Mar’s summer trip: France, Switzerland & Italy

At the end of the summer, my husband and I went on a two-week trip to Europe. This trip was a bit different than others we’ve been on. I would say it was more on the adventurous side for us because the majority of it was a road trip! We have traveled internationally every other year. I guess you can say we caught the travel bug after our first trip to Europe in 2013 (thanks Liv 😊).  Since then, we can’t get enough of seeing new parts of the world. Let me share some of the highlights of our trip.

Paris, France- 4 days, Roadtrip: Chamonix Mont Blanc  (French Alps) 1 day,  Rieder Alp (Swiss Alps) 1 day, Lago Maggiore (Italy) 1 day, Santa Margherita (Italian Riviera) 1 day, Milan, (Italy) 1 day, Voltaire Tuscany (Italy) 1 day, and finally Montepulciano (Italy) 1 day.

The first part of our Euro trip started in Paris, France. Ahh, we had finally arrived at the “city of love”. Paris is a place that I had only dreamed of visiting and finally there we were, in this beautiful place. In four days, (and with very little sleep) we managed to see most of the main attractions. The iconic Eiffel Tower, the Palace of Versailles, Musse D’ Orsay, The Louvre, and Notre Dame. What a whirlwind!

S and M Eiffel

We Airbnb’d a little apartment in the village of Montmartre which was the first home to many artists like Picasso, Van Gogh, and Monet.  This village is full of charm, art, and history.  Our apartment was perfectly situated around cute restaurants, bars, boutiques and it was within walking distance to the metro…oh and did I mention the crepe stands? Yum!

Day one: The village was very artsy and had a cool vibe, cobbled stone streets, charming little sidewalk cafes, bistros, bakeries, street artists and lots of boutiques.  We had dinner at one of the many charming outdoor restaurants on Rue D’Orsay.  We then continued to explore and make our way up through some hilly streets and stairs to the Basilica of the Sacre Coeur of Paris.  This beautiful church is located on top of a hill that overlooks the entire city. The walk there was challenging, but so worth it! Once there, we sat on the steps where all the locals hang out and stared for a while, admiring the beautiful lights that adorned the city at night. The view was truly magnificent! We ended our night at a local bar where there was a live band playing.  We grabbed a drink and stood outside the bar (yes on the streets). I find this so cool. We recapped our day while we enjoyed the music before it was time to go to bed. But first, we had macaroons.

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Day two: Our morning ritual was the same for the next few days. Got up, got ready and headed out to a small outdoor cafe down the street from our apartment for breakfast. We ordered two warm croissants, one reg, and the other chocolate, with two double espressos.  The croissants were by far the yummiest, softest and most perfect that we’ve ever had. (My mouth still salivates just thinking about it).

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Our first stop was the beautiful monument and piece of French history ” The Eiffel Tower”.  We didn’t go up but just being there was an amazing feeling, truly a dream come true for me. My entire life I’ve seen this iconic tower in movies, paintings, books, and I couldn’t believe that here I stood in front of it.

Next, we took a river shuttle on the Seine that stopped at different neighborhoods, monuments and museums. This was a fun way to admire the beauty of Paris. Our first stop was a walk to the famous Cadenas D’Amour. This is where all the love locks are placed on the bridge.  Call me cheesy, but I find this so romantic. We bought a lock from a vendor,  initialed it and made it pretty before attaching it to the bridge and throwing the key into the river. This was definitely a highlight of my day.

Next up, The Louvre. This is one of the most hyped museums in the world! The grounds are beautiful and immense  (we walked and walked for miles).  It was a bit overwhelming but definitely amazing to see. There are more than 380,000 displays of art in the museum.  We walked around the castle admiring the many paintings and statues some of the most impressive art collection in history.  So many pieces to see but we were on the lookout for the ones that interested us the most (the Mona Lisa, Egyptian artifacts, Venus Di Milo, Liberty leading the people, and my favorite Napoleon’s apartment). Because this museum is one of the largest in the world,  I know we missed so much!  One of my regrets is not getting a tour guide. Next time, it’s a definite must!

Day 3: On the road again, but this time on a fast speed train to the Palace of Versailles.  The Palace is grand and exquisite.  Everything is beautifully decorated and plated in gold. The ceilings are one of a kind and truly breathtaking. One must remember to always look up while visiting. The highlight of the palace is the hall of mirrors. It was once an extravagant display of wealth, being that mirrors were very expensive at the time. I can only imagine the elaborate parties that took place in here. It was a spectacular room!

The gardens were by far my favorite part of the palace, especially because we got to escape the crowds. The gardens are breathtaking and go on for miles.  We really should have rented a golf cart to be able to see more. Instead, we decided to walk and wandered off the path. We stumbled into a little cafe and decided to buy a bottle of wine to go, or as they say in Europe “for takeaway”. We walked and sipped, and it wasn’t long before we found some beautiful hidden statues, plazas, and fountains. We made a few stops and admired all the beauty. The grounds are like no other, and surprisingly still beautifully manicured especially since it’s been about 300 years.  We had done a lot of walking and were very hungry. Fortunately, we had packed our lunch and enjoyed a picnic right in front of a magnificent fountain that was going to music. We had one of the best picnics of our lives.

Last stop of the day was the Galleries of Lafayette. The most popular and chic shopping center in Paris.

Day Four: It was our last day in the city and we still had some things on our list to see. Our first stop of the day after croissants, of course, was the Musse d’Orsay. This museum was by far my favorite. It has a great collection of Impressionist paintings including Monet, Manet, Renoir, and others. The building itself is an architectural beauty, which had originally been designed as a train station. In comparison to the Louvre, this museum is much more manageable in size and we got to see great pieces in a short amount of time. After leaving the museum, we grabbed lunch at a cute little bistro in the”Latin Quarter”. We really enjoyed sitting in the café and taking in the scenery.

The last and final stop was Notre Dame. The building is iconic and very grandiose. Admission is free. The interior was just as magnificent with lovely stained glass windows and amazing gothic architecture! We’ve visited a few cathedrals and this one is definitely worth seeing. This concludes our Paris trip. Stay tuned for Chamonix, Mont Blanc (French Alps), and more.

xoxo, Mar

We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us

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