Parisian Adventures

When Paris Glitters

It was a windy and wet day in Paris, leaving perambulators soaked and shivering. But even with my soggy jacket and tornado hair-do I was enthralled with the beauty of the city. Snapping photos to stay warm, I strolled through the posh neighborhoods with no set destination.

I watched the clouds roll by as if they were late to an important event. My mind drifted to the Paris Hotel in Vegas. I tried to explain to Clarisse the absurdity of this thought. “The skies look so picture perfect, they almost look as fake as the ones adorning the ceiling of the hotel!” At least now I could give the architects credit for their accuracy.

After a few hours of ducking in and out of boutiques and coffee shops to avoid the rain, I was soaked to the bone; it was time to head home for the night. The cold had finally set in and my fingers felt like ice. As adorable as the city was, I was in no state to continue exploring. Clarisse led the way to the subway.

We turned a corner and were met with a giant gust of wind. I was relieved to see the underground entrance nearby, already dreaming of the warm blankets and hot shower that awaited me. Clarisse stopped in her tracks and turned on her fashionable heels to face me. She grabbed my hand, pulling me in a different direction. “Nevermind, Hilary! We have one more stop to make before we go home. It’s very important.”

I didn’t object, allowing myself to be led across the street toward an industrial neighborhood. The sun was slipping behind the buildings and the air was getting colder. “As long as we get to go inside somewhere,” I pleaded.

We walked for what seemed like hours til we stood in front of an iridescent high-rise. “Where are we?” Clarisse opened the door and ushered me to an elevator without response. She pressed the button for the 56th floor and smiled. “Paris still has a few surprises for you, Hilary!”

I anxiously stepped out of the elevator, wondering what Clarisse had up her sleeve now. She led me down the hallway and pointed. I stood in stunned silence at the sight that greeted me.

“Welcome to Montparnasse Tower!” Clarisse laughed as I gasped and gushed over the panoramic views. The Tower was home to an upscale restaurant that was known for its unbeatable views of Paris’ infamous landmarks.

Clarisse got us a table while I whipped out my camera. As I pressed my nose to the glass, hostesses and waiters shot me strange glances. At first I thought it was because I was hopping up and down like a toddler, but I soon caught my reflection in the glass. I looked like a wet rat. Bashfully, I took a seat next to Clarisse. She handed me a glass of red wine. “So what do you think of our city?”

I let the plum wine sit on my tongue as I observed the tiny Parisian people below. The sun glinted off of Les Invalides, the burial site of Napoleon Bonaparte.

“I have never been somewhere so rich with history. It’s hard to believe I’m actually here right now with you.” I took another sip from my glass. “It feels like a very long dream, but a good dream. The best kind of dream.” Clarisse smiled back at me.

We sat in silence for a long time, watching the sun slip away on the horizon. I could feel the wine melting away my cares. As the sun disappeared, I started packing up my things. “No no no,” Clarisse said quickly, “I received a call from the Eiffel Tower. They have a very special surprise for you, but we must wait.” She checked her watch and winked at me. My curiosity piqued but I happily ordered another glass of wine and sank back into the velvet chair. How could this day get any better? Clarisse tapped my shoulder and pointed at the Eiffel Tower. “Look, Hilary! Paris wishes to welcome you to our beautiful city!”

Photo courtesy of ShareKhan

I couldn’t help but giggle. The Eiffel Tower sparkled with thousands of tiny glittering lights creating a spectacle unmatched in the otherwise dark sky. Flashbulbs from cameras lit up the base of the tower giving the illusion of dancing fireflies.

I toasted my host, drinking in the magical moment. “Please tell Paris that I say thank you, Clarisse, for being such a wondrous place!” I drank in the shimmering skyline, feeling very welcome indeed.

Photo courtesy of Benh

76 Comments

  • Reply

    comixmaniac

    January 16, 2012

    How incredibly beautiful! When I visited Paris for a day, I got to visit the Montparnasse and see the Eiffel Tower at night, too! The sunset and night view looks absolutely stunning, though– I didn’t get to stay long enough to see it. Great photos!

