My trip to Paris had been on my bucket list for a long time…I am embarrassed to say that I think it was on my list because of the Sex and the City series finale 😛 …the other reason was the decor and large picture I got of the city when I moved to Seattle. I looked at that massive picture everyday during my years as a rep and I told myself that because of my personal and professional decisions I made when moving to Seattle, one day it would lead me to Paris ❤
My favorite part of Paris was planning it. I would spend hours reading my Lonely Planet book and watching Rick Steves walking the streets, jotting down what caught my eye. This was my first time to Europe and I was also traveling solo, which meant I could plan the vacation how I liked to travel – with every minute booked! Given this, I understand that the timeline in my Travel Journal of Paris is jammed back (and it was even more packed with a trip out to Normandy Beaches & Mont Saint Michel planned ,but I needed to sadly cancel as I just did not have enough time).
I also learned a lot of lessons on this trip which I will capture in this itinerary but expand more on in my Travel Journal. The biggest lesson is to plan more down time and always leave a free “bonus” day incase you see something you want to do and/or to just explore without an agenda! I have taken what I learned and experienced during my week in Paris and drafted the itinerary below…if I could go back, here is what my 3-5 days in Paris would look like…..
– Day 0 –
Getting there: If you’re planning a trip to Paris, there are several airports you can fly into, each with its own pros and cons. Here are some things to know about each airport to help you choose which one to fly into.
- Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) Charles de Gaulle is the largest airport in Paris and the second-busiest airport in Europe. It’s located about 25 kilometers northeast of Paris and is the main hub for Air France. CDG has three terminals, and each terminal has its own set of shops and restaurants. One of the biggest advantages of flying into CDG is that it has excellent public transportation connections to Paris, including a direct train (RER) that takes you to the city center in about 30 minutes. The downside of CDG is that it can be quite crowded and confusing, especially if you’re not familiar with the airport.
- Orly Airport (ORY) Orly is the second-largest airport in Paris and is located about 14 kilometers south of the city. It’s smaller and less busy than CDG, and it’s a hub for several low-cost airlines. Orly has two terminals, and each terminal has a good selection of shops and restaurants. Orly is well-connected to Paris by public transportation, with several bus and train options available. The downside of Orly is that it can be more expensive to fly into than CDG.
- Beauvais-Tillé Airport (BVA) Beauvais-Tillé is a smaller airport located about 85 kilometers north of Paris. It’s mainly used by low-cost airlines, and it has one terminal. One of the biggest advantages of flying into Beauvais-Tillé is that it can be cheaper than flying into CDG or Orly. However, the downside is that it’s quite far from Paris, and it can take several hours to get to the city center by bus or train.
Overall, each airport has its own pros and cons, and the one you choose will depend on your priorities. If you’re looking for convenience and ease of access to Paris, CDG or Orly may be your best bet. If you’re looking to save money on your flight, Beauvais-Tillé might be worth considering.
😋 RacheyZee’s Triscuit of Information: When flying discount airlines it is SUPER IMPORTANT to read the fine print. For example, I flew from Pairs to Ireland on Ryan Air I had to have a PRINTED boarding pass, if you didn’t have one it was an extra charge to print one. Additionally make sure to look at the weight and size limits for luggage (and convert to LBS)…charges can add up to be more expensive than a non discounted airline.
Transportation From Airport: I recommend not renting a car in Paris as they have an amazing public transit system and the city is very walkable….additionally driving looks really challenging not only navigating the streets but how narrow and busy the streets got. I was able to walk or take public transit everywhere I went and when I caught short on time, I called an Uber/Lyft and there were still taxis available.
There are several options for transportation from the airport to Paris, but the most popular are the train, taxi, and shuttle bus. The train is the fastest and most affordable option, with the RER B line connecting the airport to several stations in central Paris. You can purchase a ticket from the machines in the airport, and trains run every 10-15 minutes. The journey takes around 30 minutes, depending on your destination.
Taxis are another option, but they can be expensive and the traffic in Paris can be unpredictable. You can expect to pay around 50-60 euros for a taxi ride from the airport to central Paris.
Shuttle buses are a convenient option if you have a lot of luggage or want to avoid navigating public transportation. Companies such as Paris Airport Shuttle and Super Shuttle offer shared or private rides to your hotel, with prices starting around 18 euros per person.
No matter which option you choose, it’s important to plan ahead and have a general idea of where your hotel is located in relation to the airport. With a little research and preparation, getting into Paris from the airport can be a breeze, leaving you more time to enjoy all the city has to offer.
Transportation once in Paris: Paris offers a variety of transportation options for tourists to easily move around the city. The most popular and convenient mode of transportation is the metro, which has 16 lines covering the entire city. The metro is fast, efficient and inexpensive, making it the ideal choice for budget travelers. Additionally, the city has an extensive bus network, which is ideal for tourists who want to explore the city at a leisurely pace. For a more unique experience, tourists can also opt to take a riverboat cruise on the Seine River or rent a bike to explore the city’s many bike lanes and parks. Taxis are also available but can be expensive during peak hours, so it is best to use them sparingly. Overall, there are plenty of transportation options to choose from to suit any budget or preference in Paris.
Accommodations: Rick Steve’s recommended a small boutique hotel and I could not agree more. I stayed at Hôtel Original Paris, which was probably my favorite hotel of all time as it was reasonably prices, in a great location, and very unique and “so Paris.” I wished I would have stayed in this hotel or another boutique hotel the entire time, but I wanted to experience another part of town and stayed at the Marriott…which was nice but had zero culture and was very sterile (but free with points so it depends on your budget!)
