This feels like the never ending trip right? It is almost two months since I came home from my 12-days in Europe trip and there’s like at least four more blog posts left to explain it all and post all the damn pictures. (Before we even get into this, if you like a lot of pictures, you’ll like this post a lot!)
Spending New Years Eve in Paris was one of the only absolute necessities for this trip. I knew I would spend NYE there and everything else around that date I would just figure out, whatever. MUST BE IN PARIS ON DECEMBER 31ST. The previous NYE I was in Abu Dhabi and feeling rushed between an insane 40-hr trip back from Maldives to Toronto. This time I would have two days to take in the city, eat my face off and actively participate in the most highly regarded New Years Eve party in the world. (Sorry New York)
I landed in Paris on the morning of December 30th, coming in from Zurich. I took a chance and booked a tour of Versailles for 930am even though I landed at 730am. I wasn’t sure how long the customs process would take, nor how long it would take for me to get from the airport to my AirBnB to drop my bags off but I had to rush my way through it all. Problem is that there are no tours of Versailles on Mondays (that’s at least what the booking info said) so it was either today or not at all. TODAY was going to be my day.
Luckily, everything went super fast and I made it to where my tour bus would scoop me at 915am. I opted to go with the ‘Skip the Line: Palace of Versailles and Gardens from Central Paris’ tour. They would pick me up at one of the three locations in Paris, take me to the Palace, give me a tour and then drop me back in civilization. That’s all I needed.
Personally, I’m not really good at following instructions or staying with groups so I got to Versailles and just took my own time to see things and walk around at my own pace. I’ve been to Carnivals that were less crowded than the inside of Versailles. To walk through there you really require patience and a strong elbow.
I should also mention, YOU SHOULD 100% PAY FOR A TOUR TO GO WITH, especially one that has you skipping the line. I’m not even exaggerating, there was a line of thousands to get in through the regular lines at Versailles. Four long lines easily holding 500 people per line. If I had just taken my time and made my way there, I would have been standing in that line for hours instead of just walking in with my group within about 10 minutes. Don’t waste your time, just pay extra for the damn tour.
After wandering around the inside of Versailles looking at all the luxury in the rooms and hallways, it had occurred to me that I hadn’t eaten since I left Zurich. Luckily, there is a very fancy pants restaurant inside of the Palace. The name of it is Angelina and of course, this had a lineup as well. It took about 25 minutes to get a seat inside. As you wait in the line you get to stare down the amazing array of desserts available to you and oh man, it just makes you even more hungry. I am personally a HUGE desserts fan and if you are as well, you need to come eat some at Angelina.
I got my seat, ordered a croque monsieur and french fries (or would they just be ‘fries’ since I’m in France?) Then I got my hands on the dessert menu and I went INNNNNN. I didn’t order just one dessert, I ordered THREE. All of them were delicious and you will see in the pictures below how glorious they looked. I should also mention, this meal inside of Versailles STILL cost me less than just regular hamburger meals in Zurich. * cries in high cost of living in Switzerland *
As you can see from that final picture, I also got another magnet to add to my collection. Very fancy.
After figuring out via their huge map how to make it back to where the tour started, I hopped back on the bus and we were all dropped off in front of the Arc de Triomphe.
I feel like I’ve seen some wild stuff in my life, but never EVER in my life have I seen this many people putting their lives directly at risk for a goddamn selfie. People were running into oncoming traffic, just to get a picture in front of this thing. It is never that serious. I snapped a pic and kept it moving.
There was a moment when I finally stood in front of the Eiffel Tower that I did have to take a minute and just tune everything else out. (I was on a sidewalk though) I legit stood there for 20 minutes just staring at the Tower. Seeing all the movement around it. Seeing the architecture. Nothing really prepares you for seeing it finally in person, yes I was in awe. The sun set and I got to enjoy eating a waffle while watching the glimmering lights emit from the Tower. Spectacular.
Woke up in my tiny AirBnB on December 31st nice and early to get to my tour of the Louvre on time. I specifically chose this AirBnB because it was within walking distance of all the fun stuff in central Paris without having to pay the inflated price for it. When I got to the area around the Louvre I was reminded again why choosing the ‘skip the line’ option for ANY tour is the best idea. This time it was ‘Skip the Line: Louvre Museum Walking Tour including Venus de Milo and Mona Lisa’.
