Before I left for vacation in January, I had been doing my research with some prolific bloggers and my favorite magazine Essence, on Paris before I embarked on the 1st leg of my intercontinental trip. I read that the city was magical, saw how petite the coffee cups were to drink from in pictures and marveled at the beautiful photographed attire they suggested readers wear. I grew excited about seeing Strasburg, St. Denis and finding some great deals on clothes and accessories which I did.
But first, there was packing! I brought several dressy items from ankle boots and cream-colored dress slacks, to comfy white sneakers and silky calf-length dresses, which by the way I enjoyed wearing but noticed that as long as I had decent unripped jeans and a sweater on I was appropriately dressed. I decided against taking my professional camera and tripod following the numerous remarks I heard about pickpocketing in Paris, though I didn’t witness nor experience that while I was there. I’m not saying it doesn’t occur but that’s common in any major crowded city. I also figured my phone and tablet should be enough.
I’d noticed from the blogs I read there were going to be these luxurious districts, known as arrondissements over there, but I decided to do Paris a little differently. Not to say that it’s not worth the experience but here’s what I thought I’d share with you that may be somewhat different than you’d expect while being at ease to enjoy your trip:
- For $60 a day you can enjoy a really comfortable bed in a small, clean and safe location at 1 of their local hostels. Paris can be pretty expensive to visit so why not save on the accommodations. Check out The 3 Ducks Hip Hop Hostel when you go. Tell them your world-travelling friend, Asha sent you!
- $30 a day can go a long way if you want to travel a bit for the day and have a good couple of small meals. Start with a delish breakfast at Borissou, one of the bakeries in the neighborhood, which is a 2-minute walk from the hostel that sells thee best focasse –a thickly woven baked bread induced with your choice of olives, bacon (lardons) or cheese (fromage)—for all you foodies!
- Bring comfy sneakers or walking shoes because most of Paris is best seen on foot. I was able to walk to the Eiffel Tower from where I stayed and that took about 15 minutes to do. Although I saw and loved seeing it during the day for its incredible architecture, it’s prettiest to see up close at night when the tower lights are turned on.
- The Louvre is one of the most spectacular places to visit. You take a train there, which by the way the transit is very easy to follow. You walk through this gorgeous palace-like structure and voila! It’s a pyramid raised above the museum below.
- Shopping is not for the faint of heart. If you want the glam and just ok places to shop, go to Champs-Elysses which is the equivalent of New York’s 5th avenue. I preferred however the vintage shops in the 11th arrondisement better; places like Kilo and Free’P’Star were some of my faves. The music, ambiance and plethora of cheap finds abound!
- Last, but not least, visiting Strasbourg St. Denis was like being on a busy street in Harlem 10-15 years ago. This is where the brothas and sistahs go to get their shape-ups and braids, wigs and things to adorn ourselves. It’s where you can find ethnic foods and get haggled by the numerous African men lining the streets on your way into any 1 of these shops, too. And, also like many metropolitan cities, each block becomes more gentrified and quieter the further along you go. If I wasn’t on my own I would’ve stayed and visited a local bar or lounge. Maybe next time!
All in all, it was good to see Paris and be a part of the culture for a few days. I think 5 days at minimum was just enough for me. My next visit will include the Arab Institute Museum which unfortunately I didn’t get to while I was there. Be sure to come back for Part 2 of this 4-part lifestyle travel series where I will be giving away tips on how to travel properly through Marrakesh without the burdens of dealing with street bargainers and presumptuous people. I can hardly wait to tell you about my new business extension there and the healing spices I bought and returned home with to begin my transformational health journey!
*This blog is about becoming free. It’s a reflection of introspective thoughts and experiences that have crossed miles of self-discovery. I created this blog to inspire others to live life with less self-criticism, judgment and openness to new experiences. May you find that you learn how to live a life by design and on your own terms!*