France

Running in Bordeaux and San Sebastian

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You guys tired of seeing this running outfit yet?

While we were in Bordeaux, France and San Sebastian, Spain, my half marathon in Dingle was only a couple weeks away. I was never too successful in following a strict training plan while we were traveling, but instead I kind of just ran what I felt like, while adding in some long runs on the weekends. This proved to work pretty well, since I felt good during my race on September 6.

The weather was hotter than I was used to in Bordeaux, and I started my runs too late and felt pretty tired during both of them. But they were still enjoyable, especially because Bordeaux is a beautiful city, and there is a path that runs along the river for miles. My first run was four miles, and my second was eight miles.

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Some sights I saw:

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Jeremy met me after my run and took this. The tower reminded me of Disneyland.

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A skateboard park right along the river.

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The guy on the front of the boat is holding a big bunch of grapes. I love wine country.

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We were only in San Sebastian for two nights, so I made sure to wake up early the morning after we got there to run some miles along the ocean. The beach had been so crowded the day before, but I got out there before anyone had a chance to wake up (except for the other runners, of course. Oh and surfers). Man, this was a beautiful run and will go down in history as one of my favorite places to run, ever. I stopped to take sooo many pictures, but I really couldn’t help it.

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Bird footprints.

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Empty beach.

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There’s a path that goes all along the ocean and cliffs.

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Running through the old town.

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I wish that we had spent more time in San Sebastian so I could have had more runventures, but we’ll just have to go back one day.

Go Big Then Go Home: Part 2

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As soon as we got to San Sebastian, Spain, we headed to the ocean. My friend Liz, her boyfriend Alain, Jeremy and I rented an Airbnb in the old part of town, just a couple blocks from the surfing beach in town, Zurriola Beach. It was also the beach popular with the young locals, who ended up photobombing us while we were trying to take a picture:

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I figured the water would be warm, but it was real cold… we got in anyway. Before coming to San Sebastian, I read about pintxos (pronounced “pinchos”)  online, which are basically snacks that bars in Basque country make and put out for customers. I didn’t realize that every bar had them, and that they put them out around 10:30am and keep making them until after midnight. Each bar we passed had such a big selection, and some were really impressive. Because every bar has them, they leave the lights really bright inside and everyone just stands around and fills up their plate, and tosses their napkins on the ground when they’re done.

One of our selections of pintxos.

One of our selections of pintxos.

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Jeremy waiting to pay for our pintxos.

Pretty much our entire time in San Sebastian was spent laying out at the beach, eating pintxos and walking around the pretty old town.

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Hot dogs with a shorts tan.

Hot dogs with a shorts tan.

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The most crowded beach I’ve ever been to.

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Sunset walk.

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I’ll have a tiny vehicle of my own one day.

Pretty San Sebastian.

Pretty San Sebastian.

We also went out to eat at a restaurant called La Fabrica. The price for a four-course dinner was very reasonable, and everything was delicious and from the region.

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One of Liz's courses, a squid ink dish, but I forget what else was inside...

One of Liz’s courses, a squid ink dish, but I forget what else was inside…

Another pretty course.

Another pretty course.

After two nights, it was time to head back to Bordeaux so Jeremy and I could catch our flight to Ireland the next day. But since Alain was driving and he grew up in the region, he took us to some really great places on the way back. First we stopped for lunch at a little restaurant on the water in Port de la Hume, France. We got huge platters of super fresh seafood and some nice white wine.

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IMG_9735 Then we went to Arcachon and laid out some more and swam in the water.

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Our final stop was at the Dune du Pilat, which is the tallest sand dune in Europe. Once you climb to the top, you can see some really great views.

Starting the climb. It's much steeper and taller than it looks.

Starting the climb. It’s much steeper and taller than it looks.

Still climbing...

Still climbing…

The top!

The top!

Dream team.

Dream team.

You can run down the dunes as fast as you can without feeling like you're going to fall face-first into the sand. It's so fun.