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      January 17, 2012

      Thank you so much for your sweet words! It sounds like you had quite a wonderful trip. Did you have a favorite place in Paris?

  • Reply

    El Guapo

    January 16, 2012

    I’ve seen the tower twinkle at night from a distance. They left those lights up after the millenium celebration.
    I’m really glad they did. Yes, it is stunningly beautiful.

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      January 17, 2012

      I am so glad you got the opportunity to see them! As I was writing this post I was trying to find a way to describe them, but all I could remember were the emotions I felt as I watched them dance.

      Do you have any trips planned in the near future? How’s the cold water surfing?

      • Reply

        El Guapo

        January 17, 2012

        Going to scrape the wax off my board to to store until spring. Too damn cold now even for me.
        Hoping to get to Portland in the near future for a week. And indiana for van halen, but that’ll be in and out.
        Where are you off to next?

        • Reply

          Hilary Billings

          January 17, 2012

          Haha, sounds like a good plan to me! Portland, huh? How fun!

          I am heading to the peninsula (Port Townsend) off of Washington in a few weeks. I’m going to try to stop by Portland as well, as I have not yet had the pleasure of seeing the city. Then, if the stars align, I’ll be taking a trip to the South Pacific in late spring. Always an adventure! =)

  • Reply

    cleoxcat

    January 16, 2012

    I am really enjoying your travels in Paris. Somehow you pare it down to size when I know it’s really overwhelming. I spent a few days in Paris about 10 years ago and came away stunned by the immensity and grandeur. My favorite part was riding a bateau mouche. BTW, in the Louvre’s cafe, I sat next to a French woman who was very gracious when I tried out my college French on her.

    Enjoying your blog. Thanks, Hillary.

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      January 17, 2012

      Thank YOU for being so kind to comment and say such encouraging things! It is always appreciated.

      It sounds like you had quite a lovely experience in Paris. Did you get a chance to spend time in the countryside or surrounding countries?

      Please keep writing! I always enjoy reading your blog. Thank you again!

  • Reply

    JT

    January 17, 2012

    Some really great shots there. I really enjoy reading your blog.

    JT
    http://aiweb20.wordpress.com

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      January 17, 2012

      Thank you so much, JT! I appreciate your kind words.

      Please keep writing! I enjoy reading your blog as well!

  • Reply

    Barry Peddycord

    January 17, 2012

    You certainly do take some wonderful photos – I wish I was able to get better pictures when I go on trips, but I seem to be incapable of getting appropriately memorable and blog-worthy snapshots. o_O

    I’ll just have to keep trying… hopefully it comes with practice! ^^;

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      January 17, 2012

      Thank you very much! I always take a million photos in the hopes of getting one worthy shot =).

      Always nice to have you stop by my blog. Thanks for your continuous support!

  • Reply

    Matt

    January 17, 2012

    Ah the city of love, I’m jealous! Great photos, especially the day-time skyline w/ the Eiffel Tower. Just gorgeous.
    How’s the Parisian coffee?

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      January 17, 2012

      Hi Matt,

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and comment.

      The Parisian coffee is to die for. I have never been somewhere with such delectable food. It’s really hard to go wrong while in Paris, but I also recommend the hot chocolate and chai lattes.

      Do you have a favorite coffee so far? Where did you find it? Keep writing!

      • Reply

        matt

        January 17, 2012

        No kidding, eh. Next time I’m in Paris I’ll try both. And the wine of course. You’re in food and beverage heaven! My goodness…

        As for the coffee, INTELLIGENTSIA BLACK CAT is a popular roast that I like and you might have tried before. It’s tasty.

        I’ll be back to check out the crazy adventures that I’m sure lay in store for you. Cheers.

        • Reply

          Hilary Billings

          January 17, 2012

          Hmmm… Haven’t tried a black cat roast before. Something to add to the list. =)

          Thanks for stopping by to comment! Looking forward to reading more of your posts!

