Paris; a city I never thought I would venture to. For no particular reason other than it’s really freakin’ far away. I am so glad I decided to spend 6 days in this magical, goosebump inducing, romantic and carefree city. Paris is the most visited city in the world and has 30 million visitors annually – making it one intense place for a small town girl. Luckily I had my best friend from London who knows a thing or two about being in big cities. One piece of advice from me; don’t trust anyone and always hold your bag close. I had my phone stolen and was mugged 30 mins later – BOTH times I was alone and an easy target. However it was on the night of the World Cup Soccer final….so maybe an exception to the rule. I lost ALOT of photos, but below is what I managed to salvage.
There are plenty of accommodation options from luxurious hotels, to boutique chic accommodation, hostels for the budget conscious and Air BnB apartments. We chose the latter, and our first three nights were spent in the 7th arrondissement, South of the Seine River and the next three nights we were situated in the 2nd arrondissement in an area called Montorgueil, North of the Seine.
Our Air BnB was simply stunning; a loft with vast windows and sunlight streaming through, located in a cute cobblestoned courtyard and decorated bohemian style with a touch of French sophistication. This particular area of Paris felt more like us, very local, young and vibrant with plenty happening, but paradoxically also felt off the beaten track. Full of family-owned fishmongers, cute cheese fromageries, renowned pastry shops, boutique delicatessens and brasserie bars. We were in our absolute element!
It was a truly magical week filled to the brim exploring the city of Paree. Below you will find the top 10 things to do in Paris. Whether you are there for a week, or only a few days, these should definitely be added to the bucket list.
1. Visit the Eiffel Tower
This was our first port of call, obviously. Our first night we rendezvoused under the Eiffel Tower for sunset with a bunch of fresh snacks from Rue Cler (an amazing street full of boutique and artisan vendors). We picked up champagne, baguettes, cheese and crackers, fresh strawberries and of course some roses and chocolates. Because, cliché.
The next day we also climbed to the top of the tower. This is a must, there’s something so invigorating about climbing the stairs to the top, having a champagne 300ft in the air and seeing planes fly beneath you in the sky.
2. Run along the river Seine
Some parts of the river smell a bit funky, but it’s a great scenic run or walk and proves for perfect people watching as it’s the very essence of the city. It’s no accident the city evolved around this avenue for ecommerce and transportation resulting in the riverbanks being worth exploring. So must history goes in hand with the river alone. Along the way you might stumble across the Pont Alexandre III. It’s the most extravagant and beautiful bridge in the city, and a good spot to catch your breath and take in the views. If exercise ain’t your thing, then head to one of the floating restaurants or cafes for a croissant and a champagne!
3. Go on a Champagne Tour
Speaking of champagne, and considering you are particularly close to the home of Champagne it would be rude not to visit, right? We caught the train to the village of Reims where we were picked up by our tour guide for the day. We visited two Champagne Houses; Moët & Chandon and Tattinger, the tomb of Dom Perignon and had lunch in a quaint place named Épernay. We learnt so much and I could do a whole blog post on Champagne alone, it truly made me appreciate what goes into making a bottle of liquid gold! Fun fact, every second somewhere in the world a bottle of Moët and Chandon is opened. It’s also cheaper to buy champagne from the source, so we treated ourselves to a 2009 bottle of Dom…The monk who invented champagne by accident, and who only produces vintage wines (when the grapes are all from one particular year of harvest, hence will have the date on the bottle).
4. Go up the Montparnasse Tower
This is something we stumbled across by accident as it was only one block away from where we stayed the first three nights (7th arrondissement). Only takes 38 seconds to get to the top where it boasts breathtaking 360 degree panoramic views with the Eiffel Tower front and centre. If you go up at sunset in Summer, the sun drops below the horizon behind the Eiffel Tower, and the tower sparkles like a 300 foot Christmas tree when the lights get turned on. It is definitely 18 Euros well spent, however you just might need a few more euros to experience the champagne bar at the top. You can thank me later.
5. Eat croissants, macarons and drink hot chocolates daily
Angelina’s is a well known establishment in Paris and for very good reason. They are renowned for having the best hot chocolates or le chocolate chaud to the French. Coco Chanel was a regular customer and used to venture here just for the hot chocolates….. Feeling fancy? Opt for the old fashioned hot chocolate called “The African” where you get a pitcher of hot chocolate so thick and gooey it could almost pass as a pudding.