Here is my entry on my Hotel: “After our meal and drinks I checked into the Hotel Original Paris – and was WOWed – this boutique hotel was perfect (and inexpensive) and was highly rated on Trip Adviser (actually first found it on Hotels.com) It added to the Paris experience unlike the other Paris Bloggers (sorry Rick Steves) that said not to book a hotel online. My room was on the top floor (6th floor) and was themes after 1 of the 7 deadly sins (the other 6 rooms on the 6th floor were all themed as well) Mine luckily looked over the Eiffel Tower and was the first sight I got of the Tower.”
Sadly, I think this hotel was sold and renamed and renovated as I couldn’t locate it anywhere. When I searched the address (8 bd Beaumarchais 75011 Paris France Bastille, 11ème) this hotel came up: Book Le Petit Beaumarchais Hotel & Spa in Paris. Looked newly renovated and given it is at the same address, I would still recommend as this location was the perfect place for the first couple days before moving closer to the Eiffel Tower.
Tours: I book all my tours on Viator.com, so I will be linking to similar tours that I took to this site. I like that it is very detailed and tells you what to expect, is owned by TripAdvisor and I find it is reasonably priced and easy to use. In all my years of traveling I have booked every tour through them and never had an issue. I have needed to call customer service a couple times and they have always been very helpful.
Clothing: Appropriate footwear is a much for Paris as the best way to get around is walking (and a great way to burn off those extra croissants!) It is a dance as I wanted to be fashionable but leave the heels at home – I found the best footwear and clothing for summer months (since it can be extraordinarily hot) is a sundress for fashion with a scarf of course and ankle tennis shoes.
I went to Paris in July and ended my trip in Ireland thus needed completely different clothes for each…over 90 degrees in Paris to 40s and 50s in Ireland. Many people do a stop over in Iceland and this would be even more extreme. Pack layers and I suggest reading “what to wear in ___ season in Ireland, Paris, Iceland, etc.” blogs. This helped me with my entire wardrobe and I felt fashionable and most important comfortable…I even got the ultimate complement, being asked for directions by Americans, lol.
– Day 1 –
However way you decide to get to Paris, pack your patience and plan a light first day as I never saw Paris without traffic and everything always took longer than expected. Additionally the culture in Paris (and Eurpore) is more laid back and doesn’t have the “I NEED IT NOW” mentality – embrace it! Don’t over schedule yourself, especially on travel days. My advice for the first day, is to take your time getting to your hotel, check in, rest, adjust to the time change, and head out to get a lay of the land.
I started my trip in Bastille, which I highly recommend as it is very walkable, is less touristy, and is a great way to immerse yourself in the city’s history and culture. The Bastille neighborhood is known for its pivotal role in the French Revolution, and it has a rich history that dates back centuries. Today, it’s a lively neighborhood filled with bars, cafes, and boutiques, making it the perfect place to start your Parisian adventure.
You can explore the many historic sites in the area, including the Place de la Bastille, which was once the site of the infamous prison that was stormed during the revolution. The Opera Bastille is also a must-visit attraction in the area, with its stunning modern architecture and world-class performances. For a taste of local Parisian life, head to the Marché d’Aligre, a bustling market filled with fresh produce, meats, and cheeses. Whatever your interests may be, Bastille is a great starting point!
Whether you start your trip in Bastille or another neighborhood, I suggest getting out and about and start planning how you are going to get around the city. Here are my recommendations for Day 1: (read more about my first day in my Travel Journal).
Experience a cafe in Paris! Very different than ordering coffee in America. Something I noticed are there are no locals walking around with to-go coffees, many places don’t even have them. Coffee is meant to be enjoyed at a cafe or a quick shot of espresso. The cafe creme below (latte in America) was perfect and was a great pick me up as my head was a little foggy after my travels.
Get a lay of the land….I recommend a cruise on the Seine River. Either book this for later in the day to allow for plenty of time to arrive, or you can probably find one without needing a reservation. This is a great way to see the city, learn some history, and get excited about your trip ahead! (I did the Champagne Tasting on the Seine...because “When In Rome….or in France for that matter 🙂 )
😋 RacheyZee’s Triscuit of Information: Booking a cruise on the Seine River is a popular way to see the beautiful sights of Paris. There are many options available, ranging from hour-long sightseeing tours to full-day excursions. One option is to book directly with a cruise company, such as Bateaux Parisiens or Vedettes de Paris. These companies offer a variety of cruises, including lunch and dinner cruises, themed cruises, and private cruises. Another option is to book through a tour company, which can offer packages that include a Seine River cruise as well as other activities and tours in Paris. It’s also possible to book a Seine River cruise as part of a hop-on hop-off bus tour, which allows you to see Paris’s other attractions at your own pace. Regardless of the option you choose, a cruise on the Seine River is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Paris.
Eat Dinner Like a Local: Parisians take their food seriously, and the dining scene in Paris reflects the city’s reputation for exceptional cuisine. Paris is home to a wide range of restaurants, from classic French bistros to Michelin-starred fine dining establishments. Dining in Paris is often a leisurely affair, with meals that can last several hours, and many Parisian restaurants have a romantic and intimate atmosphere. It is important to note that service can be more formal than what you may be used to, and it is customary to greet the waiter or waitress with “bonjour” or “bonsoir” and to say “merci” when you receive your food or drink. Additionally, it is common to enjoy a pre-dinner drink or aperitif before the meal, and be aware that it is considered impolite to ask for substitutions or changes to a dish.