You can run down the dunes as fast as you can without feeling like you’re going to fall face-first into the sand. It’s so fun.

Looking up.

Looking up.

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It was sad to say goodbye to Alain and Liz, but we had to get on a plane and head to Ireland so I could run the Dingle Half Marathon and explore Ireland for a week and a half.

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Goodbye France!

Go Big Then Go Home: Part 1

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I had my eye on these pants that were being sold all over Bordeaux for 10 euro. Jeremy finally convinced me to get some.

I can’t believe we’re home (well, in Georgia). Jeremy and I spent last week in Dublin, staying in an awesome Airbnb in a historic neighborhood a little bit outside the city center but close enough so we could walk there, and close enough to the Guinness Brewery that we could smell hops in the air. I haven’t shared pictures from our time in Bordeaux, France, where we met up with my best friend Liz and her boyfriend, Alain, who is from Bordeaux. He drove us all around the region, then we took a road trip to San Sebastian, Spain, for beach time and delicious food from Basque Country. Our theme of the past few weeks was “Go Big Then Go Home,” and that we did.

Our first meal in Bordeaux: cheese for me, oysters for Jeremy.

Our first meal in Bordeaux: cheese for me, oysters for Jeremy.

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La grosse cloche de Bordeaux.

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Alain and Liz. Gah they're cute.

Alain and Liz. God they’re cute.

Liz and I met a few weeks after I moved to Athens, Georgia, when we were freshmen at UGA. We became close that first year, since we both moved there knowing virtually no one and UGA over-filled the dorms and we weren’t assigned any, so we had to live in an apartment complex off campus. We were pretty much inseparable all four years of college and a couple years after, and we were roommates for five of those years. I’m so glad we got to spend some time together in Europe, and can’t wait to travel with her and Alain again. Jeremy and I are actually staying with her in New Orleans for a couple nights next week, so I’m excited about that too.

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Hanging in Sarlat, France.

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Sarlat is this really charming village that is the birthplace of foie gras, and we ate lunch at this really old restaurant and had the entire upstairs to ourselves. They almost closed the restaurant without realizing we were still upstairs, apparently we were having such a good time we didn't know that two and a half hours had gone by.

Sarlat is this really charming village that is the birthplace of foie gras, and we ate lunch at this really old restaurant and had the entire upstairs to ourselves. They almost closed the restaurant without realizing we were still upstairs, apparently we were having such a good time we didn’t know that two and a half hours had gone by.

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Sarlat is a well-preserved medieval village that dates back to the 14th century.

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On the way back from Sarlat, we stopped in La Roque-Gageac, a town set on the Dordogne River with houses built into the cliffs.

DSC_5398 IMG_9555On our way to Spain, we stopped for lunch in Bayonne, France, in Basque Country. Apparently there is a chocolate factory there but we didn’t go.

Bayonne, France.

Bayonne, France.

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Liz and her huge pot of mussels.

Liz and her huge pot of mussels.

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What people in Spain call a tortilla is very different than what we think of. It’s basically an omelette in quiche form. 

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DSC_5406Our last stop before Spain was Biarritz, France, where we finally got to see the ocean.

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First Few Days in Paris and a Rescheduled Birthday

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I love Paris. I know everyone says that, but you guys, I really love it. We have been to so many beautiful cities and small charming towns in Europe and I have loved those too, but there is just something about Paris. I know I mentioned it the last time we were here, but it gives me the same feeling as San Francisco… I feel like I belong here (I just need to go shopping so I actually fit in – everyone looks so fashionable and put together here).

I love these buildings.

I love these buildings.

We accepted this housesitting assignment all the way back in the beginning of April while sitting at a pub in London, only a week after arriving in Europe. We didn’t have any other plans really and maybe it was unwise to accept something so far in advance (which has not always worked out, but that’s for a different post), but there was no way I was turning down five weeks in Paris rent-free. We arrived last Friday, and have only actually explored the city once so far, because I’ve been so sick.

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Place de la Bastille.

Place de la Bastille.

The Bastille neighborhood on a quiet Sunday.

The Bastille neighborhood on a quiet Sunday.

Heh, if only he had a hat to wear that would take care of the bright sun problem.

Heh, if only he had a hat to wear to shade his face from the bright sun…

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Yesterday was my birthday, and I woke up feeling worse than the day before, so Jeremy and I decided to reschedule my birthday, and celebrate when I’m feeling 100%. I think the reason I get hit so hard when I do get sick is because I don’t sleep. I’ve been averaging 3-5 hours of sleep a night, which doesn’t do much for recovering. And I’m unable to take naps during the day, like a normal sick person. Come on, body! I spent the day mostly in bed, but I did get up to walk a few blocks away to a park we hadn’t been to yet, and what did we see? The Eiffel Tower!

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It may be tiny, but it’s there!

What a face!

What a face!

Our dogs for the month, Frimeuse and Leo.

Our dogs for the month, Frimeuse and Leo.

Jeremy made me my favorite breakfast (fried egg with toast, sliced tomato, avocado, and iced coffee), and made salmon for dinner. I’m feeling a bit better today, so I’m sure I’ll be back on my feet soon. I’m really itching to go running, and go explore every inch of Paris. One of my best friends Nicole will be here in six days, so I HAVE to be all better! Our apartment is near the Bois de Vincennes, which is the biggest park in Paris; it’s three times the size of Central Park. I have gone running there once so far, and I thought I covered a good bit of ground, but turns out I only reached one corner of it. It’s a perfect place to have close by!

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One of the lakes in the Bois de Vincennes; you can rent rowboats here!

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I got a little lost and found some [creepy] teepees in the woods.

Bois-de-Vincennes-Park-Map Today, I’m feeling a little better and Jeremy and I are going to walk to the health food store we discovered, which sells kombucha! It was a very exciting discovery. Now, if there was only a cold-pressed juice place nearby… Happy weekend!

A Week in Normandy

DSC_4034Last week, Jeremy and I were in Honfleur, Normandy with my parents. We had our own Airbnb apartment about a ten-minute walk from my parents’, and we spent the days wandering around the cute port town while eating ice cream, driving north to the D-Day beaches, tasting Calvados, and visiting Deauville and its casino. Honfleur is only about a two and a half hour drive north of Paris, and it’s a huge tourist destination due to its charming, skinny and colorful buildings, picturesque harbor, pretty alleyways, and high-quality restaurants. The town is a bit sleepy, but near the weekend tons of huge tour busses arrive and unleash thousands of tourists onto the cobblestoned streets. Most of the stores sell products from the region, like cider, Calvados, and Sables (butter cookies), and there are countless art galleries showcasing beautiful paintings, many of which inspired by impressionist painters who were influenced by the scenes of Honfleur (including Monet).

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The view from our Airbnb.

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One of the many markets held in Honfleur.

Hi, Jeremy!

Hi, Jeremy!

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Normandy has pretty crazy weather in the spring, sunny and bright one minute, hail the next, but we were fairly lucky and got many sunny days, and only a grey day here and there.

Grey day in Honfleur.

Grey day in Honfleur.

We saw a lot of these crazy storm clouds rolling in (this was taken in Beuzeville, a nearby town).

We saw a lot of these crazy storm clouds rolling in (this was taken in Beuzeville, a nearby town).

Sweet treats.

Sweet treats.

Savory treats.

Savory treats.

Flower store in Beuzeville.

Flower store in Beuzeville.

During one of my runs in Honfleur, I found this path through the trees that led to the ocean.

During one of my runs in Honfleur, I found this path through the trees that led to the ocean.

One of the advantages of traveling with your parents is your mom buys delicious things for dessert after cooking a homemade meal.

One of the advantages of traveling with your parents is your mom buys delicious things for dessert after cooking a homemade meal.

A meringue bigger than my hand (and already half eaten).