Eric Keyser is nearly on every street corner in Paris, but don’t let that fool you into thinking this is some mediocre chain bakery. The variety is insane; from custard filled tarts, to all kinds of bread and baugettes, chewy cookies, chocolate eclairs and satisfying sandwiches. We went traditional and went for an almond and chocolate croissant….warm and out of the bag no less. No time for photos, sorry. Gluten and dairy free diet completely out the window while in Paris.
The Macaron is another Parisian icon and invented by the Ladurée family themselves. So when we stumbled across the petite looking boutique I instantly recognised the name (due to other stores opening across the globe) so of course we went in to try one of their famous Macarons from the original establishment. The Macaron begins with whole blanched almonds that is ground and mixed with sugar which is then added to an Italian meringue mixture resulting in an equally soft and crunchy texture. I advise to try a different flavour every day!
6. Visit the Louvre Museum
The Louvre is a well known museum and is full of well-preserved artworks from the Romans and Greeks, as well as the most mysterious painting in the world; The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. We may have only went there because Beyonce and Jay Z filmed their latest video clip there, not going to lie about that. It was unreal to see it empty in the clip and then with 1000s of people inside all pushing and shoving for a glimpse of the Mona Lisa. Definitely pre-purchase a ticket online so you aren’t standing in a queue for hours on end, can get in and see what you want to see and get out. If you are like us we only spent an hour or so in there, but could easily take half a day to stroll around the whole museum.
8. Spend the day at Disneyland
We spent one of our days here and were definitely the oldest kids in the park. I have to admit I was disappointed at the lack of thrill-seeking rides there…I felt it was definitely an attraction made for kids with not much there for adults. I think the Warner Brothers park next door has more action for the older crowd but we didn’t feel like we could tick both off in one day (it’s definitely achievable). We still had a great day, buying the mandatory Minnie Mouse ears, meeting the Disney characters, watching the Princess waltz show and eating all the fun foods. Ice-cream for lunch, why not! Definitely pre-purchase a ticket so you don’t have to wait in line, and make sure to read the fine print (we bought ours on the train on the way there without realising it couldn’t be used on the same day as purchase). Silly Ts and Cs…..The parade at the end of the day was a highlight with every single movie you could ever think of being displayed in beautifully made floats and costumes.
9. Breakfast at Fragments, Wild & the Moon or Love Juice Bar Paris
We were recommended a few of these spots from people who visit Paris regularly. Although a little on the expensive side, if you are craving acai bowls, smoothies, fresh juices, raw and organic foods then these are legit for you. Love Juice Bar is a tiny little joint with all kinds of beautifully presented bowls; peanut butter, mango, acai and all 100% organic and gluten free. Wild & The Moon is a trendy cafe with incredible juice elixirs for every single occasion. We ate there and bought juice to takeaway resulting in a lavish breakfast that kept us fuelled all day long. If you are craving some good ol’ avo on toast, then seek out Fragments for their all day breakfast menu. They are incredibly generous on the avocado front, so it’s well worth scoping out. Cafe de Flore is another one worth checking out with the beautiful greenery on the outside, it’s the perfect spot to perch and watch the Paris world go by.
10. Lastly, Have a night out!
We were lucky enough to be in Paris for the World Cup Finals; France vs. Croatia and what a crazy, chaotic time to be alive. I have never experienced so much passion and camaraderie for a sport before. We rocked red lipstick, grabbed a French flag and bar hopped and watched the game wherever we could, trying to peer over peoples shoulders in the street to get a glimpse at the score, or the dwindling minutes of the match. When the final whistle blew and France had won, there was blue and red powder bombs in the air, confetti, tooting of car horns, dancing and singing of the National Anthem and randoms hugging in the streets.
There were a number of things we just didn’t get to tick off our list. It’s impossible to explore a city in 6 days. Minus the mugging, it was an amazing trip, somewhere I would definitely go back to given the opportunity and a trip that helped me on my personal journey. I now have a love heart tattoo on my wrist to remember such a great time, in the city of love, with my soul sister by my side.
Au Revoir Paree