Paris guide for the ordinary traveler

Wanderlust Wonderland brings you: a travel guide for ordinary travelers, with must-sees, tips and tricks and the most delicious food, for ordinary travelers, like you and me.

Paris, city of love, I realized I hadn’t written a travel guide for the city yet. I’ve been there a couple of times and I have a kind of love/hate relationship with the city. When going there, I’m always excited to be there but usually the city feels crowded and I’ve had some bad experiences with food in the city. But it really has it’s highlights and great food and it’s certainly a city that should be on your bucketlist. If only for the higlights and the art museums.

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A visit to the Louvre

A trip to Paris isn’t complete without a visit to a museum. There are so many wonderful museums in the city! The most famous one is the Louvre, where you’ll find the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo, The Winged Victory and many, many more. You won’t be able to see everything the Louvre has to offer in just one visit.

I’ve been to this museum before, a couple of years ago. My friend knew a secret entrance through the shopping mall underneath the museum, and we went in super fast (and free, as it’s free if you’re under 25). The second time I wanted to visit, this entrance wasn’t so secret anymore and was even more crowded than the regular entrance, the one in the pyramid. That time we quickly decided to visit a less crowded museum, one that became my favourite one in Paris: L’orangerie, where you’ll find Monet’s waterlilies. When we returned this weekend to shop for wedding rings, we decided that now was the time to visit the Louvre.

After looking for wedding rings and seeing the highlights of Paris by night on Saturday, we started our Sunday morning having breakfast like a local. We checked out of the hotel, and walked toward the Louvre, looking for a place to have breakfast. We bought some croissants in a little bakery and ate them on our way to the museum.

Tip: buy your tickets online and pick an early timeslot, and then visit the most famous pieces first

Boyfriend had been in Paris a couple of times, but had yet to visit the Louvre. So this time we bought our tickets online (as was mandatory because of covid) and picked an early timeslot. We were inside the museum in no time instead of having to wait in line for hours.

The Louvre is so big, you really have to make a choice in what to see and what to skip. I had bought a museum guide last time I was there, which is something I really can recommend. You can easily see what the museum has to offer and decide what pieces to check out first. My tip: if you go early in the morning, check out the most famous ones first, as it will only get more and more crowded later in the day.

We decided to visit the roman statues first and saw some really beautiful ones.

Amor & Psyche is one of my favourite pieces. I love how it really tells a story and it is beautifully made. I can look at it for hours.

I don’t really like to take pictures of paintings, so most of my photos from the museum are from statues. I think we spent most of our time wandering these halls, as the art is just so beautiful.

If you’re visiting the Louvre, make sure to look up now and then. The ceilings are magnificent as well. There is so much to see, even things that aren’t really there. For example, at one time, I looked up and stared at the ceiling and saw a tiny baby dragon, that looked like one from how to train your dragon. I pointed but Boyfriend didn’t see it, until I took a picture to show him what I meant. It’s the first picture from these three. The tiny dragon is actually the upside down nose from a lion but I can’t help but see an adorable little creature in there!

We saw all the famous pieces, like this one, The winged victory of Samothrace, or Nike. This one I really liked, it’s so impressive and old and I really like the boat she’s standing on. I also really love to get to know more about these artworks, and the guide I had with me helped me greatly with this, as did the little signs next to the artworks. For instance, did you know that the boat that Nike is standing on, used to be way, way bigger? There’s only little of it left. Luckily, the statue itself has survived a great deal.

The Louvre truly is a magnificent museum. Though it is a bit too crowded for my taste. I like to be able to spend time with some artworks that speak to me, try to figure out the story. We spent quite some time looking at The raft of Meduse to figure out the story, and did a little research on it. But many rooms are so crowded it’s hard to just stand still and look at paintings. Especially if you want to take your time to see why the Mona Lisa is so famous. There’s endless rows of people in front it, waiting for their turn, whilst most of these people ignore the other paintings in the room, that might be just as beautiful.

