…it’s also for being fabulous with your girlfriends! Which is just what I did this weekend with Rachael and Jasmine – long time bestie and new fabulous friend. This trip was supposed to happen at the beginning of March but life got in the way then and continued to trip us up until we settled on this weekend as the first one that we were all free.
Jasmine and Rach arrived Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, and I had CRAZY FOMO (fear of missing out) until I joined them Friday morning.
When I finally arrived at our hotel in the Saint Germain area, I was ecstatic! Why does it seem like the architecture in Paris alone can stir up feelings of such loveliness? Like the feeling deep down that you were always meant to be sitting in quaint cafes alternatively sipping espresso and champagne with a light breeze and the sun on your face? Is that everyone? Or is that just the faux wealthy side of me that thinks I should have a trust fund?
Not quite a cafe, but known for its rooftop views, we headed to Printemps to see if we could snag a coveted rooftop table. At first we were told no while looking at the near empty rooftop but someone swooped into our rescue and took us to a table that had “just” been made available.
If you’re considering Printemps for lunch or dinner – definitely do it. Wonderful service and fabulous food & drink. Although it was pretty hot up there and it was only around 75F (23C). I don’t know if I could do it if it was much hotter. Scotland has so spoiled me.
Next it was on to the Galleries Lafayette where we touched things we couldn’t afford and probably smelled every perfume available to sample. I’m obsessed with Goutal’s newest perfume although I couldn’t bring myself to buy it so early on in the trip – not knowing what laid ahead. Guess I’ll just have to go back! (Hint, hint, Brett!) Through the cloud of perfume mist, we stumbled upon an empty makeup counter and had our makeup freshened up by a lovely woman who only had a vague idea of what we were chattering on about.
Afterwards it was on to the Hoxton Hotel & Bar which was just the most beautifully done interior. I wanted to move right in. Goodbye neutrals and textures – hello bold jewel tones for my next house! Their food and drink were really great too – although when I think back to it, it’s the ambiance that I’ll remember.
So we might have played photographer after one too many drinks… I might have been asked to remove my shoes from the furniture… but who can help it when your surroundings look this good?!?!?!
On a photography roll, we thought we’d head over to Montmartre Hill to capture the sunset from Sacre-Couer Basilica. We were not the only ones.
So we slipped inside and saw a bit of the church when mass was going on…
…and then took ourselves back down the steps through the throngs of people listening to musicians and singers taking their turn on the mic in front of the crowds.
We headed to the Eiffel Tower where we bought cheap champagne for way too much since all the nearby shops were closed and found a spot on the lawn to wait for the hourly light display.
It was pushing midnight when we left and we were starving. (Yeah, I know…WAY past my bedtime!) So we stopped a fine dining establishment – because it’s always the really fancy ones that are open late – and then had nutella crepes before Rachael made us walk all the way home through the empty streets of Paris.
I. Was. So. Mad.
I purposefully walked slowly and stopped to look at things as is my passive aggressive way. Rachael was fake cheery and Jasmine opted for middle ground (although I think she secretly wanted to call an Uber too!) I was closing in on being awake for 24 hours when we finally reached our hotel. I think I was asleep before my head hit the pillow.
Prior to our departure from our respective countries, we booked tours at a couple of champagne houses in Reims. There are a lot of tour companies that will book this trip for our out of Paris but I decided that we could do what they do and do it cheaper so for better or worse, I was our guide and task master for this part of the journey.
It’s pretty hard to get three women sharing a bathroom out the door in the morning, through a subway ride with multiple connections, and onto a high speed train. It was a full out sprint for the last 400 meters or so but we made it just in time. The doors closed just a minute after we threw our sweaty bodies into the seats.
We sped through the French countryside into Reims which to an unseasoned traveler in France, looked just like Paris but smaller.
We had lunch at an adorable tea shop before heading to our first champagne house.
Our first champagne house was Tattinger. Tattinger is located beneath an old monastery built in the 13th century. The cellars of the monastery were made out of chalk which keeps the cellars at 54F (12C) year round. I don’t totally get all of the properties of chalk or how you build out of it because if you scrape the walls, chalk comes off under your nails. Not that I did such a thing, of course.
We got to try three glasses in increasing fanciness (I can’t think of the more accurate word right now. I’m tired.) and threw them back before racing to the next champagne house: Pommery.
Not going to lie. Pommery wasn’t a favorite. It wasn’t as personal or small as Tattinger, the champagne itself wasn’t as good – or even close, there were very odd modern art installations throughout the halls of the tour – one that looked like a digestive system, we couldn’t hear our tour guide very well and thus we kind of all zoned out. We probably would have deserted the tour if there weren’t 4 km+ of cellar space we’d potentially get lost in trying to find our way back to the start. (At Tattinger, a couple interrupted our tour because they’d gotten lost from their group and couldn’t find their way out. It was obvious what they’d been doing…)
If I was doing it again, I would definitely still arrange things myself. We saved a TON of money not going through a tour company and it’s very easy to book the tours and the train yourself. However, I would just book one champagne house to tour and then just go to the others to sample the champagne. I might have missed the secret to Pommery’s champagne since I kind of zoned out but I’m pretty sure they do the same thing that Tattinger does. We could have saved time and money by just sampling the champagne and then going to a different champagne house.
Our trains back were uneventful although in true Rachael style, we ended up in a metro station shop trying on skirts over our clothes in the tiny store and walking out with a skirt that to Americans, just screams Paris. Naturally, in the fashion capital of the world, this is where I buy the only piece of clothing on this trip.
Sunday we woke up before the dawn and raced to the Place du Tacadero to catch the morning sun. We played like we were Carrie Bradshaw in SATC, taking turns spinning our skirts and taking pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower.
I’m being honest, the rest of the day was a bit downhill from here. For one, it’s hard to top watching the sunrise over the Eiffel Tower and for another, we were damn tired! After breakfast we dragged ourselves back to our hotel room since nothing else in the city is open that early on a Sunday. Don’t worry, Rachael didn’t make us walk this time! Later I had the best mani/pedi I’ve had outside the United States and I don’t think that I’ve ever enjoyed a foot rub more. The afternoon brought visits to Le Bon Marche, Saint Sulpice square and macaroons from Pierre Hermes. It also brought a much needed nap before my flight back to Aberdeen.
After several days of 80F -90F temperatures and sun, I was so thrilled to walk off the plane and onto the tarmac at Aberdeen airport into 60F temps and strong winds. I don’t know how any of us are going to make it through the month of July in Texas. Scotland has truly spoiled us for the heat.
All in all, it was a fabulous weekend getaway. A weekend in Paris with girlfriends is never even something I dreamed of doing. Even though this expat experience has taken us away from family and friends that are like family, I am so grateful for the places I’ve been and the things I’ve been able to see and do. Outside of the seemingly fabulous things, like weekends in the French capital, being an expat is truly a rewarding learning experience. I think that everyone should have to spend at least a year living outside of their home country.
I’m also grateful for my husband who stayed at home with our two little terrorists and kept everyone alive while I was gone and was fully supportive of my ventures. xxxx
Up next on our crazy month of June:
- Liz and Eric visiting as they wrap up their honeymoon tour of Scotland
- Trip to Efteling in The Netherlands with Pam, David and the kids
- Brooke and Michael to visit
- Brooks and Mia’s last day of school (my last day of freedom)
- Then home to Texas on 11 July!