TREAT YO SELF is the motto of 2018, I told you.
Earlier this year (January, to be precise, which was a very shitty month – pardon my language) I decided it was time to treat myself with a solo trip to Paris and so I did I booked my A/R Thalys train and an awesome tiny apartment in the Canal St Martin Area and counted down the days to the Jour-J.
But let me be clear since the beginning of this super-late post. The Internet is full of awesome travel blogger and posts about Paris so I won’t bother you with anything of that. What I am intended to do here is just share some pictures and a sort of (very short, I hope) “diary” of what I’ve done down there, dans la ville de l’amour.
I must say I am also a bit of a planning-maniac (I’m becoming a bit too Belgian/Flemish I guess – and I like it!) but I won’t bother you with that either. Travelling is very personal and each of us like different things and prefers different kinds of trips, some of us like to party, some of us – here I am! – like to discover new places, get lost in art and enjoy food no matter what. So yeah, I am not an expert, and for sure you can find better tips elsewhere – but I am happy to share! So here we go! Also, in Paris I didn’t really “planned” all my visits so, here we go…
First of all, a huge big up to my airbnb host. The apartment was super nice (and super clean!), not that expensive, and the location – at least for me and my needs – was great! Via thins link you can find the apartment where I stayed (Canal St Martin area), just in case.
Day 0 (Bruxelles – Paris. Vendredi, 27 avril 2018)
I arrived in Paris at around 7pm after an-hour-something train ride. After a quick pit stop at home I went out for a walk in the neighbourhood and to have dinner at Jules et Shim a lovely Korean restaurant where you can enjoy your meal sitting at one of the (very few) table available there, or just pass by for a take away. I decided to stay there and have also a chat with the two lovely waitresses (owners?) there, we talked for a while, listened to some music and (of course) talked about Italy. Apparently, everyone in the world has been to Lago di Como, except me, but there’s another story.
On a side note, which was supposed to be the whole point here: food was great (and prices super inexpensive!). The same restaurant has two or three other locations in Paris so if you’re in town, go grab some food there, it’s fun and super tasty!
After dinner I was knackered (I arrived in Paris after a whole day at the office, on a Friday) and decided just to go for a little walk to explore the area, and then back home, have some rest rest and get ready for the days to come.
Day 1 (Paris. Samedi 28 avril 2018)
Military wake up (not really tbh, but was pretty early for a Saturday), quick breaky at the beautiful boulangerie Liberté always in the Canal St Martin Area (they also have coffee and latte but not cappuccino – how weird is that! but hey they’re French so uh, we can’t complain…). After that, I quickly moved to the Tour Eiffel area and decided to queue to climb up there, 100% tourists s*it, and I still haven’t understood if the wait was worth it but it was a good experience for sure – never been there before. Also there guys, buy tickets in advance, don’t do it as I did this time, queues and security check are pretty long.
If I will ever be done with the editing, I will show you later on some pics I took there – but not the one I took with my analog camera cause that little mean b*tch decided to screw up the whole film – my heart still bleeding and crying. So, back to my “diary”, after my visit to the Eiffel Tower, I was hitting the road again to go have a late lunch in one of the restaurants I’ve found in my pre-trip researches but was closed (and still haven’t understood why but what can I say, sometimes it just happens), so I decided to have a quick lunch and do not waste time any more to find another restaurant and browse a bit the city. I took a bus for a while but then decided to escape from there and walk, walk, walk. So I went trough the beautiful Champs Elisée and part of the city center. Very briefly – I am already writing way too much than what I planned, sorry – on that day I also (of course!) visited Le Jardin du Luxembourg and its surroundings, the Lafayette galleries (and wanted to buy almost everything there no need to say).
After that, I moved to another area of the city, and visited the basilique du Sacré-Cœur de Montmartre and its surroundings. Beautiful, nothing to add. I was a bit nervous cause I started receiving tons of working-related whatsapp (not from my 9-5job but from another project, YA KNOW) and that turns me off a bit, cause f* it, y’all know I was on holiday why did you just DON’T CARE? But that’s a whole different story. Btw, I def have to go back here, with a different spirit – and my 2 iPhones completely switched off maybe. But what can I say? Montmartre is magic… but also a bit too much crowded by tourists and I think it maybe lost a bit of its magic. Despite this I think you can still find some hidden gems also in there, between one group of tourists and another…
From there I then walked again around the city center, did some lèche-vitrines, took the metro for a bit, and finally arrived to the Notre Dame Cathedral, which was illuminated with a wonderfully warm sunset light – breathtaking. Unfortunately, the queue was horribly long so once in that area, I decided to treat myself with a real French dinner (and a couple of beers!) in a bistrot, and so I went to a place called Cafè Panis, where of course I had my croque monsieur (which I very often prepare also at home), french fries (which we should call Belgian fries but peace), and my well deserved fresh beer. Don’t judge me, I walked for 14km on that day, a giant croque was definitively what I needed!
