Travel Guide: Solo in Paris
I used to believe that I had life figured out when I was just 18. I thought I understood how to play the game of “adulthood,” and I was excited to begin playing! One thing I knew for sure was that, in life, you had to be the very best. And I was determined to be just that, the very best. I had a head start in the corporate world, or so I thought due to my age, and I knew exactly what I needed to do to get promoted. My goal is to get to 100%? Ok fine, I’ll aim for and achieve 200%, I was extremely competitive, and I didn’t stop working until I was the very best. After seven years with the tunnel vision of climbing to the very top of the mountain, my image and my vibe suddenly changed.
I assume most of us, male and female, have experienced, or are experiencing what I consider a quarter-life crisis. Everything you thought you needed and couldn’t live without begins to fall apart. You connect with Julia Roberts character in “Eat Pray Love.” The travel bug hits you, and suddenly you want to travel the world to find the meaning of life, to “find yourself,” all while being a successful digital nomad.
Well, I went for it. What started out as a girl’s Euro trip, quickly evolved into a “Warrior Goddess” solo adventure in the most romantic city in the world.” Warrior Goddess is the name of the book that I was reading while on my little adventure (totally recommend! buy here) and I just rocked with it, I became Woman Warrior. I embraced her. Bonjour Paris, I was coming for you!
Day 1- Sunday
I left JFK at 2pm on Saturday afternoon and arrived at my Hotel in Paris at 7am Sunday. The adrenaline of finally being in Europe totally wiped out any feelings of jet lag that slowly attempted to creep up on me. During my taxi ride to my hotel, I completely fell in love. I fell in love with Paris, France. It was golden hour; the sun was glistening over my Parisian dream, just right. The architecture was breathtaking, and it was a total dream come true.
When I arrived at my hotel, I instantly knew that I had to explore Paris on foot, it was only right! I never walk anywhere, I am seriously the most bougie person when it comes to transportation. I dislike taking the train, and I haven’t really walked anywhere further than to the front door of an establishment from the parking lot. But on this trip, I was determined to face all my discomforts. I dropped off my luggage, took a shower, strapped on my Nike Fly Knits and began my solo adventures.
Hi, my name is Melissa, and I am a planner-holic. I plan every single detail in my life, or at least I try to. No seriously, I overdo it in every aspect of my life. With this trip, however, I decided not to plan a thing. I didn’t even learn French. * Gasp * I was going to attempt to go with the flow. I took a page out of my Warrior Goddess book and decided to trust my intuition and base my choices on this trip off that. I researched the places I wanted to visit ahead of time, but I did not have an itinerary planned.
From my hotel room, you could see the tip of the Eiffel Tower, so I knew I was close and after one glance from my window, I knew that was going to be my first destination. It was around 9am when I arrived at the Eiffel Tower, and the most fantastic marathon was happening, La Parisienne Run.
La Parisienne Run was Frances’ most prominent women only 4-mile run, and they were celebrating their 21st anniversary!! The energy that I felt amongst those women was so powerful. The diversity of cultures that I saw in the participants of the marathon pleasantly surprised me. This trip was off to a perfect start for someone that didn't plan. Oh, Universe! I started my morning, and by lunchtime, my voice was tired of cheering, and I was starving.
I decided to eat at a restaurant that was located right by my hotel, Café Du Marche, and their specialty was escargot. I ordered half a dozen as an appetizer and a Salmon with Pasta in wine sauce as my entrée. When in France! It was amazing! The flavors were all there, and it was the tastiest Salmon I had ever tasted. Honestly, at first, by the looks of it, I thought it was going to taste raw and bland, but I was pleasantly surprised. My taste buds were loving my first night in Paris.
By the time, I walked back to my hotel, I was feeling different. I was feeling alive, whatever that’s supposed to mean. I had absorbed this certain Je ne sais quoi about Paris in a matter of 24 hours.
