When it came to planning my 20th birthday, I knew I wanted to do something special. My family didn't celebrate birthdays as a kid, so I've only had a few actual celebrations. But I love birthdays and I think you should always have fun on your birthday, no matter what. If you don't go all out, did the birthday really happen?
This year, I decided that I was over club nights or sit down dinners. I wanted to do something that I had never done before and I to do it on my own. Travelling particularly stood out to me because I'm always looking for an escape from my sleepy city and I had never really been on vacation before.
But once I had decided to travel I didn't know where to go. Should I go to New York, where I had dreamed of going ever since I picked up my first Gossip Girl book? Or L.A, where the sun's always shining and the green juice is abundant? None of those felt right. And then I landed on it. Paris. Paris. The City of Lights. Of art and food and culture. What better way to start my twenties?
I was really nervous about going to Paris. There were so many mixed reviews and I hadn't been in a big city in a long time, so I thought I would get overwhelmed really quickly. But all my worries weren't necessary. After only being there for two days, I felt at home, despite my inability to speak French well and the fact that I depended on Google Maps a lot. But I never felt panicked or scared.
Originally I had planned to go on my own, but my older sisters ended up joining me on the trip, which I'm pretty grateful for. I think I would have been mostly fine on my own but having them there made the trip even more special.
The Dior Exhibit at Le Musée des Arts Decoratifs
All that Dior! I wasn't expecting to be so swept away by this exhibition but it was so beautiful. The history of Dior is so rich and varied, and it was such a special treat to experience it.
A cute cafe spot near our hotel, Republique of Coffee is a popular Paris spot to get freshly pressed juices and acai bowls. I got a mango juice that was truly magical.
Le Musée d'Orsay
Claus Paris. Went here for my birthday breakfast and ate so much I could barely get up when I was done. It was raining that day and it's so cozy and cute I felt like I was in a film.
Mon Coco. This was a popular bistro and cocktail bar near our hotel that we went into by chance. It was the only place we went to twice and both times the staff was super friendly, and the food was amazing.
Cocoricco. Another accidental find. We got on the wrong bus and missed a lunch reservation, so decided to walk back to the Louvre. We randomly chose this place and were lucky to get the last seats during a lunch rush. Our waiter was gorgeous, the food was delicious and I was happy to have (accidentally) missed our original reservation.
Merci. A popular department store (and tourist stop), Merci is full of everything from cute and simple homewares to contemporary designer brands. They also have a café and canteen, both of which we loved.
The Frankie Shop. This cute little shop is exactly the kind of boutique all the cool Instagram chicks go to. They have a NYC location but the Paris location will always be special to me because I found the best pair of pants there, and I swear it was fate.
Le Labo. The staff here was really friendly and eager to talk about the various perfumes. I convinced my sister to get me Vanille 44 (the Paris scent) for my birthday and every time I wear it, I feel exceptionally Parisian.
Shakespeare and Company. It took us almost two hours and lots of walking to find this iconic bookstore but it was worth the effort. I’m usually happy to be in a bookstore but I really couldn't temper my excitement at being here. Of course I had to buy some books, if only to get the S&Co stamp in them.
If there's one thing I learnt from this trip is that as much as you can plan, sometimes the best things are found spontaneously. Paris is a pretty walkable city--but you've got to wear comfortable shoes--and is best discovered on foot. My favourite moments were genuinely just walking the streets.
There's still so much discover and I can't wait to get back.