Day 1 (8.28.15)
This was my first trip to Paris and I was there solo following an epic trip to Ibiza. My goals were to take beautiful photos, relax, and eat good food. And that’s exactly what I did! The first half of my stay, I had a hotel in the Latin Quarter dead smack in the middle of Paris which was great for walking the city and exploring. Rain was pouring down as my flight arrived that Thursday night, but I went straight to bed at my hotel so it didn’t bother me. After a good nights rest, I woke up the next morning and enjoyed the free breakfast at my hotel. It was a typical french breakfast consisting of a croissant along with other breads and jam, plain yogurt and fruit, orange juice and a coffee. Then I spent the entire first day strolling through the city, making my way to the Eiffel Tower for the first of many visits and photo ops. It is truly breath taking. The weather was really nice this day, I was comfortable walking around in jeans and a tank top.
I got my first introduction to the AMAZING food of Paris during lunch at a small restaurant called Au Bon Accueil that I found on google maps using the “Explore around you” feature. Situated down a small ally near the Eiffel Tower, the seats outside the restaurant give you the perfect tower view to enjoy with your food. The server handed me the menu and I realized it was only in French. I got embarrassed and didn’t say anything and just thought to myself ‘ oh this is what everyone always says about France, they hate americans and no one speaks english!’. I got out my phone and began to try and type in every single food item and translate it to english….which was huge fail. The server returned a few minutes later asking what I wanted and I hesitated for a minute before replying ‘ehhh to be honest I can’t read the menu’. “Hmmm what are we going to do about that?” , he replied back with a smirk. He then happily translated the menu for me and my previous stereotypes of Paris where instantly broken. In fact for my entire 3 days there, no one was rude to me and everyone spoke english when I talked to them.
After stopping by the elegant Notre Dam, I ended my day with dinner and a glass of wine near my hotel at Vins et Terroirs. The creme brûlée was amazing!
Day 2 (8.29.15)
Being that I only had 3 days in Paris, I packed my days full of site seeing. If I ever go back, I plan to relax a bit more now that I have seen most of the city. I started my day with brunch at Strada Cafe, a cute little hipster cafe with modern food options and fresh juices. I opted for the 3-part brunch which ended up being way to much food but I wanted to try a little of everything. It was right by the Museo De Lovre, so that was my next stop. I didn’t feel like fighting the crowds to see the Mona Lisa (which I heard is actually a tiny painting in real life!) but the court yards of this giant museum are a glorious spectacle themselves.
When it was too far to walk somewhere, I got around Paris using the underground Metro. Standard and very easy to use, just like in any other major city. I highly recommend this over taxis or Uber (unless you are traveling to or from the airport) being that the traffic was pretty bad in the city. My next stop was the Arc De Triomphe, which was a request from Napoleon to be built for the capital of his empire in 1806 and wasn’t completed until 1836, 30 years later! Can you imagine if buildings took that long to finish now? They sure would be much more beautiful though.
Musee National d’Art Moderne at the Pompidou Center was my next visit. It is a modern museum with a wide range of art installations, and for someone who does not usually visit museums, I really enjoyed it! Not to mention it had great views over looking the city from the top floor balcony.
I ended my evening with a night time bike tour of the city from Fat Tire Bike Tours,a company that actually originates from my home town – Austin, TX. It was unusually hot this day which was why I opted for the night tour. We watched the sunset over Pont Des Arts bridge and stopped by a lot of the places I had already seen. It was great to get the history on everything from the tour guide as we made our way around the city though. The bike tour ended with a glass of wine and river boat ride down La Seine which runs through the center of the city. I walked over to the Eiffel Tower after the tour to sit and admire the night time view which is even more spectacular. Every hour on the hour, starting at sunset, the tower lights up with sparkling twinkly lights for 5 magical minutes. This goes on until 1am each night. I grabbed a banana crepe and a french beer and sat down to join hundreds of spectators on the grass to catch the midnight hour sparkle of the tower. It didn’t even look real it was so beautiful. Perfect way to the end the night.
Day 3 (8.30.15)
My final day in Paris started with a visit to the eloquent Sacre-Coeur, a roman catholic church on the highest point in the city that took almost 40 years to build. Not only was the basilica itself beautiful to look at, but it also holds one of the best views over looking the city of Paris. I made my way over to Le Fumoir for a highly anticipated brunch that I read about in a Time Out article and to be honest, was a little disappointed. It was very american and felt forced, I guess brunch isn’t very popular in France as they focus more on a big a lunch. The food was fine, but it was something I could find easily in the states. I did have a great chat with the host though and he gave me some recommendations for my final evening in the city. I was trying to find the perfect location to watch the sunset, but was not very successful. First I went to the top of the Montparnasse Tower which I read had a great view, but it turned out that there was viewing glass caging the top of the building with only a small opening to actually see the city from. I didn’t want to look through glass, I wanted the real thing! So I rushed over to the Esplanade du Trocadéro to get a better view. Turns out I couldn’t actually see the sun setting from here either, BUT it was a gorgeous view still and I captured my favorite Eiffel Tower shot from here with the beautiful blue night sky and rolling clouds in the back ground. My last foodie stop on this trip was to the famous L’As du Fallafel, which a friend of mine who was living in Paris recommended. There was a good size line out front but it was definitely worth it! I got the pork fallafel with their special veggie balls added in.
I can’t say that I have any advice on Parisian night life because I didn’t make it out once while I was there! I was honestly just so exhausted from Ibiza and traveling and decided to listen to my body and just rest for a few nights. Not to mention the exhaustion that came with walking the city all day and the extreme heat of the last 2 days there. My recommendations I do have to offer would be:
Where to Stay:
I stayed in 2 different areas, and I much preferred the latin quarter near Notre Dam. It was so central. Easy to walk everywhere and very lively area with tons of restaurants and bars. Also very nice and clean. I also stayed further north next to the Sacre-Coeur where a lot of back packers stay apparently. It was much further from everything and felt more unsafe at night.
Where to Eat:
-Au Bon Accueil for amazing french food with a view of the Eiffel Tower
-Vins et Terroirs in the center of Paris, small cozy atmosphere and great dessert.
-Strada Cafe for a delicious large breakfast/brunch and fresh squeezed juice – L’As Du Fallafel for some amazing fallafels!
Where I Caught the Best Sunset:
Pont Des Arts Bridge