If you come across a great opportunity, do not hesitate to make the jump. Just last month I made the last minute decision to indulge in a holiday vacation and booked a flight to Paris! Before I knew it, I was tuning in to Coffee Break French and other podcasts to learn the essential phrases. I was slightly nervous I wouldn’t be able to research all that Paris had to offer within my short time frame of two weeks, but I successfully managed to come up with a decent looking plan for my six day excursion.
I imagined myself sipping a latte outside of a French brasserie on the corner of a cobblestone street. Well, I’m happy to report that my imagination was spot on. Add some Christmas lights overhead next to a sufficient amount of space heaters, vin chaud (mulled wine), and a Nutella filled crêpe, and you have the most accurate version of this scene. Paris was everything I imagined and more! I now completely understand that romantic feel of the city that you hear about in stories.
I spent most of my time wandering about in the city. Beautiful architecture and French cuisine filled my soul. I was happy to visit during the holiday season as lights were displayed all down the streets and bundling up with a hat, scarf, and mittens made the experience a cozy one. Parisians didn’t hesitate to enjoy their wine and coffee outside under the heaters while making sport of watching people pass by.
As for recommendations, let’s start with cuisine.
Le Hide, Comptoir de La Grastronomie, Le Sans Unique, and Rainettes were a few of my favorite places. I took advantage of the chance to indulge in escargot, crayfish and foie gras ravioli, roasted duck leg, frog legs, french onion soup, crème brûlée, and an arrary of cheeses. I didn’t hesitate to order escargot five out of the six days I had in the city! Oh, and wine and bread are always a given. If you’re looking for a brasserie to enjoy a glass of warm vin chaud or a delicious crêpe while relaxing outside and watching the life of the city, Le Nemours or Le Vin Coeur would be up your alley. Small pop-up crêperies are scattered throughout the city, and if you’re like me, you might treat yourself to a crêpe per day 🙂 If you’re feeling adventurous, a night out should certainly lead you to Lavomatic, a small speakeasy camouflaged to look like a laundromat!
If you can seek out a food or drink experience with a local, I would highly suggest doing so. Airbnb now offers numerous options in this category. In our case, we were fortunate enough to be invited to dinner by a former exchange student my family once hosted. As I was only six at the time of her visit, it was difficult to reestablish contact with her, but thankfully I was successful! Her and her family were so incredibly welcoming, we were ecstatic to have had such a unique experience. Our hosts treated us to champagne, wine, raclette with potatoes and broccoli, and a macaroon cake. If you’ve never had raclette before, put this on your to do list. There’s something about deliciously melted cheese that kept me yearning for more.
During our stay, we made our residence at Hôtel Princesse Caroline, which was a great choice. The staff was super friendly and helped out with any recommendations we requested. Most importantly, the location of this hotel, in the 8th arrondissement near the Arc de Triomphe, was superb. The metro station and Avenue des Champs-Élysées were only a short walk away.
Now for the sight seeing, which could keep you busy for days…
1ST AND 4TH ARR.
These areas are bursting with culture and history. Between Notre Dame, The Louvre, and The Grand Palais, I kept finding a reason to return to the center of the city. You’re likely to spend most of your time here with all of the museums and attractions. La Conciergerie and the Sainte-Chapelle were also very interesting to tour. Formerly a prison and now mostly used for law courts, La Conciergerie housed hundreds of prisoners during the French Revolution before they were taken to the guillotines. One worthy mention that has seen the inside of those walls includes the infamous Queen of France, Marie Antionette.
If you’re looking for a unique village filled with secret gardens and talented artists, Montmartre is a must see. The highlight is Sacré-Cœur Basilica, which sits high up on a hill with a fantastic view of the city. As I walked past the widely known Moulin Rouge and other similar cabarets, I found the somewhat hidden entrance to Montmartre Cemetery. Before I knew it, I was wandering among the graves and monuments for over an hour. Filled with a community of cats in addition to the graves of famous artists and writers, this cemetery dates back to the early 19th century. If you seek out the secret gardens scattered throughout this area, you’ll be lucky to come across the Wall of Love, where the phrase I Love You is written in over 100 languages.
A short train ride from the city will lead you to the Château de Versailles. First built as a hunting lodge in 1624 by Louis XIII, the estate’s fate was to eventually be expanded into a royal palace by Louis XIV and his Queen Marie Antoinette. The Domain of Versailles is now a museum to showcase the beautiful architecture, artwork, and gardens that were once home to royal personalities. Wandering through the mansion, you eventually find yourself in the Gardens of Versailles. After a mile long leisurely stroll through the gardens, you’ll have the chance to discover The Grand Trianon with its marble pavilion.
And of course, what would Paris be without catching a glimpse of the iconic Eiffel Tower. I suggest heading to Trocadero, where you can take a moment to appreciate the view from afar. And if you haven’t noticed, there are a multitude of perspectives you can capture.
This trip to Paris was certainly unexpected and at the last moment, but it made it all the more exciting! Delicious food, an abundance of wine, rich history, and beautiful architecture – what more could you ask for?