Lili's Travel Diary #15: Je T'aime, Paris (Day 1)

For years all I've wanted to do is go to Paris. Imagine my extreme delight when I suggested going to Paris as a belated 21st birthday celebration with three friends. With that in mind, we booked an AirBNB and headed out to Paris on a 5:40AM train on the morning of February 26th. To be honest, this train ride is a bit of a blur for me because we slept the entire time. We left for our four day extravaganza armed with schedules, Paris passes (I highly suggest looking into these if you are visiting Paris for an extended period of time), and a whole lot of excitement.

*The Paris posts will be split into several posts instead of one because of how much I did there.


After arriving at our home, we headed out to the Picasso Museum. It was very nice, but two of the main exhibit halls were unfortunately closed, so we didn't get to enjoy it as much as we wanted to. However, we grabbed crepes in this cute French restaurant that is apparently among the best in Paris called Breizh Cafe. It was phenomenal, and a solid way to start off this adventure. You have to make reservations in advance, however, or they'll make you eat in the gift shop.

To the left witness foodie beauty. An apple confit crepe with caramel and whipped cream on top. Literally crepe apple pie. You're welcome for the food porn.

After we finished eating, we headed out to the heart of Paris to catch a Big Bus Tour. The Paris Pass includes one day's free tour, so we took advantage of it and rode it to every single stop possible throughout the day. Despite the cold weather, this was an absolutely beautiful way to see the city.
Julia, Monica, and myself on our Big Bus!

I think that there is honestly no way one could be a super tourist than to experience a Big Bus. In truth, it's something I have wanted to do for years, and I can now say I have done one. It would have been nicer if the weather was great, but I have no complaints because it was just so pretty.

We hopped off the big bus at the Pantheon to take a look at this gorgeous building before we decided to head to the Luxembourg Gardens.

However, on our way to the gardens, we stumbled onto a bookshop I knew I had to visit with my time in Paris, but didn't expect to visit so soon. Let me tell you, Shakespeare and Co. was everything I wanted it to be. I absolutely fell in love with its quaint coziness. 

"I wish I could show you when you are lonely or in darkness the astonishing light of your own being."

Honestly, I could sit in that upper library and stare out that window while I blog on that typewriter all day! Thank you, Julia, for being my amazing photographer in here.

Jardin du Luxembourg
Naturally, I bought myself a Shakespeare and Co. tote bag as a souvenir, though I decided not to go with the more expensive and well-known one because:
1) broke college student budgeting in Europe to go to all the countries
2) I tend to be an accidental destroyer of totes.

When I was finally able to tear myself away from my own little slice of heaven, we made it to the Luxembourg Gardens, also known as Jardin du Luxembourg. We ended up sitting here for a little while, taking way too many pictures, and watching while Julia became a squirrel whisperer and successfully fed one. Boy, was it pretty. If this is what they look like when they're not in full bloom, I bet they're beyond breathtaking in the summer!

We ended up hopping back on the Big Bus to enjoy seeing the rest of our free Paris tour. I got my first glimpses (but not the last) of the Arc De Triomphe and Eiffel Tower this way. But our ultimate goal was to get to the Montmarte neighborhood. Once there, we climbed a ridiculous amount of stairs that made us feel so out of shape it is not even funny. But it was all worth it because we got to stumble into the beauty of the Sacre Couer basilica.

Of course we went inside where no photography was allowed. It is absolutely beautiful and well worth the hike. Unfortunately, after exhausting ourselves and climbing all of those stairs, we noticed that there's a tram for a few dollars that could get you to the top instead. So, if you decide to do this, be smart about it and don't kill your energy the way we did. Major tourist mistake for sure.

I would recommend getting to the top of the Sacre Couer to see the sunset. We made it, but unfortunately there wasn't much of a sunset this day despite the beautiful blue skies we spent the day exploring under. The views alone were breathtaking, so the sunset must be awe-inspiring.

Left: Obligatory tourist photo, Right: View of Paris
After we finished at the basilica, we decided it was time to eat. We climbed back down into the Montmarte neighborhood and went in search for food. We discovered that French people tend to eat dinner on the later side, which explains why we spent nearly 30+ minutes hunting down a decent-looking and affordable place to eat. However, we succeeded. The meat-eaters of the group got to try their escargot and this vegetarian had one of the most unique and yummy salads she has ever encountered for dinner on this fine first night in Paris.

We decided to further explore the Montmarte neighborhood because it is home to a rather famous tourist attraction that we couldn't help but see: Moulin Rouge.

Moulin Rouge
At this point, we were all getting decently exhausted. We had been awake since 4:30 AM, it was dark, we walked over 25,000 steps. But we had one last thing to do. We never got to properly acquaint ourselves with our new best friend, Eiffel, and that had to happen during its infamous and pretty light show. I would come to keep my eye out for this light show wherever I am in Paris each night, and it was a welcome indicator of time during my short stay in this city. 

The Eiffel Tower Light Show is literally just a bunch of flashing lights on the tower that lasts for about five minutes every hour on the hour at night. It's beautiful to behold, yet simple and pleasing to the eye. If anyone ever gets to Paris, I highly recommend going to the lawn to be able to see it up close and personal.


My first day in Paris was an absolute blast. Unfortunately, a lot of drama would mar the next two days of the trip for me and taint my memories. Looking back on it now, I am thankful to have had this experience because it is something I dreamed about for so long. I loved this city, though I don't think I could ever spend 4.5 months in it the way I am London. And I learned a lot about myself and others on this trip. More recaps to come shortly! I decided to split up this trip because we did so much and I didn't want to bore readers with a 3,000+ word post.


  1. *live vicariously through this post* AH, you have no idea how excited I am for you!! This is my #1 destination spot. One day I want to visit and maybe even live there. I really want to visit Shakespeare and Co. and get a tote bag, like you did. My English teacher actually went there last summer and I want to ask her about it but she's so intimidating! I look forward to the reading about the rest of your Parisian days!

    Jess @ Princessica of Books

    1. I didn't get the super famous tote because I beat up my totes all the time by accident and didn't want to hurt it.

      You will get there one day! One thing this crazy study abroad adventure has taught me is that if you really want something, it'll happen because you'll make it happen. <3

  2. Yay Paris! I'm glad you were able to go, and it looks like you had an amazing time. I can't wait till it's my time to go!

    1. You will have an absolute blast. What is not to love about the city of love?