Believe it or not, I only went out to dinner once in Paris!! Since I was traveling solo and food isn’t a big point of my trips and I typically don’t eat very much, I found myself having lots of snacks during the day or my favorite, cheese and bread 🙂 This was one of the only things I wish I could have done more of but will when I am back with friends or a partner as dinner is such a social experience…when you are by yourself it felt strange to be at a table for 3+ hours. I am much more of a grab and go when I am flying solo! But the one meal I did eat out for was divine and I loved this salad!!
In Paris, dinner typically begins around 8pm and can last for several hours, with diners enjoying multiple courses and taking their time to savor each dish. It’s also worth noting that in Paris, the dining experience is often more formal than in America, with dress codes sometimes enforced and reservations recommended at many restaurants. Additionally, tipping in Paris is not as common as it is in the United States, as service charges are often included in the bill.
Here are some highly-rated and well-regarded restaurants that offer a genuine Parisian dining experience and are known to be enjoyed by locals:
- L’Ambroisie: This three Michelin-starred restaurant serves classic French cuisine with a focus on fresh, seasonal ingredients. It’s located in the charming Île Saint-Louis neighborhood.
- Chez L’Ami Jean: This rustic Basque restaurant in the 7th arrondissement is known for its hearty and flavorful dishes, such as roast pork and grilled squid. The convivial atmosphere and welcoming staff make it a local favorite.
- Le Comptoir du Relais: This lively bistro in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighborhood serves up traditional French dishes with a modern twist. The menu changes frequently, but you can always expect top-quality ingredients and expertly executed dishes.
- Le Severo: This small, unassuming steakhouse in the Montparnasse neighborhood is beloved by locals for its perfectly cooked steaks and homemade fries. The atmosphere is cozy and intimate, and the service is friendly and unpretentious.
- Septime: This contemporary French restaurant in the 11th arrondissement has earned three Michelin stars for its innovative and artfully presented cuisine. The minimalist decor and relaxed atmosphere make for a truly special dining experience.
😋 RacheyZee’s Triscuit of Information: It’s considered impolite to use your fingers to eat olives, so use a fork or toothpick instead. Additionally, in Paris, it’s customary to ask for the check when you’re ready to leave. The waiter won’t bring it automatically, and asking for it is seen as a sign that you’re ready to pay and leave. It’s also important to note that tipping is not as common in Paris as it is in the United States. In general, service is included in the price of the meal, but it’s still customary to round up the bill or leave a few extra euros for exceptional service. Finally, it’s always a good idea to learn a few key phrases in French, such as “l’addition s’il vous plaît” (the check, please) to make your dining experience go more smoothly.
End your 1st Day with a Nightcap: Paris is known for its vibrant nightlife scene, and there are plenty of options for a nightcap in the city. Here are some great night bars to check out:
- Le Comptoir General: This African-inspired bar is a local favorite, offering a cozy and eclectic atmosphere with live music and DJs.
- Le Perchoir: Located on a rooftop, this trendy bar offers stunning views of the city and a creative cocktail menu.
- Le Syndicat: This hidden gem is a speakeasy-style bar, with a focus on high-quality French spirits and inventive cocktails.
- Experimental Cocktail Club: This speakeasy-style bar is known for its innovative cocktails and elegant atmosphere.
- La Candelaria: This small bar serves up some of the best cocktails in Paris, with a focus on tequila and mezcal.
- Little Red Door: This speakeasy-style bar is known for its creative cocktails and intimate atmosphere. The entrance is easy to miss, so keep your eyes peeled!
- La Belle Hortense: This cozy wine bar is perfect for book lovers, as it also functions as a bookstore. Enjoy a glass of wine while perusing the shelves.
- Le Fumoir: This stylish bar is located in the heart of Paris and boasts a beautiful terrace with views of the Louvre. It’s a great spot for a post-dinner drink.
- Harry’s New York Bar: This historic bar has been a favorite among locals and expats for over a century. It’s known for its classic cocktails and lively atmosphere.
It’s worth noting that Paris has a rich bar and nightlife culture, and there are countless options to explore depending on your tastes and preferences. Additionally, many Parisian bars can get busy later in the evening, so it’s a good idea to plan ahead and arrive early to ensure a good spot.
Eiffel Tower Light Show: Make sure while you are in Paris you check out the Eiffel Tower light show at least one night! The light show at the Eiffel Tower is a nightly event that takes place every hour on the hour after sunset until 1 a.m. It features a dazzling display of twinkling lights that illuminate the tower and make it appear as if it is sparkling. The show lasts for about five minutes and is a popular attraction for both locals and visitors to Paris. The lights are made up of energy-efficient LED bulbs that were installed in 2013 and provide a bright and stunning display that can be seen from all around the city. Whether you are viewing the Eiffel Tower from a nearby restaurant, park or from the tower itself, the light show is a must-see experience that truly captures the magic of Paris at night. If you are really lucky, you will be able to see this from your hotel room like I did!!