Day 2- Monday
Due to my excitement, or lack of adjusting to a new time zone, I didn’t get to sleep much. So, once again I was up and ready to head out the door by 7am. My curly hair was out, volumized and behaving. I had on my very comfy mustard sweater from Miss Guided (similar here), a dope green Zara’s contemporary jacket that I got on sale during the spring and the cutest Sam Edelman black and gold pointy-toe loafer mule( buy here). I was looking good, and I was feeling good. I was headed to Angelina’s.
Angelina’s is a very touristy location in Paris; however it is also an institution. The hot chocolate looked so delicious, so rich and so satisfying. I had to try it!! Plus, looking at a map, I realized that on my way to Angelina’s on rue de Rivoli, I would pass the Seine and Tuileries Garden. I arrived at 8am, the first one there. I could choose any table I wanted to sit in, and I sat right in the center. After indulging in what was, in my opinion, the most amazing hot chocolate and their Parisian Breakfast I continued with my journey.
Luckily, Angelina’s had Wi-Fi, so I had the opportunity to map out my walking journey to the next destination. I decided to visit the outside of the Louvre, which was only a 10-minute walk from where I was at. I love art, but I only had 72 hours in Paris, and I was already planning my next trip, so just viewing the outside of the Louvre was sufficient for me this time around.
My next destination was Notre-Dame Cathedral, I was so excited to take photographs! I continued walking down rue de Rivoli towards the cathedral which was only a 25-minute walk (1.1 miles) from the Louvre and immediately got distracted by all the shops! The street was buzzing, so much nosier than the street near my hotel. The honking of cars and the sound of the mopeds overwhelmed my hearing, but I sucked in all the Monday morning madness, even in Paris, and went about my day. With one sense down, I transitioned my full attention to my sight and oh my god it did not fail me!! I arrived at the main shopping strip, with boutique after boutique, multiple Zara’s and a vast Sephora. I needed to get my hands on Fenty in Trophy Wife. The problem, it was 930am, and the stores didn’t open until 10am, others opened at 11am. I decided to stay in the area until the stores opened, disregarding my original destination. I sat in a nearby public park with Wi-Fi and researched all the stores I wanted to visit and where I wanted to go to eat lunch. I spent 4 hours shopping! I am vowing to save up for an annual Paris shopping trip, on a budget of course.
For lunch, I decided on a falafel sandwich from L’As du Fallafel. I know I was in France, but I read so many reviews from people all around the world, stating that this was the best falafel they’ve ever had and it was only about 15 minutes away from my last shopping destination. It was 1pm, and there were about 20 people in front of me waiting to be seated in a small but cozy restaurant. Surprisingly, I only waited about 15 minutes in line, much shorter than I expected. Another point for “a table for one.” This was seriously the best falafel sandwich ever! The falafels were cooked to perfection and wrapped in a pita with roasted eggplants (my favorite!), shredded cucumbers, purple and white shredded cabbage, drizzled with this fantastic white sauce. I was so impressed.
After lunch, I continued my journey through the back end of rue de Rivoli which was filled with small boutiques. Anything you were looking for, you were sure to find it. I continued shopping, I went into Chanel and then Supreme. I entered this amazing all natural preserves store and purchased like 3 jars of deliciousness. The distance between the falafel spot and my hotel was about 3 miles (1 hour 7 mins), but it took me about 4 hours to get back to my hotel due to browsing. The best part of it all, there was so many other stores I didn’t get the opportunity to visit, but I sure took down some notes! While walking back to the hotel, I turned onto a strip with all the high-end fashion brands. That was another 1 hour added to my browsing list. I stumbled upon a small bakery that had the most amazing and filling, spinach and feta quiche which was filling enough for dinner. Man, I Love Paris!
When I got back to the hotel, I emptied all my bags to neatly organize them in my luggage. As I was sorting through my purchases, I stopped to think about the choices I had made for the day. I was in-route to a beautiful historic cathedral, and I got distracted by stores, by material things. Am I really that vain?, I asked myself. At that moment, as I was observing my thoughts turning into negative thoughts, I remembered and applied a lesson from Warrior Goddess “Being a Warrior Goddess is not about silencing your judgmental self, it is about loving, understanding, and accepting all parts of you, both the positive and the negative.” I processed all the emotions I was experiencing and accepted the fact that I had an amazing day, filled with great food, culture, shopping and so much laughter. Everyone was so friendly and engaging, which helped because I totally stepped outside of my comfort zone and struck conversations with complete (non-tourist) strangers. …and another point for “a table for one,” yea!
