Why Paris Truly Is ALWAYS a Good Idea

Ask anyone who’s seen my room decor, my notebooks, my cell phone cases, my Pinterest travel board, or my display of (excessive, it’s really way too much) jewelry, and they’ll name a common theme if they have eyes: Paris. I had an obsession with the Eiffel Tower long before I saw it in person; and standing under that magnificent iron lattice only served to multiply my adoration of the structure. 

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Leen & Judith, my favorite adventure buddies.

Any reports you’ve heard about the City of Love are more than likely based on truth: it’s covered in tourists, you’ll be greeted by “rude” French people when you speak English, and you’ll need to pull out a new loan to pay for each meal.

But the vibe of the city makes any hassle you’ll deal with more than worth it. The reasons are endless for Audrey Hepburn’s infamous quote, “Paris is always a good idea,” but no one would have the time to read such a long blog post. So I included my top 9 reasons for why Paris, truly, is always a good idea.

9) There is always something noteworthy going on in Paris.

No matter when you travel to Paris, there will always be a celebration or event (maybe even Paris Fashion Week!) you won’t want to miss. Even if the hype is greater than the attraction itself, as was the case for me this past time, it’s still worth it to be a part of a local event you didn’t plan for.

The first weekend of October happens to be the annual event called “Nuit Blanche” which translates in English to White Night (but really the French meaning is Sleepless Night). Millions of people from all over the world attend, and what I found most interesting is that you have to find out through friends, media, or Google where the event is actually being held. The committee that puts it on chooses new and unexpected neighborhoods all over the city each year, so it’s never known until a few days in advance where you’ll actually be enjoying the “show”. As for the event itself, the music, lights, and colored fog show were a bit exaggerated, and we left shortly after arriving. The red, white, blue, and yellow icicles in a second location were cool for a few pictures, but then we were off into the night once again, wondering what to do next. Thankfully, we were in Paris, which brings me to my next point.

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Dramatized colored fog show for Nuit Blanche.
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Icicles to last only through Sleepless Night.

8) Paris at Night.

When a city comes alive and even more active at night than it is during the day, you know it’s a place you want to be.

New York, Tel Aviv, Athens, Rome, Madrid, and of course Paris are just a few of the ones I’ve been to which can boast such a nightlife. Us 3 girls had no problem enjoying the Parisian sights illuminated in white-gold beams of spotlight and observing colorful characters having a photo shoot in the middle of the road, along with many other antics that only the bravery of night can bring out of people.

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Glorious Paris

7) You Won’t Go Wrong With Any Season of the Year

Fall
Any time of the year in Paris will have its own ethereal sense, so you can truly book a flight for the time that’s best for you and enjoy it!
However, I have to say that Paris in the fall felt like I’d stepped into a vivid dream: leaves on the trees were changing color to vibrant orange, red, and yellow; the crisp autumn air made breathing city air actually pleasant; and bundling up to walk around, dally through an open air market, and then enjoy a caffe latte and croissant to warm up…could anything be more perfect?

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Summer
This is of course the most common time to travel and visit Paris, and I certainly enjoyed it two years ago in July. I happened to visit during France’s Independence Day, so the city was buzzing with even more life than usual. Of course it will be hotter and more crowded with tourists, so keep all of that in mind as you pack and book your trip.

6) Street Performers

Sometimes these guys get a bad rap, but how boring would city streets be without a dance crew tearing it up, a musician playing his heart out on the violin, or an artist telling each passerby they could be the next masterpiece on her canvas? Paris is brimming with talented street performers, so take a moment out of the hustle to stop and enjoy a show! (But don’t stop for the “luck”, three cups, or gambling games. Those are rigged tourist traps, and there are often pickpockets in the crowd.)

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These guys were hilarious and obviously grew quite the crowd on the steps in front of the Eiffel Tower.

5) Open Air Markets

If you want to feel like a local, hear a lot of French being spoken, and maybe pick up a delicious lunch to take to a nearby park for a picnic, don’t miss an open air market in Paris.
They’re all over the city, and don’t worry about missing it one day…there will be 5 more open the next day. Here’s a list of Parisian street markets by day of the week, but you can always google and find them listed by what they sell, their location, etc.

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La Marché Grenelle, right by the metro stop La Motte-Piquet Grenelle and walking distance to the Eiffel Tower.

4) Being the Typical Tourist is SO Fun

When I travel, my goal is to look and act so much like a native that I’m spoken to in the local language or to have a tourist ask me a directional question, thinking that I’m a local. I’ve been fairly successful so far, but when I’m in Paris, I’m so enraptured by the architecture, the fashion, the overall city vibe that I look like a tourist through and through. It’s also the only place I don’t really mind fitting that profile! I take the jumping picture in front of the Eiffel Tower, middle of the road Champs des Élyseès and Arc de Triomphe in the background snapshot, and of course I can never miss the Love Lock Bridge along the Seine River.

