Cason and I are slowly but surely trying to blog about our Europe trip last summer! So many details go into traveling abroad and we love sharing all of our findings with you. Cason shared all about London here. If you ever visit London you MUST visit Paris. They are relatively close to each other and traveling between the two is super easy. We took the “Chunnel”, a train that travels under the English Channel and arrived in Paris in two hours!
[ TIPS ]
Metro Ticket | Taking the Metro is the most efficient way to get around Paris. They’re easily recognizable by the big yellow M signs you will see all around town. The tickets are only one-way and we bought them in bundles of 10 called a carnet (pronounced kar-ney) it was a lot cheaper (and easier) than a day pass. This is where it gets tricky- make sure to hold on to your ticket for the entire ride! Switching from train to train, it can be easy to misplace it but if you are caught without your correct ticket you will be fined. Once you leave the train station that ticket is no longer good so make sure you throw it away! Don’t leave it in your bag to get confused with your other Metro tickets. You can also be fined if you try to use an old ticket. Cason, Joanna, and I always made a big show of tossing out old tickets so we would never forget! I am totally the girl with 20 receipts in the bottom of bag…but you can’t be like that in Paris. All three of us kept unused tickets in our wallet and the current trip ticket in a special zipper compartment in our purse so there was never any confusion.
Paris Etiquette | I sat through 4 years of french class and if I remembered anything my french teacher taught me, it was respect. She always said that if we ever visited France to make sure and try to immerse ourselves in the culture. The French can find it rude that Americans visit and don’t even attempt to speak the language. When ever we walked into a store, we always greeted them in French. Cason, who also sat through 4 years of French and remembered a good bit more than me would even attempt conversation and ordering in French. All three of us were nervous to visit Paris because we had heard that the French could be pretty rude to Americans and that was not the case at all. Everyone was extremely polite and helpful!
Travel Apps | Check out this post Cason did on our favorite travel apps! All of the apps are a must-have on any trip but some of the ones I used most in Europe were Viber and Rick Steves Audio Europe. Viber was a free way to stay in touch with everyone back home. You do need wi-fi for this app but it seemed free wi-fi was everywhere in Europe! Rick Steves Audio Europe was perfect! We were able to download all the audio tours of places we were visiting before we left and would listen to them on our train rides or while we walked around the museums or churches. Cason, Joanna, and I all plugged in our ear buds and learned all about Versailles on the train ride over! (We are super cool like that.)
Paris Museum Pass | After a lot of research we decided to purchase the Paris Museum Pass. I highly recommend it! Not only did it include all of the major attractions we wanted to visit but it also gave us fast-pass entry which allowed us to skip lines! This saved us HOURS worth of waiting at The Louvre, Versailles, and Notre Dame.
[ TO DO ]
Eiffel Tower | Duh. Our hotel was literally a 5 minute walk from the Eiffel Tower. We visited many times because of this and it was one of my most favorite things we did. First, you’ve got to go at night! It’s down right magical. At sunset the Eiffel Tower lights up for 5 minutes every hour until 1am. We packed a picnic of bread, cheese, wine, and macaroons and watched it for hours. I have shared many special moments with Joanna and Cason throughout the years but this one stands out as one of my favorite. ( Don’t forget to pack a wine bottle opener!) We also wanted to visit the Eiffel Tower during the day so we picked up pastries from a local bakery for breakfast and dined there again. This seemed like the popular thing to do, there were hundreds of picnics going on all around us!
Notre Dame | Think Quasimodo and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The architecture is very gothic and there are gargoyles everywhere. This cathedral is a can’t miss. You are able to roam around the church but are not able to take flash photography. You are also able to climb the stairs (387 to be exact) up to the bell tower. We didn’t do this but everyone raves about the spectacular views from the top!