  • Reply

    Off The Map

    January 17, 2012

    I’ve never seen the restaurant view before, the highest i’ve been was the Eiffel Tower. How was the food? And how did you get the gorgeous picture with the heart? Someone standing behind you?

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      January 17, 2012

      The food was great! We just ordered some appetizers and wine since we had other dinner arrangements. It’s a pricey little place (as far as my budget was concerned) but absolutely worth it for the one-of-a-kind views.

      Yes, Clarisse (my hostess) took the photo for me while I made the heart with my hands. It’s one of my favorite photos from the trip =).

      Thank you so much for stopping by to comment! I love reading your blog. Keep it up!

  • Reply

    Zora "Zee" Bening

    January 17, 2012

    Love your blog, Hilary! Thanks for the like! –Zee

  • Reply

    Janet

    January 17, 2012

    Great to see someone living their dream, Hilary. Love the heart photo and wow magic picture of the Eiffel Tower. I hope you enjoy every moment :)

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      January 17, 2012

      Thank you, Janet! I am flattered that you like my photos!

      You certainly are a great role model for budding writers such as myself. I hope to one day be as successful and inspirational as you! Thank you so much for stopping by!

  • Reply

    lorlee1

    January 18, 2012

    I am so envious! Enjoy, there is nothing like Paris in (almost) the Spring :-)

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      January 18, 2012

      I agree; it is quite a wonderful place!

      Do you have a favorite Parisian hangout? Have you done a lot of traveling through Europe?

  • Reply

    Claire Lopez

    January 19, 2012

    I haven’t been to Paris since I was 20 — it’s’ time to go back! Thanks for the inspiration! (We’ll be in Vegas next week!)

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      January 23, 2012

      I would certainly agree! Thanks for reading =).

      Let me know what your schedule looks like and if you would have time for a coffee or something. It would be so great to meet you and hear your stories!

  • Reply

    Jim

    January 21, 2012

    Great photos, great post!

    I can’t wait for the day I surprise my daughter with a trip there!

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      January 23, 2012

      Thank you so much!

      I can’t wait to hear about your trip there! I’m sure she will love it. =)

  • Reply

    wvbard

    January 25, 2012

    Hi Nomad Grad! I’m Wandering College Kid. Nice to make your acquaintance; I’m going through the exact same problem as you – I don’t know where to go next in my life. But you seem to be travelling the world while I sit at home. Maybe yours was the better decision, huh! Makes for SUCH an interesting blog! Say bonjour to your new follower!

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      January 26, 2012

      Hello, Wandering College Kid! Thank you for taking the time to stop by! =)

      I don’t necessarily think my decision was a ‘better’ decision, just different. I love reading your blog and think that you are figuring out your path in your own unique way! I look forward to staying in touch!

      Please keep writing!

  • Reply

    getlocalphilippines

    February 6, 2012

    Great photos and story! Wow! Thanks for liking one of my posts! :))

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      February 6, 2012

      Thank you for coming by to comment! I love reading your blog and look forward to following future posts!

      Keep writing!

  • Reply

    paul

    February 14, 2012

    Great photo’s. Hope to be in Paris later this year if all goes to plan.
    PS – great blogging.

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      February 14, 2012

      Hi Paul,

      Thank you so much for stopping by to comment! How long do you plan on being in Paris?

      Thank so much for your kind words. Keep writing!

      • Reply

        paul

        February 14, 2012

        Wont be for too long. The South African Rand isnt worth what it used to be!! :) Should e there justlong enough to take the normal tourist pictures then head out into the countryside whic is more appealing to me.
        Will follow your blogs and see where it goes. Have a great day

  • Reply

    Tricia Thomas

    February 14, 2012

    Lovely, lovely, lovely pictures, Hilary! Thank you for the armchair tour!

  • Reply

    C.P.

    February 15, 2012

    These photos are so fantastic. The nomadic lifestyle is the only way to live! Long live the travelers. :D

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      February 16, 2012

      Thank you so much! I have a lot of fun pretending I’m a photographer. =)

      Looking forward to following your blog! Thanks for stopping by!

