09/ 30/ 18
There’s something magical about rediscovering a place with a fresh pair of eyes. I had visited Paris once on a family trip back in high school, but this time I got to explore the city on my own terms — and boy, did I fall in love.
In many ways, Paris is like a sister city to New York. The metro system is expansive, enabling you to get from point A to point B with just a few euro. Quaint, cobblestone paths peppered with neighborhood restaurants wind into chic, metropolitan streets bristling with impeccably dressed Parisians. The art and culture scene is second to none. And don’t even get me started on the food and wine (a glass of vin is often cheaper than a bottle of water!).
Another awe-inspiring aspect of Paris is this fantastic juxtaposition of deep-rooted history with contemporary culture. One moment we’d be admiring the work of Picasso and the next, perusing trendy shops in the 3rd arrondissement — a hip, Williamsburg-esque neighborhood of Paris. Or, we’d be on a mission to find crepes or gelato, and all of a sudden: “Hey look! This is where they kept and tried prisoners during The French Revolution.” The historic significance of the Parisian landscape is absolutely humbling and fascinating.
Above all, what made me fall in love with Paris is that I got to see the city my way. I made it a point to try and experience Paris like a local, challenging myself to speak French and steering clear of ultra-touristy activities. I didn’t schedule anything in advance, and instead let my mood and desires direct my itinerary. I got work done when I needed to, but otherwise felt no anxiety about taking time off — a new, welcomed feeling that I hope becomes my norm. This led to a wonderful week where work and play intertwined so seamlessly that I miraculously felt both productive and refreshed when I returned home.
Here’s what I was up to in Paris, in case you are interested in planning a few activities in advance! Shoutout to my travel gal pals, Michelle of Lionhearted Letters and Alyssa, jewelry queen at Spelunk Jewelry, for making this trip unforgettable.
Start your day off at the Jardin Du Luxembourg, a beautifully-manicured park with gorgeous sculptures and gardens to feast your eyes on. Michelle, Alyssa, and I wandered around the area first to grab a classic Parisian breakfast of croissants, fresh squeezed OJ, and coffee at Le Rostand. Loading up on carbs to get ready for a full day isn’t hard to do in Paris!
After the gardens, continue your walking tour by heading to The Pantheon, a grandiose monument that hosts the tombs of Marie Curie, Voltaire, Dumas, and other eminent figures who have shaped France’s national identity. From there, you can walk to Notre Dame, and then land at the Picasso Museum. I highly recommend getting the Paris museum pass here (or at your first museum stop). We got the two-day pass, which was perfect for fulfilling our touristy needs within our first few days.
Afterwards, wander around the shops in the 3rd arrondissement and recharge at one of the quaint cafes in the area. We had some absolutely divine crepes at Crepe Suzette — I’m drooling just thinking about my chestnut and crème fraîche crepe!
Finally, end your day perusing modern art at The Centre Pompidou, and don’t forget to check out the skyline from the top floor! We stumbled upon Cafe Beaubourg on the way home, where I enjoyed the best beef bourguignon I’d ever tasted and yup, you guessed it — more crepes.
In preparation to walk around the giant maze that is The Louvre, sit down for breakfast at Baguett’s Cafe, a chic hipster spot with great music and even better baguettes. From there, it’s a quick, 10 minute walk to the museum.
We spent most of the day at The Louvre, ogling at jewels that belonged to royal families, peeping the crowded but iconic Mona Lisa, and ooh-ing and ahh-ing at medieval swords and colossal oil paintings. Be sure to grab a map when you arrive, and don’t get flustered if you don’t see everything you set out to!
After The Louvre, grab lunch at a nearby spot (we had a lovely lunch at La Taverne de l’arbre Sec) before heading over to your next spot: The Conciergerie. This was one of my favorite sights in Paris — it’s an eerie royal residence and prison, and even has a modern art installation that transports water from The Seine all around the main hall. I was spooked just thinking about the ghosts that must frequent those rooms!
We were pretty exhausted at this point, and decided to grab dinner to-go so we could head back to get some work done.
On day three, get ready to see the cutest neighborhood you’ll likely ever lay eyes on: Montmartre! I was staying at the Timhotel Montmartre, which is situated close to Sacré-Coeur and in a cluster of quaint boutiques and restaurants. In need of another work sesh, I buckled down at Le Cuiller, a modern coffee shop just a block away from the hotel. Their espresso is far more rich and delicious than any I’d had in Paris, so definitely start your day here if you’re looking for some great coffee.
Then, walk around the neighborhood of Montmartre. We explored the many shops in the area, and especially enjoyed rummaging through the treasure trove of vintage shops. My most treasured find: a Parisian-looking white blouse for just €5!
Dinner is not hard to find on Rue des Abbesses. We hopped from place to place, reading the menus propped up outside before choosing Le Sancerre, a restaurant with gorgeous decor and amazing service. All three of us were in a very grateful mood as we shared a bottle of rosé and reflected on our travels.
Close out the evening by walking to Sacré-Coeur. There are some great shops along the way (we found our daily gelato here), but beware of the tourist traps in the area and keep your bag close! The Moulin Rouge is also nearby if you’re interested in more of a risqué evening. I hear the show is entertaining and the bars can be fun at night!
On our last full day, we stayed at an Airbnb in a more metropolitan area of Montmartre and had breakfast at Bob’s Bakeshop. We got donuts, matcha cookies, avocado toast on fruity bread…and all went back the next day for more.
After breakfast, get ready for a very Parisian picnic at the Eiffel Tower! We went back to Rue des Abbesses to visit Pain Pain, an incredible bakery stocked with all the pastries your heart can desire. We grabbed some treats, a pasta salad, a baguette, and garlicky hummus from a shop across the street. Take your goodies to the Eiffel Tower and enjoy a leisurely afternoon picnic while soaking in the view.
We ended the day back in Montmartre by visiting the Dali exhibition, and enjoying the most amazing pasta dinner at Roberta, an authentic Italian joint that served me the best meal I’d had during my three-week trip around Europe. Even the olive oil that came with the bread was out of this world — we were careful to soak up every last drop! For dessert, stop by Amarino. They’re a chain, but have great gelato and macarons nonetheless.
This trip to Paris was definitely one of my favorite trips I’ve ever taken. Having the perfect travel buddies who were on the same page as me, and being in a good headspace about managing my anxiety around work allowed to be FREE and enjoy every moment — from those big, iconic ones like our Eiffel Tower picnic, to the more subtle ones, like people-watching as we sipped rosé at Le Rostand.
Au revoir for now, Paris. I’ll be back for you soon!