Digging to Roam

Guest Blog: An American Girl In Paris Do’s and Don’ts

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Today on Digging to Roam we have the pleasure of giving you a story from Paris, written by our guest blogger Melissa Goraj. She recently took a leap of faith and traveled alone to Paris for over a week, here she recounts her experience with us and gives the low down on what you should and shouldn’t do in the city of lights.
 
Une touriste américaine à Paris
By Melissa Goraj
Paris is the type of place that can be visited numerous times, always invoking an entirely different and exciting experience.  I bought my ticket to Paris a week before I left, resolved to spend eight days alone in the “City of Lights”, walking along the Seine and eating baguettes.  My rash decision could be perceived of as an attempt to have my own Eat, Pray, Love experience or one final shot at La Vie Bohème before I join the corporate world in September.  This trip was none of those things; it was akin to Roman Holiday (minus the annoying Gregory Peck interrupting Audrey Hepburn’s perfect day), or blissful happiness wandering an enchanted city.
When my old friend Kristance asked me to write a guest blog for Digging to Roam, I jumped on the chance to recount my days wandering through the many Arrondissement.  When I read through my trip journal, I realized that most of my adventure fit into a nice list of three major “Dos” and “Don’ts”.  This list is what I want to share with you.
According to historian David McCullough, this view made American sculpture August St. Gaudens think twice about jumping off the Pont des Arts.
1. Do Be an Explorer
I took the Metro four times while I was in Paris.  Paris is an enormous city and the Metro is an amazingly simple maze of underground transportation, allowing the eager traveler to traverse the city in mere minutes. I, however, chose to walk the hour from my hotel to the city center.  Each day, I had to cross the Jardin Luxembourg with its statues, paths, trees, and ponds.  I chose random streets in St. Germain and the Quartier Latin to reach the left bank.  To walk is to experience, to see, and to live the city.  I found cheap, neighborhood Boulangeries to get baguettes, ate in parks not even on a map, and walked into tiny shops and bookstores.  I marked my map as I walked between each destination documenting my experience at the Bastille, the Louvre, Opera Garnier, and Montmartre.
Hiked up the Butte Montmartre to
Sacre Coeur in her new shoes
2. Do Prioritize
I did Paris on an extreme budget, so with that, I had to walk the fine line between prioritizing and depriving.  Having traveled in Europe before, I knew that I would be perfectly content saving money by using my feet as a primary means of transportation.  I also knew that I have yet to visit Europe without buying a pair of shoes.  I looked for sales and bought a beautiful pair within my budget.  I chose to eat my main meal at lunch where most brasseries and cafes have plat du jour, or pre-set menus for much less than dinner prices.  I enjoyed steak, quiche Lorraine, tartines, and steak tartare for less than $10 USD.  I drank a glass of wine a day at cafes in non-touristy areas.    I was able to have my cake and eat it too (Bad French Revolution humor)!
Tartines and wine for lunch at a Brasseire near the Banque de France.
3. Don’t Think.  Just Do
I am a planner.  But this trip, I didn’t even look at a guidebook or map until I was on the airplane.  I decided that I was going to reclaim the word “tourist”.  I would see every famous monument, every museum, and venture into every church I came across.  I visited St. Sulpice in St. Germain on one of my walks.  Found Victor Hugo’s House and the free Musee Carnavalet which tells the history of Paris through interior design.  I saw the Mona Lisa and Picasso.  I took the same picture of Notre Dame from Ile St. Louis on four different days.  I spoke only French for five days, giving little concern to my many grammatical errors.  I spoke with bar tenders, retail workers, and even priests.  I read books at cafes in the Quartier Latin.  Most importantly, I ate mounds of cheese and drank a different wine every day.  I urge every traveler to experience the city that she dreams about in the fullest and to leave nothing on the table.    
Melissa at Notre Dame
(her FAVORITE place in Paris)
About the Author:
Melissa recently received her MBA and is an accountant at a large firm in Boston.  Melissa has lived in Denmark and Israel and dreams about filling her passport. Follow her on twitter @MissyLibby.

Guest Blogger

August 27, 2013

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3 Comments

  1. Rose L on August 31, 2013 at 6:24 am

    Our first day in Paris turned out to be Bastille day and I believe every person in France was in Paris!! Way too crowded, so we took of to visit the Chateaus in Loire valley! Best thing we did. So beautiful, peaceful and historic.

  2. mplanck on August 28, 2013 at 8:32 pm

    Ah, the City of Lights. What a nice guest blog, Melissa, though I wondered if you wanted to "recount" your days wandering rather than to "recant" them. 🙂 Enjoyed the details of your Parisian week.

    • Kristance Harlow on August 28, 2013 at 10:40 pm

      You’re right, that was an oversight by the editor, whoops! It’s updated now.

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