  • Reply

    jimmorrisondreamdiaries

    February 17, 2012

    Gorgeous photos especially the one with the beam of sunlight in my favourite city..this brings back so memories of this majical city..if I go every year for a lifetime I will never see ALL the ART, MUSIC, SCENERY etc..thanks for posting this..felt like I was there for a moment in time..

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      February 18, 2012

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I am happy to hear that I was able to capture some of the beauty of this amazing city for you!

      And I think you’re absolutely right… In a lifetime one could not possibly take in all the beauty, art, and magic in the world. Thank goodness for blogs and sharing souls =).

      • Reply

        jimmorrisondreamdiaries

        February 18, 2012

        Thank-you…Will have some dreams/Spiritual experiences to write about which occurred in PARIS over a period of time..I have a backdrop painted in terracotta ready for me to infill the TOWER with some mystical parts..have a huge paste sketch abov emy bed and a Vintage Map of PARIS on my bedroom wall reminding of of where I plan to live at my END..just a dream but working towards making it happen very successfully so far…time will tell…just back from hospital but will look in again soon..watching a film as a treat for being good at my studies as I am jsut an amateur yet..nite all..

        • Reply

          Hilary Billings

          February 18, 2012

          Wow, well I look forward to seeing your finished product! Thanks for commenting and continuing to visit my site. Looking forward to following your progress!

          • jimmorrisondreamdiaries

            February 19, 2012

            Thanks Hilary..there is no ending as such…it’s just a series of stories as and when they happen now via Dreams and some from the past…on ongoing Blog story thing..for now anyway..Due to eyes I’m sometime snot on here for a few days and sometimes I appear online when I forget to swtich it off..your photos are great…better than any I have ever seen..will get these pushed through various places like Stumbletupon to let people read your story too…minde is all about the unusual as this is how my life has been since I was five years old and lucky for me my friends are the same and several have seen Jim years ago all with a purpose, mpostly illness or something life-changing..no END as yet…it just gets written as the Spirit moves me and I have lots to paint so may be offline for a while but each time I say this I am back here..I ALWAYS try and check ALL my sites and reply where I can…thanks for taking time…hope you are well..if I ws younger I would not stay in one place…PARIS, SAN FRANCISCO and many of the EASTERN Countries like ASIA nad MIDDLE EAST I love but it’s sad so much desructgion in the name of GOD or whatever…Goodnite from Scotland(Not where I would have chosen to live but circumstances decided this for me after father’s death)…some parts of okay and the folk are mixed types too more so than in any other place I have been so I would not wish to end my days here but then one never knows…happy enlough though…just my feelings…I’m ENGLISH and SPANISH..African Descent..

  • Reply

    jimmorrisondreamdiaries

    February 19, 2012

    In the eighties I took several friends one by one to PARIS..and on one of these visits(I’d been going to PARIS since school days so it was not my first visit) we were queuing up to be taken up the wonderful Tower when we were told that there had been maintenance done and they were not sure if we would get on..after about an hour and a half we were in luck…Up, up and away we were whilst giggling which was (stupidly actually) as we could have been in danger if the re;pair had not been performed correctly..Now when I think back we must have looked like idiots dressed in Japanese Kimonos, leather boots with studs, jewellry to match and very spiky hair..we hoped that it would not break down..as we sat in the HUGE Resturaunt from just after 12 Noon until 5pm taking in the lovely scenery, chilling out, deciding where to go next, mingling with other visitors, playing with kids who joined our table it was wonderful watching from above..Felt a bit like our own little HEAVEN! Just wished to share this with you as many of you will have done the same..

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      February 19, 2012

      What a cool story! Thanks so much for sharing! I appreciate your continual support and comments. =)

      Be well!

      All the best,
      HB

  • Reply

    anilraheja

    March 1, 2012

    love your blog hillary. and this brings back so many wonderful memories of paris :)
    God bless & love always…

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 1, 2012

      Thank you so much for your kind words! I am happy to hear I was able to bring back good memories for you. Do you have a favorite Parisian moment?

