Best surprise ever? Oui oui!

Hi all! Hope your Fourth was fantastic (and appropriately filled with fireworks and awesome grilled food)...we celebrated with my gorgeous sister Emily, who flew home from Cincinnati for an extended long weekend and her birthday celebration. 

While I had a blast celebrating our nation's independence, the best part of the weekend wasn't exactly America-centric...


My parents took Em to Italy for ten days this May, and almost as soon as they returned my dad started talking about how fun it would be to send my mom, Em and me to Paris on a girls' trip. Needless to say, my inner Francophile freaked the eff out and I immediately began dreaming of saying "Bonjour!" to one of my favorite cities. I spent a week in Paris during my semester abroad in London in 2010, and I fell in love in the hugest way with the culture, history, and atmosphere. The thought of getting to go back with my mom and sister is so exciting!

Although my mom and I had known about Dad's plan since its inception, Emily had no, naturally, we had to come up with a creative way to tell her! My mom found the cutest t-shirt at Madewell and promptly bought each of us one. We picked Em up from the airport at 9pm, went home, and "changed into comfy clothes," aka the two of us put on our t-shirts and hid them under sweatshirts. Of course we looked totally ridiculous wearing sweatshirts zipped up to our chins on an 80-degree evening, but fortunately Em didn't notice. She opened all her birthday presents, saving a gift bag that (unbeknownst to her) contained her t-shirt til last. As she prepared to open it, Dad goes, "God, aren't you two hot in sweatshirts?" We oh-so-subtly agreed, and totally cheesily took off our sweatshirts to reveal our matching shirts. Then Dad, bless him, goes "Oh my GOD, you three have the same shirt! That's so dorky. Maybe since you all have shirts that say Paris on them, I should just send you to Paris, April 30th." 

Em had no idea and at first, totally didn't believe him! It took awhile to sink in, but once she finally accepted this wasn't a weird Papa Bear joke (believe me, I could share many), she got just as excited as Mom and I were. We couldn't wait to fill her in on all our planning thus far--we've reserved the cutest pied-a-terre two blocks from the Louvre (!!!!!! Be still, my beating heart!!!), and started investigating day trips to Versailles (bien sur) and Monet's home and gardens at Giverny. 

Although we're nearly a year out from our planned trip next May, I'm already obsessing over brushing up on my (sadly-depleted) French vocabulary and grammar and binge-Pinteresting beautiful cityscapes and details. Emily's on restaurant duty and plans to find all the best out-of-the-way, non-touristy cafes, restaurants and boulangeries for us to taste test. Mom has already figured out flights and is doing super in-depth research on the best tours, day trips and packages for museums and sightseeing. And Dad? He's just gloating that he managed to pull off the best surprise ever. 

Any fellow Francophiles with recommendations of must-sees, places to skip, or secret treasures? I'm all ears!