Nick and I arrived in Paris jet lagged, and fired up to walk the city. Neither of us knew very much about Paris, and were both delighted to find the city incredibly walkable and friendly! We stayed at the cute and funky Paris Boutik L’Epicerie which was in a great location, making it easy for us to navigate the city.
“Paris was a universe whole and entire unto herself, hollowed and fashioned by history; so she seemed in this age of Napoleon III with her towering buildings, her massive cathedrals, her grand boulevards and ancient winding medieval streets–as vast and indestructible as nature itself. All was embraced by her, by her volatile and enchanted populace thronging the galleries, the theaters, the cafes, giving birth over and over to genius and sanctity, philosophy and war, frivolity and the finest art; so it seemed that if all the world outside her were to sink into darkness, what was fine, what was beautiful, what was essential might there still come to its finest flower. Even the majestic trees that graced and sheltered her streets were attuned to her–and the waters of the Seine, contained and beautiful as they wound through her heart; so that the earth on that spot, so shaped by blood and consciousness, had ceased to be the earth and had become Paris.” – Anne Rice
There was some amazing graffiti as well.
I had one of the best and most extravagant meals of my life at Le Train Bleu. We got the prefixed menu and it was seven courses of pure heaven. The ornate design is breath taking, like having a meal in the Louvre.
“An iconic restaurant in Gare de Lyon, Le Train Bleu offers a majestic setting where the show takes place in the kitchen as well as the restaurant. Steeped in history, this establishment is filled with a distinctive and unique atmosphere where time and space fade away during an exceptional moment.
It was in 1900 at the time of the Universal Exhibition that the station buffet, which later became Le Train Bleu, was built. Marius Toudoire, the famous architect behind the Gare de Lyon clock tower and façade, was entrusted with carrying out these works. The management of the railway company hoped to create an unmissable gourmet experience in a luxurious, modern and legendary setting.
The station buffet was unveiled in 1901 by the French President Emile Loubet and quickly attracted people from high society and artists. In 1963, the buffet became “Le Train Bleu” as a tribute to the “Paris-Vintimille” line dating from 1868, the legendary train that served towns in the French Riviera along the Mediterranean coast. In 1972, some of Le Train Bleu’s halls were listed as historical monuments: the restaurant, the gold lounge and the Tunisian and Algerian lounges, as well as the passageways and their decor. The restaurant has also served as a backdrop for numerous film scenes, including Nikita and Place Vendôme.” – Le Train Bleu
Visiting the Catacombs was a major highlight, if not slightly claustrophobic.
“As Paris grew into its a role as a major European hub, it eventually ran into a major problem: by the 17th century, enough people had lived and died in Paris that its cemeteries were overflowing, overstuffed with graves to the point when corpses, at times became uncovered. And so the solution arose to place them in the centuries-old tunnels that had existed beneath the streets of Paris since the 13th century. By the time these burials ended, 6 million Parisians’ bones came to their final resting place in the city’s catacombs.
Those living in the Les Halles neighborhood near Les Innocents, the city’s oldest and largest cemetery were among the first to complain, reporting the cemetery exuded a strong smell of decomposing flesh—even perfume stores claimed they couldn’t do business because of the off-putting smell. In 1763, Louis XV issued an edict banning all burials from occurring inside the capital, but because of Church pushback, which didn’t want cemeteries disturbed or moved, nothing else was done. Louis XVI, Louis XV’s successor, continued the crusade, also proclaiming that all cemeteries should be moved outside of Paris. It wasn’t until 1780, however, that anything was done. That year, a prolonged period of spring rain caused a wall around Les Innocents to collapse, spilling rotting corpses into a neighboring property. The city needed a better place to put its dead.
So it went to the tunnels, moving bones from the cemeteries five stories underground into Paris’ former quarries. Cemeteries began to be emptied in 1786, beginning with Les Innocents. It took the city 12 years to move all the bones—from bodies numbering between 6 and 7 million —into the catacombs. Some of the oldest date back as far as the Merovingian Era, more than 1,200 years ago.
Beginning during the French Revolution, the dead were buried directly in the catacomb’s ossuaries. Some famous (or infamous) characters from history who call the catacombs their final resting place include Jean-Paul Marat, one of the Revolution’s most radical voices, and Maximilien de Robespierre, an influential figure during both the Revolution and the subsequent Reign of Terror. The city stopped moving bones into the ossuaries in 1860.” – The Smithsonian
I first heard about the Pere Lachaise Cemetery in Patti Smith’s book, “Just Kids” and it was worth the visit.
“Originally established by Napoleon, the cemetery languished in obscurity until its directors conducted an elaborate publicity campaign culminating in their claiming the remains of Molière. After this, citizens clamored to be buried with the stars, so to speak, and demand skyrocketed. Today, the cemetery is home to several notable graves. That of Oscar Wilde is worth visiting; traditionally, devoted fans kiss the grave while wearing lipstick.” – Atlas Obscura
The grave of Isadora Duncan had several touching notes from fans and the whole place felt unique and mystical.
“ I found Paris to be incredibly metropolitan, romantic and adventurous in ways I didn’t anticipate. I would absolutely return to Paris.” – Nick
This whole trip was made possible by our friends and family. Instead of asking for physical gifts at our wedding, we asked our buddies to contribute to a honeymoon. It was the best gift we could have asked for. Our whole honeymoon was just short of a month and we had so many moving pieces and a short time to plan the trip, so I reached out to one my favorite couples, Sarah & Tom – you might remember these two from their Edelweiss Backyard Wedding. They run the boutique travel company, Pathways Active Travel and plan incredible trips all over the world. Sarah helped us with planning, logistics and gave us so much insight and expertise! I would highly recommend Pathways for the adventurous traveler.
After Paris we were off to Switzerland – Lucerne was a dream and we loved every minute!