Wow – I cannot say thank you enough to all of our friends and family. I was worried about how I would feel about having my first birthday abroad without my friends and family. But what I received, I could not have asked for more. My new friends in London have become part of my family; especially now that my lifelong best friend, Erin, and her husband Kent are living over here now. All of my old and new friends showered me with birthday love – it was amazing. 28 is off to a pretty fantastic start!
My birthday has always been a month long celebration – and being over here still didn’t change that 🙂 So the celebration started two weekends ago, when a group of us went out and celebrated with a boozy brunch. One of my sweet friends over here, Sara, has her birthday on April 7, so we decided April 10th was the perfect day to celebrate both of our special days together. A group of 12 of us headed over to The Bad Egg on Sunday for an unlimited bloody mary, mimosa and frizzante brunch! It was amazing – fun tapas style brunch with yummy cocktails – what more can you ask for! After, we headed to a few pubs to continue the celebration! Happy Birthday Sara!
My actual birthday was the 14th, and I had to work – boo! But again, lucky for me, my co-workers were amazing. They wanted me to feel like this was home and were super sweet and thoughtful. My desk was filled with sweet cards, chocolate (lots) and sweets. It was so nice!
Friday morning was the big day – we got up early and took the Eurostar train to Paris. I love train travel. It’s so quick and so much less hassle than plane. In just 2.5 hours, you’re in central Paris! We of course had to start the birthday weekend off with a glass of champagne on the train – even if it was only 8:00 in the morning! 🙂
Typically, when Dan and I travel, we are very organised and we have every trip planned out almost to the minute. But we really wanted a relaxing weekend so we figured we’d just go with the flow. This strategy worked perfectly – and honestly, I didn’t believe Dan when he said he didn’t clear out the whole city for us. There weren’t any queues almost the whole weekend! Everyone told us we’d be waiting forever to get into the Louvre or to go up to the Eiffel Tower – but we just walked right up! It was like they were waiting for us 🙂 On to the weekend…
Our first stop – Eiffel Tower! It’s more amazing that I could have expected. It is truly just beautiful. It’s so elegant and bold – just perfect. We had planned to just walk up the stairs to the top to avoid the queues, but as there wasn’t one, we took the lift all the way up! The views from the top were wonderful – and the sun was shining!
After the Eiffel Tower, we headed over to the Louvre. Neither Dan or I are big on museums, but this one was a must. We did a super speedy tour of the museum and hit the hot spots. And yes – the Mona Lisa is as dinky and underwhelming as they say. Oh, and again, there wasn’t a queue to get in!!!
The rest of the day we spent wandering around and stopping at cafe’s to enjoy the French culture. It was so nice to just sit outside in the sun and enjoy a glass of wine and people watch 🙂
Saturday morning was the day I have been waiting and dreaming about for years. This was my grand birthday celebration – breakfast at Ladurée. And not just any Ladurée – the original on Champs-Elysées. My excitement level for this breakfast was on par with the excitement Dan felt when driving the Porsche on the Autobahn!
And it did NOT disappoint. The restaurant is so elegant and beautiful. Light mint coloured walls with dainty gold and cream details along with the most beautiful large windows that let in natural sunlight. The tables are set with the most beautiful, simple china. The menu’s were artwork on their own and it was so hard to decide what to eat. I had a French toast dish, with macaroon (pink) cream, fresh raspberries and raspberry syrup. It was the most beautiful (all pink) dish – just meant for me! Even the way the coffee was served was adorable. And of course – we purchased many macaroons! Ladurée – you were perfect!
After filling our bellies with the most amazing, elegant breakfast, we were off again sightseeing.
1st stop: Walking down Champs-Elysées. This is the fancy shopping street and it’s so beautiful. The Arc de Triomph stands at one end.
2nd stop: Sacré-Cœur Basilica
3rd Stop: Moulin Rouge
4th Stop: Notre Dame
That evening, we decided it would be fun to go to a Paris St. Germain [PSG] football [soccer] match. They have one of the best striker’s in the world on their team, Zlatan Ibrahimović, and Dan was pumped to go see them play. This was probably the most fun match we’ve seen. PSG was truly in a league of their own – out of the 20 teams in their league, they are the winners with 86 points. The next closest team only has 58! I mean – they just dominate!!! They had so many fancy moves, it was so much fun to watch. And they won 6-0! The stadium was beautiful too!
Video after Zlatan Ibrahimović scored: https://youtu.be/xjMliAd2gho
That evening, we headed back over to the Eiffel Tower for dinner. We were greeted with the most beautiful sunset. The sky was just perfectly pink blue and purple. It was the most amazing backdrop for a romantic evening.
Our dinner was at a little cafe just around the corner from the Eiffel Tower. It was a lovely little spot tucked away off the main street. After a quick bite, we headed back to the lawns in front of the tower, to lay out a blanket [hotel towel] and enjoy a bottle of wine and some of our Ladurée macaroons. This was one of my favourite parts from our trip – it was so relaxing and romantic. I loved every second of it sitting there with Dan 🙂
Eiffel Tower’s sparkling lights: https://youtu.be/bNCtv3ATYSs
On Sunday, we hopped on the train and went to The Palace of Versailles. It’s just about 45 minutes away. Of course, we started the morning off with some French croissants and espresso 🙂
The Palace of Versailles is magnificent. By now, Dan and I have seen many castles and palaces – but none as grand as this. Firstly, it is MASSIVE! And secondly, it’s so grand. So much gold and grandeur all over! It was a lot of fun wandering around the beautiful palace and all of the grounds and other buildings on the site. I would love to go back during the summertime and see all of the fountains and flowers in full bloom. Even though it was a bit of a rainy day, I could still see it’s beauty. I also loved the different colours used in the decorations. Marie Antoinette’s lavish spending and fashion sense was definitely visible throughout. You could see her love for the colours turquoise and blue as they were scattered throughout the rooms.
We ended our trip at Versailles with some traditional French food at a little local cafe’. We started with some French Onion Soup [delicious!] and then shared some crispy duck and a cheese plate. Yumm! We then hopped back on the Eurostar home [after of course, stocking up on some delicious French wine to bring home!]
I’d say it was a pretty successful birthday weekend. I am so blessed to have such an amazing, loving husband. He made this trip so wonderful. Paris was so lovely and romantic. It’s so nice that it’s so close and such an easy trip to make. I can’t wait to go back!
Next trip: Dan will be heading to Turin with Scott as Scott will be in town for a medical conference and I will be heading to Amsterdam with Kent and Erin for the annual tulip festival!