– Day 2 –
I found that day two is the perfect day for some walking tours, not only to immerse yourself in the culture but to talk to others in your group (and the guide) about some “must dos” while you are in the city….another reason to keep some days open for some additions based on what you hear. I started my day with The Bastille Market and then below is a walking tour I really enjoyed as it gave a good overview of the area, included food, history and had lots of time for questions!
The Bastille Market: I would recommend getting up early, if you aren’t too jet legged and visiting Bastille market on the way to your walking tour. The Bastille Market, or the Marché Bastille, is one of the largest and most popular outdoor markets in Paris. It takes place every Thursday and Sunday on the Boulevard Richard Lenoir, near the Place de la Bastille. The market is a great place to experience the local Parisian culture and to try some delicious French foods. You can find everything from fresh produce, cheese, bread, and pastries to clothing, crafts, and souvenirs. The atmosphere is lively and bustling, with vendors shouting out their specials and shoppers haggling for the best prices. If you’re looking for a unique and authentic Parisian experience, the Bastille Market is definitely worth a visit.
Walking Tour: Montmartre Impressionist Art Walking Tour: Discover the charms of one of Paris’ most popular neighborhoods on a walking tour of Montmartre, a district known for its artists and historically bohemian vibe. Start at the Moulin Rouge and see where artists like Van Gogh, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, and Pissarro lived and worked. See sights like the Basilica du Sacré-Coeur, and get insights from your guide about the art, music, food, and history of Montmartre. Explore the Parisian neighborhood of Montmartre on a walking tour Hear stories from your guide about what makes this district stand out from the rest of Paris See the Moulin Rouge and Basilica du Sacré-Coeur Exploring on foot allows you to get a better feel for the atmosphere of the neighborhood.
The tour was good, it was nice to have a French speaking person giving the tour in English, we got more culture and flavor. He pointed out a ton about the area that had nothing to do with Impressionist … Like corner cafes do not have to try that hard since they are on the corner and if a restaurant in Paris has something in the name that is “grand” like “the best Italian restaurant” or “Perfect Irish food” to avoid it, he said if they were good they would not need to advertise they are good.
The tour ended at the summit of Montmartre on the steps of Sacre Coeur Basilica, from where you can view all of Paris below. It had been advised that from a couple people that if I wanted a view without the crowds and somewhere not as expensive that I should go here instead of the Eiffel Tower. I was planning to do both but sadly the Tower was closed on my last couple days I was there: Eiffel Tower closed after clashes in Euro 2016 fan zone following final
I highly recommend paying the extra 6 Euros and going up to the Dome. The journey to the top of the Basilique of the Sacré Cœur made me dizzy and as I looked back my Fitbit said it was over 50 floors – all circled around tightly – definitely not “up to code” in the USA.
Probably the coolest thing was the view of the futbol stadium that the championship will be played on Sunday!! (At the time I did not know) France will be in that championship….that would be like the Super Bowl being in Seattle if the Seahawks where playing.
I took the advice of our guide and went another way back to Moulin Rouge. He mentioned that so many tourists just follow the crowd and miss some great sites of Montmartre. I stopped at the award winning Boulangerie Le Grenier a Pain, to order my first official baguette in Paris. It was huge! I could only eat half, but it was good and I felt so “Paris’ walking around Montmartre eating it. I stumbled into this park and I have no idea what it was but it seemed to be a point of interest…
Enjoy a French Lunch: As I did, after your walking tour…somewhere your guide pointed out or I highly recommend “eating like the French” and having a Croissant or Baguette. I recommend Le Grenier a Pain which won the award for best baguette in Paris in 2015 and 2010. These awards (pictured) are MASSIVE in France. The winner is flooded with business and supplies baguettes to the president all year.
😋 RacheyZee’s Triscuit of Information: Something our French guide told us is “do not eat anywhere near a main tourist attraction” he said that they typically cater to tourists who do not know any better, put up fancy flags and make it seem authentic but in reality it is over priced and not good. An example of this is purchasing water. I had purchased a couple different types bottled water for 1 euro, it was a small water bottle. Then I went to the grouch store (store name) and purchased a bottle 2-3 times the size for .2 Euros. Look for places that serve traditional French cuisine, such as escargots, bouillabaisse, or coq au vin. These restaurants often have a more local crowd and will give you a more authentic dining experience. Many restaurants in Paris offer a prix fixe menu, which is a fixed-price menu that includes several courses. This is a great way to sample the restaurant’s specialties without breaking the bank.
😋 RacheyZee’s Triscuit of Information: When I purchased the above tour it included Skip-the-Line Musee d’Orsay Ticket however I could not find this combo tour on Viator and I would not recommend bundling anyway as it locked me into a lot and was not that much of a time or money saver in the end…best to just purchase separately if you are interested in going to both. On that note, this was the only museum I went to…I had heard from many people to skip the Louvre and do the Musee d’Orsay as it is smaller, less expensive, and not as crowded.
Visit a Museum: Given what I mentioned above, I felt like I got my fill of the Musee d’Orsay was the perfect museum to visit for me – I am not a huge museum person but I wanted to see Van Gogh, since he is my favorite and I wanted to get some culture in without committing an entire day to The Louvre.
The Musee d’Orsay was amazing, it was beautiful and my favorite part was Vincent Van Gogh’s room. I actually went back about 4 times, I just loved that each time I got goosebumps and smiled…something about knowing that he touched those paintings and the thoughts that went through his mind when he painted them gives me chills. However, I found the beauty in the museum to be in the building and the views. I was constantly looking at things other people were not – so many things to give pause to!