After-dinner I finally (and happily) noticed that the queue for the Notre Dame Cathedral was faisable and so I visited the Cathedral – Stunning, nothing to add. I took some pics there but I’ll show you everything on another post.
After a walk, I went back home and prepared a little programme for the next day before having some well deserved sleep (after some Netflix binge-watching, of course).
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Day 2 (Paris. Dimanche 29 avril 2018)
Quite strange I didn’t visit any museum already on the first day, uh? No worries dudes, ain’t got mad all fo a sudden.
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This second day (call it third if it sounds easier to you) was almost entirely dedicated to a visit to the magnificent Centre Pompidou – and was also when the weather started go dramatically bad and rain become the most prominent part of my solo trip. How fun, uh? By the way, the Centre Pompidou was’t the first and the only thing I get to do on that day so let me start from the beginning.
After a quick-and-very-early-but-relaxing in-home breakfast, I took the metrò in order to reach the Centre Pompidou area. My plan was to get there before the opening hour and easily get in before everybody else. Wrong. Queues were already enormously long, so I changed my plan and decided to have a walk down there, have lunch and only after lunch I would return to the Pompidou and guess what, the plan worked well and get I into the Pompidou after only a very few minutes queueing, but let’s get back to my day for a sec.
I know I’m becoming a bit of a planning maniac but I still do like to wander, get lost and discover everything I can, so I just had a very quick look at google map, closed it and started browsing around. After a few minutes I arrived at the lovely Église Saint-Eustache de Paris – by now you may have guessed I have a thing with Churches – even if I’m not Catholic. From there I then walked around a bit, discovered the nice street-market that takes places down the streets nearby the Church and then continued my walk until I decided to prolong my morning walk a bit and go visit one of the most beautiful passages couverts de Paris: the Galerie Vivienne. The Gallery is great, perfectly Parisian style, too dreamy to be true but it is. I took a lot of pictures there, I’ll show you some when they’ll be ready but for now you can see up there some that you’ve probably already spotted on my Insta. The light there was amazing, even if the weather was kind of grey and rainy, and I def want to go back there in a sunny day (soon Paris, my dear, soon…).
So here we are, under the Parisian rain – which I learned can be even worse than the Belgian one – and super-duper hungry (as always)! I remember I had already made some research before leaving for Paris and found some nice restos in the area (yep, my quick pit stop at the Galeries wasn’t fortouitos), so I decided to go for a walk and see if I had a good feeling with the restos I had found on the internet, but as soon as I left the Galeries… oh, I will never forget that moment, I saw him… love at first sight! DAROCO, the nicest restaurant ever! Love! Love! Love!
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As you might noticed by its name, it’s n Italian restaurant and, since I am Italian and also very picky when it comes to food, I said to myself “no Vittoria, no. Lets go for a nice bistro or a 100% French restaurant, don’t be so Italian!”, and so I did it… And then I came back, and… guess what? I ate the best Italian-with-a-twist food ever! I had a three course lunch, a glass of wine, some amazing hot n fresh’ bread and I loved it so much that I’ve asked to pass my ‘félicitations au chef‘. So-damd-good I’m still dreaming of that food, love! love! love! And also, not less important, the place is beautifully decorated, have a look at their website and – if you’re living in Paris or planning a short trip down there – please go visit that restaurant, you won’t regret it (and not, they’re not paying me to say so, I just love food and theirs is a-m-a-z-i-n-g).
*Please stop me before I turn this post and this blog into a food thing*
Delighted after my lovely lunch, I packed my cameras and stuff and went back to the Centre Pompidou area with the hope that the queue would not be so long this time – but it was. Luckily, it was also very quick and, after having gently ignored a horrible French guy (yep, they exist) that was trying to talk to me while queuing, I finally got there. Full ticket for all the exhibits and everything that can be visited, and my dream started.
I finally was at the Centre Pompidou, by myself, surrounded by art, with all the time and patience I needed. As I told you, a real treat to myself.
I’ve spent there 4 hours-something, if I remember well, and they for sure were and still are int he top5 best afternoon of my file, not that I have such list but you know.
