We flew into Paris to begin our European tour. Neither Eric nor I had been before, so we couldn't wait to explore the city. We loved Paris. Like, really loved it. I think how much we enjoyed it has to do with a few things (some of which I have mentioned at the bottom of this post), but I'm sure a lot of it was that it was the first city in Europe we have ever been to together!
We stayed in the 7th Arrondissement (the same area where the Eiffel Tower is located), specifically in the Rue Cler area. It was perfectly Parisian and amazing. Right outside our hotel doorstep were fruit stands, pretty cafes, a cheese shop, a bakery, etc. We woke up each morning and ordered a quiche lorraine and a pain au chocolate while walking the cobblestone streets and absorbing the French culture.
Macaroons in Paris are a must, but macaroons filled with gelato? Absolutely incredible.
Les Invalides is the military museum that houses Napoleon's tomb. It is HUGE, interesting, and perfect for boys. And Napoleon's tomb... indescribable. Let's just say he was quite loved.
Musee d'Orsay (once a train station) was my favorite museum in Paris. It is overwhelming (as all large museums are), but definitely worth a visit. Gorgeous building with art by Renior, Monet, Van Gogh, just to name a few.
Ahh, Versailles. We almost didn't go (we had heard it was overrated) but it was definitely a highlight for us. I'm a Marie Antoinette historical fiction junkie, so I ate it up. The palace is absolutely stunning, but the real highlight were the gardens. We rented bikes so we were able to visit some of the smaller palaces (oxymoron?) around the property. We spent about 3 hours in Versailles, and we wished we could have stayed longer.
We went to the Sacré-Cœur Basilica in Montmartre entirely for the view. It is the highest point in Paris and it gives you an idea of how large the city really is. It is quite a walk, but the views are spectacular.
We also took in the views from atop the Arc de Triomphe, which gives you a chance to watch the cars drive/dance in the circle around the arc. It is also a wonderful view of the Champs-Elysées (one of the main walking areas in Paris).
What I can I say about the food in Paris? It's wonderful (and expensive). This was one of our favorite meals, but it is almost hard to narrow it down because the food... well, it is good.
The Louvre. When you're in Paris, you must go. But it is large. Very large. When we finally arrived, we had walked more than we ever had in our life and we just didn't have the energy the explore the Louvre the way it should be explored. But it was wonderful to see the Mona Lisa and the building and grounds are lovely.
Eating a crepe on the Seine River.
Notre Dame Cathedral is unbelievable. We sat for a bit of the service and that definitely added to the general feeling of awe. We could have examined the architecture for hours. Hours.
- We stayed at Hotel du Champ de Mars in the Rue Clur district within the 7th Arrondissment.. The location was wonderful and the rooms are affordable, nice and very clean. If you're a hotel diva you probably wouldn't want to stay there (the room is tiny and there is no a/c) but we thought it was great.
- For macaroons filled with gelato - Martine Lambert.
- La Petit Cler is a cute little Parisian cafe in the Rue Clur area. The food and service were wonderful.
- Don't miss: Notre Dame, The Louvre, Versailles, Musee d'Orsay.
- Eating a crepe in Paris is definitely a must. One of the cheapest and tastiest meals you will have.
- The Paris Metro is surprisingly easy to navigate. All of the monuments are marked on the map, making it easy to know your stop. The Metro also goes nearly everywhere, so if you use it well you'll never need another mode of transportation.
- Parisians have a reputation of being rude. No one was ever rude to us. It's true that many people speak English, but we always tried to speak to them in French first (imagine if someone came into your business and just started demanding things in French - rude). Also, merci and s'il vous plait go a long way.
- Get the Paris Museum Pass. For 39 euros apiece, we were able to see pretty much anything we wanted in Paris without paying and without waiting in line. We saved not only money, but time as well.
Anyone else have any tips for Paris travel or must-sees?