We got in on the Eurostar from London around 1 or 2 PM and hoped on the bus to our hotel. We had a short orientation on the bus about Paris, safety and our week at a glance.
Our hotel was in Bastille, which is kind of a strange area. I stayed in Opera last time I went to Paris, which seemed a bit more central, but the company that organizes our stays tries to put us at hotels near their study centers.
Some friends and I walked around the area to find a cute bistro for dinner. Some of the girls expresses an disinterest of sorts for Paris, so I tried to explain to them that the rest of the city is much different. We stumbled into a cafe, of which I don't quite remember the name, and got dinner. The cuisine is so amazing in Paris, and the beef carpaccio was on point.
After the exhaustion from traveling and trying to get up early enough for Versailles in the morning, we opted to stay in.
We got up kind of early-ish, got all of our hair braided by one of our friends and headed out to Versailles. From where we were staying, it was about two Metro trains and one RER train out to the palace.
We got to Versailles around 3 PM and quickly realized that we messed up. The line just to go into the Palace was at least an hour or two long. We asked an information lady about what we could still do, and she recommended going to the gardens.
The gardens were amazing and took almost three hours to go through. The grounds are huge so we didn't even make it through everything. We decided to get lunch at one of the little cafes in the gardens. We all got cheese pizza, which wasn't the most delicious but still got the job done, and some ice cream. If I went back, I would definitely try to go on an "off" day, should there be any and at a different time. By the time we were ready to head home, there was almost no line to go into the palace, but we were far too drained to go in. I also wish we would've had the energy to go on the row boats -- next time.
I ended up going to a late dinner with a friend. It was exciting to be out on that night because it was the Summer Solstice, which is celebrated in Fête de la Musique. Basically, a bunch of restaurants and bars open their doors and showcase a variety of performers, from big bands covering American pop hits to acoustic singers. We went to Cafe Hugo for dinner and quickly moved inside once the sun went down and it got a little chilly.
Café Hugo - Typical smaller French-style bistro/restaurant. We really just wanted some greens so we each got a salad and a drink. My friend got this kale and quinoa salad, that should I ever return, I would definitely get again. I got a salmon salad which was yummy.
Monday was our first day of company visits in Paris. We started off at MSL Group, an international PR and Public Affairs group. Their presentation was quite dense and long but included many different team members and heads who gave perspective about the different arenas in the company. Also, they offered drinks and pastries, so I was pretty content.
After the meeting, I told my friends we had to get steak frites at Le Relais de l'Entrecôte, a very well-known restaurant in Paris. I had gone there the last time I came to Paris for a school trip and have dreamt of the food for four years. We decided to do a little window shopping, seeing as we were in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area. We then went on the search for ice cream-macaroon sandwiches, which we could not find, so we ended up getting rose-shaped gelato at a shop in Bastille.
Later that night, I walked around and tried a burger place close to our hotel called Frog Burger, which quickly became a spot we ate at often. I got take-away and brought it back to the hotel, where I tried endlessly to get 'Orange is the New Black' to load (this failed miserably).
I really wanted to see the Eiffel Tower light up, so one of my friends and I Metro'ed across town to see it. We sat on a nearby bench and watched it, just chatting for a while before returning home.
Le Relais de l'Entrecôte - Sort of a staple Paris joint. The waitresses, who are dressed like French maids, not in a slutty way, come to your table to give you the low down: there is no menu. You start with a mixed greens salad, tossed in a mustard dressing. After telling the waitress your meat temperature preference, she brings out basically endless streak and French fries until your stomach begs you to stop. The steak is also topped in a mustardy sauce. I would highly recommend eating here as there are a few locations throughout Paris.
Frog Burger - This was very similar to Big Fernand in London. You can do take-away or sit down, and there are many burgers to choose from, or you can make your own. The best deal they have is to get their combo, which I can't remember the name of, but you get a burger of your choice (I think including a make-your-own), fries (upgrade to sweet potato for €1) and a drink all for €15, and yes, this can include alcohol. I got the halumi burger the first time I went. This was a halumi cheese patty with grilled red pepper and fried onions on top -- insanely delicious.
Tuesday was a double-meeting day, starting with the International New York Times in Defense. I, of course, forgot to grab my passport when we were all trying to leave the hotel to the metro, so I went up to grab it while one of the other girls grabbed her metro card. After a journey pretty much through the entirety of Paris, we finally got off in Defense only to get lost, again, when trying to find the office building.
We met with one of the execs who talked mainly about luxury and globalization effects for the publication. Since I had gotten there late, I missed most of the chat, but it was mainly question and answer rather than a presentation.
Our second meeting was at the Accent center near our hotel, so we, of course, headed back to Frog Burger for lunch. The afternoon meeting was with Jim Bitterman, a Paris correspondent for CNN. It was great hearing him discuss his work and talk about Paris. What was really exciting for me was hearing that he was still working on the field - he had done a story on Greece that morning that was going to be aired that evening on CNN.
