Christmastime in Paris

You may have thought I was done blogging since we've been back in the States but I of course have to document our trip to The City of Lights! Seeing as though we only have a couple weeks left before going back to Korea for year two (surprise!) we have been extremely busy visiting as many friends and family members as we can. But between all the craziness, I've been able to edit some photos and add another post of our amazing time in Paris!

After a million hugs goodbye, departing Korea (and finally seeing a bit of snow before leaving!) we hauled about 72 bags of luggage from train to train, up and down stairs and through a new unknown city. To put it bluntly, it was a b*tch. But on a Wednesday night in the middle of December, we made it to our AirBnB in Belleville, Paris and things only went up from there. We stayed awake for basically the entire trip so after waking up at 7am (Korea Standard Time) and getting to our AirBnB at 8pm in Paris (4am KST) we called it a night and passed out.

Fortunately, we were so exhausted that we slept pretty well through the night and were ready for our first big day which was dedicated to the Louvre Museum. On our way to the Louvre, we stopped for breakfast. French coffee and a small breakfast were everything I could have hoped for on our first morning. I’ll spare you the details of every piece of food we ate during our trip and just say, I LOVED it all! Bread, cheese, meat, wine and coffee…what else does one need?! Let’s fast forward to the Louvre. The line moved pretty quickly and we were soon standing in the middle of the museum with escalators and people all around us. There are three “parts” to this museum and people say it’s tough to do it all in one day, but by golly we did it. We grabbed a map and just started in one direction. We walked around the museum for SIX hours admiring the paintings, sculptures, intricate rooms and so much more. We began with a podcast tour of one section of the museum which was cool to start with as we learned some of the history behind many of the pieces but eventually decided to ditch it and just went our own route at our own pace. Final thoughts? SO worth it. It was for sure a lot of walking around which takes more out of you than you’d think, but it had some seriously cool and interesting pieces. Some which were as large as an entire wall! We saw the REAL Mona Lisa, but honestly it was pretty anticlimactic as it was this tiny painting hung on this huge wall and everyone is crowded around it. It’s hard to pick my favorite but as much as I loved the paintings and all the detail, I loved the rooms of Napoleon III the most. They were filled with intricate wall decor, tables, clocks, mirrors and chairs (with artwork even on the seat) and it was so mind-blowing.

On our way back from the Louvre, we stumbled upon a tiny and adorable Christmas Market. The first big thing that made it really feel like Christmastime. We made sure to visit Christmas markets throughout the week since we hadn’t had much Christmas spirit in Korea. Between the cold weather, Christmas lights, mulled wine, hot chocolate, and all the vendors, it really made for a festive night and some great pictures!

On Friday, we found breakfast at Le Peloton Cafe and headed to the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Pantheon. The line for the cathedral was fairly long and it was again really cold and windy so we found some amazing hot chocolate from a street vendor and stood in line. Outside of the cathedral was a giant Christmas tree which added to it's already amazing ambiance. Once we got inside the cathedral, there were tons of people - some there for church in the middle of the building, while the rest of us were visiting and walking around the perimeter looking at paintings on the walls and ceilings and taking it all in. I did not expect to be so moved, and maybe it was because I hadn't been to church in a good while, but it was definitely a memorable experience.

Saturday was by far the best weather so we made that our "outside day" and walked down the Seine River. We walked through the Tuileries Garden towards a Ferris wheel where hundreds of people were gathered and watching the funeral of Johnny Hallyday, a French rock and roll and pop singer and actor, on a big screen. Towards the end of the river, we saw the Eiffel Tower right around sunset. Lit up on one side, were the words "Merci Johnny" so it was pretty neat to be able to witness what seemed like such a big moment for the French. For some reason, there was a fence around the grassy area in front of the Eiffel Tower so it was unfortunate we weren't able to grab a seat and watch it for a while. That and trying to avoid getting it in our pictures was tough, but overall we can't complain. There were tons of people in line to go up to the top but we opted to view it from right outside and it was just gorgeous with a 5 minute light show appearing every hour after sunset. After we snapped some obligatory, cheesy pictures, we grabbed a bottle of wine at a nearby cafe and warmed up a bit. One of my favorite parts about this trip was being able to slow down. It was a much different vacation than our past trips so not having to rush and be super busy every day was a great change of pace. Being able to slow down, have some wine, chat and people watch was wonderful.

On our last day, we made it our lazy day. Most museums were closed or far out of the way, the weather was extremely windy and we were exhausted. So we stayed in, watched some Christmas movies, and made our own meat, cheese and bread platter with some wine that evening. Paris was absolutely stunning and maybe one day we'll get to go back and visit another part of France!

We are now back in the States and after accepting a position, are currently working on documents and preparing for our second year in Korea! This time in a much bigger and modern city called Incheon. As of now, we should be leaving at the end of February, but nothing is certain yet. We are so excited for the new experiences we'll have but in the meantime are soaking in as much time with family and friends as we can!