But if you are wondering which museum fits into your schedule and taste, here are some of the top museums in Paris and what makes each unique; Each museum offers a unique experience, so it depends on your interests and what kind of art you enjoy:
- Louvre Museum: The Louvre is one of the largest and most famous museums in the world, with an extensive collection of art and artifacts spanning thousands of years of history.
- Musée d’Orsay: The Musée d’Orsay is housed in a former train station and features an impressive collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art, including works by Monet, Van Gogh, and Degas.
- Centre Pompidou: The Centre Pompidou is a modern art museum with a distinctive architecture that features its pipes and ducts on the exterior. It houses one of the largest collections of contemporary and modern art in Europe.
- Musée Rodin: The Musée Rodin features the works of the famous sculptor Auguste Rodin, including his most famous work, The Thinker. The museum is housed in a beautiful mansion and has a garden filled with sculptures.
- Musée de l’Orangerie: The Musée de l’Orangerie is a small museum located in the Tuileries Garden that features a collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings, including Monet’s Water Lilies.
- Musée Picasso: The Musée Picasso features the works of Pablo Picasso, one of the most famous artists of the 20th century. The museum has an extensive collection of his works, including paintings, sculptures, and ceramics.
- Musée National du Moyen Âge: The Musée National du Moyen Âge is also known as the Cluny Museum and is located in a medieval building that was once a mansion. The museum features an extensive collection of medieval art and artifacts, including the famous Unicorn tapestries.
Moulin Rouge*: One of my MUST DOs was the Moulin Rouge given my favorite movie in High School/College was Moulin Rouge! It was always somewhere I wanted to go and it blew my mind that I was there, by myself, in Europe! It was also the perfect way to end the day which was immersed in art and the Montmartre neighbor. Another iconic thing that happened at the Moulin Rouge was meeting some other travels and brainstorm names for my new travel blog – by intermission we had one: Postcards to Iowa 🙂
A show at the Moulin Rouge is a cabaret performance featuring a variety of acts, including singing, dancing, acrobatics, and other forms of entertainment. The performers are often dressed in elaborate costumes and the show is accompanied by live music. The atmosphere is lively and energetic, with a focus on creating a fun and exciting experience for the audience.
Whether or not it’s worth it depends on personal preferences and interests. The Moulin Rouge is an iconic Parisian institution, and many people consider seeing a show there to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. However, it can be quite expensive and some people may not enjoy the cabaret style of entertainment. It’s also worth noting that the show does contain some nudity and may not be appropriate for all ages or sensibilities. Ultimately, it’s up to each individual to decide if a Moulin Rouge show is something they would enjoy and find worth the cost.
😋 RacheyZee’s Triscuit of Information: When purchasing your tickets to the Moulin Rouge there are options for Dinner and a Show. This is the option I choose as I thought we would be eating during the show, something I love, especially when I am solo; however dinner was simply two hours before the show and we ate in our seats then the show started. This was a set menu and nothing special, I wished I would have gone to dinner on my own and then just purchased the show – it would have given me more flexibility to purchase just the show, not to mention more budget friendly. OH I also learned Bonsoir which is what people say AFTER 6:00 PM, I mistakenly said Bonjour after 6:00 and was corrected as Bonsoir means good evening.
*If Cabaret is not your cup of tea, there are still plenty of other iconic live performances to see in Paris. Here are some options:
- Opera: The Opéra Garnier and the Opéra Bastille are both world-famous opera houses in Paris. You can catch a performance of classic operas like Carmen, La Traviata, or The Marriage of Figaro.
- Ballet: The Paris Opera Ballet performs at the Opéra Garnier and the Opéra Bastille as well. You can see classic ballets like Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, or Giselle.
- Classical Music: Paris is home to many concert halls where you can see classical music performances. The most famous is the Philharmonie de Paris, which hosts classical concerts and recitals.
- Jazz: Paris has a rich jazz history, and there are many jazz clubs throughout the city. Check out clubs like Duc des Lombards or Le Caveau de la Huchette for live jazz performances.
- Theater: Paris has a thriving theater scene with many shows to choose from. The Théâtre de l’Atelier and Théâtre des Champs-Élysées are popular venues for dramatic performances.
– Day 3 –
Lazy Morning with Breakfast: Something I did not schedule in that I learned I have to moving forward is a couple lazy mornings and blocks of time with nothing scheduled. Block a morning and afternoon to either relax and enjoy breakfast or to book something that comes up during your first couple days. Below are some top places for breakfast in Paris…I personally wanted a crepe and I heard that Crêpes Cafe was in walking distance and delicious….it did not disappoint! I indulged in Cafe Creme and a Nutella Crêpe before heading out to wonder the streets of Paris.
😋 RacheyZee’s Triscuit of Information: A traditional breakfast in Paris typically consists of a croissant or other pastry, a baguette with butter and jam, and a hot beverage such as coffee or tea. Some may also include a glass of orange juice or a small serving of fruit. Breakfast in Paris is usually light and not as substantial as breakfast in other parts of the world.
However, there are also some unique breakfast foods that you can try in Paris, such as:
- Croque Madame/Monsieur: A toasted ham and cheese sandwich topped with a fried egg (Madame) or without (Monsieur).
- Pain perdu: A French version of French toast, made with bread soaked in a mixture of eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla, then fried until golden brown.