That having said, if you haven’t visited the Louvre yet, make sure to put it on your list.

A walk along the Seine and Paris by Night

Looking for wedding rings in Paris is pretty much a perfect anniversary, if you ask me. We couldn’t celebrate our 7 years with a trip so we decided to travel on our 7,5 year anniversary!

Paris is pretty easy to reach from the Netherlands. All we had to do was get on a train to Amsterdam Schiphol Airport and then get on the Thalys that would take us to Paris in 3,5 hours. It’s a really good deal.

We had made an appointment to go look for wedding rings at Edenly but had some time to spare so we walked around in the area a little bit, towards my favourite building in the city, namely: L’opera garnier. It’s so beautiful inside! Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time to go inside, so we just looked at the building, listened to the music that was played outside and did some people watching until it was time to visit the jewelry store.

I’ve written a separate post about shopping for rings, so I won’t go into much detail. But the shop was cute and perfect and we fell in love with some rings. I can’t wait until they arrive!

After the jewelry store, we headed towards our hotel to drop off our bags. We had booked a room at Hotel Des Ducs d’Anjou which was in the city center. The room was perfectly fine, nothing too special but we would only stay for a night. After we dropped off our bags, we set out for something to eat and headed into the direction of the Eiffel Tower.

We had skipped lunch so at this point, we were getting really hungry. I was craving some pasta so we went into Il Timo, some kind of fastfood pasta restaurant. It reminded me of the Julia’s we have in the Netherlands. It was nothing fancy but the food was good.

I always like to do cities on foot. Of course, Paris has an elaborate subway system, but if you walk you just see so much more. We walked towards the Seine and could already see the Eiffel Tower from the distance. It was a lovely, romantic walk on the riverside.

A walk along the Seine is a must when you’re in Paris. You can see so much, there are often street performers and vendors selling portraits, postcards and trinkets along the riverbanks. You can see the Eiffel Tower from a distance and the Notre Dame on the other side, as well as the Louvre, Musée D’orsay and Musée l’orangerie. Besides, it’s a very pretty view, way prettier than the metro stations!

The sun was setting as we walked along the riverside so when we finally got to the Eiffel Tower, it was pretty dark and it was lit up. It was really cool, and I hadn’t seen it like this before.

There were a lot of vendors selling miniature eiffel towers that had some dancing lights. Nothing like the real thing, for that one was just lit up. Until the clocks striked six. Small lights appeared and started dancing on the eiffel tower. It was really beautiful! Check out my instagram for a video.

We took a hundred photo’s, trying to position the camera so that we could take a picture with the eiffel tower. It was a hastle, but we had fun and we took some really cool pictures!

After the lights stopped, we decided it was time to go back to the hotel, so we slowly headed back. It was quite dark now and the entire city was lit up. All of it was mezmerizing.

I really love how the city looked at night. Then we heard music playing from the square at the Louvre. A man playing the saxophone was making music and we sat there, listening to him and taking in the lights. Of course I also had to take some photos and videos, all of it was just so beautiful, but we made sure to enjoy the moment there too. We even danced a little when nobody was watching ♥

Shopping for Wedding Rings in Paris

When you get engaged, there’s quite a lot of planning that needs to be done and things you need to think about. One such thing is the wedding rings. There are many jewelry stores that offer wedding rings and most of them look a lot alike. As is often the case with wedding rings. I keep saying that, for a lot of people, if they were to take off their rings and put them on a table with a bunch of other people’s rings, none of them would recognize their own ring anymore.

And I don’t want that. I want something fun and unique, but also not too expensive as I would feel very uncomfortable wearing them. It was kind of a pickle.

We have been searching for rings for quite some time, but never found any that felt like us. Until, somehow, I stumbled upon the website of Edenly. A French boutique that sells not-that-expensive but gorgeous and original rings. We could easily pick out what we liked from the website and order them online.

