We ascended from beneath the channel and began to glimpse the French countryside from the Eurostar.    I had been dreaming of Paris since I was a little girl – the city of lights,  home to fashion houses like YSL, Balmain and Chanel, as well as the romance of the Eiffel Tower upon the river Seine.

We arrived into Paris Gare Du Nord and were greeted by the typical hustle and bustle of such a metropolis. Trying to navigate our way to our hotel we hit our first real language barrier so far on this trip – all signs are in french and many people speak little to no english. Fortunately we were able to make our way to the metro – which was great and very easy to use for the rest of our time in Paris. After a long day we just wanted to check in and go to a local cafe (where we managed to mess up our order) for dinner before crashing.

Excited to go exploring the city we took the metro to Chatelet and walked down to the riverside and followed it through the city. The architecture along the river is beautiful, more Marie Antoinette than modern.

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Again, by pure luck we stumbled on the right direction and found ourselves in the atrium of the louvre – a place I had only previously seen in Christian Dior fashion show photos. Glimpsed through the arched gateway of the atrium is I. M. Pei’s world renowned glass pyramid at the heart of the Louvre – and hundreds of tourists standing around taking pictures to make it look as if they are holding or pushing it.

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Continuing on we enter the Champs élysées – which starts as a grand boulevard and then becomes ritzy shopping district with every store you can imagine (and often 2 or 3 of them). Stopping off at a cafe and joining the crowd of people sitting outside and people watching we make the rookie mistake of ordering coffee – which in Paris means a shot of expresso. Feeling more than a bit wired we walk on to see the Arc de Triumph – a monument to one of Napoleon’s victories – and are amazed at just how big and detailed the arch is (and how intense the driving is at the round about below). We wander back down to the river and take some snaps with the Eiffel Tower in the background.

One of the must see attractions just out of the city centre is the Palace of Versailles – the converted hunting lodge of the former monarchy of France – a place that so much money was spent on turning it into a paradise that it became one of the reasons behind the French Revolution. We took the metro and on arrival to the golden gates we were greeted by what appeared to be 5 gigantic lines. Picking the shortest one we wait for a bit before we realize – it’s not 5 lines, it’s 1 – snaking back and forth across the square in front of the palace. This is definitely one tourist spot that it’s better to get to early. After two hours in line we are admitted to the palace – and there is only one way to describe it. Opulent to the extreme. Everywhere you look is gold leaf, frescoes covering the roof, tapestries from floor to ceiling, and hallways filled with marble statutes. I literally had my mouth hanging open and was struggling to take it all in.

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I found respite in the gardens – taking the tour by the road train to the the grand Trianon and petite Trianon before getting lost in the maze of the musical gardens. You could explore for hours and not see the same part twice, and many people just moseyed and enjoyed the music filtering through the hedges.

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After chatting with a Paris photographer, Neo Tony Lee I had the opportunity to shoot – and what better location than the Champs élysées. It was a great time getting to work together, not to mention shooting out in public like that caused a bit of a scene – so many people staring and wondering what the shoot is for – so was definitely interesting keeping my cool. Felt great to be out and doing my thing in the home of fashion.

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After my shoot we wanted to go and make the most of the most iconic view of Paris – and I don’t mean from the top of the Eiffel Tower. Situated in the heart of the city is Montparnasse tower – a 56 story skyscraper with the view of the Eiffel Tower and Paris. Going up to the restaurant we ordered the classic french appetizers of wine and cheese and watched the sunset. Afterwards we headed up to the viewing deck to snap some photos of the tower sparkling in a cascade of lights on the hour. What a view.

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For our last day in Paris I was lucky enough to have another shoot – this time in a beautiful apartment right on the river. Teaming up with a local tee shirt brand (Photographer: Saul Aguilar and NSA Paris)  we went for some lifestyle shots.

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Capping off our time in Paris we headed to the iconic tea house, La Duree, on the champs élysées. The line up was out the door but it was well worth the wait. Inside, the tables are filled to capacity with people enjoying tea, cakes, all the pastries you can imagine, and most importantly, macarons. In every color and flavor you imagine. Hands down, the best I have ever had and the best way I can think to end our time in Paris.

Next Stop: Amsterdam

Written by Aimee C