- Omelette au Fromage: A classic French omelette with cheese, typically served with a side of salad or potatoes.
- Quiche Lorraine: A savory tart made with eggs, cream, cheese, and bacon or ham.
- Chausson aux Pommes: A pastry filled with sweet apples and dusted with powdered sugar.
- Pain au chocolat: A flaky pastry filled with chocolate.
- Tarte Tatin: An upside-down apple tart that is caramelized in butter and sugar.
Here are some places that offer unique and delicious breakfast options that are worth trying while in Paris.
- Holybelly – known for their pancakes, eggs, and coffee.
- Angelina – known for their hot chocolate and pastries, such as croissants and brioches.
- Carette – known for their tea, hot chocolate, croissants, and macarons.
- Frenchie To Go – known for their breakfast sandwiches and pancakes.
- La Pâtisserie des Rêves – known for their pastries, especially their croissants and pain au chocolat.
- Season – known for their smoothie bowls, avocado toast, and pancakes.
Walking + Shopping: Something I did not schedule in was shopping, walking around the city, and buying gifts/souvenirs. Luckily, or unluckily, I missed my wine tour so I had an extra day where I spent the day walking around Paris…26,000 steps! There were so many art booths with canvas prints that I browsed until finding the perfect prints that I still have to this day and LOVE…I also was able to get a good deal too! Most of the art for sale was just the canvases but when I got home I ordered plastic frames without glass which really made these canvases pop! Everyday I am reminded of my trip…
😋 RacheyZee’s Triscuit of Information: Bartering is not a common practice in Paris and is generally not expected or accepted in most shops and establishments. It is best to pay the listed price and avoid any potential misunderstandings or cultural faux pas. However, you can try to negotiate prices in flea markets or open-air markets such as the Marché aux Puces de Saint-Ouen, where bargaining is more customary.
I had to visit the Sex and the City “hotel” and the bridge from the final scene of the series finale….
😋 RacheyZee’s Triscuit of Information: Interesting story about this bridge, was this was the bridge that hundreds (actually thousands) of locks where put on and it got to the point where too many locks were put on they had to remove the locks as they were in fear of the bridge collapsing (actually part of the Pont des Arts collapsed). (more here and pictures of this below)
If you are passionate about going up the Eiffel Tower, this is a great day for that too as there are lots of shops around the Tower. I had great visions of grabbing a baguette, cheese and wine, bringing my picnic blanket I packed and walking to the park by the Eiffel Tower, eating lunch and pondering life (and watching people). It did not go entirely to plan given the Eiffel Tower was gated off but I still enjoyed myself.
The walk from my new hotel, The Marriott, was 20 minutes and I stopped to get my first French Hot Dog and the nice cart owners spoke perfect English (and many other languages as I heard them talking to tourists) they asked me where I am from and were shocked to hear Seattle, WA. They asked if I wanted ketchup and since it is one of my food groups, I had to say “yes”, however I didn’t want to ruin the originality of the hot dog and how it was suppose to be enjoyed, since it was on a baguette and since it also had cheese on it…so I said “on half please” they drew a heart and said they loved me in English, which sounded less creepy than it sounds here…I replied je t’aime and was on my way.
It was funny watching all the people taking selfies but I had to join in the fun!
On my way back to Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis, I stopped for a refreshment and an appetizer at a restaurant that was on a boat! It gave me the break from the sun before heading over to do more shopping!
Dessert in Paris: I highly recommend a walk through Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis for shopping and to enjoy dessert in Paris (especially if it is a hot day). Dessert in Paris is quite different from what you might find in the USA. For starters, French desserts tend to be less sweet and focus more on the natural flavors of the ingredients. Popular French desserts include tarts, macarons, and éclairs, which are made with rich, buttery pastry cream. Fruit-based desserts, such as crème brûlée with fresh berries, are also common. In contrast, American desserts often feature more sugar and are often richer and heavier, such as cheesecake or brownies. French desserts also tend to be smaller in portion size, as they are meant to be savored slowly and enjoyed as a sweet indulgence after a meal.
The Seine River flows right through the heart of Paris and is home to two stunning natural islands – Île de la Cité and Île Saint-Louis. Île de la Cité is considered the birthplace of Paris and has a rich history dating back to the Roman era. It is home to the famous Notre-Dame Cathedral, one of the most famous cathedrals in the world. Tourists can also explore the Sainte Chapelle, a stunning chapel that houses some of the most impressive stained-glass windows in the world. Île Saint-Louis, on the other hand, is a quaint island that is perfect for an afternoon stroll. It is lined with small cafes, ice cream shops, and boutiques selling souvenirs
Enjoy a Late Lunch on a Food Tour: There are a couple MUST DOs in Paris and I feel a Food Tour is one of them. Steve Sullivan, a long time friend and colleague recommended Paris By Mouth Taste of the Marais Food Tour and I am SO HAPPY I did this! I HIGHLY recommend this company and Marais tour…I learned so much! To read about everything I learned and see all our stopps, visit my Travel Journal.
My favorite stop was at Tout Autour du Pain at 59 rue de Saintonge, 75003 (no website) – owned by Benjamin Turquier (baguette de tradition, croissants and chouquettes) Note that when a store labels itself as a Boulanger it has to make everything in that store, it cannot bring in anything! Tout Autour du Pain won best Croissant and Baguette many times over. Our tour guide Jennifer (who was amazing) was a judge in 2015!!!
