Mr. C and I spent two weeks abroad on our honeymoon. The first week and a half was spent on the Mediterranean islands of Malta and Gozo. The last portion of our trip was spent in one of our favorite cities in the world, Paris. I realize that it is rather cliche to gush over Paris, but honestly it’s a beautiful place teeming with historical significance.
Mr. C and I got engaged in Paris in March of 2012. Actually, it was at Versailles, but we spent a few days in Paris leading up to the engagement. Again, as someone who loves history, I will say that Paris is such an awesome place to visit—so many amazing things to see and do in such close proximity! And who doesn’t love the Louvre or walking the gravel paths of the Tuileries Garden, stopping to an espresso or creme brulee at a park cafe? It is a remarkably beautiful city.
While planning our honeymoon, we were aware that there are no direct flights from the US to Malta. This meant we’d need a stopover city in Europe. We first toyed with Rome, but we decided to go with Paris as we wanted to spend a few more days in the city and I wanted Mr. C to see what it was like in the summer, rather than early spring before everything is green. So we added a few extra days to the end of our honeymoon where we could bask in the glory, beauty, and history of Paris.
We stayed at Hotel l’Emperor, which is directly across from les Invalides, home of the military museum and also the burial site of Napoleon Bonaparte (hence the hotel’s name). On our first day we visited the Eiffel Tower and took a long walk down the Champs Elysees. During the summer months it gets dark very late in Paris. I would say the sun would finally set around 10:00 PM. This meant it was almost too easy for time to get away from us and it was always much later in the day than it actually felt. It also meant that even at midnight, the streets were teeming with locals and tourists and dinner was still being served at 10:00 or 11:00 in the evening. I love eating really late dinners, as I’m a bit of a night owl, so I loved this lifestyle! We would sleep in a bit, go out for the day, and have a very late dinner sitting out on the little cafe tables lining the sidewalks where you can sit, talk, and people watch.
Of course Mr. C and I also visited the Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre, Notre Dame, and the Jardin du Luxembourg. We indulged in ice cream at the world famous Maison Berthillon (you MUST try the vanilla and chocolate flavors) as well as macarons at the famous French patisserie, Ladurée. But you guys already knew about my macaron obsession, right? If not you can read all about how we incorporated them into our wedding as favors here!
I may have bought something like four or five boxes of macarons from Ladurée. I think I have a problem. Actually, I know I have a problem. My favorite flavors are orange blossom, vanilla, red fruits, raspberry, and chocolate. I also have a decent collection of Ladurée macaron boxes (around 10-12 different ones) and I really have no way of displaying them. Let me know if you have any suggestions on how I could best display them!
One of my favorite souvenirs from the trip is Ladurée’s book L’esprit décoration Ladurée. It’s entirely in French (I can speak and read some French), but the best part is that it comes with an amazing pop-up diorama of various rooms that are all indicative of the styles Ladurée used to decorate their restaurants and shops. There’s an amazing little pop-up Rococo room, complete with a tiny tower of macarons on a table. I wish I had snapped a photo of it, but you can see pictures of it here. I love it so much and will always treasure it as a reminder of our honeymoon in Paris.
On the last full day of our honeymoon, we made a stop at our favorite place—Versailles. I love Versailles so much that we even had a Versailles/Marie Antoinette themed wedding! The best part about visiting Versailles was that the fountains were on. This was actually my third time to Versailles but my first time seeing the fountains! They are only turned on on weekends and Tuesdays and public holidays.
Versailles is the same place where we got engaged, but sadly the Latona Fountain (behind us) was being renovated on our most recent trip, so it was disassembled.
Not only were the fountains on, but there were speakers throughout the gardens playing music. Some of the music seemed chosen for the particular mood or theme for each fountain. There are acres of groves and gardens with dozens of different fountains. One of my favorite fountains is Apollo’s Grotto, which is a giant man-made cave with waterfalls and a statue of Apollo resting as he is attended to by a number of nymphs. On the left and right sides of Apollo his horses (who helped pull his chariot with the sun across the sky) are also being watered and attended to by more nymphs. It’s so cool!
The fountains of Versailles, in all of their majesty!
If you ever visit Versailles, you have to make sure that you make the 30-minute walk down to the Petit Trianon to see Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet (also called the Queen’s Hamlet). In order to escape the rigid court life of Versailles, Marie Antoinette had an idyllic country-style village created outside of her small palace, the Petit Trianon. Now tourists can wander through the fairy-like forest paths and overgrown fields dotted with wildflowers to view the quaint country cottages. There is also a working farm on the property which is operated as a living museum with goats, sheep, ducks, geese, and pigs. The little farmhouses have gardens stocked with vegetables and flowers. The entire “village” is centered around a lake which is full of waterlilies—it’s like a living painting! Really, there’s no way I could ever properly describe the beauty of this place.
Beautiful, pastoral scenes from Marie Antoinette’s Hamlet
The Queen’s Hamlet certainly reveals some of the extravagance of the French court during the 18th century. We all know that things did not end well for the French monarchy as Marie Antoinette and her husband Louis XVI were both guillotined during the French Revolution. We actually saw the darker side of Marie Antoinette’s life by visiting the Conciergerie, a former royal palace that was later turned into a prison during the revolution. It was where Marie Antoinette spent her last days before being put through a sham of a trial, declared guilty, and executed. It’s a sad place, but a place I wanted to visit as it offers a “full circle” perspective of Marie Antoinette’s story.
The lavish rooms of Versailles
Meanwhile, back at Versailles, we rented a boat and Mr. C happily paddled me around the Grand Canal. We also rented bikes and road around the canal and saw how many locals come out to the park on a nice day. A large part of the grounds of Versailles are open to the public. There were families picnicking out on the grass, children playing, lovers reading in the shade of the tall trees. I loved renting the boat and bikes, which I recommend if you visit the palace. We also had lunch at a bustling (and large!) restaurant right outside the back gates of Versailles on the shores of the Grand Canal. It was a truly amazing and magical day and a great way to wrap up our honeymoon. We headed back into Paris just as dark rain clouds were congregating on the horizon. We stepped into our hotel lobby the minute the skies opened up!
Unfortunately, after our amazing trip to Versailles, the time had come for us to go home. The next day we made the sad trek to Charles de Gaulle airport for a flight back to Atlanta. We had such an amazing, relaxing, and romantic honeymoon. I wouldn’t change a thing about it, except maybe staying for another week and visiting Italy and Greece. And now my imagination is already reeling with plans for our next travel destination for next summer. Maybe it will be Argentina, Greece, or Italy! But beyond that, we loved our trip. If you guys have any questions about our honeymoon, please let me know! I’d be happy to help.