It’s overcast and cool when our plane touches down in France. After two weeks of sunshine and turquoise ocean along Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, the damp air following yesterday’s rain is a drastic, but welcomed change.
We take the hour long bus ride to Paris from Beauvais airport (thanks to our inexpensive ticket from Ryanair), excited to spend over a week in the City of Lights. Two different metro lines bring us to our flat, which is in the 5th Arondissement near the southern tip of the Jardin du Luxembourg. Like most apartments in the center of Paris, the flat is in an old building, complete with a staircase that spirals around a phone booth-sized elevator all the way to the eighth floor. The apartment itself is tiny (again, normal for Paris) and not the cleanest place we’ve stayed, but it has a nice view of the Eiffel Tower and the price is right, so we happily hit up the local market for a some all-purpose cleaner and settle in.
In a wonderful collision of fate, we arrive the day before Rock en Seine, Paris’ take on the classic summer music festival. The next day, with tickets in hand, we stand among a mass of sweaty Parisian hipsters at Domaine National de Saint-Cloud, the bright sun pouring down on an extraordinarily hot Saturday afternoon. It’s by far one of our favorite days of the trip so far.
With over 100,000 people in attendance, we spend the next eight hours navigating the festival’s four stages, drinking a few too many Kronenburgs, and dancing to some of our favorite bands. Ben Howard somehow plays an hour long set without touching his classic first album (really, Ben? Seriously?!), but Glass Animals and Years & Years each put on an incredible show. We (uncharacteristically these days) make it past midnight and even manage to grab a cocktail on the way home. Not surprisingly, the next day is mostly spent nursing hangovers and enjoying the incredible rooftop view from the comfort of our sofa bed.
The rest of our week in Paris is spent navigating the city’s sea of tourists and budget-breaking prices. We eat a lot, especially bread, pastries, cheese and falafel, drink a lot of wine and do a lot of wandering. In a city so large and with a shared dislike for the metro, we walk and walk, tipping over 15 miles everyday to counteract the cheese consumption. We take in a couple sites managing, for the most part, to avoid hordes of people. After over a week, we pull together a few strategies on how to see the best of Paris through a somewhat different lens… Look for our recommendations on the best slightly under the radar activities and delicious daytime eats in our next two posts!