😋 RacheyZee’s Triscuit of Information: What a good croissant should look like on the inside, like honey comb. Jennifer made a great point. croissants and baguettes are so much better in Paris because of the butter however something to keep in mind, there are only a couple ingredients in these and they vary so much from store to store…shows you how timing of mixing and raising of the yeast can make such a difference. I am ruined after having one of these croissants, I will never have one at Starbucks again. This one melted in my mouth and was divine! Another interesting thing that has been happening, I have been eating SO much bread (Baguettes, Croissants, Creepes) but my blood sugar is not crashing! It could be due to all the walking and water, but it also could be that everything is made with no preservatives and is 100% “real”
Our last stop was at Jacques Genin chocolate shop at 133 rue de Turenne, 75003. This stop was like a museum. It was hidden with no sign (something that I have seen as a trend when it is a 5-star place – they do not need to advertise) you walk by and you would miss it if you were looking for it, you might even miss it if you are looking for it. It is air conditioned (which is VERY rare in Paris) and it truly looks like a museum…the workers where white gloves when handing the chocolate and everything looks like a work of art. The owner Jacques Genin is very “particular” and has been noted that he is hard to work for. He calls his kitchen “The Lab” and makes everything to order. if you order a hot chocolate or pastry it takes over 30 min!!! It was a very interesting experience.
Other Options for Food Tours: There are several popular food tours in Paris that are highly rated by both locals and tourists. Here are a few options to consider:
- “Secret Food Tours Paris” – This tour takes you to some of the best local food spots in Paris, including cheese shops, bakeries, and markets. You’ll learn about the history and culture of Parisian food as you taste your way through the city.
- “Original Paris Food Tour: Taste of Montmartre” – This tour takes you through the charming Montmartre neighborhood, where you’ll sample local delicacies like croissants, cheese, and wine. You’ll also get to explore the local food market and learn about the area’s history.
- “Le Marais Food Tour” – This tour takes you through the trendy Le Marais neighborhood, where you’ll taste local specialties like falafel, macarons, and artisanal cheeses. You’ll also learn about the history of the neighborhood and its culinary traditions.
- “Paris Chocolate and Pastry Tour” – This tour takes you on a sweet journey through some of Paris’s best chocolate and pastry shops. You’ll sample macarons, croissants, and other delicious treats while learning about the history of French pastry-making.
- The 10 Top Food & Wine Experiences In Paris
End Your Day with a Wine Tour or Tasting: A trip to Paris would not be complete without some kind of wine tour or tasting. There are many tasting rooms in town but if you want a more formal tour, I recommend Beyond Bordeaux: A Tour of Natural Wines & Wine Bars (Organized by Paris by Mouth) new generation of internationally-trained sommeliers and cavistes, sustained by a loyal and discerning local clientele, are challenging the stereotypes of French wine. In this bustling corner of eastern Paris, these wine geeks are offering wines that go beyond the usual Bordeaux and Burgundy classics, in environments much livelier than the zinc-and-formica standby.
We visited multiple locations and tasted a range of wines (note that the tour will change with the available selections) anything from Jura Chardonnay to cult cru Beaujolais to sparkling Grolleau from the Loire. There is always an emphasis on what are often called vins natures: vibrant artisanal wines made with a minimum of preservatives and a maximum regard for terroir.
Very interesting, an nontraditional Rose, it is orange in color and in a green class…but it was perfecto!
Our great guide, Aaron Ayscough, former sommelier and author of the wine blog Not Drinking Poison In Paris, designed the tour to promote exploration in wine, and works to ensure that all participants discover something new – be it an acclaimed winemaker, a rare grape variety, or a wine bar to remember – regardless of prior wine experience.
Other Options for Wine Tours/Tastings: As Paris is not a wine-producing region, wine tours in the city typically involve visiting local wine bars or cellars to sample and learn about French wines. Here are some popular wine tours in Paris that are highly rated:
- O Chateau: This tour company offers several wine tasting experiences in Paris, including a wine and cheese lunch, a Champagne tasting, and a Grand Cru tasting.
- Wine Tasting in Paris: This tour company offers a variety of wine tasting experiences, including a tasting of six different French wines with an expert sommelier.
- Wine Tasting in Paris by French Wine Explorers: This tour company offers several wine tasting experiences, including a guided wine and cheese pairing, a Champagne tasting, and a private cellar tour.
- Paris Wine Company: This company offers private wine tours and tastings in Paris, led by a knowledgeable wine expert.
- Discover Walks Paris Wine Tasting: This tour company offers a guided wine tasting experience in a Parisian wine bar, where you can sample a variety of French wines and learn about their origins and production.
After the food and wine tour I did not need dinner! I suggest an early night and resting up for the next day, which is going to be a long day but was my best overall day I had on my trip to Paris!!
– Day 4 –
Versailles By Bike: If I could only recommend one experience, I would recommend the Versailles Domain Guided Day Bike Tour with Palace Entrance from Paris by Train or another guided bike tour through Versailles. I would recommend for a couple reasons…
First, Versailles is MASSIVE so with a bike you cover much more ground than walking.
Second, this tour was an immersive classroom where you learned history and then experienced it live! Talk about application, I wish all my classrooms in school were like this.
Third, this trip also included a trip to the market in the morning to pack a picnic lunch, that we would enjoy later in the day overlooking the palace.
