In August of 2018, Nick and I went on a trip of a lifetime. We visited both France and Switzerland and had an amazing two week adventure. I will be splitting our trip up between a few posts since we visited quite a few places in each country.
To make the trip even more exciting, we scored round trip by using Google Flight tracker and paid $500 round trip per person! Not a bad way to start an international trip. The trip would be 25 hours all and all as our travel plans to get to Paris were as follows: Columbus to LaGuardia (because we used Southwest points and they don’t fly to JFK) then we would taxi to JFK, then fly to Zurich. *Then* we would train from Zurich to Paris.
Now, you may be saying…“Tiffany, you know you could’ve just flown directly to Paris, right?” Well, yes but we had a reasoning. The flights to Paris were actually a lot more expensive than flying to Zurich, then taking a train to Paris. Yes, it made the trip a bit longer but we saved some money in doing so.
The flight took off in the evening and I’m not going to lie, I had a bit of flight anxiety just at the thought of flying over the ocean. Thankfully, I had reached out to my doctor before hand and was able to get some anti-anxiety medication to be taken for the flight. Our flight from JFK got slightly delayed due to their being no power on the plane. “Great…what a way to start the trip,” I thought.
Once we got on the plane, I took a xanax and instantly felt calmer. The flight was relatively uneventful and I (being an insomniac, as is) did manage to get a bit of shut eye.
Arrival at Zurich Airport
When we arrived at Zurich airport, 20 hours of travel later, we were pretty exhausted. However, we had one final leg to make it to Paris but we were excited, nevertheless.
We then found our way to the train station within the airport to make it to Zurich’s main station (Zurich HB) where we were to catch our train to Paris Gare De Lyon.
Once we made it there, it was a 4 hour train ride to make it to Paris Gare de Lyon.
This was my first true experience with a railway in Europe and I was completely blown away. I would soon learn that trains almost always show up on time (and if you show up late, you’re out of luck) and the efficiency is so much that frequent travelers actually get up if the trains are even a few minutes late.
If only we had that type of system in the US! It was fantastic! After just about 25 hours of travel, we finally arrived in Paris!
The first day in Paris was checking into our hotel, letting family and friends know we arrived, and finding food. The hotel, Grand Hotel Saint Michel, was paid for with my points from my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. It was a chic hotel and I already expected the hotel room to be smaller than ones in the US, so that was not a surprise. It was perfect for our time in Paris!
As a note, we didn’t really have an itinerary planned out day by day but knew what we wanted to see in our time there.
The next morning we decided to venture out for some brunch. One thing I wanted to absolutely try was a crepe. I have had them in the US and knew a true French crepe would be amazing. Boy, was I right! The below pictured chocolate crepe was très bon (very good) and definitely satisfied my crepe craving!
The Paris Pass & Sainte-Chapelle
The next order of business was to pick up the Paris Pass. We did a good bit of research before our trip and realized we would save a great deal of money by purchasing the pass since most of the places we wanted to go were included in the pass. Bonus: We got through lines a lot quicker!
The easiest way to pick up the pass was at one of the locations itself. We picked Sainte-Chapelle because for a couple reasons:
- It was really close to our hotel (Grand Hotel Saint Michel) meaning we didn’t have to take the Metro.
- We figured the line to get the pass here would be much shorter than the other spots. We were right.
The chapel was beautiful and looked as if it was almost comlpetely made of stained glass. I was in absolute awe looking at it.
After we left the chapel, we decided to walk around a bit and see if we could figure out the Metro.
We were walking and came across a picturesque scene of the Seine River, so I stopped for a quick photo opp.
We made our way to the metro and studied the map to see how to get to the Louvre. To our surprise, the Metro was offering “Air Pollution Day” tickets due to the extreme heat. We could travel all day for 3.80€,!
It was so easy to get to the Louvre and we really fell in love with the Paris Metro. It was so easy to use and got us exactly where we need to be in no time at all!
I was pretty excited to visit the Louvre. We have all seen photos of it and clips from movies…but seeing it in person is a whole different story. As my anticipation rose, we found a line with damn near 300 people in it. So, we took a few photos then decided to find an Information desk, as we knew our Paris Pass had a “shortened line” feature.
We found the Information desk and a sweet lady told us that pass holders needed to use the entrance that was OUTSIDE. We felt a bit silly but nevertheless made our way back into the 90-some degree heat and found the correct entrance.
