I’m a girl who loves to celebrate her birthday. And due to the pandemic, I did not get to celebrate any of my remaining birthdays in my 20s. The COVID-19 virus hit the United States two months before my 28th birthday, and another surge hit right around my 29th. So for my 30th, I decided I wanted to celebrate, and celebrate big…
So here are some of my favorite things we did that made our trip absolutely unforgettable:
Splurge on the Airbnb
If we were going to do Paris ‘big’, that meant an iconic Eiffel Tower view. My research told me the best way to get an amazing view, is an Airbnb—since every hotel room has a slightly different view, there’s nearly no way to guarantee the view you see on the website is the same one you will get. So we started looking on Airbnb and found an apartment for rent with the most spectacular terrace with the most magnificent Eiffel Tower view you have ever seen. Like something out of a movie.
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We spent every night on this terrace eating cheese, drinking wine, and watching the light show. It brought the trip to another level of majestic. It was definitely a splurge (around $400/night?), but it was my 30th birthday! Plus the rental was only available for the first three nights of our trip anyway, so we transferred to a more budget-friendly hotel for the last three nights to balance it out.
Les Caves du Louvre was an extraordinary place to explore the world of French wine. We had the opportunity to take a tour through their historic underground cellars, where we learned a little about soil, grapes, and regions before tasting a variety of French wines. It was truly an educational (and delectable) experience!
Would we have loved to visit Champagne on this trip? Yes. Did we have time? Absolutely not. But that doesn’t mean we couldn’t enjoy champagne in Paris, right? At Au Cadet de Gascogne we tried some French champagne paired with French pastries on a lovely Parisian Spring afternoon.
Hang a Love Lock
Hanging a love lock in Paris has been on my bucket list since I first learned about them. I mean, how romantic, right? I knew the locks had been removed from Pont Des Arts, so I didn’t think we would be able to do it. So I was elated when we started seeing them hanging all over the city. In Montmartre, there were men selling locks, so we decided to buy one and check that item off my list.
Hire a Photographer
One of my favorite souvenirs from the trip are my photos. I hired a photographer to have a little photoshoot for my birthday. While I always try to take some decent travel photos, I’m no professional. And I thought “what better way to remember this trip than with some professional photos?”.
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SO much better than the usual handful of blurry selfies I get of us whenever I remember to take them.
Get a Petit Tattoo
My other favorite souvenir is my tattoo! Tchotchkes can get lost or broken. Tattoos are forever. And whenever someone compliments my tattoo, I can say “thanks I got it in Paris”.
Get a Portrait in Montmartre
The Place du Tertre in Montmartre is filled with dozens of artists who will capture your portrait. Charcoal, chalk pastels, watercolor, in tons of different styles. After walking around and seeing them all, I decided on a watercolor artist who had a more abstract style. And after sitting for about 15 minutes, I had a gorgeous watercolor portrait to take home. Be sure to buy a poster tube to keep it safe!
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A Show at the Moulin Rouge
On my actual birthday, we got tickets for the Moulin Rouge. I have to be honest, I did not totally know what to expect. I knew it was a cabaret. I knew it was where the cancan found fame. But photos or video are not allowed at the Moulin Rouge, so you really don’t know what to expect until you’ve seen it for yourself. And I could have never guessed what we were in store for that night. We got to experience something that only a select few get to experience—a show that you can hardly put into words. It had kitschy routines, wild costumes, a water tank, roller blades, tassels, a harness that goes over the audience, and of course, the cancan!
When in Paris! One of my favorite things when traveling is trying the local dishes—and when I think Paris, I think escargot. So when we saw them on a menu at Le Vrai Paris, we had to try them. We both expected to not enjoy them, it was more about the experience. So we were both surprised when we finished the entire plate. That’s right, I liked snails. They tasted like herb butter! And once I got past the texture, I was a fan.
As touristy as it is, it is always a great way to see a city’s greatest hits. And if you sit on the top deck, it’s a great way to get some amazing photos. We did the Hop-on-Hop-off Bus our last full day in the city to see everything we hadn’t gotten a chance to yet.
Not even sponsored, but a TON of these things (the wine tour, the champagne tasting, the hop-on-hop-off bus, and more) were included in our ‘Paris Pass’. The Paris Pass is a tourist pass that includes access to dozens of Paris sites for one flat fee. Price-wise, with the number of things we took advantage of, it about broke even. However, the value of not having to individually research and book each of these things individually was priceless (or at least worth the price of the Paris Pass).
The theme was definitely “treat yourself”. And I would do it all again in a heartbeat if I could. Treating myself to something special like this was an fabulous experience that I will never forget. Do I treat every trip this way? No. But splurging on a dream trip to Paris should be an unforgettable experience, so why not go all out and make it extra special? You’re only turning 30 in Paris once!