I went to Paris with friends from college, Haley and Cassidy, the summer after we graduated. From Paris we went on to Bidart, Salamanca, and Madrid. But Paris was definitely the perfect place to start the trip! Everyone who’s been to Paris talks about how wonderful it is, and I’m going to be honest – not one of them lied. It was incredible (and maybe even magical?).
Everything in the city is so rich in history, you couldn’t take 10 steps without being amazed. The people we met were very kind and the public transportation system went smoothly in a foreign language. The food was delicious, the art was stunning, and the weather was perfect. I felt satisfied with everything I saw, but I know there are a million more things to see. I cannot wait to go back to the “City of Lights” someday.
Les Petites Gouttes
While in Paris we stayed at a small apartment we found on AirBNB. (If you’re interested in booking or hosting through AirBNB, join here & get $40 off your first trip! ) It was located in between two metro stops and the host, Sebastien, was very friendly. He even lived in the same building and made himself available if we had any questions. While the space was small, it fit the three of us perfectly for the week and even held a fourth when a friend stayed with us on our last night there.
After checking into our AirBNB, we walked across the street for a quick bite before we began exploring. The bagel was the perfect thing to fill my stomach for an afternoon of sightseeing!
Musée de l'Armée
Our first stop when we made it to the center of the city was the Army Museum. To be honest, we had no clue what it was when we walked up to it, but we were able to walk in for free, so we decided to go for it. The architecture of the building was beautiful, but think we were all most fascinated by the bushes that looked like gumdrops along the outside.
Despite knowing that I was in Paris, it didn’t totally sink in until I saw the Eiffel Tower. It’s not only an icon for Paris and France as a whole, but for traveling in general. I was so excited to finally see it in person!
Le Dôme Café
Walking around through the center of the city was exhausting after spending the night on the plane. We decided to call it an early night and got dinner nearby the Eiffel Tower. The restaurant had nice tables outside and everything on the menu looked delicious. But, by the time we ordered, I was too tired for a full meal, so I got dessert! It was sorbet with strawberry puree on top.
Musée de l'Orangerie
If you want to visit the art museums in Paris, you need to get the museum pass. We got our money’s worth and I’d recommend starting at a smaller museum, even if you don’t intend to see any of the art there.
We started at the smaller Musée de l’Orangerie, but I intended to soak in every bit of art there. It is where Claude Monet’s Waterlilies painting is held. It has been my favorite painting since we studied impressionism in my 9th-grade art class and to see it in person was breathtaking. The painting is held in an oval-shaped room with the artwork in four parts on the wall. It was the ideal set up to sit and experience the painting. Unfortunately, we were not able to visit where Monet lived on this trip to France, but it is on my list of places to go. However, the way the artwork was displayed transported you to the world Monet created through his brush strokes.
Not only did the Musée de l’Orangerie have beautiful paintings, it also served a great breakfast in the gift shop – coffee with milk and a chocolate croissant. What more could you want?
Musée du Louvre
Want another plug for the museum pass? The line to get into The Louvre is extremely long. It’s the most famous art museum in the world! BUT, with our very handy pass, we were able to get into a separate line from everyone else and avoid waiting an hour or more in the sun to get in.
Despite falling down a flight of stairs in one of the fanciest places that I have ever been, The Louvre was great. We got to see Mona Lisa, along with every other tourist in the city. The art had even bled off the walls and into the building itself, the architecture was brilliant and the ceilings were gorgeous.
Our last art museum stop of the day was the Musée d’Orsay. It is known as the museum for impressionist paintings and had several more painting by Monet. However, it also had a post-impressionism section that had some of Van Gogh’s work. He’s another artist that I thoroughly enjoy. I love his style of painting, but I also love an episode of Doctor Who that is about him. If you’re also a fan of the show, you may recognize the Church at Auvers painting below as the subject of the episode!