We stayed the Louvre for about two and a half hours and saw phenomenal works and things that I didn’t even know were at the Louvre, such as Napoleon I’s furniture and decor.
The one disappointment was how small the Mona Lisa painting is. We all know how iconic that painting is and for all the work to get to it (I’m talking a maze, tons of people, and no air conditioning in that corridor due to the specific works in that area.)
We were parched by the time we saw Mona Lisa and made our way to the exit to grab some water.
As we only had a couple days left in Paris, we took advantage of the fact that we still had some time left in the day and made our way to a city that was recommended by one of my coworkers, Montmartre.
There is a beautiful church there named Sacré-Cœur.
The church was magnificent and had such intricate architecture. After we were done walking inside, I saw a sign that said you could go to the top of the dome, where you could see the entire city of Paris!
We paid about 6 Euros and made our way to the entrance of the stairs. This was a workout and a half. 300 spiral steps later and we made it to the top.
The views were breathtaking and we even got to see the Eiffel Tower from a far! We spent some time taking in the skyline’s beauty before making our way back down the 300 steps. then made our way back to the Metro.
Nightfall was soon approaching so we made our way back to the Metro and decided to get some views of the Eiffel Tower and decided to take some photos as the evening progressed. Talk about breathtaking!
A Visit to the Eiffel Tower
The next day we actually did have one thing pre-planned: Visiting the Eiffel Tower. We did some research before hand and found out that tickets to the Summit of the tower quickly sell out, so booked them a few months in advance.
We had some time before our tour at 1:30PM so we stopped at a little eatery and I grabbed a cappuccino and lunch. One thing I loved about Paris is how many outdoor restaurants there were. I also was always impressed with how extravagant their simple coffee and cappuccino’s looked!
After that, we made our way to Metro. It was another blistering day, so we both scored another “Air Pollution Day” ticket! We found our way to the Eiffel Tower and made our way there.
Even though we had our tickets already, the pre-booked line was almost as long as the regular lines.
Once we got in, we made our way to another line that was meant for tourists who had tickets for the Summit! It was so hot outside but we knew the wait would be worth it!
After about an hour and a half to make our way up to the tippy-top of the tower!
It was definitely crowded but the view was absolutely spectacular! We took photo after photo and watched all of the cars (they looked sooo tiny!) drive in what seemed to be slow motion.
The Palace of Versailles
We still wanted to make it to one more place that day: The Palace of Versailles.
So we made our way back down the tower and hopped on the Metro. It took a few more stops for us to make it to the Palace of Versailles because the RER express train was currently under construction where we wanted to hop on.
Nevertheless, we made it to the Palace! As I was a Political Science major in college, I was really excited to see the Hall of Mirrors (where the Treaty of Versailles was signed.)
The entrance to the palace, surrounded by gold gates, was quite a sight to see.
The inside of the palace was quite extensive and FULL of people. I’m talking claustrophobic levels of humans. So much so that it really wasn’t a super enjoyable experience.
Nevertheless, I got to see the Hall of Mirrors. So I was happy.
One thing I forgot to mention: When we were first walking into the palace there was a sign for macarons. I needed me some macarons in my life and gosh darnit did I get some!
The macaron shop called “Laduree” is a famous one based out of Paris. The macarons were lined up beautifully.
I knew we would be leaving for Switzerland in 2 days so we got a tiny box. Some of the flavors that we chose were: Caramel, Chocolate, Raspberry, Vanilla, Rose, and Coffee.
The Caramel, Chocolate, and Raspberry were delicious. Vanilla and Coffee were meh. The Rose was terrible. I don’t know who made the idea of eating roses but I definitely spit that one out. Yuck.
The Last Stop In Paris
There will be a separate post on our travels our second to last day in France, as we spent a day in the south of France.
On our actual last day in France we were able to sneak in a visit to a famous monument…the Arc De Triomphe! We figured this would be a great time to load up on some trinkets for our family members, as well!
While we didn’t get tickets to actual go up to it, we thought it was sufficient to look at it from afar.
After a number of sweltering days, it was actually pretty chilly this day! I donned a comfy hoodie as we made our way to the Metro.
All in all, Paris was awesome. It was a great place to visit and an amazing start to what would turn into the best trip I have ever been on.
Stay tuned to see what happened next to make the trip so memorable!