I’m tempted to say that the place is dreamy and magnificent, but that would be such an understatement. I won’t say much, maybe most of you have already been there and I am sure who didn’t already, will visit it at a certain point (I hope, it’s such an experience for your heart and eyes!). but let me just say I had the chance to visit the temporary exhibit “Chagall, Lissitzky, Malévitch… L’avant-garde russe à Vitebsk (1918-1922)” (all info here) and it was such a gift! I know so little about this movement, but I’ve always been in love with Chagall, without even knowing that much – remember? I’m not an expert, but just a “lover”, nad I’ve always loved Chagall immensely.
I think that was one of the best exhibit I’ve ever experiences – cause I haven’t just “seen” it. And yes, of course I’ve bought the catalogue of the show and also a book about Russian art cause yes, I want to study it a bit. I always feel so ignorant when it comes to art, something that I love so much, but something that I haven’t really properly studied in the past days – if not for personal interest. So sorry money pocket, I’ve spent a bit too much there at the museum shop but hey “the Russians made me do it!”.
Another great show I’ve had the chance to visit there was the solo-exhibition of David Goldblatt, I’m sure you know him already but hey, It was just so powerful and touching I can’t even tell. I hope some of you had the chance to attend the event (which ended last may), it was so so so beautiful.
Of course then I had a tour of the whole museum and other temporary exhibits but I’m starting to feel a bit melodramatic and long-winded so enfin bref, It felt and was really amazing, breathtaking even. I think I took hundreds of photos just that one afternoon I think I will never edit them, but just treasure that moments (may-be).
It’s been two or three month now and I can’t remember what I actually did after such a great day but if my memory isn’t playing me a trick, I think I just went back home, quickly passing by the local grocery store, and then cooked dinner by myself at home just to relax a bit, download on my pics on my mac, plan a bit the upcoming days and enjoy that peace of mind I could benefit of during my first solo trip.
*Oh, and look at this sexy lady!*
Day 3 (Paris, lundi 30 avril 2018)
Whoever said Mondays are the worst were damn right.
Most of the museums was closed and that little rain that stalked me the whole time became a damn huge downpour. But hey, nobody and nothing can stop me right? So after a quick breakfast at home I decided to go again in the city center, I tried to get to the Louvre museum but the queue was huge (next time I’ll book my ticket in advance as I did in Madrid, it’s a promise) so I abandoned my mission and went out again for a little walk under the damn rain, romantic uh? (Trust me, it wasn’t).
After some uncertainity I decided to go for the best I could in that weather and in a damn Monday when all museums are damn closed: le Musée de l’Orangerie, which btw was already in my list, was open and so I went there and, after a queue of 45 minutes I finally get in. What can I say? It was (of course!) damn good. I don’t even know how to describe how happy I was, especially in front of some Modigliani and Picasso pieces and, of course, when I saw that magnificent Nymphéas de Claude Monet. Words cant describe this ouvre d’art, it even seems stupid to me to say thei’re beautiful and soft, and dreamy, and everything, cause they’re more than that.
Also, I was lucky enough to have the chance to visit the “Nymphéas. L’abstraction américaine et le dernier Monet” exhibit, which is still open and will be till August 20 just FYKI. Simply amazing, soft and sweet but so powerful, I don’t even have the right words to describe it – yes, again – but you can have a look already at the link and see what I’m talking about and maybe book your tickets to Paris.
I have to admit that on that day I felt a bit like shit, sick maybe (I waited almost one hour under heavy rains to enter the museum…) but I decided my day couldn’t just ended like that and I was keen to see some more beauty to treat myself, even – or maybe, especially – on such bad day.
I then went to the notorious Marais, which I discovered it’s not only the center of the cool-hipster-maybe-a-bit-mainstream-but-still-cool Parisian neighbourhood that everybody describes, but also the Center of the Jewish culture and heritage in Paris. Just knowing that, I’ve immediately felt in love with the place, I felt there a bit like I was in a well-known places to me, don’t ask me why. By the way, while falling in love with the place… another thought came to mind mind… FOOD! “Hey, hey, hey, wait a second, love-love-love, we need to eat here! It’s already late for lunch, girl! (that’s my mind whispering to me with a weird accent that I need to eat, stuff that happens every half an hour I believe).
