In our quest to simplify our lives and travel more, we decided to part ways with our 17-foot 1969 Boston Whaler Montauk, "The Hurricane Punch." Justin spent more than a year restoring it and we enjoyed several years cruising the waters of the Indian River Lagoon, Florida Keys, Biscayne Bay, Gulf of Mexico, and the Atlantic Ocean on calm days. We camped on spoil islands, fished, cruised to the sandbar with the dogs, and had fun exploring the beautiful waterways that surround our home in Florida.
But we were using it less and less as The Riveted Roost demanded more of our time and money. We agreed that we could explore so many more places in the Airstream than the boat. Plus, our stand-up-paddleboards would do the trick to get us out on the water. So we sold the boat and used the money to fund our Airstream restoration... and a trip to Europe for our seven year anniversary.
I found a lovely apartment to rent across the Seine from Notre Dame in the Latin Quarter of Paris on airbnb.com - another huge savings as opposed to a hotel. We purchased our Paris Pass before we left town (we highly recommend the Paris and London Passes if you plan to visit the local attractions - it's a big savings, has an option to include public transit, and in many cases, will help you avoid the queues). We saved by buying our EuroStar tickets in advance to transport us from Paris to London via the Chunnel. I found our London accommodations, The Gardens Guest House, on Hotels.com at a discount.
By planning our trip in advance, we were able to purchase items a little at a time in the months leading up to our departure. Once we got to Europe, all we needed to pay for was food and souvenirs!
Postcards From Paris
I booked a direct evening flight to Paris, having every intention of sleeping on the plane, but my excitement got the better of me. I think we only got a couple hours of shuteye between the two of us. We arrived in Paris around 11:30 a.m. and took the RER train from Charles de Gaulle into the heart of Paris (St. Michel was our home metro station for the duration of our visit). We made the walk of tourist shame with our luggage from the Metro to our apartment, thankfully only a couple blocks away. CDG is relatively far from central Paris, so research your transfer in advance. Shuttles and taxis can be pricey, so we opted for the RER since our apartment was close to a stop.
When we travel, we usually prefer to drive, whether towing our Airstream, or renting a car if we've flown to our destination. Paris is one town I would recommend forgoing the rental car. Traffic is crazy, parking is hard to come by (and expensive), and their public transportation system (Metro or bus) is fabulous. Most importantly, Paris is best explored on foot if you really want to immerse yourself in the culture.
We stayed in an amazing apartment in the Latin Quarter with a bird's eye view of Notre Dame. I spent a good amount of time scouring AirBNB.com for the perfect place. I wanted a central location
Our first afternoon in Paris, we took advantage of the Paris Pass' Big Bus tour. It's a hop-on-hop-off tour in a double decker bus that does a great overview the major attractions throughout the city. Though certainly touristy, it helped us get the lay of the land and a lot of interesting information. It helped us decide where we would and WOULDN'T go during our stay.
Eiffel Tower -
Cruise on the Seine - You never know how the weather will cooperate, but take your first opportunity to take a sunset cruise on the Seine. We boarded the Bateaux Parisiens River Cruise right across from the Eiffel Tower and it was one of the most memorable moments of our trip.
Musuems and Galleries - We visited the Cluny Museum, Orsay Gallery, Orangerie, Louvre
Food should really be at the top of this list. Paris has the most amazing cuisine and it spans far beyond French fare, although you should certainly devote a large portion of your meals to the native cuisine.
1. Our biggest regret is that we didn't spend more time in Paris. There is so much to see and do. However, we now have a good excuse to return... Next time, we'll see Paris in the springtime, when the gardens are in bloom. We'll spend more time exploring the Louvre - which would take a lifetime to do properly. Maybe we'll take a trip to Mont Saint Michel near Normandy... We will take our time on our next visit, with the major attractions out of the way.
2. I would visit one of Paris' glorious markets the very first day, and stock the apartment with some of the delicacies you can only find in this famously epicurean city. I might even do a little French cooking!