Hi friends, welcome back! I can’t believe my long-awaited trip to Paris and London has come and gone, but I’m so excited to relive the memories and share them all with you! Jon and I decided at Christmastime that we wanted to spend our first wedding anniversary in Paris, the City of Love. We also added a few extra days in London at the end to knock out two places on our travel bucket list. I excitedly researched and planned for months and came up with a jampacked itinerary seeing most of the main sites in each city. I was so eager that I made an excel and word doc for our itinerary with the perfect schedule. It felt like a game of Tetris organizing the schedule to make sure I didn’t book things on days places were closed, or cram too much into one day. It was definitely a labor of love, but so worth the effort. After about four and a half months of planning and waiting, it was finally time to pack and get ready for Paris and London! So without further ado, welcome to my Paris and London Anniversary series 🙂
Jon and I flew out of JFK at 9:20 on a Wednesday night. We ended up taking the subway to the airport to avoid the rush hour traffic and had a smooth journey. We decided to book Delta’s newer Premium Select seats in hopes that we’d be able to sleep a bit on the overnight flight. The seats reclined eight inches and had a little footrest, but we didn’t have much luck sleeping. Jon and I had some champagne to celebrate, watched The Devil Wears Prada, and did our best to get a little shut eye. Who needs sleep anyways when you’re running on excitement!?
We landed at CDG without incident, made it through customs, and figured out how to take the train (RER B) to the Paris city center. Jon’s work phone has an international plan, so we were always able to look up directions throughout the trip which helped a lot!
It took about an hour to get to our hotel La Villa Saint Germaine des Pres in the Saint Germaine neighborhood. The room was nicely decorated and I didn’t think it was too small. I had heard Paris hotel rooms were tiny, but I think I’m so used to my small NYC apartment bedroom that anything else seems rather spacious. The location of this hotel was perfect because there were great restaurants nearby, and we didn’t have too far of a walk to most museums/sights. Our only complaint was that we were on the first floor and the room service closet seemed like it was right outside the door, so at about 9 am we could hear all the commotion.
Jon and I freshened up a bit and then headed to our first excursion of the trip, Saint Chapelle and The Concierge. I bought a combined ticket online ahead of time and we were able to walk right in. The site is heavily guarded because France’s Supreme Court is also located here, and you need a ticket to get through the street the cathedral is on. We went through security and entered the church at the lower level where the staff and common people would worship.
Jon and I then went up the spiral stairs to marvel at the gorgeous stained-glass windows. We got lucky with a hot, sunny day and the light coming through the windows was spectacular.
This Gothic style church was speedily built from 1242-1248 for King Louis IX to house Jesus’ Crown of Thorns. The Crown of Thorns are no longer at Saint Chapelle, but there are over 1,100 Bible scenes depicted on fifteen panels from Creation to Judgement Day. It’s estimated that about two-thirds of the windows are original.
Behind the alter depicts Jesus’ Passion Scenes from his arrest to Crucifixion.
The back wall window was added in the 1400s and depicts Judgement Day with a tiny Christ in the middle surrounded by wonders and miracles.
Smiling through the tiredness, but so happy to be in Paris!!
After walking through the church, we toured The Concierge, the polar opposite of Saint Chapelle. The Concierge was originally the king’s palace from the sixth to fourteenth century until King Charles V moved to The Louvre. It then housed government functions before being partly converted into a prison, most famously used during the Reign of Terror to house and torture enemies of the Revolution. This would be the last stop for prisoners before they were executed at Place de la Concorde. Even on the sunniest day, this place was incredibly dark and eerie. We didn’t have too much time to explore before closing but we got the gist of it.
Marie Antionette was the most famous Parisian imprisoned here as she awaited her turn for the guillotine. There is a chapel built where her prison cell originally stood.
Saint Chapelle is a must-see on a trip to Paris. The Concierge I would see too because it’s right next door, but if you’re running short on time, you wouldn’t be missing too much skipping the Concierge.
Good luck climbing out of this courtyard…
Unfortunately, Notre Dame is still under construction so we couldn’t get too close. They’re hoping to be done with restoration in 2024, but it’s anyone’s guess when it comes to renovation projects. I’m sure they are extra motivated because of the upcoming Olympics. We were getting pretty tired at this point, but we kept on walking to enjoy the beautiful day!
Jon and I wanted to have an earlier night after only getting an hour or two of sleep, so we ordered Lebanese takeout from Assanabel located on the same block as our hotel. We ordered the gyros, falafel, hummus, and meat pies. If you like Mediterranean food I’d highly recommend eating here or grabbing takeout.
That wraps up day one in Paris! We really hit the ground running and had the best first day in Paris. Next up is my favorite day of the entire trip…our day at Versailles!