And like that, I bought a round-trip ticket to France without telling anyone other than the person I was staying with… I rewind a bit.
My friend Katelyn who I stayed with for the first two months I lived in Wyoming was planning on moving France and teaching English after finishing his summer in Jackson Hole. I told her I was coming to visit, but I don’t know if she thought I was serious or not… Flash forward to the end of our stay in Wyoming, Katelyn crosses oceans to Franceand I’m going home to Mississippi… I find a full-time job a few weeks after I get back to Mississippi, and a few months have passed…
I will be honest. The post-mountain life and daily adventures, and the beautiful views were something my hometown couldn’t compete with. This trip to France sounded better and better.
A quick Google search, some texting with Katelyn, and a click later, here I am, Paris! That’s right, I bought a super cheap ticket on Jackson, MS from March 30 to April 7. Now for the recap.
On my way to the airport early, I jump on hold to try to catch an earlier flight out of Jackson due to bad weather and tornadoes. (Remember how many tornadoes we had between March and April of this year?) Marking the last seat on the plane, I fly to Atlanta and head to my designated gate and hang around until I board my long flight to Paris.
March, 31st :
Farewell in the morning, FRANCE! After waking up on the plane because I was snoring and my foot was probably too close to the comfort of the guy next to me, I was a short hour and a half away from landing at Charles de Gaulle airport. Upon landing, I knew my mission was to follow the signs to the station, buy a TO ticket PARIS (North Station), then I found Katelyn waiting for me in front of a bakery.
I had rehearsed this in my head, knowing that I would have no service because I had no international plan.
I jumped out of the plane, grabbed my luggage, then it hit me…WHERE AM I??? LOL… Of course people run around like chickens with their heads cut off and I was just trying to act like I knew what I was doing. It was getting harder and harder to keep calm when people came up to me and tried to talk to me. French while the only sentences I really remembered were “Can I go to the bathroom”, “grapefruit” and “close the door”… Ah good !!! (But thank you Mrs Johnston for these two years of French high school class).
I followed the signs to the station, got through customs somehow, then bought my train ticket to Paris. After buying my ticket, I wasn’t sure where to go and didn’t see anyone in charge to ask. So I stood on the wrong side of the station for about thirty minutes, until I realized I had to go to the other side of the station and down a flight of stairs to catch the train. TALK ABOUT AN IRREGULAR HEARTBEAT! I didn’t panic, but I wasted two hours of my wasted life, just standing in the wrong place mingling.
Anyway, I board the train, do my makeup and head to Gare du Nord, where I FINALLY find Katelyn standing! HOOO HOOO!! We throw my luggage in a temporary locker, cross the street to a bakery and have breakfast. Katelyn takes me on a “walking tour” of Paris, and we see the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame Cathedral, William Faulkner Bookstore, the Louvre, and more.
Even though my eyes were wide open, my shoes were so uncomfortable to walk in, and it was raining intermittently, snowing AND snowing after Katelyn promised how beautiful the weather would be, it was the BEST DAY. We ended the day with a glass of red wine and a visit to the famous catacombs.
After our visit to the Catacombs, we collected my luggage and then took the train back to our home where Katelyn lives. Saint-Just en Chaussée and I slept like rocks all night!
Happy April Fools! Katelyn and I woke up this morning and it was SNOWING! Can you believe that?? Seeing the snow fall in France was such a magical experience and something we will both never forget. After taking the train from Saint-Just en Chaussée in Paris, we headed for the National Museum of Modern Art.
Not only was this place huge, but it was also so beautiful! We spent the morning there browsing through so many beautiful works of art. Of Henri Matisse at Alberto Magnelli, Robert Delaunayand much more, we had a fabulous time looking at all the paintings, sculptures and exhibits.
Before leaving the museum, we were able to take in some pretty impressive views from the top of the museum building. Check them! How beautiful and big is this city???
After our morning at the National Museum of Modern Art, we had lunch at a nearby Italian restaurant. Next stop was to stop at a few thrift stores and pick up some merchandise.
April 2 :
Let’s talk about exhaustion… My jet lag was catching up with me and Katelyn and I slept until 2pm! We both needed some rest, especially as our next few days called for more travel in the south of France.