A meringue bigger than my hand (and already half eaten).

Cider heaven.

Cider heaven.

More treats.

More treats.

Crepe with ratatouille inside.

Crepe filled with ratatouille.

The strangest thing I saw in Honfleur: a jar of Trader Joe's hotdogs. There are definitely no TJ's in Europe and TJ's definitely doesn't sell jars of hotdogs in America... a mystery I'll never solve.

The strangest thing I saw in Honfleur: a jar of Trader Joe’s hotdogs randomly next to some berry crumbles in a discount grocery store. There are definitely no TJ’s in Europe and TJ’s definitely doesn’t sell jars of hotdogs in America… a mystery I may never solve.

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The house of Toutain Calvados.

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Nothing like a Calvados (apple brandy) tasting in the middle of the day.

First official macaron tasting of our trip. Our second came the day after.

First official macaron tasting of our trip. Our second came the day after.

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Deauville Casino.

L’Endroit 

My parents treated me and Jeremy to L’Endroit in Honfleur, which was a highlight of the week for sure. The space was loft-like and modern, but cozy and had a really nice atmosphere. And the food was delicious. Jeremy was feeling adventurous and ordered blood pudding for an appetizer, and tripe for his entrée. I ordered a nice vegetable soup for a starter, and fish for my main meal.

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Jeremy’s tripe dish.

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There’s fish under there.

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Saturday Market

There are a few open-air markets in Honfleur (and a fish market that is open every day), but the most impressive was the food market held on Saturdays. You can find pretty much any produce you need, and lots of meat, cheese, and seafood too. There was also a guy making fresh paella, and some stands with desserts. A lady gave Jeremy a free raw oyster right from her stand, and he said it was real tasty.

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Shortly before offering Jeremy an oyster, saying he should consider it a “gift from France.”

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DSC_4150Utah Beach

One of the main reasons we decided to go to Normandy was to visit the D-Day landing beaches. The last time we were in France, six years ago, we took a two-day privately guided tour of the beaches by a retired British officer (his name was Colonel Warman, I kid you not). We visited Omaha Beach and the other, most eastern ones, but never made it to Utah Beach or Sainte-Mère-Église. We made the drive from Honfleur, and as soon as we got to Utah Beach and parked, it starting pouring, and eventually began hailing (pretty big pieces of hail!). I haven’t seen weather like that since I left Georgia, and it was actually really nice! We waited the storm out in the car, and eventually Jeremy and I made a run for it when it seemed to be lightening up.

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My dad walking to Utah Beach.

My dad walking to Utah Beach.

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The storm rolling out.

Utah Beach is the westernmost D-Day landing beach. The 70th anniversary of D-Day is coming up on June 6th, and the whole area will basically be closed because of the events taking place next weekend, including visits from President Obama, Vladimir Putin, Queen Elizabeth, and many more. We timed our trip well, otherwise we wouldn’t have even been able to get close to the beaches.

We found our way to Sainte-Mère-Église, where I got a nice picture of my parents in front of the town church with a memorial to John Steele, the paratrooper whose parachute got caught on the spire of the church. He pretended to be dead for two hours and then finally was taken prisoner by German troops, but later escaped (thank you once again, Wikipedia). The incident was featured in the movie, The Longest Day.

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You can see the parachute up at the top.

Jeremy and I stopped for a beverage after visiting the church while my dad went to the Musée Airborne, a museum dedicated to the American troops that parachuted into the area during Operation Overlord. My dad raved about it and highly recommends a visit, if you’re ever in the area.

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After Honfleur, we made the long drive to Munich, and have been eating our weight in pretzels and drinking liters of beer ever since. Prost!

p.s. phew that was long, I really need to work on making these things shorter.

Tasting Paris on a Budget

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Tacos in Paris! Truly authentic.

