Jumping right in, our first week in Paris was delightfully accompanied by a visit from The Moms, who were so wonderful to come and see us in the French capital.
We got a lot of the touristy items checked off the list while they were with us, visiting Versailles, the Musee d'Orsay, and general walking about, getting a lay of the city. It was wonderful to spend time just wandering around, eating in charming cafes and shoe shopping (of course).
Paris is a unique place. You either love it or you hate it, often bouncing between the two emotions on a daily, sometimes hourly rate. On the one hand, it. is. gorgeous. The buildings are beautifully classic, a lovely combination of dramatic and whimsical. So much gilding. I didn't know a city could still have that much gilding, with all the massacres of royalty and whatnot. But, one thing to give to the French - for all of their rebellion, they certainly respect the sanctity of wanting their city to be the prettiest.
After they left, Travis and I were left to our own devices, establishing quite a nice little life in Paris. Our apartment was in the 2nd Arrondissement, with awesome restaurants, bars and cafes dotted all along the quaint streets that surrounded us. Because we were so ambitious in our travel to surrounding cities in Spain, and the fact that there is so freaking much to see in Paris, we decided to not go anywhere outside of the city. Despite that, and the fact that we were there for a month, I still feel like I didn't see everything we wanted to.
Honestly though, at the end of it, it mostly felt like we were running around checking off a huge tourist bucket list. The Louvre, Montemartre, Musée de l'Orangerie, Les Invalides, Eiffel Tower, Champs-Elysées, Musée Rodin, Notre Dame (which actually was the most disappointing, as there are countless other churches across Europe that are significantly more beautiful/breathtaking), Luxembourg Gardens, Arc de Triomphe, the Catacombs, I mean the list goes on and on and on and on.
I did have a few favorites however: the Palais Garnier, the opera house on which The Phantom of the Opera is based, was shockingly elaborate. Everyone talks about the Hall of Mirrors in Versailles, but I'd argue the Palais Garnier is even more ostentatious in its finery. Travis dedicatedly waited to see the Catacombs for three hours on our last day, determined to see them (they looked cool - I slept in). Monet's Water Lilies in the Musée de l'Orangerie were also a surprise, as you could stare at their vastness for hours.
Outside of the whirlwind tourist sites, we did things we'd do if we lived somewhere permanently: we went to a Champagne tasting; we were invited to a birthday party; we had friends from Belgium visit. Paris felt like somewhere we could move to tomorrow and slide easily into a comfortable, enriched, albeit super expensive, life. I think it was hard this first go around, since we felt so compelled to see everything you "had to see." We enjoyed ourselves much more in the moments when our expectations or expectations of others (who are these others? do they care if we see the Panthéon or the Place de la Bastille? and why are we concerning ourselves with them?) fell by the wayside, and we were able to relish the quiet moments, walking along the streets by our apartment or enjoying a glass of wine in a small bar.
Paris was overwhelming in almost every way. It was crazy expensive. It was packed with tourists. It was filled with museums and buildings and artwork you had to see to be able to say you saw. But it was also incredibly fun, and outstandingly beautiful.