With exactly one week left in my 21-day adventure, I found myself practically running to Marrakech’s airport eager to get to my next destination, Paris. I had been longing to return to Paris since New Year’s Eve 2017 and had been having more frequent dreams about the city. The fact that I was miserable at certain points in Marrakech made my desire to get to the City of Lights even stronger. While I know some people have a disdain for Paris or the French in general, I could not have been more excited to be going back for the second time around. I loved the city immensely the first time I visited exactly one year ago and had a premonition that the feeling would only be magnified. Forget what you heard, Paris is my boo forever.
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Where I Stayed
Although I did not have a particularly bad experience at Generator Hostel last year, I found the staff not to be the most personable and I wanted a different experience. After searching through HostelWorld, I booked an all-female dorm room at St. Christopher’s Gare du Nord in the 10th Arrondissement. It was not too far from the 19th arrondissement that I stayed in one year ago and so I was familiar with the area.
After I stepped off of the metro and headed to my hostel, my heart was bursting to be back in the city that I loved so much. I had arrived at the hostel around 11pm but there was still a line waiting to check in. That just goes to show you how popular the hostel was. After I finally got checked into my room and praising Big Homie for a bottom bunk, I went back out into the streets to find some food. Unfortunately, by that time it was closer to midnight so I settled for a restaurant a block away from the hostel and ate until my stomach was full.
The great thing about St. Christopher’s Gare du Nord was the fact that it had a bar, Belushi’s, attached to the building so if you were in the mood to party, you did not have to go too far. Due to my excitement to be back and a discount, I grabbed some beers and saw a familiar face from the elevator. She invited me over to her table with other folks from the hostel and we had a great night of playing king’s cup and hilarious conversation. While I appreciated the serenity of having my own room in Morocco, it was great to be back in my favorite city and around a community. The location was spot on and there was always a security guard by the door which helped me feel safe. I knew I had made the right decision.
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Where I Ate
Let me tell you something about Paris, she is diverse af. Whatever cuisine you are craving, I am sure it is available somewhere in the city. I knew that I wanted to mix some of my favorite restaurants from my first visit with some new ones this second time around, and they surely did not disappoint. I am surprised that I did not gain any weight, but that is probably because I spent most of my time walking the city. And PSA, I don't particularly enjoy French food so if you're looking for that, look elsewhere. *wink wink*
Gumbo Yaya Chicken & Waffles
My meal here took me right back to the South. I had been hearing about this black-owned restaurant and hated that I did not have the opportunity to visit it while in Paris the first time because it was right by my hostel. I made sure to get there first and early, and I am glad I did. While I arrived around 12:30, by 1:30 there was hardly any available seating. I had ordered a pitcher of kool-aid (judge not) along with the classic chicken and waffles. I had wanted to try the macaroni & cheese but it was not available that day to my disappointment. The greatness of my meal made up for it and I loved hearing contemporary R&B. If it wasn’t for the French conversations I was hearing, I could have assumed that I was back home.
I met up with a friend that I met last summer in Paris at a hip little bar called La Cordonnerie. Their happy hour menu was pretty stellar. Perhaps it had been because I was really only drinking beer, wine, and champagne while abroad during those 21 days, but my cocktail was hitting! The staff was attentive and it was in a great area of Paris.
After we left La Cordonnerie, we headed to another local bar, Les Fontaines. Surprisingly, we found two available seats on a popular Friday afternoon. It was such a beautiful day outside and hearing the French conversations and seeing everything around me, made me appreciative of how a three-hour plane ride can change the trajectory of my day.
Following drinks at two bars it was time to eat. The American in me was craving a burger and we went to Paris’ version of TGI Fridays. I was beyond satisfied with my bacon cheeseburger even if the price for the meal upset my wallet a little bit. The service was efficient and they had enough food options to even satisfy a picky eater.
This restaurant was another one of my favorites from my first time in Paris. I stumbled upon this restaurant while in Belleville, which could be referred to as Chinatown. There was a wide arrangement of Asian themed restaurants and stores and I made the right choice. The beef pho was immaculate and hearty. It was just as delicious as I remembered it and impossible for me to finish in one sitting.
I am not quite sure if this was another black-owned restaurant, but I do know that they had an Afro-Cuban menu and the bar was open until 2am on the weekends. I spent my Saturday evening dining here, listening to Caribbean music and enjoying some particularly strong rum cocktails. Of course, my evening almost turned left when a man propositioned to give me money in exchange for sex, but I’ll talk more about that later.