Day 3- Tuesday
My last day in Paris and there was so much I wanted to do! I decided on stocking up on beauty products at CityPharma, check out my Paris Beauty Haul here( coming soon), visiting Champs’ Elysees and the Grand Mosque. I started breakfast at 730am with a delicious croissant from a bakery around the corner from my hotel, ugh the croissants were so good and made my way to CityPharma. What was supposed to be a 35min (1.5mile) walk turned into an hour and a half walk. I got lost, and I couldn’t find Wi-Fi. So, after walking for an hour, I entered a café, ordered an espresso and utilized their Wi-Fi for directions.
When I finally arrived at the pharmacy, I was in beauty product heaven. They had hundreds of products to choose from, it was a bit overwhelming at first, but the associates were extremely helpful. My theory was to grab whatever item was low in stock on the shelves and figure out if I needed it later. It was a mob house! Filled with locals, tourist, and about 20 beauty consultants. I sort of overdid it with the number of products I purchased, so I decided to take the subway to get to my following destinations. Plus, I really dislike them, so it was another stepping stone for me to step over. It was all about challenging the comfort zone! I purchased a one-day unlimited pass (about $10). I found that the subway system was straightforward to navigate and I used Google Maps to figure out which trains to take.
When I arrived in Champs-Elysees, I was surprised at how big it was and even more astonished at the fact that the whole strip had its own Wi-Fi. * Checkmate *I was on a hunt for a Green blazer at Zara and Lauduree Macarons. * yum * I scored my blazer and some cool accessories and made it to Lauduree right before the afternoon rush and rain. I checked out Zara home, so cool btw, and it was finally lunchtime! I was so hungry, and I didn’t want to waste time browsing through reviews on the nearby restaurant so I chose the first one I could visibly see, Leon De Bruxelles. The Universe didn’t fail me again, a seafood restaurant that specialized in mussels, which is precisely what I ordered. I was scared that the mussels were not going to fill me up, so I ordered the mussel and salmon combo. I had no idea what I was getting myself into! When my order arrived, it was a plastic bag filled with mussels and slices of salmon, that must have been like 5 pounds! * I kid * but it was a big plate of food, which I finished to its entirety. Now I was ready for a dessert and some tea at the mosque.
The train ride to the Mosque was probably about 20mins, and an additional 10 minutes to walk from the train stop to the destination. The Mosque was located in the 5th arrondissement which had entirely different architecture from everything I saw up to this point. The street art in the streets leading up to the mosque was terrific. When I arrived, it was packed with tourists and locals. When you first enter, a man greets you behind a counter filled with sweets. You make your selection and find yourself a seat in their beautifully Mediterranean styled rooms. I ordered baklava, but it was not at all what I received, either way, it was delicious. Another man walks around with a tray filled with cups of hot tea for 2 euros. After I grabbed my treat and my tea, I found an empty seat next to this beautiful fountain they had in the center of the room.
As I sat there, sipping my tea, I reminisced about the year I was having. It felt very liberating to see where I was and how far I had come in my personal journey. We often don’t take the time to pat ourselves on the back, analyze our milestones and congratulate ourselves, regardless of how small or how significant. I ended my trip to Paris by visiting the Trocadero at night to catch the Eiffel Tower show which only happens for the first 5 minutes of every hour, starting at sunset. My whole journey to Trocadero was perfect. I arrived at the Trocadero train station at 7:58pm, luckily the Trocadero was right around the corner from the station. When I made it all the way to the front, the show started, right on queue. The Universe always send us messages to let us know that everything is going to be alright, we just have to listen.
Au revoir Paris. Until next time.