Paris

As I mentioned in my Iceland post, I LOVE planning trips. Last May, Josh and I went on a 13-day trip to Iceland, Paris, and Nice. 

After 6 days in cold, wet, and windy Iceland, we were MORE than ready to get into sunny and warm France. Plus – anyone who knows me knows I’m OBSESSED with Paris and that it’s probably my favorite city in the entire world. Needless to say, I was beaming the second we got off the plane at Charles de Gaulle International Airport. 

I’ve been to Paris quite a few times now, so check out my tips and tricks, by Parisian arrondissement, below. Heads up: it’s another lengthy one so brace yourself.

 

Best places to stay:

  • We stayed all the way out at the Hyatt Regency Paris Etoile and it wasn’t a problem at all. We would walk toward l’Arc de Triomphe and hop on the metro from there. If you don’t do the hop on-hop off red bus tours, you’ll use the metro a lot.
  • Anywhere near l’Eglise de la Madeleine is going to be really nice and pretty expensive.
  • Stick near la Seine. I’d say 8, 7, 2, 5 ish would be your best bet to be near the most attractions and museums if you’re a first time visitor.

Must-see things to do:

  • 1st ARR:
    • The Louvre (La Louvre) – no need to go in and walk around because it would take you weeks (seriously) to see everything good. Take a peek with the pyramid out front and call it a day. Louvre
    • Musee d’Orsay – In my opinion, if you’re going to actually walk around a museum, this is the one to go to. It’s filled with Degas ballet dancers and other famous Frenchie artists. I remember really liking this one but haven’t been since I studied abroad in college.
  • 2nd ARR:
    • Les Halles – I’m pretty sure this is a mall? I’ve never been. Not important enough IMO.
  • 3rd ARR:
    • Skip this area or see it on the hop on-hop off tour
  • 4th ARR:
    • Ile de la Cite & Ile Saint-Louis
      • Ile de la Cite has Notre Dame and Pont Neuf. Really cool to see via boat tour, but definitely worth seeing up close. IF you have time and if you feel like throwing down at least 20 euros a piece, go to the top of the Notre Dame – great view of the city, if not the best. IMG_0159
    • 5th ARR [aka le Quartier Latin]
      • Trendy home of la Sorbonne (bougie college) and has lots of good cafes and shops. Good for people watching too.
    • 6th ARR:
      • Le Jardin du Luxembourg. Lots of walking but lots of benches, too. Ponds, fountains, flowers, etc. Grab yourself a jambon et fromage sandwich and post up on a bench for the afternoon to soak it all in.
      • Le Palais du Luxembourg. I think you have to pay, but it’s pretty cool. If you don’t take a day trip to see the castles, this is your next best thing.
    • 7th ARR:
      • Les Invalides. Pretty sure you drive past this on the hop on hop off. Nothing that you need to get off to see up close.
      • Musee Rodin. I went here but I can’t remember much about it. Apparently The Thinker is here…?
    • 8th ARR:
      • L’arc de Triomphe. Take the time to actually walk under the street to pop up under the arch because the walls have pretty cool pictures engraved in them. Plus, this is the beginning of the Champs Elysee and at the other end of the street (la rue) you can see La Place de la Concorde, which is this tall obelisk thing in the Jardins du Tuileries et Jardin des Champs Elysee. If you feel like walking a lot, you can walk the entire Champs Elysee all the way to the Louvre. I don’t recommend doing it because it’s farther than it looks and most of the paths are gravely. Under Arc de Triomphe
    • 9th/18th (Not sure which one they’re in technically):
      • Take the metro or hop on-hop off up here because it’s far.
      • Moulin Rouge isn’t in the best area and is actually on a street well known for having a bunch of X-rated shops, but it’s cool to see. Go, take a pic of it, then walk north toward the cutesy area of Montmatre.Moulin Rouge
      • Walk around the pedestrian area of Montmatre. Lots of touristy type shops to get some souvenirs. Fun fact: this is where Josh bought me the umbrella before he proposed because he knew I’d be upset if I had wet hair in the proposal pics… He wasn’t wrong.
      • Sacre-Coeur Basilica. My favorite favorite favorite place in Paris and you’ll see why. Breathe before taking the stairs because there are a lot of them. Go all the way up, turn around, and then take it in.  Awesome view of the city and the church is seriously stunning.
        • If you’ve gotten this far, 1) nice work, 2) thank you! and 3) it’s story time. On our second day in Paris (day 7 overall), we woke up to what I was assuming was going to be a normal day. Looking back, there were quite a few things that should have tipped me off, but I hadn’t had coffee yet so cut me some slack. Should-have-been-a-giveaway #1: Josh was the one telling ME to hurry up. Should-have-been-a-giveaway #2: He said he’d help pick out my outfit while I was doing my hair and strategically chose my white Madewell dress. Should-have-been-a-giveaway #3: He kept checking his phone and texting someone, although I just assumed he was texting his friends since he made sure he had cell service while we were abroad. Anywho, I knew we were going to le Sacre Coeur and Montmartre because we had talked about it the night before. After we had gotten to the top of the mountain of stairs, I turned and started left to go toward the entrance of the church. Josh pulled me to the right, toward the other side of the church. I turned and pointed left toward the entrance and by the time I turned back around to check on Josh, he was down on one knee saying, “Yes, this is happening” before asking me to marry him. So, that’s how it happened. Thanks for listening to story time. Back to the rest of Paris…Proposal_Sacre CoeurIMG_0028
    • 10th ARR:
      • Your hop on-hop off bus should take you past la Gare du Nord (North train station) and la Gare de l’Est (train station of the East). They’re right next to each other which is super weird, but your tour guide will tell you all about it.
    • 16th ARR:
      • La Tour Eiffel (basically the only notable thing to see in the 16th)
        • No need to go to the top. First of all, you have to climb stairs to get to the halfway point, which is exhausting. Then, you have to pay an additional fee to take the elevator up to the top. If you’re pressed for time, don’t climb the stairs. If you have more than a couple of days in the city, do it. You’ll have great panoramic views.
        • For an awesome picture of la Tour Eiffel, get dropped off at les Jardins du Trocadero – perfect unobstructed view of the tower from across la Seine.
        • The Champs de Mars is a good place to plop and rest your feet. Also, it’s a good place to sit and watch the tower twinkle at night – it lights up every hour, on the hour starting at sunset.