Paris has countless incredible restaurants, and one day I would like to try them all. This time, though, it wasn’t in our budget to go out to nice meals, so I thought I would share some of the cheap (but still delicious) food we got while in the City of Lights. We do splurge occasionally on our travels (not on a Michelin star restaurant or anything, but maybe a brasserie or bistro here and there). I’m awful at remembering to take pictures of food before we eat it, so it is just a sampling. Two friends happened to be in town at the same time as us (not the same ones from the rooftop bar, surprisingly), and their parents took us out to dinner to a delicious restaurant, and my parents have also taken us out to eat. Besides that, though, we rely on grocery stores, picnics, and cooking at our different homes.

Our first meal when we arrived in Paris. Pizza and wine sitting by the Canal Saint-Martin.

Our first meal when we arrived in Paris. Pizza from a little place near République that I can’t remember the name of and wine sitting by the Canal Saint-Martin.

Tacos and chips and salsa are probably the food that Jeremy and I miss the most while traveling. Living in Southern California, there are small taco joints all over the place with insanely good and fresh (and cheap) tacos. And don’t get me started on the guacamole. I was reading up about places to eat in Paris and happened upon a review of El Nopal, a tiny Mexican place walking distance from our apartment. Obviously we had to check it out after looking at some of the pictures, and we started walking north along the Canal Saint-Martin and made it there after about thirty minutes. You can barely stand inside if there is someone else in there, it’s so tiny. We ordered four tacos and tried to order chips and guacamole but they were sold out. It was definitely more expensive than what we are used to (we usually get tacos for $1.50 or so back home and these were about ten dollars for three tacos), but we were kind of desperate. And they were good! Eat your heart out, piratebobcat. We took them to go and sat by the canal and devoured them.

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So happy.

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Two veggie tacos for me, carnitas and asada for Jeremy.

There is one other taco place that is supposed to be really good, and we will make a point of visiting and comparing them when we are back in Paris in July.

We also love falafel. It’s been a staple in our diet for a while now, and Paris had some amazing falafel. There’s a section in the Marais district that has numerous falafel places right across from each other, L’As du Falafel being the most popular with huge lines down the block (we tried to go here once but it was closed), and we ate at two of them. The first we went to was Mi-Va-Mi, which was really good. We sat down at a table and it was a nice change of pace. The falafel was stuffed in some pita and had eggplant on top. I forgot to take pictures. The second was called King Falafel Palace, and we stood in a line to order at the counter and take it to go. This one had different toppings, but was equally, if not more, delicious. We also got a beer to drink while waiting in line (I love Europe), and some fries with mayonnaise on them (my arteries hurt).

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IMG_5468 And who could forget crepes? We got a number of Nutella crepes. They are hard to resist when you walk by and smell them and the guy is making them fresh right there.

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When my parents got into town, we met them at their hotel off Champs-Élysées and took a cab back to our neighborhood to go to a pizza-by-the-weight place I had read good things about. We were kind of confused when ordering, but luckily the lady working was really nice and helped us decide how much to get and then cut the pizza with scissors. All the kinds were delicious, but there was one in particular that had truffle oil that really stood out.

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With all of this unhealthy food, we do make sure to eat a good amount of veggies at least.

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Afternoon veggie platter with hummus at our Airbnb.

Over the weekend, Jeremy and I decided to try a breakfast place near our apartment, which turned out to be more difficult than we were expecting. The places I had read about that served brunch/breakfast didn’t start serving food until noon. That doesn’t really work for us (we get REAL hungry in the morning), so it was kind of a bust. We ended up at Tuck Shop, and were able to get a couple small dishes, but it was too early for the main meals.

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A muffin with an egg inside and baked beans for me, and avocado toast for Jeremy.

And no trip to Paris is complete without eating some macarons (even though we didn’t actually eat any until we got to Normandy, but look how pretty they are!).

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I can’t wait to go back and try all the other goodies in Paris, and hopefully go to some restaurants.

Picture Perfect Paris

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I know I keep gushing about our week in Paris, but it really was just incredible. It didn’t hurt that the weather was perfect all week (it had been raining for days but stopped the day before we got there, and started up again the day we left). I haven’t talked much about what all we did, because it was kind of a whirlwind. Here are some highlights!

