Of all the European cities that I have visited so far, Paris is in my top three. I absolutely loved it! I fell in love with the apartment buildings and their artistic balconies. I loved wandering the small streets and crossing the bridges along the Seine. I can’t get over the endless number of parks where someone can just sit or wander. And who wouldn’t love watching the Eiffel Tower sparkle every night! It was such a romantic place to be and the best spot to kick off my weeklong romantic getaway with the boyfriend.
My boyfriend and I love ramen and we’ve been to some delicious places. This place was not one of them. The menu is only in French (get ready to use Google Translate). The broth lacked flavor, as if the noodles were only soaked in oil and water. The spicy flavoring was strange – maybe they just used Sriracha? I’m quite surprised because this place had raving reviews on Yelp, Google, and TripAdvisor. On the positive, their gyoza was decent.
The Louvre Museum was closed while we were in Paris because the Seine River was flooded and rose to record highs. It was disappointing not being able to see the Mona Lisa in person but I was blown away by the architecture of the Louvre Palace. The details of the statues on the building were impressive – they were all different! I am constantly impressed by how artistic people were centuries ago. We sat by the fountains and took it all in!
We dragged ourselves away from the fountain and passed by the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel to make our way to the Gardens.
Jardin des Tuileries
We walked under the arc and through the gardens. There were statues popping up in between bushes and a beautiful path covered with trees. It even opened up to a ferris wheel! The gardens reminded me of Central Park in New York. There were chairs placed around fountains for people to enjoy the day outside. If I lived in Paris, I would walk through this beautiful park on a regular basis.
Pont Alexandre III
I’ve been obsessed with this bridge ever since it was featured on a Victoria’s Secret commercial! I call it the Victoria’s Secret bridge but according to the boyfriend and most people, it’s called something else. I love the pop of bronze on the bridge and the gorgeous view of the Eiffel Tower. We definitely spent a good while here admiring the flooded Seine and lion statues.
This wasn’t originally on our itinerary but with the flooded Seine, we had to make a stop by this statue. The Zouave statue is an indicator of the level of the Seine. The statue looks small in the picture but it’s quite gigantic. The Seine level reached a 34-year high the weekend we were in Paris. Luckily, it didn’t rain during our weekend but the Seine was definitely roaring, several roads and metro stops were flooded.
My love for macarons began in 2014 with a visit to Ladurée in NYC. I’ve been meaning to make my way to the flagship store in Paris – it was a must stop place for me! Needless to say, I was like a child in a candy store. I was overwhelmed with the flavors and definitely panicked a bit. But with my 16 macarons, I left extremely happy! Flavors to go for are Salted Caramel and Strawberry Candy Marshmallow!
Some Sneak Peaks…
Before ending our first day in Paris, we swung by some spots for a nighttime look! With macarons in hand, we made our way down Champs-Élysées to the Arc de Triomphe. We took in the nighttime view and the traffic that surrounded it.
From there, we spent the rest of our night at the Eiffel Tower. It was my first time being that close to the structure and I was obsessed! We laid on the grass and watched as the Eiffel Tower sparkled. My favorite moment was when the illegal salespeople all fled in a huge group as the police officers chased them out of the park. I was terrified of getting trampled but they deserved it! These people definitely ruin any and all romantic moments. (More on the Arc and Eiffel later on)
Another memorable moment was when we ended our night at McDonald’s. Yes, McDonald’s. It was the only thing open by our apartment. We definitely ran towards it to make it before the midnight closing. And with 2 Big Macs and 3 Large Fries, it was a successful end to our first day in Paris!
Place de la Concorde
It is the largest public square in Paris! I love fountains so it was a great place to swing by for some photo opportunities.
Musee de l’Orangerie
I love Monet’s Water Lilies so I had to see it in person! On first look, I wasn’t blown away. The paintings were darker than I expected and darker than some that I’ve seen at other museums. However, the more I looked at the paintings, the more I loved it. It was so relaxing to just stare at the beautiful colors.
The museum is smaller than most which made it easy to explore the whole museum in a short time. The museum had more paintings downstairs but my favorite was definitely Monet.
TIP: The line to get into the museum is extremely long. However, we had the Paris Pass and made our way all the way to the front. We saved so much time with the pass on our short weekend!
