This weekend, I took a trip to Paris, France with my friend Peyton! It was a bit of an impulse decision, but in the best way possible. I fell in love with the city, and had a blast visiting all of the top tourist attractions while also taking in the culture. Here is everything I was able to do in less than 48 hours (!!!):

Eiffel Tower: Obviously, we had to go to the Eiffel Tower! This was our first stop once we made it to the city, and it was a great way to start the weekend. We got tickets to take the elevator up to the 2nd floor, and were able to look out over all of Paris. From this view you can see all of the major monuments.

Arc de Triomphe: Our next stop was the Arc de Triomphe. It’s bizarre, because this impressive monument is in the middle of a really busy traffic roundabout. Such a mix of history and modern day! The detailing was so impressive.

Champs-Élysées: This is a large shopping avenue right near Arc de Triomphe. We went into a three story Zara, but even more fun was a store that sold both L’Occitane lotion and macarons (yes, you heard that right!). There were three “special edition” macarons that matched the scent of L’Occitane lotions. I tried the grapefruit and rhubarb macaron (one of the macarons with a matching lotion), along with chocolate passionfruit and Madagascar vanilla. So delicious!! Our last stop on Champs-Élysées was Monoprix, a major grocery store in France, to buy food for our picnic…

Picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower: A picnic is truly the reason I ended up in Paris. Once I had the idea to have a picnic in front of the Eiffel Tower, I couldn’t stop thinking about it! It was every bit as magical as I dreamed it would be. We feasted on a baguette, cheese, fruit, and, of course, macarons for dessert.

Notre-Dame: First we went into the main area of Notre-Dame, where mass was in session. Though I don’t know much about Catholic mass, observing it was a really unique experience. It was interesting because there were a lot of people in the pews who were obviously there for mass, yet also a large number of tourists walking through the church and not even noticing that mass was going on. The space obviously has different meanings for different people. Later in the day, we were able to climb the towers of Notre-Dame. I was out of breath by the time we reached the top, but the view was so worth it! Standing at the top of the towers and seeing the Eiffel Tower in the distance was when it really hit me that I was in Paris.

Sainte-Chapelle: Hands down, this is the coolest place I went all weekend. It is a Gothic style chapel that was built under the reign of King Louis IX of France to display the Crown of Thorns of Jesus Christ. There are 15 panels of stained glass with over 1,000 scenes from the Bible depicted on these panels. The beauty was outstanding. I really could have stayed there all day!

Shakespeare and Company: Peyton discovered this bookstore when researching what to do in Paris, and I’m so glad she did! I don’t know exactly why it is so famous, but it was definitely worth going to. It has used books, new books, children’s books… every kind of book imaginable. When you buy a book there, it gets stamped with the Shakespeare and Company logo. There is also a café attached, so this is where Peyton and I ate lunch.

Museé de l’Orangerie: Though there are a lot of art museums in Paris, we decided to go to this one because it houses Monet’s water lilies. On the main floor there are two oval rooms situated in the shape of an infinity sign, each with four panels of water lilies wrapping all the way around the room. Natural light enters each room from above, and there is seating in the middle for visitors to observe the art. The entire design of these rooms was specifically described by Monet. We sat and enjoyed the paintings for a long time.

Luxembourg Gardens: Part of the reason I loved Paris so much was the abundance of gardens and green space! The Luxembourg Gardens is a huge public garden behind the Luxembourg Palace. There were so many people enjoying the nice weather, either picnicking or working out or just enjoying the views. After a long day of sight seeing, it felt so nice to relax.

Sacré-Cœr: Our last stop for the day was this basilica located in the Montmarte area of Paris, on a hill overlooking the city. We went at dusk, so the monument was lit up and we had a view of the city as it transitioned to night. There was a giant group of people gathered on the stairs leading up to the Sacré-Cœr, enjoying the view with friends.

Overall, I had an absolutely magnifique time in Paris. It felt really good to visit a new city and re-remember how lucky I am to be living in Europe for the semester. The weekend was filled with exploring and learning and good food (hello, crêpes!) and a great travel companion, all of which brought me so much joy. I can’t wait for my next trip!