Before we left for France, I knew that no matter what, I desperately wanted to see a castle. It turned out that the first town we stayed in, Orleans, was only an hour or so from a bunch of crazy awesome castles. The problem? The Mister was working the entire time we were there, and I really didn’t want try to make my way to these castles myself. It made me quite sad, but then I realized the Palace of Versailles wasn’t too far from Paris. The Mister wasn’t super keen on traveling to it, though, because it would still be about an hour trip by train, so I did what any girl would do. I pouted! How could I be THIS CLOSE to a bunch of different castles and leave Europe without seeing one?! Well, then we found out that there was a castle only a few Metro stops away from our hotel in Paris! The day was saved!
Sunday morning, our last full day in Paris, I got to see my castle. And it was awesome. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Château de Vincennes.
OMG a moat!
So then, as we were finishing up our exploration, a ton of people started showing up, including people in costume! When we arrived at the castle, we were nearly the only ones there. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a little children’s festival of sorts started! Even though we couldn’t understand what they were saying, it was still entertaining.
We stopped at a nearby “American” type bar, which was pretty good. They had a big poster of Taylor Swift on the way to the bathrooms, and as we were leaving, my favorite T-Swift song came on the radio. It was awesome.
The last major monument we had left to see was Sacré-Cœur. I was really excited for this, but our experience getting there wasn’t the greatest. The Metro stop led us through a really sketchy tourist trap that was super crowded, so we were already on edge. But then, as we were walking up the first set of steps to Sacré-Cœur, these men rushed up to us and grabbed my wrist. I tried to pull away, but they were all around us and they had gotten a hold of the Mister as well. Obviously they knew I was freaking out and were like, “Don’t worry, your husband is right here.” Then they began to tell us how they were from Africa and were going to do this friendship bracelet thing that was for the church. We told them no thank you and tried again to get away, but they held onto us and wouldn’t let us go. So we stopped fighting, they did their thing, and when they were done, they started demanding that we pay them. I told them that I didn’t have any money and that my husband was carrying our money (partly true) but they kept at it. Finally the Mister ripped away from them, tore the bracelet off his wrist, yelled, “NO, WE’RE LEAVING!”, and grabbed me and got us out of there.
It was so scary. I was shaking so bad as we made our way to the top, and I don’t even remember if we went into the church or not. (I think not…?) All I could think about was having to go back down those stairs and be confronted/assaulted again. We made sure to have our hands in our coat pockets as we went back down (they would grab people’s hands and start braiding the bracelet on the person’s thumb), and sure enough, we were about out of there when another group started to approach us. Not this time, bucko.
Before they could even get more than a few words out I shouted “DO NOT TOUCH ME!” in the meanest voice I could muster. It worked. They weren’t expecting that and sort of backed away, saying they were going to talk to my husband and not me. We kept walking and made it out of there.
The Mister told this story at the lunch table when he got back to work, and one of our buddies started laughing and said, “Oh man, I could just see that look that Rachel gives.” So apparently, I can be pretty tough if I have to be. Although, the other day while watching Castle, the Mister told me that if I was ever attacked by a ruffian I would just fall on the ground and cry. So who knows.
See that balcony at the very bottom of the steps? That’s where those men were hanging out. Just be aware if you ever visit Paris. It’s crazy, though, because before this we never really encountered anyone that was terribly rude or felt that our safety was in jeopardy. Obviously the touristy areas had people selling lots of stuff, and they would often try to sell you something as you walked by, but on the whole, if you told them no, they would respect that and let you move on. I am still desperately in love with the city of Paris. I just might not ever go back to Sacré-Cœur.
This was our adorable little hotel. I never photographed it until our last day. Hotel de la Porte Dorée. Definitely recommended.
More images from our trip: