Jul 16, 2013

Our European Adventure - Things to do in Paris

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. 

Paris Tips
  • 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?


  1. ugh. I've only been to Paris once (7 years ago) but I looooooooooved it. Your pictures make me really want to go back - the sights! the food! your cute outfits! can't wait to see more :)

  2. AHHHHH!!! love it. so glad you went to versailles after all...totally worth it right?!

  3. This sounds and looks amazing!! Who knows if I'll ever get the chance to go to Paris, but it's nice that you included some tips/recommendations!

  4. Well that's it, I'm packing myself in your suitcase if you ever go again. It seriously sounds like a trip of a lifetime! I have a fear that I'll never get Adam to go to Europe haha!

  5. Hmm Paris... I love Paris! Riding the metro is extremely affordable - buy a book of 20 rides (if you have enough time to do 20 rides). Sit at a cafe and people watch. And the Louvre is huge... I think most people just go to see the Mona Lisa! :)

  6. Looks like the perfect trip! I need to go back now please!

  7. I'm incredibly jealous of you right now!! All these photos are incredibly beautiful and I've heard so much about the amazing food there! I totally want to go now haha. Even the view from your hotel was breathtaking! Lucky girl! :)

  8. Love your photo's! Love the fellow Paris traveler... It was sure incredible! It's so fun to see other's views on it. We didn't hit as many museums as you did but the few we did I just loved.
    Well, looks like I need to go back and get me some of those Macaroons filled with gelato..! I'll meet you there someday k;)
    ps. has anyone ever mentioned you resemble Lady Mary from downton Abbey? You are gorgeous!

  9. I totally have the travel bug now! Looks like an amazing trip!

  10. The Rue Cler neighborhood is where we stayed on our honeymoon. LOVED it. One of my favorite things we did was gather picnic supplies on the Rue Cler and then take them down to the bank of the Seine and picnic like real Parisians as the boats floated by. Wine straight from the bottle...so bohemian. "Thug Crepes" (street cart crepes) are the way to go. And THANK YOU for calling out the generally misguided stereotype of the rude Parisians. Good grief. Don't be an Ugly American tourist (aka rude) and they won't be rude back. Yay Paris! It's my happy place.

  11. What a fantastic trip! I also LOVED Versailles. Just like you, I thought the gardens were incredible. One of my favorite things in Paris, it totally amazed me. Makes me want to go back now! ~Devin

  12. wow it's my dream to to go Paris! Lucky you!
    :) Liz @ www.rusticpeach.com

  13. This is amazing. I want to go so bad. AHHH.

  14. Isn't Paris just a dream??? I cannot wait to go back! And I'm such a sucker for cobblestone streets... I want my future patio to be cobblestone just to have a piece of Europe.

    I'm almost positive my mom and I went to the Versailles Palace. It looks familiar but gosh, we went ten years ago. We walked and walked and walked in and outside of that place. So absolutely beautiful!!!

    And the Lourve... Yes... Sigh... It was great visiting there as well! As well as the Norte Dame. There we lit tea light candles. It would have been amazing to see a service!

    Did you go up the Eiffel Tower? That is something we skipped out on. It was cold (we went in December), the line was ridiculously long but it is something I'm regretting now.

    Ohhh crepes... France was my first time ever having a crepe. I was sold and it's now my favorite breakfast food!

    Cannot wait for more photos!

    P.S. Love the pic of you on the bike :) I always wanted to do that!

  15. I can't believe you almost skipped Versailles. It's one of the most beautiful palaces!! Which you were able to see on your own since you DID go (thank God!). :) I LOVE Paris, I wonder if there is anyone who has been there and not loved it (don't tell me if you know that person).
    Sacre-Coeur/Montmartre was my favorite place... the artists, the view, the cathedral. And Notre Dame's art is so intrinsic - loved it. And loved all of your pictures, thanks for posting these!
    So glad you and Eric had the opportunity to explore Paris together! What a wonderful memory!

  16. what a great post - I hate when I read blogs and all they do is suggest ridiculously expensive hotels, or things to do. it looks like you guys had a great time, and i am super jealous!

  17. Hi! I've been looking all over the Palace of Versailles website for info on renting bikes and can't find anything. Do you have any info on that? Thank you so much!

    1. I think it's an outside vendor that comes and sets up a little stand to rent the bikes, so maybe that is why it is not the site? The bikes are at a little stand that are in the center of the grounds, but probably a 15min walk from the back of the castle. I think it cost around $10/hour or so (not positive about that). I found this forum
      Trip Advisor that might be helpful. If you want to book a bike tour you would obviously book that in advance, but if you just want to rent a bike, I think you have to do that day of. I hope that helps!


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