My 26th Birthday in Paris
It has always been my dream to see Paris. I never imagined that I’d be able to spend one of my birthdays in Paris! Most people believe that Paris is too expensive to visit. I was one of those people who believed this too. I received a group text message from a group of girls that I met on my trip to Iceland. They wanted to plan a random trip to Paris. We were all celebrating different occasions. One friend had recently gotten divorced, and 2 of us were celebrating birthdays. I didn’t originally plan to go anywhere for my birthday that year, so this unexpected and last minute trip was one of the most exciting experiences I’ve had for a birthday. I had one month to get ready. Everything we booked was surprisingly cheap even excluding the fact that we split costs for the Airbnb. Our Airbnb was big enough for 8 people, but there were 6 of us. We had our own beds and space. I watched the pricing for the airline ticket on an app called hopper. It let me know what date will have the cheapest available ticket. I booked a roundtrip flight to Paris-Charles De Gaulle airport from Boston for around $350. At the time, I lived in Bloomfield, CT and was about 1.5hr drive away from Boston. I stayed with a friend in Boston and left my car with them to go to the airport. In total for my flight and my part of the airbnb, I spent approximately $600. Of course once in Paris, everything was extremely expensive. We found really good food that was reasonably priced, but the portions are very small in comparison to American food.
My First time seeing the Eiffel Tower
The first time I saw the Eiffel tower was at night. It was our first night in Paris on this trip. We had lunch at Ladurée, went to our place to change clothes, then headed straight to the Eiffel tower. Outside the Eiffel Tower were venders trying to sell us roses. One of them kept following me then gave me a rose for free. He kept speaking in French and I really didn’t understand him. The only word I understood was bisou (kiss), and I told him I don’t kiss strangers. The tower was lit up so beautifully. I didn’t expect to be as astonished as I was. At that moment, it was the most beautiful thing that I have ever seen. Every hour, there is a light show on the Eiffel tower that sparkles for 5 minutes. I felt like I was in a trance. It was so calm and peaceful. We decided to go all the way to the top and buy some champagne to sip while we look over the city. The journey to the top wasn’t as terrible as it had been described to me by someone else. We were able to take the elevator, but there was also some stair climbing and crowds. My friends and I took on this journey in 5″ heels. I would suggest for anyone who wants to try this experience in Paris to wear comfortable shoes! The more you read about my adventures, you will see that I put myself in this situation all the time because I’m trying to be cute. The fact that I wore high Michael Kors heels is what made the journey agonizing! During this tour of the Eiffel tower, we met a very nice gentleman that worked there. He warned us about the protests that were happening and strongly suggested that we stay away from this area on Saturday. He told us that it was going to be peaceful. With what we imagined as a peaceful protest, we really didn’t think to much of it or feel that we were in danger.
The Yellow Vest Movement
For those who are not familiar with the yellow vest movement, this was a demonstration organized by french citizens wearing yellow vests. They were outraged by the increase of cost of living, increase of fuel prices, and the tax demands that were placed on primarily middle/working class citizens. This movement began in October 2018. On November 29, 2018 (the day before my birthday), 42 demands were made public and went viral on social media related to democracy, and overall justice. Meanwhile me and my girls were having a good time site seeing, exploring the night life, and enjoying so much of what Paris has to offer. Skip forward to the day of the protest, Saturday, December 1, 2018. I remember this day like it were yesterday. We were out celebrating all of the previous night for my birthday and we woke up extra early and hungover to go to Disneyland. Choosing to spend that day in Disneyland may have been our saving grace. We spent the day taking photos, watching a Christmas parade, and eating. We even had a sketchy moment where some guy was trying to get us to meet him and his friend at his van to get tickets to get into Disneyland. I’m glad I had some smart friends and none of us fell for that. All I could think of was the movie “Taken”. We received texts from our friends who decided not to go with us because a lot of stuff was closed down because of the protests. We were still imagining a peaceful protest in our minds at this point. When we were in our Uber on the way back to the Airbnb, the city of Paris was in complete turmoil. I have never seen a peaceful protest like this before (Insert sarcasm). Police cars were flipped over, buildings were on fire, broken glass scattered everywhere. Honestly seeing the fear in our Uber driver’s face is what made me feel a little worried. We were planning to visit the louvre that evening, but there were closed due to threats from the protesters. They did not come to play with this protesting business! We were lucky because by the time we made it back, the protests were over and we were only witnessing the aftermath. Things were safe for the most part after that. We went to Tuileries Garden, where they had fair set up. There was delicious street food, fun rides, games, and shopping. I felt like a kid and had so much fun especially in the bubbles that we get to run inside of while its spinning in the water. My footage from that was lost, but the experience is still engraved in my brain.
