Well hello there! It’s been a while. Life happens, ya know?! But, since we recently got back from a wonderful vacation in France, I wanted to pop in and recap it for you (but also for me, as I love to have the trip documented to look back on!).
The past few European vacations we have taken have been to Italy, so we decided to change things up this time. We have both been to Paris years ago, but I’ll say, going as a 33 year old married “adult” vs a 20 year old poor college studying abroad student create for two very different experiences 😉 Nice and the French Riviera were new to both of us, but I’ll share that recap in a separate post. For now, enjoy our time in Paris!
How We Got There
We flew AirFrance and flew direct to Paris on the way there and then from Nice to Paris to Boston on the way home. We lucked out and got tickets for about $600, while still having meal & drink amenities and baggage check included. When we got to Paris, I had arranged for a car service to pick us up. The AirBnB hosts suggested A1 Transfers and we were happy with our decision. After a long flight and not really any sleep, it was nice knowing we had a car waiting for us to take us right to our apartment. it was 60 euros and well worth it.
Where We Stayed
We opted for an AirBnB for the first part of our trip. While in a big city, an AirBnB is fun because it allows you to really immerse yourself in the culture, and “live like a Parisian”, as I said probably 100 times throughout our trip 😉 I did a LOT of research on where to stay for our type of trip and being that we like to be walking distance to restaurants, but not too much in the thick of touristy areas. We wound up staying in Saint Germain, or the 6th Arr., which ended up being perfect for us. It was not too far of a walk from all of the things we were looking to do and it really felt like we were able to immerse ourselves in the neighborhood and “live like a Parisian”, lol 😉 Here’s the link to the AirBnB we used and I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone looking to go to Paris. The hosts were very responsive, the apartment was very clean and safe and it was close to restaurants, the metro, grocery store, shopping, etc. The only thing I’d say is that we had to sleep with the windows shut since the noise from the street seemed excessively loud at night. It wasn’t a hugely busy street so the noise must’ve just traveled up. No biggie, though!
Being able to make breakfast in the mornings and pack snacks and lunches on some days was a great way to save some money and save from always eating out (something we aren’t used to doing). It was also nice to have a “home base” to come back to and relax after a long day of walking around.
What We Did/What I Would Recommend Doing
Since we had both been to Paris before and had done all of the touristy “must see’s”, we weren’t too concerned with doing them again. I hate lines and didn’t want to commit to things before we got there in terms of buying tickets in advance, so we did a lot of “see from the outside” and kept walking. It worked for us!
- Louvre – We both wanted to go back to the Louvre, but the day we chose to go it was closed – go figure! Instead, we took some photos in front of it, walked around the grounds and continued on to the next.
- Musee d’Orsay – I had wanted to visit this museum again and it was so close to our apartment, but the lines were always soooo long.
- La Tour Eiffel – of course this was on our list! In fact, it was the first thing we did when we got to Paris. It was about a 2 mile walk from our apartment, but it was a great way to get movement in after a long flight and to get acclimated to the city. I know a lot of Parisians don’t like the Eiffel Tour, but I love it. We even went back at night to see it lit up, and even sparkle!
- Arc de Triomphe – From the Eiffel Tour we headed to the Place Charles de Gaulle to see the Arc de Triomphe.
- Montmartre & La Basilique du Sacre Coeur – we took the Metro to this part of the city and fell in love with it! The Basilica was incredible and the views from the area were insane! Luckily it was a picture perfect blue sky day so we were able to see everything. We loved walking around the small streets, popping into little stores and sipping Aperol Spritz’s while people watching. This was actually one of RM’s favorite days and favorite parts of Paris.
- Notre Dame – We weren’t able to go in the church, but that was OK since I’ve already been to mass there before and we went into hundreds of other churches during our trip. I love churches, though, and go most weeks, so this was really a special pit-stop for me.
- Churches, in general – I loved checking out all of the churches throughout our trip! this one was in Saint Germain Square right near our apartment.