      Brightest blessings to you and yours!

      -HB

      • Reply

        anilraheja

        March 1, 2012

        hard to pick a single Parisian moment. i just think the whole trip was a magical “moment” – it certainly seems like just a moment now :)
        there was this really long walk we went on along the Seine. we stopped along the river & just sat down right by the water for about an hour. i think it was simply beautiful to find that peace.
        of course the architicture, the notre dame, le lovre, the eiffel tower – both by day & night, arc de triomphe (which i loved!!). sitting in the outdoor cafes sipping on coffee/wine – what an absolutely delightful experience.
        and, contrary to what we’d heard, the French were extremely warm, helpful & friendly people :)
        God bless & love always…

        • Reply

          Hilary Billings

          March 2, 2012

          Sounds like you really milked your experience for all that it was worth! I’m so glad to hear that you were welcomed in kind by the Parisian people. I too was well received, but I’ve heard that we’re the lucky ones.

          Thank you so much for sharing! I always love to hear about other people’s adventures. Looking forward to staying in touch! =)

  • Reply

    Katie

    March 4, 2012

    Lovely post. Each time I visit, I can’t get enough of the Eiffel Tower (yes, it’s a little cliche). I’m fond of the way it peaks out behind buildings and surprises you when you turn down a street. Call me silly, but I love the hourly light show as well, particularly from a distance.

    Certainly looks like a fun trip. I’m going to go read your earlier posts from Paris now, in preparation for my upcoming vacation!

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 4, 2012

      Thank you so much, Katie! You have such a way with words. I love your description of the tower as being so mischievous.

      Do you do a lot of traveling? Do you have a favorite place to visit?

      I look forward to hearing about your trip!

      • Reply

        Katie

        March 4, 2012

        Thanks Hilary! Not as much traveling as I’d like. We try to make it to Paris every so often, as my mother in law lives there. And usually back to Heidelberg, where I was born.

        Looking forward to following your blog and experiencing your journey with you! What a great idea. What has been your favorite experience thus far?

        • Reply

          Hilary Billings

          March 5, 2012

          Oh man, so many amazing moments to choose from…

          Hmmm… I think in the past year the moment that really sticks out was volcano boarding in Nicaragua. But I could go on forever. What about you?

          • Katie

            March 6, 2012

            Wow, volcano boarding. Very unique! (And I did google it to find out more…haha). For me, the trip that really sticks out is a summer I spent studying in the Czech Republic almost five (gah!) years ago now.

          • Hilary Billings

            March 6, 2012

            Wow! How awesome. I have yet to get to the Czech Republic, but when I do I will be asking for your sage advice =)

          • Katie

            March 6, 2012

            Sounds like a plan! Looking forward to it.

          • Hilary Billings

            March 7, 2012

            =)

  • Reply

    akimynation

    March 11, 2012

    oh wow. Paris has been my dream destination ever since! thanks for posting all this. :)

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 11, 2012

      You’re very welcome! I’m glad you enjoyed it. =)

      Where else do you want to travel?

      • Reply

        akimynation

        March 12, 2012

        I think someone with a medieval interest as me would want to travel Europe. Brazil, Caribbean, you know the drill. i mean who doesn’t wanna travel to those cool places? :)

        • Reply

          Hilary Billings

          March 12, 2012

          Haha absolutely. Sounds like you have some great aspirations. Keep dreaming! It will happen. =)

          • akimynation

            March 13, 2012

            Certainly hope it will :) thanks!!

          • Hilary Billings

            March 17, 2012

            Well let me know if I can provide any help or advice for you along the way. =)

          • akimynation

            March 17, 2012

            Your blog is a lot of help. But Ill make sure to contact you or meet up even when that happens :) looking forward!