I will say, for this tour, the gentleman was doing an incredible job of explaining everything inside and outside of the Louvre. I actually paid attention and stayed with the group for this, unlike at Versailles. It was definitely busy inside, but nothing as cramped as Versailles. The tour guide explained to us that if you wanted to see every part of the Louvre it would take six month of coming in for 8hrs a day. It is huge.
Being tall and chunky was a big advantage on this day because to get even remotely close to the Mona Lisa to take a picture you basically had to pretend to be an offensive lineman. There were just soooo many people and everyone wanted to shove and get their perfect selfie. I got close enough to snap my picture of it and keep it moving.
Once I got hungry, that was the end of the tour for me. I enjoyed the Louvre, but I sure did enjoy eating in Paris even more.
Full disclosure, I hadn’t been told too many great things about food in France. I was told it was small portions, delicious, but small portions. As someone who loves a big meal for as little money as possible, this meant a shitty time for me. These people were WRONG. The portions in Paris were not small at all and everything I ate, I could have eaten five more times.
I failed as a blogger by not getting the name of the restaurant I ate at before heading to nap, but this place really rocked my socks. I ordered this huge charcuterie board with a side of escargot and finished it of with some crepes. Yes, I also had fries. This was the most French meal I could possibly think of, shame I’m not a wine drinker or I would have been singing La Marseillaise by 4pm. I truly regret not ordering more escargot, I could have downed like 20 of those puppies. Oh wow. The most incredible tasting escargot I ever had was in Paris! Now that is exactly what I wanted to experience. I wish I had the name of the place to share and send everyone to. Fail.
Finished my meal and went on a scenic walk back to my AirBnB to nap before the NYE festivities began.
After the most blessaz food-coma nap, I woke up and slowly made my way to The Avenue des Champs-Élysées. My AirBnB host told me that this was the place you’d want to be when the clock struck midnight and I didn’t know any better so why not?
On the way there I stopped at another random restaurant to eat and made friends with a lovely family from California who were giving their 7-year-old son some wine to celebrate. My kind of people to be quite honest.
I arrived at Champs around 11pm and shit, was I late. There were already (what felt like) millions of people mingling, drinking and partying there already. A gentleman next to me in the madness said some of the tourists begin standing in front of the Arc from 3pm just to have the best view on the street. Again, after seeing what folks were willing to do in traffic for a good selfie in front of the Arc the day before - what’s eight hours of standing in the cold in comparison to that, right?
Although I can’t speak for everyone else there, I know I felt tension in the air. Prior to leaving for this trip, the biggest comment I got from everyone was, ‘you think it’ll be safe being in the crowd on NYE?’ I felt that. I felt it as I got to Champs and while I stood there awaiting 2019. Even though people were jubilant and very drunk, you got a sense of unease anytime you heard a siren wailing. To me, if I hear an ambulance (especially on NYE) I’d assume some drunks are just being belligerent. Judging by the faces around me that heard the same sirens I did, they didn’t have that same nonchalant expression. The fear of something bad happening in a mass gathering, an opportune time for some zealot. Leading up to my visit to Paris, there had been constant demonstrations by the Yellow Jacket protesters as well. I understood at this moment, anything was possible.
Luckily, everything was safe and well. The night went off without a hitch. We all got to see the most incredible visual displays on the Arc, followed by the fireworks at midnight to kick off our 2019. It was a hell of a street party. I’d never seen so much champagne and wine in my life! On the way home I called my boyfriend to let him know how it went and that I was walking home safely and during the conversation a random local ran up to me and kissed me on the cheek yelling, ‘bonne année!! bonne année!!’ So awesome.
Everyone should experience New Years Eve in Paris just one time in their life. I would suggest wearing comfortable shoes though because it will involve a lot of standing and at some point you also may need to hop over a police barricade or two. Small stuff.
I know I will return to Paris again one day because there’s absolutely no chance that I could stay away from such good food. That’s impossible. The Parisian locals were really nice to me and they showed me my favourite kind of love - food. I was really impressed by how kind the locals were since I can imagine the constant tourism must be a pain in the ass, especially during NYE when they probably have the largest influx. It was also pretty wild to me that IN Paris the locals all spoke English no problem but when I visited a certain unnamed province in Canada, the local Francophones gave me shit for not speaking French. Odd right? I’ll leave that there.
Go visit Paris. Go eat everything in Paris. Love Paris.