First off thanks to everyone who stuck with me as you followed my journey throughout France. I hop you enjoy the recap of our final days on what was definitely the most fantastic trip I have probably experienced in my life.
After we returned from a few days in the South of France, we spent 2 and a half more days exploring some last bits of Paris before heading back to Amsterdam by train for our flight.
We started off our morning with our usual breakfast of cheese, croissants and fresh orange juice, but couldn’t help but notice the cutest pair of little ladies who loved to sing and play a very unfamiliar but cool instrument. Carlos wouldn’t help but take a photo.
Across the way- we took notice of people lined up around the blocks to visit the Catacombs, which are famous Parisian underground tombs- that I had no desire to see. But kudos to them for being so brave.
And people were out and about taking in the brisk morning breeze and getting around anyway they knew how!
We set out very early, in an effort to make our last couple of days in Paaris count. And by make them count, I mean we partied. Now as I mentioned before, Carlos is Carribean and I mean truly Carribean, so when I say party or “fete” as he likes to say, they like to party until the cows, chickens, ducks and frogs come home. But right before we partied- we shopped.
And not just anywhere. We took the metro up to the Marché aux Puces de Clignancourt area to check out the massive local Paris flea market, where you could find everything from counterfeits to true vintage couture, antiques and anything in between.
And boy did we. We scoured the entire place looking for cool and interesting things to take home and were taken aback by the sheer amounts of stalls and all the goods there were to see.
Personally, I believe you need more than one afternoon to really take in this area in all its authenticity as well as have time to talk to the different vendors and shop owners to not only negotiate a fair price, but really get to learn about France, its love for vintage styl, fashion and just true history.
Our first stop was in the main promenade and these shops were enclosed and air-conditioned unlike most outdoor stalls.
Carlos needed a bathroom break and was I so thankful for it. Otherwise, I would not have met Mandana or found her shop of beauties.
What first caught my eye was a vintage Dior luggage bag and this wool sheath dress by Chanel is a beautiful shade of light fuchsia.
At a size 6, she insisted I try it on even though I knew it wouldn’t fit. However, she was persistent and fun, which I loved. I mean I hadn’t been a size 6 since I was 6 for crying out loud.
She also sent me into the fitting room with a laced white duster and this extra cute oversized blouse by Brigitte Bardot. So it was a no-brainer, which piece fit and what I would be purchasing. I mean it felt like it was made for me, paired with the fact that it was a brand by one of BETA babes from the 60’s and muses- Miss Bardot.
In a soft hue of canary yellow, I couldn’t resist, I had to wear it out of the store and it just fit with my look.
If you are ever in the area please do yourself a solid and stop by her shop. Not she is not only pleasant but also knowledgable and makes you feel like a million bucks even after you’re long gone. Her pieces range from moderately priced to luxury depending on what you’re looking for and she has everything from Marni to Hermes. You can also follow her on IG- @mandana_vintage_store
Our next stop were the centralized stalls in the heart of the market. These were open air and you could literally buy anything here from an entire bar complete with vintage draft handles and set-up to a delicate and pop art style authentic Chanel brooch like the one I found.
I also walked away with some Chanel runway earrings for a fraction of a fraction of a price. Little known fact, Coco Chanel didn’t believe that jewelry had to always be luxury but it should look luxury and was a fan of inexpensive stylish fashion jewelry. To her- it was about HOW you WORE it and NOT necessarily how much it costs.
But right before I found my brooch, I had the best conversation with a lovely lady who specialized in antique perfume collectibles and sold me my earrings.
She was such a pleasure as she talked about her time in Paris and what brought her to have a love for all things perfume and nostalgic.
I literally wanted everything in her shop because it was just so feminine and fancy.
I mean how adorable are these authentic minature figurines of local famed French designers from over the years.
We then went on to the next set of stalls, which had a collection of menswear items from cigar holders to pipes and canes as well as cufflinks but Carlos was drawn to a beautiful pocket watch.
After a bit of neogitation, he was able to talk them down to $80 and after some research, we found that the pocktet watch in mint condition retailed for over $200. What a steal!
The Paris Flea Market was filled with novelty niceties, even retro style cameras and other collectibles
And also well dressed dandies like this dapper fellow and make shift food stalls, that reminded me of Mexican street corn back in Texas.
The streets overflowed with knicks and knacks, clothing and other cool things.