 

Places to eat:                                                               

  • Le Hide. 2 blocks away from l’arc de Triomphe. It’s super small and you NEED a reservation. They speak English so you can call and make a rez. Can’t recommend more, you guys. The stew is to die for and you MUST get it… I mean look at this and try not to drool.
  • La Duree for macarons because #obviously
  • Brasseries are basically cafes/sandwiches/cheese plates/wine. Stop at these, grab a charcuterie board and a glass of rose and then sit outside facing the streets to people watch.

Where to shop:

  • Galleries Lafayette is basically their Nordstrom on steroids. Printemps is another good one.
  • Naf Naf is kind of a Forever 21.
  • Carrefour is their Wal-Mart and is one of the largest retailers in Europe. I believe there are some city Carrefours if you need something in a pinch.
  • FNACs are like Best Buys sort of? Lots of techie things.
  • Check out the Louis Vuitton store on the Champs-Elysee. You may have to wait in line to get inside, but it’s part of the experience.

Doable day trip options:

  • Versailles – Pretty sure this is a 45 min (if that) TGV ride from one of the gares in Paris. Big old castle that’s pretty neat. UNESCO World Heritage site. Castle and gardens.
  • Loire Valley. Home of Chambord, Chenonceau, and Amboise castles. This is where I studied abroad. All of these castles are really cool, but my fave was Chenonceau because I’m pretty sure we rented row boats and got to go under the castle’s arches. Also, it has a cool garden.
    • I THINK there are tours where you can hop from castle to castle, but this would take up a solid day of your trip. They’re cool to see, but I wouldn’t make this first priority. This would be a good 2nd trip to Paris option.

Words and phrases to know and their pronunciations:

  • Gare: train station
    • Pronounce like car with a hard G
  • Excusez-moi, mais ou sont les toilets?: Excuse me, where are the toilets?
    • Ex-sku-say-mwah, may ooo sohn lez twa-lets
  • Pont: bridge
    • Poh
  • S’il vous plait: please
    • Sea voo play
  • Bonjour: hello
    • Bohn-zjohr
  • Oui: yes
    • We
  • Non: no
    • Noh
  • Parlez-vous anglais?: Do you speak English?
    • Par-lay voo ah-glay
  • L’addition, s’il vous plait: The check, please
    • La dees-y-ohn sea voo play
  • Merci beaucoup: Thank you very much
    • Mare-see boo-coo
  • Je ne peux pas manger les cacahuetes: I can’t eat peanuts
    • Zje nuh puh pah mah-zjay lay cah-cah-hoo-ettes
    • This one was for my bestie, who traveled to Paris for her babymoon!

 

I know this is a lot, but I hope you find it helpful if and WHEN you visit Paris. If you have any favorite spots, please let me know so I can check them out the next time I’m there. Also, if you’re going to visit Paris soon, let me know!! I’d love to chit chat and tell you more about the best places to go in and around the city. Either way, I want to hear from you! 

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