But where’s the fun in that?

For our anniversary, we usually book a trip to celebrate. We went to Venice in 2018, the German Eifel in 2019 and in 2020 Covid hit so we had to stay home. This year, it was the same story and we couldn’t go anywhere. So we were thinking to maybe celebrate our 7,5 year anniversary instead of our 7 years with a trip. And though we were thinking to visit Vienna, a new city, we rather opted for a city that we already knew, so we wouldn’t have to spend too much time planning.

And as the one and only Edenly Boutique happened to be in Paris, the decision was easily made to celebrate our anniversary in the city. It was perfect.

The Edenly Boutique is small and has a lot of charm. It was a perfect little haven. The women in the store were really sweet and showed us a lot of rings for us to try on. After trying a couple, I put one on that I had already seen on the website and it clicked. This was MY ring and I didn’t want to take it off anymore (except for that it wasn’t my size and probable a dummy, but whatever). It was perfect! I’m so glad we went to Paris to check out the rings!

Boyfriend didn’t have an immediate click, as the one he had had in mind, didn’t look that great on his finger. He tried some others and found another beautiful ring he was really happy with.

We found wedding rings in the city of love. Could it have been more perfect? They are ordered and should be here before Christmas. I for one, cannot wait ♥

3 Amsterdam-like cities to avoid the masses

When people think about the Netherlands, they think of Amsterdam. And it is a truly beautiful city. Most Dutch people I know, never visit the city much, because of how touristic it is. There are loads and loads of visitors every year, smoking weed, visiting the sex museum and cycling on the wrong side of the road. It’s a very popular city. But did you know there are actually a couple of cities that look a lot like Amsterdam, but are a whole lot less crowded? Here’s three Amsterdam-like cities in the Netherlands to avoid the masses!

Delft

Delft is a famous Dutch city that, just like the other cities in this blogpost, has the same canals and quaint little houses that Amsterdam does. It’s cute and pictoresque and easy to photograph without hundreds of other tourists! Make sure to check out the market square and the library.

Alkmaar

A city famous for it’s cheese and cheese markets, Alkmaar is really lovely. It’s not too crowded, except in the summer and it’s close to Amsterdam. Don’t miss the cheese museum and markets.

Utrecht

My favourite city has to make the list: Utrecht. It’s what we Dutch would call gezellig, great for shopping, gaming in the arcade and it has the best pancakes in the country. Check out my city guide for all the highlights!

A relaxing day in Nice

Our last day in Nice was a fairly relaxing one. We slept in, I almost missed breakfast and though we had originally planned to go visit another city, Boyfriend has such blisters on his feet that we opted for a quiet day at the beach instead.

He sat down reading, while I went into the sea. The water was heavenly. The rocks did hurt my feet, but luckily I had learned from my mistakes on my last visit, and I was wearing special water shoes so I could actually walk. I could really recommend buying these if you’re visiting the city and want to spent some time on the beach.

I spent quite some time in the water. It was so warm and nice and I could float a bit. Oh can I go back again?

We stayed here for an hour or two, swimming, enjoying the sun and eating the slightly melted macaroons we bought the previous day. For lunch, we had ice cream, because, why not? Fenocchio for me and bubblewaffle ice cream for Boyfriend. It was all so so yummy!

We went shopping in the afternoon. We left the old city and ventured into the newer parts where all the cool kids hang out. There were some really cool shops, like the Pimkie, an amazing clothes store you’ll only find in France and Pylones, which sold all kinds of cute stuff. I bought a perfume vaporizer and, for some reason, got a free toothbrush when I signed up for the newsletter. Score!

We had dinner at Chez Juliette, a cute little place that we had walked by a couple of times before. The napkin rings had flowers, and so did the menu. The menu also had a note: please don’t steal them. It probably happened more than once… Anyway, we had a classic French dinner and there was an accordion player right next to us, to give it even more of a French vibe.