We left Saint-Just-en-Chausée around 3pm after having a beer before, headed to Paris with our bags packed, and knew we had a long night ahead of us as our flight was around 7am the next day. morning and that there would be no way to come and go from Katelyn’s apartment, to return to Paris, to the airport, etc.
We arrived in Paris and stored our bags in nearby lockers, headed into town and found this super cute and cool restaurant named White Coffee eat at. It was probably the best experience we had all day. We sat next to these other couples who were also not native to Paris, the waiter called it the international corner (jokingly, of course).
After dinner, Katelyn showed me red Mill– a cabaret in Paris. In 1889, the Moulin Rouge was co-founded by charles zidler and Joseph Ollerwho also had Paris Olympia. The original location was destroyed by fire in 1915. Isn’t that interesting?
We then decided to check out the city’s nightlife scene. To our surprise, Paris calls for dress code after dress code to enter most bars, clubs and the like. We weren’t wearing pantyhose, heels and dresses so we didn’t go in!
We eventually found a bar to go to that had three or more rooms and were met with people in line as we waited to see if we were going to come in or be turned away again. (LOL!)
We went up, spent the night there making friends with other people, then it was time for us to head back to our bags and then to the airport. Yes, we didn’t sleep that night!
Greetings from Nice, France! We had an early flight which we both slept on and eventually arrived in Nice, went through security and then headed to our hostel. What a quaint and cute little town…
Katelyn had been to Nice before so she was showing me around and we had lunch at a sandwich shop and took it into the water to enjoy. We walked around town, stopped at some nice shops and found this store which had a bunch of old postcards, paintings and more. I picked up postcards and found objects that reminded me of my home, to Nice, France!
We had mid afternoon tea and finally realized we were on the verge of complete exhaustion from our previous night, we had an early night.
After waking up well rested and sharing a hostel with our new 80 year old friend, we have chosen this day as the day we will take the train to Monaco. Boarded a train and there before lunchtime we spent the afternoon visiting the beautiful city of Monte Carlo and monaco.
By walking to Prince’s Palace of Monaco, we didn’t see any princes but we saw the best views in the area! It was so cool too that we were there when we were because they were setting up for the grand prize.
After some lunch, drinks and shopping, we headed back to Nice and got ready to plan the rest of our night.
After meeting other girls our age in the hostel lobby, we all decided to explore the city on a Monday night and check out the nightlife.
After a long and very fun day in Nice, we slept and rested from our previous days. Katelyn and I woke up around lunchtime and we both wanted a plain burger and/or a chicken sandwich. Well, we were lucky because we found a local restaurant chain that sold exactly that! Even better – the name of this one was “Chicken Chicken“.
We enjoyed our afternoon shopping and sitting by the beach. It was such a beautiful day!!! The day ended with a cup of tiramisu, our pub crawl in the hostel and meeting new friends from all over the world.
Wishing it wasn’t, we had to fly away Nice, Franceand go back to Paris, France. Katelyn and I hopped on that early flight home, said goodbye to all our new friends, and headed back north from the southern end of the country. Knowing that I had to leave the country the next day, I did all my research and everything I could to try to stay longer… But my plane tickets were not modifiable. Thin!
After returning from Nice to Paris airport, finding a quick place to do a Covid test so I could fly back to America, we stopped at McDonald’s before heading back to Saint-Just-en-Chausée.
After one last homemade French dinner, one last time drinking all the tea and one last night’s sleep in Saint-Just-en-Chausée, we returned to Katelyn’s and I started planning for my long day ahead!
I’m up, packed, and ready to walk to the Saint-Just-en-Chausée bus stop and catch my train for Paris at 4:30 in the morning. Having planned all of this the night before and rehearsing it in my head, making sure I had plenty of time and didn’t miss my flight, my next step after getting on the train and taking it to Paris was to hop on the Paris metro/RER then take it to the airport! All the steps line up perfectly and I didn’t encounter any obstacles in the way of my journey. Sailing through France without an international plan wasn’t ideal, but I knew every turn, had done it before and was confident enough to do it without service.
Now, just to get through airport security and customs, to get back to the United States!
After spending days in France, I returned to my usual routine in Mississippi. I will say that I was in a post-travel funk for a while and really wanted to go back! My time in France with Katelyn is something I will always cherish and never forget.
Until we meet again, France…