The conciergerie was a very interesting historical building. During the middle ages it was constructed and used as a palace for Phillip the Fair and then was converted into a judicial building and prison. It is where Marie Antoinette was held during the French Revolution. The stained glass window below is from her prison cell.
While I enjoyed every minute of art and history that I got to see, by the end of the day my feet hurt and I was very hungry. We sat in a Starbucks for a while to do some research on dinner options and ended up at Le Porte-Pot. The side street bistro had a daily menu with salmon, ratatouille, a small salad and wine. The dinner was tasty and the atmosphere was relaxing. To top it all off we got a crème brûlée for dessert.
If I could eat at any restaurant in the world again for dinner tonight, Le Porte-Pot is where I would go.
Before heading to Versailles, we went to Sainte-Chapelle at the opening time – it was such a beautiful church. The stained glass in the second floor sanctuary was astounding.
Château de Versailles
The palace of Versailles – wow. I have never seen something so opulent. I sort of understand why the French felt they needed a revolution. However, I am so happy that it still exists and that I got to spend the day wondering the halls and the gardens.
Champs de Mars
One of my favorite things we did in Paris was also the cheapest. We wanted to see the Eiffel Tower at night and we were exhausted from wandering around Versailles all day, so we stopped by a grocery store for brie, baguettes and wine on our way back into town and sat on the Champs de Mars in front of the Eiffel Tower all evening. We read and napped and as people got off work, the field got more crowded with tourists and locals alike.
As the sun set, the Eiffel Tower lit up with lights and every few minutes they would twinkle. It was such a fun evening in front of one of the world’s most famous landmarks.
Le Va Et Vient Du Nord
After sleeping in, we tried to find a Senegalese restaurant that someone had recommended to Haley. Unfortunately, when we got there, it was closed and recommended another restaurant on the door. The second restaurant was also closed. So exhausted from the search for restaurants wandering across town, we finally walked into a random cafe. I ordered a dish with duck and potatoes, and it was really good!
Montemarte is the name of the hill that holds the Sacré-Cœur and has given name to the surrounding district of the city. Historically known as a home to artists, there were several beautiful shops to explore along the winding streets. The ice cream shop below was one of my favorite finds – they had lavender ice cream! We also stopped for a crepe along the way.
Sacré-Cœur is a church at the top of a hill in the middle of the city. From the church’s steps you can see miles and miles of Paris as well as a gorgeous Roman Catholic church.
One of my favorite Disney movies as a kid was The Hunchback of Notre Dame (I loved the gargoyles and Esméralda was the coolest), so it was very exciting to see the cathedral in person.
Shakespeare and Company
Across the Seine from Notre Dame is the Shakespeare and Company bookstore. The current store is named for the original opened in 1919 by Sylvia Beach and continues it’s tradition of hosting artists looking for a place of inspiration.
Jardin du Luxembourg
Once the gardens of the palace that housed the French royal family, they are now the gardens at the foot of the senate building. They had many beautiful trees and flowers and if our feet had not been in so much pain, it would have been a great place for a walk.
Au Roi du Café
For our last night in Paris, we ate nearby our AirBNB. The menu was all in French and we didn’t have wifi, so I had to use my best guess for ordering. It worked out though, the food was great!
My last day in Paris was the most magical of them all. When I first started discussing a trip to Europe months prior with Haley and Cassidy, the first person I told was my friend Justine. We met three years prior working in Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. She’s from northern France and was there as part of the Disney College Program.
We were able to meet up for my last day in Paris while she was on her way south for a day at Disneyland Paris. The day was so much fun! I was able to go on rides not in the Florida parks, like Ratatouille and Indiana Jones, and the French version of my favorite – Pirates of the Caribbean. At one point, we took a break on Main Street and saw Anna and Elsa from Frozen make their way down in a horse drawn carriage while “Let It Go” played with each line in a different language.
If you’re in Paris and a fan of Disney Parks, a trip to Disneyland Paris is definitely worth your time.