Boyfriend had the onion soup for starters, then we both had the coq au vin as a main course and we ended with a crème brûlée pour moi and some kind of pear with chocolate for the boyfriend. It was all very yummy.

We ended the night on a high as we heard fireworks when we walked back to the hotel. Now, we’ve heard the canon go off at noon every day, but this was different and we weren’t quite sure what we heard until we were done climbing the hill where the hotel lay. Fireworks! The city celebrated its 77th year of freedom and the coordinated fireworks were absolutely beautiful. We could watch from our hotel room and it was absolutely stunning!

Female Pop-Art, Nana’s and the color blue in Musée Mamac

There are many museums in Nice and with the museum pass you can visit all the big ones within 3 days. There were a couple we wanted to visit. We had already visited Palais Lascaris, a museum of musical instruments and today we wanted to do something different, so we went to Mamac: Musée d’art Moderne et d’art Contemporain. A museum for modern and postmodern artwork.

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Exploring Castle Hill

Castle hill or Colline du Chateau is another one of the highlights of Nice. It is where everyone takes the iconic photo of the city and the sea, seen from above. The view truly is spectacular. We had wanted to visit Castle Hill on our first trip to Nice, but we accidentally got locked in at night, so that was no fun. On our second trip, we decided to visit it in the morning to make sure that didn’t happen again…

Castle Hill is easy to find. You can walk to the top of the hill from two directions: the regular entrance is near the eastern end of the promenade, there’s also an elevator here. You can also choose to go up at the harbor. We had decided to walk the 3658977231 steps up (don’t ask me why) to this magnificent, iconic view of Nice.

We had lunch on top of the hill, and just relaxed. It’s the perfect setting to get away from the bustling city centre or the crowded beach. There’s a park and you can get lunch and icecream up the hill so it’s lovely for a quiet afternoon. There were quite some people, but everyone kept their own, mostly it was just locals enjoying the sun. We saw a woman doing tai-chi, a man balancing on a rope, children on tiny bicycles and people lounging in hammocks.

You can walk around the park for some awesome views. Like I said before, the one from the sea and the city is iconic, but make sure to walk around, as the view from the other side, the harbor, is just as beautiful.

There were a lot of Greek influences on castle hill, which I really appreciated, such as the artwork you see here: Heureux qui comme Ulysse a fait un beau voyage: happy are those who, like Ulysses, make a great journey. I couldn’t agree more!

There were also some cool looking stairs depicting different scenes of Ulysses’ journey. Nice used to be a Greek city, named after Nike, goddess of victory. The park at castle hill was renovated in 1960 and the city decided to add these mosaics as a wink to the Greek heritage. When walking on these stairs, you’ll get a quick summary of Homer’s Odyssey in 13 images, with scenes depicted such as Polyphemus the Cyclops, Circe and the Sirens.

There’s no castle anymore at Castle Hill, only some ruins. I did find this beautiful building, that doesn’t appear to have a function anymore, besides being an amazing backdrop for pictures.

Another highlight from Castle Hill is the waterfall. Google castle hill and you will immediately find pictures of this beautiful waterfall. Thing is, it’s artificial and they had turned it off when we were there. Even without the water, it was still really beautiful.

If you’re visiting Nice, Castle Hill should definitely be on your list to visit. The view is amazing and it’s the perfect place to get some rest and to freshen up your knowledge of your Greek classics.

Day one: Nachos, Palais Lascaris and Gnocchi

When visiting a southern city in summer, it’s always a good idea to have some options of things to do in the afternoon, when it gets too hot to be outside. The Spanish have invented the siësta, which is something that I love to do, but if you want to do some more exploring of the city you’re in, visiting a museum in the hotter hours of the day is a great alternative. Or maybe even the better option. So when we had explored Vieux Nice and the sun was shining brightly, we decided to get lunch and then visit Palais Lascaris, a museum of musical instruments.

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