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Although the city has now removed all the locks and covered the original Love Lock Bridge railing because it was bending over from the weight of all the locks, this hasn’t stopped lovers visiting the city to place a lock on any bridge they find and to throw the key in the river with positive wishes for their future together.

3) Walks along the Seine.

This will always be a highlight of Paris for any tourist. The city never fails to entertain with life size tic tac toe, mazes and a world map painted on the concrete, chalkboard walls to leave a note on, mini botanical gardens, or tempting hammocks swaying on the dock for weary passersby to take a break from the heat. You may just stumble upon a photography exhibit free to the public from a nearby museum. This was actually a perfect find for me, as I didn’t have time (or funds, really) to see any museums while I was there. Strolling through and appreciating photos of the year for an hour was just the art exposure that I needed!
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Flashback Photo! 2 years ago I made my mark on the chalkboard wall: “Kelli was here”.

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Outside wall of the open art exhibit.

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2) Green Seine Shops.

These unobtrusive green metal boxes attached to the fence may look boxy and pointless when closed and locked up in the evening. When tourists are out and about, you better believe these shop owners are open for business with their vintage books, magazines, and souvenirs. There may be an official name, but I just call them the “Green Seine’s”, and plenty of my business has gone to reprint paintings and postcards at these shops close to Notre Dame.

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1) Paris is PRIME for people-watching!

You’ll never find such mixed diversity in the world, as there are people from everywhere imaginable here. It also might just happen to be Fashion Week in Paris, as it was for me, and observing the bold (to crazy and ridiculous!) fashion on the streets was enough to entertain for hours.

Also, you’re more than likely to make new friends. As Judith, Leen, and I were taking pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower, we met the nicest Koreans traveling around Europe. So of course we proceeded to take pictures together as a group!

Korea in Paris

Leave it to the classiest lady ever, Audrey Hepburn, to know where you’ll always find rich culture and make memories to last a lifetime.

stay lovely and enjoy Paris,
the tall girl

How To Justify a Backpacking Adventure

Being home in Iowa before jet-setting off has been wonderful to reconnect with people. So many questions have been raised though about the nature of my trip: why am I doing it now, how can I afford it, what about a job? I won’t name any names as to who’s asked these questions, but we’ll give the main culprit the alias of ‘mom and dad’.

I’m not going to lie, there are moments where I seriously question my sanity for wanting to rough it for over 3 months with one backpack of belongings around foreign countries of which I don’t speak the language. I’ll be stinky and bruised and in bad need of a pedicure by the end of it.

But once I calm down from the mini wave of anxiety I realize, why not now?

Health

As I was packing for my upcoming journey, rationalizing it in my mind, I had a flashback to three summers ago hobbling around Phoenix, AZ and San José, Costa Rica (CCU basketball mission trip) in a big ol’ boot on my left leg after bunion surgery. If I was injured, I wouldn’t be able to do this trip.

God has blessed me with physical strength (for the most part, though I definitely feel the years of sports in my knees and hips…gosh, I’m getting old!) and the mental capacity to figure things out in new places.

I don’t know what my health will be like at any point in the future, I only know I’m able now. And tomorrow is promised to no one.

Money

I’m a college graduate. I’m not rich. But I’m a college graduate. So I’m thrifty and a major saver! I started making travel plans halfway through my Sophomore year, and I’ve been saving my little paychecks from Centennial Institute, babysitting, and graduation money like nobodies business.

I have the Goldilocks mindset about my money for this trip: I don’t have too little that I’ll be calling home two weeks in that I blew it all and need them to buy my return flight; I don’t have so much that I’ll be staying in 5-star hotels and resorts and going on behind-the-scene tours at the major sites.

I have just enough for transportation costs within the various countries I’m going too, food, and sightseeing costs. Thought I missed the part about lodging? I didn’t. I’ll be staying with Workaway families, couchsurfing, friends or connections I have over there, and maybe cheap youth hostels when I feel like splurging.

Job

I love explaining this one, probably because it’s kept me up at night the most! It’s the most common question I receive: What about a job? Well, what about it? Any job that God has lined up for me in his will is going to be there when I’m back in November.

On top of that, the experiences and skills I’m going to have because of these months abroad will set me up for exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Most college graduates go straight into their career, and all happiness to them. My resumé will be set apart because I did something unique, out of the ordinary, and risky.

Fear

There’s a healthy enough amount of it that I’m not going to jump into someone’s van offering me a free ride from the airport.

The concept I’ve been pondering is that God is still God and still in charge in Cedar Rapids, Iowa as He is in Athens, Rome, or Paris. “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

As confident as I am that this is what God has for me right now, prayers are still so appreciated as I venture out! And if you’re considering any traveling coming up, just do it. Life is short, spend money on experiences not things, and for good measure I’ll leave you with the classic “Carpe diem” or in the millenial’s words, YOLO (you only live once). So get going, people. There’s a big, wide world just waiting to be explored by you.

stay lovely, and have a grand adventure today,
the tall girl