Fact: This trip is not the first time I've been to Paris.
My first trip was actually pretty epic in that the scope, duration and ridiculousness of the trip was completely accidental. For our semester abroad's spring break, four friends and I decided to split our ten days between Tuscany, Barcelona, and Paris. After flight delays, a reroute to the South of France, and a train ride north, we missed Barcelona entirely and ended up with nearly a week to enjoy Paris!
We dubbed ourselves "Team Hot Route" after a series of travel catastrophes and starting to wing it. Charlie, Coleen, Kate and Peter were great travel companions, and we had an absolute blast. Claire, Peter's girlfriend at the time, was kind enough to let us stay in her Paris flat in the 11th, so we experimented with cooking (and adventured through French grocery stores!) and bonded with the corner boulangerie's proprietor.
We did the typical tourist destinations...the Louvre, Versailles, the Musee Rodin, and of course the Eiffel Tower...
...and also branched off the beaten path for nights of absinthe in the Latin Quarter and wandering Montmartre.
This trip couldn't differ more from that trip to Paris...we were on tight student budgets, we had no tours or planned excursions, and flew by the seat of our pants...but that was half the fun and magic of the trip. I count myself extremely lucky to have memories of experiencing Paris as a 21-year old student...it's truly unlike any other way to travel.