There were incredible furs at incredible prices and some shops even played old school sounds of Marvin Gaye and the Temptations.
After a fantastic time at the flea market, it was time to depart for the party but not before a quick stop by a local leather shop called Tassa.
We found this gem on our walk back to the Metro and they had racks and rows of real genuine leather jackets from kids to mens and I had to make sure that Carlos got one.
They had so many different colors, textures and styles and even had ones with gorgeous genuine fur collars.
Now see Carlos has been on the prowl for the perfect leather jacket since I have known him and the issue has always been his stature or the style. At almost every place we have travelled, he has tried to locate a leather piece that fit him and Tassa was the one to take home.
The owner was so kind in showing him several different styles and helping us hone in on one and we finally selected a beautiful peanut butter moto style that fit him to perfection.
At only $300 for a guy his size, it was a price you could not beat and it also came lined a long with inner pockets. We bagged up this beauty and were on our way.
We got to the metro and he mentioned that his baby sister Michelle and her husband, Kipp would be joining us for some afternoon fun and I was all game. They are the coolest couple to travel with and little did I know he had searched social media and stumbled upon not 1 but 2 Carribean day parties and of course both along the water.
While we waited for their arrival, we had to take a few shots in this very crisp and cool spot.
And like I said before, he is a true island party boy. So we headed over to our first stop- Cafe Barge to meet up with Michelle and Kipp. There is nothing like catching up with family over a few or four cocktails.
Party stop #1 was definitely poppin with bottles of wine for just 30Euros which was perfect for a party of four. So we planted ourselves at one of the cocktail tables and enjoyed coolin it for the rest of the afternoon.
They even had catered food and were bangin jams from Beyonce to French rap, which I absolutely loved and plan to add to my 2020 playlist.
It wasn’t until about 4 hours in when we realized we were at the wrong location and were having a blast, but that the party we intended to be at was directly across the water.
To say I was feeling good and the wine had definitely kicked into high gear would be a grave understatement.
But who could blame me, when we found a good time with great drinks and even greater company in Michelle and Kip. So we wrapped up at Cafe Barge and headed over to the next stop.
You could hear the music from across the bridge and it was loud, just like we like it. The party was packed and we had a ball.
Until our age started to kick in. We only lasted about 2 hours and then it was time to head on home, but boy what an afternoon that turned into night and I would absolutely loooooove to do it again.
Our next day, it was time to explore a bit more of Paris and so we set out for our tour of the Louvre. Now this is where things get a bit disappointing tbh (to be honest)
Now from the outside, the Louvre is spectacular and even moreso once you enter inside and we were excited to see some of the most famous pieces but also take in several other exhibitions.
We showed up and strike #1 was learning that the air conditioner had gone out in the food court. So while we planned to eat once we arrived there, that didn’t happen as the food court was closed early for maintenance. This is also where I planned to grab my authentic Laduree French macarons while I lounged at the Louvre. I mean who could beat an evening at the beauty that is one of the most famed museums alongside with the most magnificent macarons in all the world over. Needless to say the maintenance issue, foiled my plans.
However, thankfully the remainder of the museum was fine-because I can only imagine what that level of moisture would do to the art and artifacts.
So after eating some very tragic food court McDonald’s and being served warm red wine (gross), we made our way to the museum.
We set out to see the Mona Lisa of course, but as a lover of museums, I wanted to experience as much as possible, even outside of the legendary painting.
One thing I do love about museums is seeing budding artists in their element while creating
When we first arrived, we received maps from reception outlining the museum and we set a timeline for ourselves. Being that the museum closing time was 9:45pm, we thought could see the Mona Lisa last and take the time to see all the other sights.
Side Note: We booked tickets for a Sunday 6:30pm entrance on a Thursday because during high season, its virtually impossible to get tickets the same day. So on the brightside so we thought since they extend the hours during Summer until 9:45pm, I was confident we would have a chance to see a lot. Boy was I wrong?
The museum was of course massive and there was the Ancient Greek exhibit which was incredible. I even got a chance to see the La Venus de’Milo, another well known work of art, inspiring to so many industries as well as other cool pieces.
But as time neared to closing, it became 8:15 rather quickly and so Carlos and I thought it was best to make our way to the Mona Lisa, thinking we have at least an hour to see her since closing isn’t until 9:45.
