Before you scroll down, have a look at my recommendations of what to do in the first four days of your trip 😉
I woke up on the fifth day feeling all blue and uneasy. It was our last day in the City of Light. In the next 24 hours, we would be whisked back to the reality named Vietnam. And just between you and me, Paris really was the dream that I’d never want to snap out of. I grabbed for my self-made tentative itinerary and instantly felt even more disheartened at the long list of places that we hadn’t been able to visit. My sister and me consoled each other by reminding ourselves that it takes a lifetime to see everything that Paris has to offer and there were only so many things we could squeeze in in 5 days. Musée du Louvre, Rue de Rivoli, Place Vendôme, and Galeries Lafayette sat prominently on the first day’s to-do list so without further hesitation we set out to visit those places after stuffing our tummies with soft and crisp croissants, mouth-melting butter and jam and of course orange juice and black coffee. “When in Paris, have breakfasts as Parisians do” was the mantra I lived by.
Galeries Lafayette was our first stop. Y’all know that I need a lot of retail therapies to get through life but really, it wasn’t why we headed there first thing in the morning. Spending nearly 17 days in Italy and France already created a deep hole in my bank account that any other retail therapy session after this would mean me eating air and drinking water for the next three months. However, I had heard rave reviews about the Paris shopping scene and seen glorious photos of Galeries Lafayette on Instagram so I simply had to check it out. Just checking it out, you know and forming some sorts of conclusion about whether Paris is head and shoulders above New York.
Well, the final verdict is I still like New York better.
Some Parisians reading this might want to jump into the other side of the screen and strangle me, but I just have to put it out there. The sole reason for my nepotism is the lack of year-round sales and good deals since sales are mandated by the French government and only happen twice per year, as far as I know. Maybe someday when I’m able to afford Hermes, Balenciaga or Givenchy full price, I will change my mind. I didn’t leave empty-handed though. Below is what I bagged from my short visit. You can bring this home for free on the men’s floor 😉 The main focus of our day was on Musée du Louvre. From Galeries Lafayette, we passed by Place Vendôme and Rue de Rivoli. What these two sites lack in tranquility they more than make up for in architectural prettiness and symmetry, especially Rue de Rivoli which seems to just go on forever. If time hadn’t been so constrained, a people-watching session at a cafe shop on Rue de Rivoli would have been in order. It was such a fascinating street with people from all walks of life–business men in navy suits, Parisian chic ladies, students, fashionistas and tourists went about their businesses.
Another reason that made me love Rue de Rivoli is this lovely encounter. I noticed a little bagel shop on our way to the museum. Besides expensive shoes, bagel is another vice of mine. Back when I was still in New York, I would easily consume 3 bagels with cream cheese per day. (Now you know why I was fat.)
Anyway, we walked into the shop with full confidence and dignity and ordered a plain, 1-euro bagel. I swear on my former fat self that there was no cash-only sign whatsoever on the door. I handed the owner my credit card, which he politely declined and informed us of the cash-only policy. Ouch.
I knew that we were running out of cash at that point but thought we would have enough to pay for the bagel. I mean, it was only 1 fucking euro. So, we rummaged frantically in our bags and collected every last coin. 0.7 euro was all we came up with. I returned the bagel and apologized to him profusely for my…negligence. (Je suis désolée, I repeated over and over again.) Either I had my eyes so wide open at the bagel earlier that he really took pity on me or he really appreciated my broken French, but he said 0.7 euro was fine and insisted that I kept the bagel. I understand that 0.3 euro wasn’t a substantial amount, but there was no reason for him to do what he did except for kindness. If it had been possible, I would have framed the bagel instead of eating it to remind myself everyday of the French hospitality. As you can guess, the bagel tasted so much better than all the bagels I had tasted before. Le Louvre was finally within sight. Even though it was quite crowded, the museum card that I strongly encourage y’all to buy as soon as you land in Paris led us through rather quickly. In the world of museums, Louvre Museum is like Paris itself, so massive that it’s impossible to see everything in one sitting. I remember reading somewhere that it would take at least a month to see all the sculptures, paintings and works of art inside the Louvre, and the best strategy for any first-time visitor is to pick one or two sections based on personal preferences. Up to that point, we had seen a fair share of antiquities and statues in Italy so the first order of business was the magnificent Napoleon III apartments.
Napoleon is known for many things, one of which is his extravagant lifestyle. And his apartment is the ultimate testament. Judging by what I saw, coziness and minimalism are two words that didn’t exist in his dictionary. There is absolutely no corner inside the apartment where ornate beauty isn’t present. While I’m extremely appreciative of and grateful for Napoleon’s genius mind and sophisticated taste, I couldn’t help but wondering how he acquired it in the first place and what propelled him to build up such a magnificent place with everything in it being beyond perfection. That was when I realized I really have to do my homework before paying any place a visit…