would. I’ve really never visited anywhere yet that I didn’t like (with the exception of Los Angeles, but I’m from San Diego so I can say that!) so that was a new feeling for me. I would not go back to Paris for a personal trip. I’d absolutely go to the South of France or even the French countryside. I’d maybe even go back for a chill girls trip, but honestly I can think of 40 other places I’d rather go do that. If you’re thinking about taking a trip to Paris, I’d be more than happy to give you some tips and tricks and talk about my experience and recommendations with you! I do feel like I learned a lot about myself during this trip and grew as a person, which was definitely unexpected, but appreciated.
Despite everything, I think Paris will always hold space in my heart, for what it was, for what it is, and for what it could be. Paris is like a beautiful woman, she knows she’s beautiful so she’s going to make you work for it.