          • Hilary Billings

            March 17, 2012

            Well I’m happy to hear you find it helpful. And yes, I’m looking forward to it too! =)

  • Reply

    Shelley Guyton

    March 11, 2012

    Such unique experience seeing the world via Vegas strip first! I love that you included the comparison here. Have magnifique time, are you still in Paris? You should hop down to Lyon if you get a chance. It was my favorite. =D

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      March 17, 2012

      Thank you so much! I am so glad to hear you enjoyed the blog.

      I am back in the states at the moment, exploring the Northwest, but I hope to get back out that way soon, as I still have much more to see. =)

      Have you ever been to Vegas? Do you have a favorite place to travel? Thanks so much for stopping by!

      • Reply

        Shelley Guyton

        March 18, 2012

        Yes I love Las Vegas! Even though I’m not the type to gamble too much or go clubbing. I adore the energy and the lights =) My favorite place to travel is someplace I haven’t been yet. So at the moment, that would my upcoming trip to Guatemala! That’s so uncanny you’re in the northwest, I just wrote a blog about wanting doing a dessert tour in Portland. So if you need unique desert ideas in Portland, there it is.

        • Reply

          Hilary Billings

          March 20, 2012

          I completely agree (the next stop is always the most intriguing:). Oooh Guatemala! I haven’t been there yet but heard wonderful things. You’ll have to let me know your thoughts!

          And definitely, Portland has some amazing desserts to offer. =)

          Let me know the next time you make it out to Vegas. We can enjoy the lights together.

          • Shelley Guyton

            March 29, 2012

            Yes, I will def say hi next time I’m in Vegas. Same to you next time you’re in SF (and I’m hopefully there too!)

          • Hilary Billings

            March 29, 2012

            Sounds great! =)

  • Reply

    […] had a lot of ocean to cover. It looked like nearly three times the distance I’d covered on my trip to Europe. The screen said we were cruising along at almost 600 miles per hour and would be flying at a […]

  • Reply

    Ed

    November 16, 2012

    I just reread this post (while at work on Boulevard Haussmann, no less!), and it made me smile. When you work here, Paris can become much like any other city, and yet that’s not entirely true.

    If I take the bus instead of the metro, every day on my way to work, I pass through Trocadéro and get to look at the Eiffel Tower, and only a few minutes later, we pass through the ever-dizzying Place de l’Etoile, spinning through the ballet of traffic chaos at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe before returning to the staid rush of morning commuters charging down Boulevard Haussmann.

    I have to say that I *still* can’t stop myself from staring out the window. This morning, La Dame de Fer was shrouded in fog all the way down to her waist, and in the cold, early evenings, as the Champs Elysées are beginning to dress up for Advent and Christmas, the her golden, misty halo glows like a nightlight over the darkened rooftops.

    Perhaps it’s because my time here was always meant to be temporary that I still retain a bit of the tourist wonder even after having lived here for six months, but I’m convinced that Paris is such a work of art that she demands to be admired and appreciated, and it would be a waste *not* to look up from my commute to enjoy her splendor.

    Here, toward the end of my séjour, I’m trying to savour Paris as much as I can before she’s no longer just outside my doorstep. Thank you for refreshing that sense of awe and joy I’ve always had for this city; I only wish I could have shown you around, but perhaps next time, when we’re both back in the City of Lights!

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      November 21, 2012

      I definitely don’t think you’re wrong in your assessment; Paris always maintains a wonder about it. Even for the Parisians I stayed with- they grew up in the city and still adored it. I feel like a lot of cities leave you jaded. But there’s just something so sophisticated and beautiful about Paris. It demands your attention everyday. =)

      Please enjoy your last few week in Paris for me! And I’m so happy to hear someone rereads my post! (Definitely the greatest compliment, I’m sure of it. =)

      Another city at another time, I’m sure! Safe travels home!

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About Me

About Me

Hey fellow adventurers, my name is Hilary! After being rejected from grad school, I took off on a solo journey around the world. Now I constantly challenge myself to take on new experiences. This blog documents my journeys from Europe to Fiji, swimming with sharks and living with tribes, to becoming an accidental beauty queen and working for one of the top national media outlets. If you like what you're reading, please subscribe! Here's to the next great adventure!

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