As I sit here writing this post, I am having major FOMO as so many friends have booked European spring vacations! The responsible side of me is proud that I haven’t impulsively booked a vacation for 2017 (hope I didn’t just jinx myself), but the dreamer inside says “book something now! why are you waiting?!” So, we shall see. In the meantime I will recap and relive one of my favorite weeks of 2016- our week spent in Paris.
Paris is divided into 20 arrondissements (neighborhoods) that are in a spiral shape, starting in the city center and heading out. Luckily, Paris is easily accessible so you can get around with walking or public transit. We rented an AirBNB in the 10th arrondissement and while it was an inexpensive apartment in a cute neighborhood, it wasn’t my ideal location. I’d prefer the 2nd, 3rd or 4th.
(Hint: the Park Hyatt Vendome was all booked the week we were there but I would stay there in a heartbeat. If you have any Hyatt/Chase points, book it! It’s a great value of points redemption, prime location and tres chic!).
TAKE A TOUR
My friend recommended Fat Tire Bike Tours one day because she had such a great experience with them earlier in the year. We chose to do the night bike tour our first day in town. What a wonderful decision! First, having a scheduled event night 1 helped us stay up and get on local time (tip: don’t nap day 1!). Second, the bike tour allowed us to get our bearings on the different neighborhoods. We left knowing which areas we wanted to explore further. Third, we learned a ton. Our guide was fantastic – his father was Parisian & his mother was American, so he communicated perfectly with us while giving us a detailed, interesting history of each landmark we visited. The best part is the 4 hour tour ends with complimentary wine aboard a boat cruise down the Seine. I cannot recommend this enough!
This is a hard category to tackle, as there are over 130 museums within Paris. Crazy, right?! Obviously it’s impossible to visit them all within one week, so we had to pick and choose. Given that we aren’t huge museum people (we both prefer being outdoors) it was a pretty easy choice. We chose to forego The Louvre – sorry, Mona Lisa- and opted to spend our time admiring Monet, Van Gogh & Toulouse-Lautrec in the Musee d’Orsay. The museum is manageable in size and has some killer art pieces. If you’re into impressionism, you’ll leave here inspired.
For those of you who visit the Musee d’Orsay, be sure to check out the cafe on the 5th floor. It’s got an amazing outdoor terrace with killer river views. We spent about an hour there sharing a trio of eclairs & a bottle of rose. Check out this list of the 12 most unmissable Parisian museums.
(Hint: if you’re wanting to visit two or more museums, you may want to buy a Paris Museum Pass for discounts)
Hands down the best part about Paris is the ability to walk and wander. Paris is THE best city to wander in & get lost. There are endless amounts of adorable cobblestone streets lined with coffee shops, unique boutiques, charming homes and restaurants.
- Vendome & Madeline (1st/8th): These were our favorite areas to walk around & window shop. The streets are clean, beautiful & architecturally stunning. They’re exactly what you think of when you picture Paris in your head.
- Le Marais (3rd/4th): Arguably the best area to stay, Le Marais is chalk full of galleries, gardens & gorgeous architecture. It’s hip, chic & the place to be.
- Latin Quarter (5th): A favorite evening spot to explore, we did a happy hour bar crawl here that was so much fun! Be sure to grab dinner & drinks here one night.
- St Germain (6th): Another great neighborhood for grabbing lunch (it’s nearby quite a few main tourist spots), this area is full of cute streets filled with shops, stores & people.
EAT & DRINK
Let’s get real. Paris is known for it’s fabulous wine, bread & cheese. It’s safe to say that we had all 3 of those delicious items at pretty much each meal. Whether it was croissants & cafe or croque monseuirs & frites or crepes & wine…we ate and drank it all. And I mean it ALL. Considering we walked 10+ miles each day, we didn’t feel bad about it at all. When in Paris, you must indulge!
(Tip: Take a lunch break and head to L’As du Fallafel. Located in Le Marais , this inexpensive falafel spot is incredible! Make sure you get a few pitas to split and try the green sauce…you can thank me later!)
Truthfully, we arrived in Paris with minimal plans and it was perfect. We booked our bike tour ahead of time, but other than that we only really had a huge list of restaurants/shops/museums/attractions broken down by neighborhood (made things much easier).
While we saw a wide variety of spectacular sites, museums & shops, our favorite day was when headed to the Eiffel Tower with a blanket & some snacks. It was romantic, fun, relaxing & a wonderful memory that I can’t wait to repeat. I promise that if you just take a moment and soak it all in, Paris will quickly steal your heart.
Paris: I love you, I miss you, and I can guaran-damn-tee you that I will be back soon!