We followed the maps given to us to the Denon area, where it stated she was held and we made the 15 minute trek via stairs and even elevators to the area. Only to learn, that once we arrived, she had been moved. By this time it was 8:30 and the security informed us that they close down the area of Mona Lisa at 8:30. Nowhere was it specified that they close down the exhibitions early. Now this was definitely STRIKE #2.
We asked how long would it take it to get to the new area dedicated to her and he said at least 10 minutes. Immediately, we felt disappointed and deflated and even explained to him how the maps provided by the Louvre gave inaccurate directions and location.
He offered a sincere apology and told us if we hurried, we could run and try to get in. But really…..run….in….a museum….the size of ….nah it’s all good.
Once we reached the bottom floor, it was around 8:45 and we thought it would be cool to try to capture few more exhibitions, but to our surprise they were rushing everyone out of the building. This was definitely strike #3 as the website stated the museum didn’t close until 9:45. So we lost almost an hour of time.
While I understand that the Louvre is an incredible tourist attraction, I think there should be some consideration for bookings and timings of actually seeing the museum, providing of accurate information and that the receptionists could be a bit more on par when representing such an iconic landmark. Several of the people employed seemed highly bothered when we asked any questions and that made for a not so cool experience.
Dare I say, I actually enjoyed the outside architecture of the building a whole lot more than the tour.
Plus it was our last night in Paris, so please believe we were gonna make the best of it. Like taking full advantage of PDA ;).
We left the Louvre and decided to walk the Concorde at night, an area that was beautiful during the day (check out Sooo… France was Life- Part 1) for those photos) but had a gorgeous glisten at night.
Let’s take a brief intermission to get into my look of the day.
I opted to finally break out my cute little Vogue by Isabel Marant tee that came included with my Vogue magazine that I purchased back in Nice. It was cute, comfy and very retro inspired. All the things I love in a good graphic tee.
Ok so back to our final evening when, I had to ask for one final favor and Carlos agreed. We had to find our way to the Flagship Laduree on the Champs d’Elysses and it was well worth it. Even though we had been on our feet for hours, I felt like my trip would not be complete if I didn’t make it to the iconic house of French macarons.
20 minutes of a scenic walk later and we were there and Laduree was everything that I dreamed I would love and more. From the set up and the flavor selection, to the merchandising, this place was purely magical.
They had everything posh and lush like Laduree branded bottles of bubbles and other eats and treats like pastries and signature sorbet.
It was incredibly elegant and French, just as I expected, with such a fun but refined flair, filled with exquisite gift baskets and cookbooks to luxury teas and even gold flake dusted macarons.
And they even sold HOMEMADE MARSHMALLOWS! And you all know how much I LOVE MARSHMALLOWS!
I stepped in lines and opted to order a variety of flavors from fruity like the passion fruit which was my favorite to dark chocolate dipped which melted in my mouth.
People lined up to load up on lots of these little flavored lovelies as well as their jams and jellies
It was safe to say that I had died and been laid to rest in Laduree heaven.
After lounging outside and snapping a few shots, we decided to meet Michelle and Kip for a final nightcap before our departure the next day.
And as we took the night stroll, we took in a bit of the local fashion and sights on the opposite side of the Champs d’ Elysses which we didn’t earlier see.
Including a stop by the infamous Crazy Horse Cabaret and Burlesque show- a known French revue that has inspired many entertainers over the years, especially Beyonce. Have a look at her Partition video and see the influence. It’s definitely on the list of must sees when we return and its rumored to actually be better than the even more infamous Moulin Rouge.
We finally met up with the family on on the Seine River which was so serene and landed at a loung- Fluctuart that doubled as a floating art gallery and bar on the water. It was wayyyyy cool.
The ambiance was so artsy fartsy, with neon lights and spray paint canisters for menus and the drinks were on point.
We laughed our final night in Paris way and reminisced on our best and not so good moments of the trip which were very very few and far between i.e. the Louvre. And it was so cool to have shared part of this experience with family like Michelle and Kipp, as they had just arrived for a long stay in the city of love.
There were street performers having makeshift dj sets well into the night and we even made a final stop for a French crepe before we went our separate ways.
This is absolutely a trip that I will never forget and I am already planning to return. Paris was and will always be the city of my dreams and now my reality and I really hope you all enjoued this FOUR part journey.
In case you missed it- check out the previous posts:
2019 has been incredible to me and can’t wait to see what travels 2020 will bring. So stay tuned!