Missing my Flight Home
The worst part of my Paris trip was missing my flight back home. The problem was that is wasn’t even my fault. I made it to the airport 2 hours early like I’m supposed to. I went up to the kiosk to check in on the monitor. There was some error. I tried to get help. My first struggle was finding someone who speaks english. On top of that, during my time in Paris, I could tell that some of the French aren’t particularly fans of Americans. I also happen to be Black, so I’m sure that didn’t help my situation. I was turned away, and greeted with so much attitude at this airport. Finally, the only person I found who was willing to help me was a black man. He brought me to the terminal that my flight was boarding. It was a ghost town over there. To this day, I’m still not sure what happened to this day. I heard some rumors about there being a protest and that a lot of airport workers weren’t showing up to work. Nonetheless, I missed my flight and Norwegian airlines refused to give me a refund. I went through everyone that I possibly could. This situation left me alone and frustrated in the airport. I went into a corner and started crying like a little baby. I had to find my way back home! Most of the flights that were coming up were over $1000. I looked into flights that were leaving the next day and found one with Iceland air for $500. The problem was that I didn’t have enough money in my checking account to cover the whole ticket at that time. I try to avoid over use of credit cards and avoid pulling from savings unless it was an emergency. I was lucky enough to be able to call my dad and get a loan from him for half of the amount until I got paid again later that week. I was also lucky that the airbnb was booked for one more night and I had 3 friends who were still left behind. I went back to the airbnb and decided to wipe my tears seize the rest of the night. That night we went to crazy horse cabaret and afterwards went to a bar named “Dirty Dick”.
Risqué Cabaret’s and Nightlife
There were 2 different cabaret’s that we went to during this trip. We also went to a night club that had a cabaret feel to it. They were all completely different experiences from each other. The first one was the Moulin Rouge. This visit was especially exciting for me because the Moulin Rouge was one of my favorite movies growing up. Granted, I didn’t fully know what it was about as a kid, but I still enjoy the movie to this day. We had a private table that came with 2 bottles of champagne. Our seating was kind of in the middle, but we had a great view. The show was very entertaining. Although the dancers do dance topless, it wasn’t an overly sexualized show the way the movie would lead people to believe. It reminded me of a circus show and was very over the top. The second place was a night club called VIP room. We went here on the night of my birthday. The theme of the night was cabaret. There were dancers on stage, on the bar, and basically on top of everything dressed in over the top costumes. They passed around sparklers to everyone and let us light them up. There was confetti, and a lot of American music. I had the time of my life! The final cabaret was the crazy horse. It was the last night in Paris. This show was very sexualized. There were some parts of the show where the dancers took everything off. It was also very entertaining, but it wasn’t a circus act. It was more like an extremely high class strip club. Also, out of all the shows we’ve seen, this was the only one to feature women of color! After the show, we stopped at dirty dick. Here we had a scorpion bowl lit on fire and they had an abundant drink selection with interestingly named cocktails. Once you can see past the name of the establishment, it is definitely a bar I’d recommend for everyone who finds their way to Paris.
Overall, I can say that I had the time of my life in Paris. I made amazing memories. I don’t regret a single thing! There were a lot of people who were rude and obviously didn’t like Americans, but for each person who was rude we met someone who was extremely friendly. They were very open with us and talked about the movement that was happening. A lot of them very welcoming and gave us great pointers on places to eat. I will most definately be finding my way back to Paris in the near future as soon as all the travel bans are lifted! Below I inserted a youtube video that I put together. It is a compilation of clips from my trip to Paris. I didn’t create a serious vlog for this once, but I thought it would be cool to give my readers some visuals from this experience. Feel free to contact me and ask questions! Either leave a comment below or find me on Instagram @vee_diane! Thanks for reading!