Best of India
I came to this restaurant closer to the end of Sunday night because it was a one-minute walk from my hostel. I selected chicken curry and it was a divine selection for a decent price (in Paris standards). Maybe the staff would have been a little more polite if I had arrived earlier in the evening and not by closing time, *insert eye roll here*.
Ahh, sweet Angelina. The cutest tea room in Paris. I didn’t care that it was summer and 85 degrees outside, I wanted my white hot chocolate and I wanted it badly. I came around 5pm on a Sunday afternoon and I only had to wait for 5 minutes. Talk about winning. I ordered a vanilla cake pastry but they only had chocolate left, but because I was just happy to be in the room, I stuck with the chocolate. You can get in some excellent people watching there if you have the time.
Where I Played
Because this was my second time visiting Paris, I did not feel as much pressure to see some of the classic sights that I longed to see during my first trip. Of course, there were some beauties that I wanted to see again but if I had my way, I’d be in Paris once a year to alleviate pressure. I must say that seeing some familiar places boosted my confidence and I could feel myself walking as if I belonged in Paris. I spoke enough French to carry a basic conversation and hardly heard “American” as opposed to when I was in Marrakech.
On my first full day, Friday, once I woke up from a great slumber I knew I needed to visit Sacre Coeur. I stayed in the Montemarte district for one night last summer and had walked by the church, but never ascended the stairs. I underestimated how beautiful the view would be. I felt like DJ Khaled saying “you played yourself” to my own self because as I climbed the stairs, I saw what the hype was about. It was stunning and the inside of the church was immaculate. There are signs posted all over the inside requesting tourists refrain from taking pictures, and I accepted that. I was irritated witnessing people taking [flash] photos and carrying on as there was a crowd towards the center trying to worship peacefully.
Once I left Sacre Coeur, I strolled along the Montemarte streets until I found the Wall of Love. I had no idea it existed but while I was looking at the map provided by my hostel, they pinpointed lesser-known spots in Paris to visit and I appreciated that gesture. I would not have thought to visit it last year, but because this was my second time around in Paris I was willing and enthusiastic. I took a few photos and got ready to partake in the happy hour fun with my friend Tanisha of Girl Meets Glass that I had mentioned before.
After dinner and drinks, I snuck into a rooftop (oops) because it was 9:30pm and I wanted to catch the glow of the sunset. It was gorgeous and I was beyond content to be in what felt like my European home. Thirty minutes later I beelined it to the metro station closest to the Eiffel Tower. Another thing that I had not done my first time in Paris was see the Eiffel Tower at night and I was determined to see the light show in person. Unfortunately, because the sun never fully sets in France (if you’ve been there, you get me), it was still light outside at 10pm and so the show would not come on until 11pm.
It. Was. Everything. I. Could. Have. Ever. Dreamed. Of.
The sight of it all did produce a tear because at that moment I was overwhelmed with joy. It was insane to me how the previous day I was miserable and with the change of a time zone I was enamored. That’s the beauty of traveling.
On my second day, I felt like a true Parisian because I was going to hang out with Tanisha again and partake in a mini picnic off of the Seine. Visiting several markets and ordering in French made me feel fancy. Once I got to the river, we had a great time pouring glasses of rose and eating wine, cheese, and bread. I got to relax and just breathe which was so necessary.
During my final full day, I wanted to revisit some sights and catch some new ones as well. I created my own walking tour and revisited the Eiffel Tower and Tuilleries Garden. Somehow, someway I had completely forgotten to walk the Champps-Elysses last year and had never seen the Arc du Triomphe in person. It was an interesting experience and I was finally seeing a true touristy part of Paris that I did not see as much of in the 10th arrondissement and the canals. My eyes were wide and looking everywhere at the department stores and I did eventually end up in the dopest Sephora I had ever seen. I ended my day capturing the Louvre at night and enjoying a mini nightcap at Belushi’s before retiring.
I know some people have reservations about Paris or visiting the same place twice, but I do this travel thing for me. Once again, I had an immense joy while in Paris for the second time and knew I had made the right decision. While some things were different (like the Metro not having as many homeless people taking shelter), some things like the gorgeous skies at sunset remained the same. I will forever have an admiration for the city I have fantasized about since I was a little girl. Maybe one day I can pull a Serena Williams and buy an apartment there, but in the meantime, I will relish in my photos and begin planning trip number three to the city in my head now.
Have you been to Paris? Did you love or hate it? Was it worth the hype? If you are obsessed with Paris as I am, you should also read my post, Life Lessons Paris Taught Me.