I don’t want to spoil your experience but if you are interested in seeing a play by play of the day, check out my entry in my Travel Journal: Versailles By Bike. Another neat part was we were turned loose at Versailles at the end of the tour and were told how to get back to the city via the train. I took my time and took one of the last trains, got back to my hotel and watched the futbol game at the hotel bar before heading to bed. I would rank this day in the top 10 days of all my travels!!
If you took my advice and left a FREE DAY to schedule in something before you leave, either from what you heard during your trip, or from the list below..:
- Stroll through the Jardin des Tuileries: Located between the Louvre and the Place de la Concorde, the Jardin des Tuileries is a beautiful garden that offers a relaxing respite from the busy city.
- Catacombs of Paris: Start your day by visiting the Catacombs of Paris, a series of underground tunnels that contain the bones of over six million people.
- Latin Quarter: Explore the charming Latin Quarter, known for its narrow streets, historic buildings, and vibrant nightlife.
- Luxembourg Gardens: Visit the Luxembourg Gardens, a beautiful park that is perfect for a relaxing stroll or a picnic.
- Walk along the Champs-Élysées: The Champs-Élysées is a famous avenue in Paris lined with shops, cafes, and theaters. A stroll down this avenue offers a quintessential Parisian experience.
- Notre-Dame Cathedral: One of the most iconic landmarks in Paris, the Notre-Dame Cathedral is a stunning example of French Gothic architecture with a rich history dating back to the 12th century.
- Sacré-Cœur Basilica: Located on top of Montmartre hill, the Sacré-Cœur Basilica offers stunning views of the city below. Its intricate design and Romanesque architecture are truly breathtaking.
- Sainte-Chapelle: This medieval chapel is known for its stunning stained-glass windows that stretch from floor to ceiling. A visit here is a must for anyone interested in French Gothic architecture.
- Pompidou Center: The Pompidou Center is a contemporary art museum that houses a vast collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by Picasso, Matisse, and Kandinsky.
- Jardin des Tuileries: The Jardin des Tuileries is a beautiful public garden located between the Louvre Museum and Place de la Concorde. It offers a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city and features sculptures, fountains, and beautiful flower beds.
- Canal Saint-Martin: This picturesque canal is located in the trendy 10th arrondissement and is a great spot for a leisurely stroll. It’s lined with charming cafes, shops, and galleries.
- Musée Rodin: The Musée Rodin is dedicated to the works of the famous French sculptor Auguste Rodin. The museum houses a vast collection of his works, including “The Thinker” and “The Kiss,” in a beautiful mansion and garden setting.
– In Paris for Over 5 Days? –
If you have more time, I highly suggest getting out of the city! One of the great things about Europe is that there are some fantastic places just a train ride or drive away. I had book the below three excursions thinking I had time but realized I needed another 3 days to be able to do them right and still feel like I had time to enjoy the city.
Wine Enthusiast Tour: A day in Loire Valley is the opportunity to discover and taste some of the most prestigious French wines. At the cross roads of Loire-Valley and Burgundy (Sancerre, Pouilly-Fumé), your friendly and knowledgeable guide, will share his passion for his region, traditions and wines (Pinot Noir, Sauvignon, Chardonnay)
Our Wine Enthusiast tour is dedicated to the wine lovers who want to discover more about the French wines either if you are novice or expert. You will surely increase your wine knowledge in a fun and authentic atmosphere.
Departing from Paris in a premium van, discover this amazing region :
- Have a complimentary breakfast
- Visit 2 family owned wineries : cellars and vineyards,
- Enjoy at least 10 wine tastings with the winemakers, see how they work
- Experience a French 3 course lunch with wine
- Visit the quaint village of Sancerre
- Visit a goat farm and enjoy cheese tasting
Paris to Normandy and Mont St Michel:
- Take an early morning train from Paris to Bayeux, Normandy. The journey takes approximately 2 hours.
- Upon arrival, head to the Bayeux Tapestry Museum to see the world-famous tapestry depicting the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England in 1066.
- After the museum, visit the Bayeux Cathedral, an impressive Romanesque structure dating back to the 11th century.
- In the afternoon, take a guided tour of the D-Day landing beaches, including Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery, to learn about the events of World War II.
- Spend the night in Bayeux or a nearby town.
- Take an early morning train from Bayeux to Pontorson, a town close to Mont St Michel. The journey takes approximately 1 hour and 30 minutes.
- Upon arrival, take a shuttle bus to the Mont St Michel Abbey, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most famous landmarks in France.
- Take a guided tour of the abbey, including the Gothic church and the cloisters, and enjoy the stunning views of the surrounding bay.
- After the tour, explore the narrow streets and alleys of the town at the base of the abbey, which are full of shops and restaurants.
- Take the shuttle bus back to Pontorson and catch a train back to Paris.
There are many options for accommodation in the area around Mont St Michel, including hotels and bed and breakfasts. It is recommended to book in advance, especially during peak season.
Other Options: I did a lot of research on the above two excursions and will have to experience them on my next trip. Here are some other ones I have not experienced but sound right up my alley!
- Burgundy: Take a day or two to explore the Burgundy region, famous for its wine, cuisine, and charming medieval towns like Beaune.
- Giverny: Take a day trip to the picturesque village of Giverny, where you can explore the gardens and house of impressionist painter Claude Monet.
- Champagne Region: Take a day trip to the Champagne region and visit some of the best Champagne houses, learn about the history of Champagne making and sample some of the best Champagne.