Champs Elysees | When in Paris you must stroll down the Champs Elysees. The tree-lined street is filled with chic restaurants and boutiques.This is the best place to shop and people watch…two of my favorite things! It’s also home to the 8 story, flagship Louis Vuitton store! Cason and I have lusted after LV for years and finally decided we wanted to buy our first bag in Paris. After lots of research on the tax credit and saving up for several years, it just made sense. Why buy an LV in Georgia when I can get a better deal in France? When in Paris, right? If you decide to splurge on the ultimate souvenir be sure to visit the personalization lounge where you can get your bag monogrammed. It’s definitely a once in a lifetime experience for you designer handbag lovers. (Reach out to me if you are planning on jumping the pond soon, I’m happy to share VAT tax tips with you!)
The Louvre | (Closed on Tuesdays.) Joanna, Cason, and I are not huge history buffs so we really only wanted to see a couple things at The Louvre. We couldn’t leave Paris without seeing the Mona Lisa or Venus de Milo. If you can spend all day at a museum this is the one to visit, the art collection here is spectacular. We also found an adorable boutique, Fragonard, located near the gift shop. This was the PERFECT shop to get small gifts for friends and family. They had all different kinds of french perfume, soaps, hand towels, and candles. We really racked up on souvenirs here!
Versailles | (Closed on Mondays.) When Cason and I were planning our trip to Paris we knew we wanted to take a day trip to Versailles. Versailles is a famous chateau that King Louis XIV built. Three generations of kings and queens lived here but it is most famous for the monarchy being destroyed during the French Revolution while Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette reigned. If you go to Paris, you’ve got to visit Versailles! The chateau was breathtakingly beautiful and you can’t miss an opportunity to take a selfie in the Hall of Mirrors.
[ TO EAT ]
We did not eat at many restaurants while we were in Paris. Our hotel was right next to Rue Cler, a Paris market, and we shopped there daily. For dinner we would pick up bread, cheese, wine, and macaroons and have a picnic at the Eiffel Tower. For breakfast we would stop by local bakeries and pick up fresh pastries. The pain au chocolat was by far the most mouth-watering pastry I have ever put in my mouth! Rue Cler had tons a small restaurants to choose from and we loved all of them! When in Paris, you’ve got to order a croque madame. Joanna, Cason, and I probably had around 5 of these and they were incredible. BUT if you know anything about me, you know my most favorite dessert in the whole wide world is creme brûlée. I’ve had a lot of creme brûlée in my lifetime but NOTHING compares to ones (yes, I ate multiple) I ate in Paris. They were TO. DIE. FOR.
Le Petit Cler | This restaurant was recommended to us because of their famous pot du creme. It’s a small bistro where we probably ordered a croque madame. They also offer english menus which is extremely helpful because a lot of restaurants don’t! Of course, we had to try the pot du creme and it didn’t disappoint. It’s a creamy chocolate dessert and it was divine. Clearly, the French have mastered the art of a great dessert.
Laduree | Being the Gossip Girl fanatic that I am, I knew I had to get my hands on some Laduree macaroons. If it was Blair Walforf’s favorite dessert then I knew it would be mine as well. (We are kindred spirits.) Laduree has a small store in Versailles that we visited but to get the full experience I recommend going to the Laduree on the Champs Elysees. You need to order the box that offers six macaroons minimum. The flavors are amazing and you will want to try them all. In your box you must try the strawberry candy and vanilla. These two flavors were by far my favorite. Once you have Laduree macaroons you will be ruined for all other macaroons. None will ever compare to these.
[ TO STAY ]
Hotel Relais Bosquet | Cason did a lot of research on hotels in Paris and Hotel Relais Bosquet kept popping up on Trip Advisor. It truly was the perfect little hotel. The neighborhood is excellent, it’s right next to Rue Cler and within walking distance of the Eiffel Tower. With the metro stop only about a block away, we couldn’t have asked for a better location. Hotel rooms in Paris are known for being small but this room was quite the opposite. We had plenty of space and black-out shades. When you’ve been touring all day on top of jet lag, black-out shades make a big difference! If anyone needs a hotel recommendation for Paris, this is the place stay! You can get the best rates if you “like” Hotel Relais Bosquet on Facebook and book through their FB page.
If anyone has any specific questions about Paris please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or comment below. Our Paris trip was one of my favorite stops in Europe and I would love to help! C’est la vie!
Next stop- Barcelona!