We changed, stopped by Indiana Pub and Restaurant and then headed back to the Eiffel Tower to meet up with one of my friends from home who was visiting his girlfriend. The group decided to get dinner at a little Italian place nearby, of which, again, I don't remember the name of BUT I got a pretty good pizza topped with bacon and a fried egg, yum.
We ended the evening by dancing and hanging out on one of the lawns under the Eiffel Tower. There were so many other kids out there and everyone was just really enjoying themselves. One of my friends and I would constant glance up at the Tower in absolute awe of the whole moment. It was truly something I will remember for a long time.
Frog Burger - This time around, I got the Blue Burger with sweet potato fries and a club soda. I got the gluten-free bun option, which was a sesame soy wrap and was a bit messy. The sweet potato fries were yummy but definitely coated in batter, x-ing out the GF wrap.
Woof, what a way to start the morning. We visited the OECD, which is an organization that works with governments on policies all over the world. While the visit was interesting, it was far too long and did not really seem to pertain to our program. The main difficulty was that it was kind of a general visit that was available to other groups, hence the material not being specific to our program. Thankfully, I was able to squeeze in a short nap (or two) during the presentations.
One of my friends had shattered her iPhone screen the night before, so we decided to stop by the Apple store in the Louvre. We ate a terrible lunch in the little cafeteria there, which was salvaged by some Ben & Jerry's right after. While the technicians were repairing the phone, we walked around outside and snapped a few photos for "content." The weather and lighting were beautiful, so you could say I was a very happy camper. Once the phone was ready, we took the Metro over to Notre Dame. I have visited the cathedral before, but it was really cool to be there when mass was starting. Although I am not Catholic, it was interesting to watch the service be set up.
That night, we had a quick dinner over at Indiana and went all the way up Montmartre to the Sacre Couer to watch the sun set. I had been to Sacre Couer for a morning last time I was in Paris, so I knew it was definitely something I wanted to visit again. There were tons of people on the steps relaxing, drinking wine and watching these two guys do a sort of fire show. All of our phones had died, so we decided to go back to Indiana until they closed.
Indiana Pub - A chain of bars/restaurants throughout Paris. The one we visited a lot was the one in Bastille, as it was only one or two blocks from out hotel. The staff is extremely kind and courteous and would stay open late if we were still having fun. Definitely order the onion rings and mojito royal.
This was the day I was most excited for in Paris - we were going to meet with the communications team for EuroDisney and go to the park, for free. When I was younger, my family had stopped in Paris briefly on the way home from Turkey, and my parents contemplated taking my younger brother and I there for a few hours but decided against it. The presentation was amazing, and it was cool to see all of their work, internally and externally, and get to know more about their parks and other projects in the area.
After the presentation, we were presented free tickets to both parks, Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney Studios. The Studios closed at 7 PM, which we should have worked around better because we didn't enter that park until 6:45 PM and could only ride the Tower of Terror before getting kicked out at closing. The Disneyland park was super small compared to Orlando and Anaheim, and there was barely anyone in the park. I don't think we waited longer than like 25 minutes to get on a ride. The park overall was kind of disappointing, and I would not recommend visiting if you were to travel to Paris, unless you were visiting for a extended period of time.
The rest of the night was spent trying to salvage our manicures and pulling pranks...
For our final day in Paris began with an early morning in Defense at Euler Hermes, an international credit insurance company. The presenter was a USC alum, and even went our program when she was a student. It is quite inspiring to hear her speak, a sort of validation for the educational path I have chosen. She is the head of communications at EH and helped to reconfigure their whole communications system. The office was beautiful and had the most amazing views, and the aesthetic wasn't too terrible, either.
Lunch was, surprise, at Frog Burger. Afterwards, we decided to face the heat and visit Laduree, a popular Parisian restaurant famous for their macaroons. Since the restaurant was on the Champs Élysées, we walked up to the Arc di Triomph to get a quick photo before heading to our program dinner. The dinner was a great chance to get to know more people in our group. I wish we had more set times like this. The professor on our trip is also the assistant dean for our school, which opened up a great array of topics for conversation. The night took us to a group boat ride on the Seine before heading back to the hotel.
After a little packing, we headed out in Bastille, determined not to sleep before having to head to the airport. We visited a few of the bars and restaurants in the area, most of which were a liiiiittle ratchet. I was getting a bit tired, so I headed back for a quick nap before having to get up and head to the airport for an early flight to Istanbul.
Frog Burger - This time around, I got the weekly special burger. I think it was with arugula, a special mayo and some tomatoes and cheese. I also got the sweet potato fries again to x-out the GF wrap and a blended drink.
Laduree - This was my Paris "betchy" food event. I got the raspberry sorbet (!!!) with four ice cream macaroons and a glass of the house rosé champaign. Everything was super tasty, but I wish we got to pick our own flavors of the macaroons. The macaroons were actually frozen and filled with ice cream rather than the usual cream.