So here I am, in a super nice kosher restaurants, surrounded by all that history and tradition that I’ve always felt as mine (that’s a whole different story, I’m going to talk about that maybe another day – maybe not). Food was great, people was super friendly, nice and even funny – in their own typical way that I love so much. I ate so much food that the owner was shocked (when my order came to my table he asked if I wanted to cancel some of the food I ordered… my answer? DONT YOU DARE!), it was super fun!
After my lunch, and with my happy belly, I walked down to the Mémorial de la Shoah, which has – and will ever have – a special place in my heart. I don’t want now to spend a lot of words on this, cause I think I would need an entire new post to talk about this place, the beautiful exhibit I had the chance to visit and how I felt there, or even about how much I cried… but let me say just one thing: you should def go there, with an open heart and a clear mind (and some tissues, trust me). The place is extremely well designed, it is immensely powerful and can move your feelings in a tic.
Go there, trust me.
Go there and read, listen and see all the stories that that place has to tell, all the names of victims, all the names of those justes that have helped jews, risking their life. See, listen, touch, learn, think. – and now I’ll stop or I’ll start crying again.
Day 4 (Paris, mardi 1er mai 2018)
Okay, okay. Who’s been dumb enough to think “hey, I’m gonna leave early evening so I’ll be able to visit a couple of museums before I’ll leave!” without taking into account that on May the 1st everything is goddamn closed? Hi, it’s me!
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On that day, I “happily” noticed that in Paris they have the same tricky habit of Brussels of losing down basically every-fucking-thing for holiday and – even though I admire that for a different number of reasons – I was a bit pissed off by just one fact: museums in Paris do not accepts luggages in their cloackroom so guys, I’ll leave you with just one tip. If you’re used like me to go to museums before leaving any city you’re visiting, and carry with you all your stuff (read: luggage) and leave everything at the museum guarderobe, please take note of this: the security measures in Paris are still at their higher level, so most of the places do not allow you to leave anything that’s too big in their cloakroom (always take a look at the practical info of museums or give them a call). Also, a bit out of topic but quand même useful, most of the Parisian museums is closed on Monday.
So what did I do on my last day in Paris, with my plans out of the window? Easy, I basically spent most of my time eating (and relaxing). I left home not so early as I planned, but left home in time for my airbnb check-out (and left a little food-gift to my host who was nice enough to even write me a message to thank me for everything), and went out for a walk in a different part of the neighbourhood (don’t ask me exactly where, this post should have been written a couple of months ago…).
Long story short, on my very last day in Paris I ended up at 52 Faubourg Saint Denis, a very nice place suggested by a friend (thanks Michele!), and which I highly recommend to you too, where I enjoyed – with good food, a lovely book – my last hours in Paris, before leaving to gare du nord and then, finally, back to my lovely place in Bruxelles – my personal ville de l’amour.
PS. I had so many pics (thousands?) that I felt for most all of the time just overwhelmed – and still I am. I’m not used to do this anymore. In the old days, when I couldn’t live without my camera (even if I’m not a pro), or when I used to work for parties, events and art galleries as photographer (still wondering why people think I’m a good amateur, or even a pro – I am not, sorry to all the good photographers out there), I was used to that and, above all, I had enough time to spend in looking at all the raws a couple (even more…) times, do a pre-selection, a final selection, edit all of them and then go for a final selection, to conclude the job. But now I was kind of lost and with tons and tons of pictures on my mac (at least I had the decency to download all the pics from the camera memory to my mac every evening and classify them per day/place) and no idea how to proceed – and a life to live, a job to do et etc. Lost, overwhelmed. How to select them, how to chose? When I’ll finally find the time for all the edit process? Also, I was – read as I am, still. – a bit depressed when my baby (my analog camera) fucked up and ruined my film and so I lost all the pics I took and, honestly speaking, this post about Paris become a bit of a pain (I had in mind a big return to analog photography with this trip to Paris, how romantic! Ah-ah!). But hey, this blog is a place to share, enjoy some time together and be happy – no stress here or I’ll be outta here! So… At the end of the day, I decided to publish this posts with just the essentials, a mix of a couple of my camera pics and some others that you may have already seen on my stories on the gram. No stress – but I promise: next time I’ll do better.
Most probably I will keep editing my Parisian pic when I’ll have some spare time (when, I don’t know) and publish them at a second stage. In the meantime, I hope you’ll enjoy this few pics and some of the things I shared with you about my solo trip experience in Paris – which I think I’ll re-do very very soon, hopefully with a nice-r weather conditions. And who knows, maybe some of you will find the guts to do the same and plan a little escapade just with yourself! It’s the best!