- Jardin du Luxembourg – this was a short 5 minute walk from our apartment. One morning I jogged there and did a park bench workout that I shared on my instagram. There were so many others doing workouts in the park, too- it was awesome! One afternoon we also grabbed wine, packed up snacks and a blanket and sat and ate, read and relaxed for a few hours. It was awesome!
- Siene River Tour – This was one of the things I reallyyyy wanted to do and was so glad we did. We took an evening cruise and it was cool to see the city at dusk. We had time before the cruise so we bought some vino and sat on the water and ate our snacks – so many people do this in Paris and I absolutely love it. They seem to take the time to relax and enjoy each other’s company, something American’s don’t do enough of ….
- Shopping – There were a few big purchases I wanted to make in Paris, and we had no problem finding places to make these purchases! There are so many high end stores all over the city. One day we walked up and down Rue Saint Honore and enjoyed popping into lots of stores and finishing with a little midday Moet!
- Walking around – We love walking around new cities as it’s the best way to really get a feel for the city vibe, surroundings, restaurants, shops, etc. We walked about 10+ miles every day!
Where We Ate/Drank
While we had some great meals during our time in France, I’ll say nothing really compared to the food we ate while in Italy! We laughed when we came back saying we probably hit our cheese quota for 2018 after that trip, haha, but cheese does make everything better 😉 The pain au chocolats were incredible, and consumed daily, and the wine was always great. Here are some places that I remember during our time in Paris.
- Le Quebec – This was the first place we went to when we got to Paris as it was just down the street from our AirBnB. We popped in there quite often throughout our time in Paris.
- Bistrot Le Champ de Mars – We were quite hungry after we walked to the Eiffel Tour and were kicking ourselves for not finding a little shop to get a sandwich and a bottle of wine to enjoy on the grass around the park. We knew popping into a restaurant near the Eiffel Tour would be touristy, but we ended up being happy with the food at this bistro. It was incredibly expensive, but it did the trick!
- Le Bonaparte – On our first night in Paris, we were quite tired (obviously), so we took a quick walk around the neighborhood and popped into Le Bonaparte because they had some outdoor space available. We kept it simple with a salad & French onion soup for myself and a salad with salmon for RM. It totally hit the spot!
- Tiger – On our second night we opted to head in the other direction out of our apartment and stumbled upon a fun street filled will lots of bars, restaurants and Parisians (rather than tourists!). We popped into Tiger Prawn for a pre-dinner drink and it was a blast.
- Le Machon D’Henri – Around the corner from Tiger was a cute little restaurant that just happened to have a table open up outside as we got to it. The food was incredible! We started with the toast with warm goat cheese and honey, bone marrow and each got an entry (Beef Burgundy for me!). We totally loved our meal there!
- Pizza Di Gio – We were in the mood for pizza one night and googled “Neopolitan style pizza” and found this restaurant. It was unassuming from the outside and on a quiet street, but it ended up being a fantastic meal! RM was able to speak Italian to the waiter, which was also a welcomed change from me stumbling my way through French 😉 The wine, pasta and pizza were so good – we loved it!
- Cafe des Beaux Arts – One morning it was raining and gross, so we opted to sleep in before heading out. We were supposed to go to Versailles, but with our late start, it just didn’t make sense. Instead, we popped into the cutest little Parisian cafe and had a leisurely brunch and lots of coffee. It was fantastic!
- Picnic Lunches/snacks – as we had an AirBNB and a grocery store right around the corner, we enjoyed eating breakfast at “home” and packing up lunches and snacks some days. I got quite good at making pretty darn tasty sandwiches!
There you go! Paris was such an incredible city to visit together; I keep saying I wish that we were still there! There’s just something about renting an apartment and immersing yourself in a culture that makes it feel like you really got to fully experience a city. With it being such an easy trip, I can most definitely see us doing it again!
If you have any other questions regarding our trip, please don’t hesitate to leave a comment or reach out via email!