As soon as we arrived at the Gare de Lyon, we made our way to our Airbnb near République, with a stop at the Canal Saint-Martin on the way, which turned out to be only two blocks from our apartment.

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Place de la République.

Le Perchoir

A couple of friends happened to be in town at the same time as us, and we went to meet up with them at Le Perchoir, which has got to be one of the coolest bars in Paris. I highly recommend going there to watch the sun set over the city. It’s right off Rue Oberkampf, a great place for nightlife with lots of great bars.

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As soon as the elevator doors open, this is your view. It pretty much takes your breath away.

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Beautiful sunset over a tiny Sacré-Coeur in the distance.

An Evening at Sacré-Coeur

I’ve done this the last couple times I’ve been in Paris, and it’s always a highlight (and always SUPER crowded). A great way to spend a Friday evening (or any day of the week, really) is to buy a bottle of wine or Champagne, get some bread and cheese, and have a picnic on the steps in front of the Sacré-Coeur while watching the sunset (a common theme in my life = sunset picnics). There are usually tons of people (many of them tourists, but still worth it), the views are insane, there are street performers, and the walk up to the Sacré-Coeur is an adventure in itself. Then when it gets dark, explore the romantic Montmartre area, and pretend you’re in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris.

I told you there were a lot of people.

I told you there were a lot of people.

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Crazy performer that climbed up the light pole while doing tricks with a soccer ball.

A close-up.

A close-up.

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The steps were a little too crowded, so we opted to sit on the grass down below a bit.

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Walked by a play going on.

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The streets of Montmartre are so charming. Jeremy and I stopped into a bistro to have a glass of wine and listen to a jazz band.

Moulin Rouge is nearby, of course we had to visit.

Moulin Rouge is nearby, of course we had to visit.

More Parks With Awesome Views

I’m such a sucker for parks with nice views of a city, and Jeremy and I found two more that pleased us both: Parc de Belleville and Parc des Buttes-Chaumont. They are both kind of a ways away from the main center of Paris, which means a lot less tourists. They reminded me of Mission Dolores Park in San Francisco a bit (one of my favorites). You get a really great view of the city with the Eiffel Tower at Parc de Belleville, and a completely different view at Parc des Buttes-Chaumont.

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Parc de Belleville.

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Parc de Belleville.

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Parc des Buttes-Chaumont is massive, and includes lakes and lots of paths that I would love to run on next time. You can also climb to this tower where you can see the best views.

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Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature

Over the weekend, Paris was celebrating Night of Museums, which meant that most of the museums were staying open until about midnight, and some had free admission. Being budget travelers, obviously we wanted to take advantage of the free admission. We chose Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature (Museum of Hunting and Nature) because it seemed weird and it’s listed on Atlas Obscura, an online guide to some of the stranger, lesser-known attractions in cities around the world. It did not disappoint.

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Probably the coolest thing I’ve ever seen in a museum: a tiny room with a ceiling made of owls and feathers.

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Pere Lachaise Cemetery

Also walking distance from our apartment was the Pere Lachaise Cemetery, the largest in Paris. It’s so big, there are maps with guides on where to find notable people’s graves, like Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein, Frédéric Chopin, Marcel Marceau, Jim Morrison, Édith Piaf, Oscar Wilde, and many more. We didn’t realize quite how big it was going to be, and combined with getting lost a couple times, we only made it to the gravestones of Jim Morrison, Marcel Proust and Oscar Wilde. It’s a beautiful place though, and one worth venturing to.

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Jim Morrison’s grave. Someone had left their band’s demo.

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Sorry to the lady whose butt is prominently featured in this picture.

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We walked around a ton and saw lots of what Paris has to offer, but I don’t know if you could even see everything if you were there a year. Next up: what we ate in Paris.

Dancing in the Metro.

Dancing in the Metro.