Jen's European Adventures: An Extended Parisian Layover
"I'm working Paris on the 28th- see if you can get on the trip!!!" My flight attendant friend Liz sent me a text one weekend. Of course I couldn't just "get on the trip," so I did the next best thing- listed my mom and myself on her flight. If you've ever flown standby, you know how hard the game is. But man did we get lucky, and Jen and I crossed the Atlantic in style, with none other than Ms. Liz herself working in our cabin.
The flight from IAD to CDG lands around 6:30am local. It may have been even earlier, which was even more to our advantage. We cleared customs by 6:45! Charles DeGaulle was mercifully empty, giving us no problems hopping on the airport train to the RER and on our way to our hotel. Jen and I stayed at the Holiday Inn Notre Dame, which she picked, and it turned out to be an amazing location.
After checking in (shoutout to Holiday Inn for letting us in the room 6 hours prior to proper check-in!) we went straight to sleep.
Didn't we sleep on the plane, you might ask? Not really, actually. Let's break this down. The flight left D.C. at 5:30pm local. We had dinner and dessert on the plane, and since the flight is only about 6.5 hours, after dinner and being woken up for breakfast pre-arrival, that only allows for 1-2 hours of max nap time. And it's about midnight EST time when we landed in Paris, so we were tired!
Ok, so back to the nap. #Priorities. Liz agreed to meet us at 11:45 and we began our Parisian adventure from there!
Our first stop, obviously, was Notre Dame. Sadly, it's still closed and will remain so for a while following the April 2019 fire. We did, however, come across this beautiful floral arch nearby that proved to be the perfect photo-op spot. Alexa, play "Isn't She Lovely."
Next order of business was, also obviously, FOOD. I think we walked up and down about three streets before we could decide on a place to eat. We eventually settled into an adorable little crepe place, where we downed cappuccinos (healthy) and enjoyed both sweet and savory crepes for our little lunch/brunch. OMG were they delish. I mean, I've had crepes before, but they're just so much better when you're hungry and you're in Paris. Am I right or am I right?
Fully replenished, Liz, Jen and I decided to splurge on an Uber ride to Sacré-Cœur, The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. We could've walked, but when you're lookin' cute in heels and time is of the essence, Uber it is. Anyway, you've seen this church- it's the famous one atop the hill in the famous neighborhood of Montmartre.
Traveling with fellow Catholics makes visiting churches EVEN COOLER. Sacré-Cœur is MASSIVE and beautiful and has a dome with 300 steps you can pay to climb up and take in the #views! Guess which heel-wearing girls in the group decided to take on that feat? Not Jen, lol. It cost 7 Euro, and it was totally worth it. We lucked out with amazing weather too, especially following Europe's summer 2019 hellish heatwave. Our temperature was mid 70s and breezy for our stay!
After making the climb back down both the dome and the big hill, we stopped for water and macarons at a chocolatier on the street. This particular shop had a *chocolate replica of Notre Dame.*
We stocked up on some macarons too, with the intention of enjoying them later, but we waited too long and when later came, a few of them had melted! Pro tip: just eat the macarons lol.
Next, we headed back toward where Liz was staying near the Eiffel Tower for some Parisian replenishment- cheese and wine, of course! We then crossed the street and checked out the iconic tower for some pics before then jumping on a boat for an evening cruise on the River Seine.
About this cruise: there are many options and companies to choose from. We just bought tickets from a kiosk and hopped in line, plopped on the boat, and passed out! At least, I did. I was absolutely shot from traveling and the full day of activities. So, that was probably the prettiest nap I've ever taken. Good thing I woke up in time to capture these photos! Gorgeous, right!?
The Eiffel Tower literally sparkles every night on the hour for 5 minutes. After our little boat cruise, Jen, Liz and I ate our (non-melted, surviving) macarons by the river and this cute little merry-go-round and waited for the tower to light up. And boy, it did not disappoint. Seeing the Eiffel lit up at night is something magical. Just wow.
Finally, around 11pm, we had to bid bonne nuit to Liz. Side note about flight attendants on layovers- we spent nearly 12 hours out exploring that day. That is insane. Usually, especially after redeyes or international flights, we go right to sleep before we go out. And if we do, we never spend more than a few hours outside, so being out for TWELVE was craziness! But also, just the best day ever.
While Liz had to work back the next day, Jen and I were fortunate to have enough time to spend an additional 24 hours in Paris! We took the train to Versailles, walked around a bit, then headed back to the city and wandered around Avenue des Champs-Élysées and the Louvre before bedtime. How cute is Jen in Paris?!
We got back to our hotel late after not having eaten all day, and had the most delicious meal at a small cafe adjacent to the Holiday Inn. Loads were looking bad for he next day out of Paris to Washington, so we devised our Plan B. We were going to fly Lufthansa to Frankfurt and fly directly back to IAD from there. Well, guess who was so exhausted from this adventure that she booked tickets for THE WRONG MONTH online? *raises wine glass*
Good thing I figured that one out before dinner was over, and also THANKFULLY there were still two tickets available to be purchased for the correct date- the next morning. I bought those and was able to get a quick refund for my earlier incorrect booking, and we were set. Jen and I were flying CDG-FRA in the morning, and then hopefully getting on the noon flight from Frankfurt back to Dulles. We slept for about 4 hours that night.
If you've ever flown, standby or confirmed, you KNOW that when you have a plan, something is likely to go wrong and throw a wrench in there somewhere. But you also know that you never know, so you just have to go for it anyway! This is exactly what we did. Our connection in Frankfurt was only about 50 minutes- yikes. Frankfurt is a BIG airport. Our morning Lufthansa flight, of course, was delayed, and then to boot, dropped us off at the far end of the terminal away from the one we needed to be in, so not only did we have to wait to taxi, get to not a gate but to a spot on the tarmac to deplane, then catch a bus and have it drive to the other terminal, and then clear transfer customs (we're sweating and running at this point) that--by the grace of God-- we SPRINTED up to our gate where the agents had our standby boarding passes printed and ready for us to get on MINUTES AFTER THE DOOR SHOULD HAVE BEEN CLOSED. This kind of stuff just doesn't happen. We were supposed to have missed the flight! I don't know what kind of special passenger they were waiting on to arrive or what the hold up was, but we were extremely, incredibly lucky to have arrived --at all-- and gotten on. Talk about a standby WIN.
We made it back to Dulles safely and uneventfully, happy and exhausted. Next adventure? Unknown, but we couldn't wait. Until next time, Paris.