Wow I can’t believe it’s Friday already. Somehow the weeks are flying or is it just me? This week’s Flashback Friday is being dedicated to the city of love, good ‘ole Paris.
If I had to trace back my love for travel it leads me to a trip to Paris when I was 16. My mom had a business trip and my grandma and I tagged along. This was my first real trip if you exclude a couple of trips to Disney, the Jersey shore, or a cruise (which I do). It was my first time being in a new country, new culture, new language, etc. Not to mention it was freaken Paris! It’s pretty much one of the most glamourized cities in popular culture. I couldn’t wait to go. Our trip was in the fall so it was rather gray, cold, and gloomy the entire time. This trip was over a decade ago so traveling back then looked a lot different than it does today. We didn’t have smart phones and unlimited data to look up directions, translations, or recommendations. I do recall it being a little tricky to find places to eat (which sounds absolutely ridiculous nowadays). At the end of the trip I had decided I loved traveling and being in a foreign country, but I hated Paris. This was a harsh and disappointing revelation for a dramatic 16 year old. I was supposed to love the city of love!! I decide that the weather played a large role in this and that I would have to come back in spring or summer to see Paris in all it’s glory.
I would get that chance to give Paris another shot a little over 5 years ago. My best friend was living in Paris and I surprised her with a visit with two of my other friends from college. The trip overall was super fun because who wouldn’t love traveling around with three of your best friends?! And admittedly, I did like Paris significantly more than the first time around, but I wasn’t sold on it. Truth be told it reminds me a lot of NYC, but with more impressive architecture and you get cat called in French instead of English.
I would say to this day Paris isn’t my favorite city and it’s totally overrated. That being said, it is an easy city to get acquainted with traveling and a good starting point for first time travelers. Walking around a random street and looking up and seeing the Eiffel Tower is pretty awe-inspiring. I’ll be honest though because as much and I didn’t love Paris on either trip, I still do get an urge to go back randomly especially when craving a croissant. It’s so strange – I guess there is something that always draws you back in. Paris is the only part of France I’ve been in and when I get back I plan on exploring further and going to Southern France.
There are so many resources on Paris, and the perfect “How To Paris Guide” doesn’t exist because it all depends on your ideal vacation. I will highlight my personal favorites below:
The iconic Champs-Élysées is every girl’s dream come true. If you aren’t interested in shopping you can window-shop or people watch over a coffee. If you do want to snag some French or European goods the currency conversion and tax back offers make them less expensive than in the States. On my second trip we stayed in a hotel near Champs-Élysées and it was the best location.
Sightseeing and hitting up all the well known, iconic sites is a must. However, in the midst of your planning you may overlook going to Sainte-Chapelle, which would be tragic. This is one of the most beautiful chapels in the world. Constructed in the 13th century the chapel contains largest and oldest collection of original stained glass windows. It’s truly a gem on the Seine.
Seine River Cruise
Speaking of the Seine, taking a boat tour on the river is a great way to see the city’s iconic sites from a different point of view. I would choose a boat tour over a walking tour any day in Paris. If boats aren’t your thing at least take a stroll down the Seine, just don’t pull a Madeline.
Picnic at Sacré-Coeur
Seeing the inside of the Basilica is magnificent and most likely on your bucket list, however, take some time before or after to sit on the green lawn. It’s a popular picnic spot so grab a baguette, cheese, and some macaroons from a nearby shop and bon appetit.
I’m a sucker for museums so the Louvre is obviously on my list. I don’t know how it couldn’t be as the world’s largest art museum. The outside itself is a wonder! The most well known (and crowded) piece of work on display is the Mona Lisa. My personal recommendation would be to explore further than just seeing her, but that’s just me. I could spend days here and it wouldn’t be enough. Having lunch in the neighboring gardens is also very quaint in the warm weather.
I cannot not include the Eiffel Tower on this list. Possibly, the most recognized monument in the world and you’ll see it everywhere you look during your trip. At the same time it’s the most touristy, but most necessary thing you can do on your trip. Going all the way up gives you an amazing view of the entire city. After, exploring inside the tower spend some time in the surrounding areas. Across the street there a beautiful carousel and other unobstructed views for great pictures. Similar, to the picnic at Sacré-Coeur, spend some time lounging around and drinking amazing French wine in the grass around the Tower. For a bit of a bougier experience you can opt to have lunch or dinner within the tower, prior reservations needed. Make sure that at least one night on your trip you see the Tower at night for the light shows.
Palace of Versailles
Technically outside of Paris, but accessible by public transportation, Versailles is a perfect day trip. There’s so much to see, but I would definitely recommend adding on the Marie-Antoinette tour to your ticket. An entire day spent here is not in vain as you are transported back in time on this beautiful estate. There are various day trips available as well as what’s offered on property. I would like to take a bike tour around Versailles if I get back one day.
French food is tres magnifique and usually a big reason many people come to France. Naturally, a cooking class is the perfect way to get some hands on experience. I took a three hour macaroon class and to this day it is still one of my favorite travel experiences ever. I love love LOVED it and hands down recommend the class to everyone! The school also offers other classes, which I would have taken if I had more time and plan on doing so if I get back. Of course there’s other (and many) cooking schools in Paris, but I just had such a great experience I still remember that early morning day so clearly and fondly.
Honestly, looking back on my trips in Paris I am once again itching to go back. My head is saying no, but my heart is saying s’il vous plait. Paris doesn’t make my top favorite cities list, but it is iconic.