If you follow my social media, you probably gathered that we spent a lovely weekend in Paris last week, thanks to Toyota! It was our first time fully experiencing the city (insane, I know, since it's only a short 3.5 hour drive away), so when Toyota reached out to me to test drive their C-HR car, taking along my boyfriend and two other bloggers on a little road trip to/through the city of love, I absolutely jumped for joy. I had just been neck-deep into PhD completion limbo, and some time to take my mind off things was just what the doctor ordered. This post is entirely too long, but what do you expect from a first time visit to an iconic city like Paris? Sit back and enjoy the ride!
We picked up (and test drove) our car on Friday, and at 8am Saturday morning we met up with Nathalie and Jeroen to make the drive down south. Travelling with bloggers means you have a ridiculous amount of suitcases for two days of travel (them outfit switches to make the most out of those stunning Paris backdrops), but sure enough we found a way to pack everything into the trunk, and off we were! My boyfriend and I have some experience with France roadtrips since we holiday at the Côte d'Azur, and we always appreciate the toll roads in France for being so well maintained and pleasant to drive on - especially in comparison to Belgian roads. Around 11.30 am we arrived in Paris and used the hours we had before check-in at the hotel to visit a couple of tourist hotspots in a short amount of time, thanks to our car!
Nothing screams "you're in Paris!" like driving up to the Arc de Triomphe on our way to the Toyota flagship store in Champs-Élysées. Like always, these types of landmarks are infinitely more impressive in person compared to a picture.
My favourite part of the Toyota flagship store: this prototype made entirely out of wood! It looks a bit like an old-time bond car that can turn into a boat, but alas, it only drives on land. Still, looks pretty awesome.
Paris in summary: every corner you turn, there's another stunning piece of architecture to admire. And of course, we had to make our way to the Eiffel Tower!
All things considered (Easter weekend, no rain), it was actually not that crowded anywhere we went, including the Place du Trocadéro which is the best place to admire and photograph the Eiffel Tower. After snapping some touristy shots, we made our way down to the carousel to grab a savoury cheese crêpe and do some people watching. Always one of my fav parts about visiting new places.
Place Vêndome - formerly known as the Place des Conquêtes (or conquests' square) and about a million different other names. The wikipedia page is a fun read for anyone wanting a taste of the layers upon layers of Paris' rich and convoluted history. Also pictured: our Toyota C-HR! My boyfriend was quite sad trading in the keys to get our own (old) car in return, and I have to admit I very much enjoyed the self-warming seats. So comfy.
What I was wearing: Uniqlo x Ines de la Fressange rainbow stripe polo top, H&M floral embroidery denim jacket, Levi's wedgie fit denim, Esprit fiddler cap and Manfield silver horsebit loafers - cute but comfy! I'll never become too much of a blogger to not prioritise comfort over style when travelling.
After this first taste of Paris (and outfitpics, natch), we dropped by the Travelwifi offices to pick up the pocket wifi I had ordered just an hour earlier - talk about last minute service! As a chronic online oversharer, and googler of everything, I couldn't visit Paris and not have unlimited data at my disposal. And then we were off to our incredibly charming 17th century Hotel des Deux Iles, nestled comfortably in the heart of historic Paris, a stone's throw away from the Notre-Dame de Paris. I'd scored discounted rooms using Booking.com, pro tip!
Staying in such a historic building absolutely contributed to our overall experience of Paris, being immersed in its atmosphere. Although I have to admit I generally go for "quaint" over "modern" anyway.
I took some time to get some work done and my boyfriend took a short nap, and then I changed and we were off to explore our surroundings, the Rive Gauche, Quartier Latin and then get some dinner!
The Seine and the Notre-Dame, breathtaking.
After consulting google for well-rated restaurants in our vicinity, we picked Lengue, a tiny restaurant that served Japanese cuisine along the typical Izakaya formula where you order some dishes in multiple rounds until you are satisfied. This turned out to be a lovely surprise, the food was amazing and the service was attentive and friendly. We sat at the bar and enjoyed dishes like lemon chicken, vegetable-squid wafers and pumpkin croquettes. So flavourful! My dessert was the showstopper, though: mochi filled with lychee ice cream. I just about died. Also, one of the waitresses complimented me on my dress. If a Parisian woman compliments you on your outfit, your day will be made.
After dinner, we just followed our feet exploring the beautiful streets of Paris, passing by landmarks such as the Sorbonne and the Panthéon. By the time we stumbled upon the Panthéon, we were both convinced that Paris is in fact as amazing as people make it out to be. As night fell and the lights were turned on, the magic just increased.
Wearing: Vero Moda red lace dress, H&M floral embroidery denim jacket, Pimkie tights and Ras loafers. I was amazed at how comfortable these were after a night of walking!
How do you not fall in love with views like these? Impossible. After exploring the Rive Gauche, we made our way up again to the Rive Droite and found a little cocktail bar where I had the most amazing blackcurrant cooler and we sat under the outdoor heaters watching the city go by. Honestly, I was surprised at how alive Paris was even late at night, with young couples still taking their kids out for a walk at 11pm. Lovely atmosphere!
After sleeping like a baby (must be all that walking), we went out to look for breakfast. We had some bad luck picking the wrong streets to find a bistro, but in the end it was all worth it because my scrambled eggs and orange juice were heavenly, and my croissant was hands down the best croissant I have ever eaten. And I have eaten a lot of croissants.
Loved this stylish older lady in her Blondie harcut, Louis Vuitton purse and silver pumps.
On our plan for today: exploring the Rive Droite. So much to see in one afternoon!
What I wore: H&M floral embroidery denim jacket, Primark star printed shirt dress, oldskool Vans.
Also pictured, probably my favourite piece of architecture visited on day two: the Palais du Louvre.
For some reason I always thought that that glass pyramid was the Louvre, while it's really only a small feature of the museum. Yeah, super dumb, I know. I just never really thought about it! Ah, to be a PhD researcher and still be a moron.
The Jardin des Tuileries, gorgeous place to soak up some spring sunshine and do some more people watching! We both loved how much green there is in Paris, it really adds so much to the city and creates some space to breathe. Another thing we loved is how the historic center of Paris has such an amazing flow: you just walk from one piece of gorgeous history into the next, and all of it is easily walkable and connected.
When we made it to the Place de la Concorde we were already kinda dead from walking, but once we spotted the Pont Alexandre III in the distance, we knew we had to go the literal extra mile to see it up close! Such a stunning piece of history.
Honestly, I feel like there is still so much more to see and do in Paris - we didn't do any shopping or museums, for one, because we just didn't have the time! But rest assured, we will be back. It really is the perfect city for a short car trip if you are lucky enough to live in Belgium.
A big thank you to my boyfriend for the beautiful time we had together, to Nathalie and Jeroen for being awesome travel buddies and the Paris tips, and Toyota for getting us there! I'll never forget this weekend in Paris.