My coworker recommended Ellsworth, a nice brunch place for all. We had some trouble finding the restaurant because the restaurant sign wasn’t very prominent. Once we found it, we sat at the bar. I love good food but the service was extremely slow. It took a while to order and even longer for our food to arrive (making my boyfriend quite hangry).
I ordered the Foie Gras. I have never had foie gras but was told it tastes like bone marrow – which I love. I was impressed by my dish! It was fois gras on a waffle with this unique sauce. The combination was incredible. The only downside was the size of the dish – the serving size for the price just wasn’t enough. The food was good but if you have a packed day, this isn’t the spot for you.
I wish we had more time in Paris because I would’ve loved to spend more time just relaxing at the gardens and exploring the whole area. We saw the Medici fountain but missed a lot of other hidden gems. My favorite parts were definitely the potted flowers and the square trees.
TIP: The line was extremely long and I didn’t notice a special line for the Paris Pass. Being impatient, I went to one of the guards and asked if I could enter the Pantheon since I already had a ticket. To my surprise, it worked out beautifully because the guard escorted us into the building and right past the long line of people. Yes, escorted! It was as if we were special visitors or something – but nope, just the Paris Pass again.
I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the Pantheon. It is a mausoleum containing the remains of distinguished French citizens. The interior was incredible and it was cool to see the burial place for Voltaire and Rousseau. There were many famous people buried in the crypt. I only wish that the descriptions weren’t only in French.
This is one of my boyfriend’s favorite spots in Paris and I can definitely see why! The gargoyles on the side of the cathedral were so unique. It added a special touch to the already impressive exterior. What really blew me away was the stained glass windows inside!
TIP: If you are only visiting the cathedral as a tourist, don’t visit on a Sunday. Sunday mass was taking place when we went, so we couldn’t explore the whole cathedral or make our way to the top of the towers.
No trip is complete without an icecream run! We went to Paris’ #1 icecream parlor on Ille St-Louis. When we arrived, there was a line that reached the corner of the block. Luckily, we made it right before closing! I thought the icecream was good but I wasn’t blown away by it.
You can’t go to Paris without going to the top of the Eiffel Tower. My boyfriend and I are both OCD trip planners but the prepaid tickets were all sold out online when we checked. We decided to take our chance with the queues. The line for the elevators was quite long so we decided to just take the stairs up to the second floor and then buy tickets to the top once we were there. I have tendonitis… so stairs aren’t the best for me, but I made it (dripping sweat and everything)!
TIP: Book Eiffel Tower tickets in advance online (if possible) to avoid queues AND the stairs…
We made it to the second floor just in time for sunset and the view was beautiful! We then bought tickets to the top on the second floor and queued up again to take the elevators all the way up. Once we got to the top, Paris was starting to light up! It was fun to spot all the places we went to. Once you’re up there, you will really have a hard time leaving.
On the first and second floors, there are areas to just sit and enjoy. We didn’t quite utilize that space but if you have more time, I would definitely recommend just hanging out on the Eiffel Tower for a bit!
This street is the home to Laduree and many luxury brands. Before leaving Paris, I wanted to buy a Longchamp bag and this was the place to do it!
Arc de Triomphe
Our last spot in Paris! We had the Paris Pass but there’s no separate line for it. We had to stand in the same queue as everyone else and then take the stairs to the top. There were exhibitions in between but we skipped those due to our short timeframe. It was a foggy day so our views were a bit clouded. We couldn’t even see the Eiffel Tower clearly. However, it was great being up there and it was quite relaxing. No where near as crowded as the Eiffel Tower! I would definitely recommend heading up there.
Top Tourist Spots: Eiffel Tower (especially when it sparkles at night)
For Next Time: Louvre Museum, Montparnasse Tower, Sainte-Chapelle
Must Eat Snack: Macarons from Laduree
What to Skip: Hokkaido
The Other Necessities
We stayed at an Airbnb. The apartment was beautiful! An even better bonus is that the apartment had a balcony with a view of the Eiffel Tower. It was within walking distance to the Eiffel Tower and the metro. It was on a street with shops and restaurants. I loved the location and the apartment. We had some communication problems with Ionah at first regarding our checkout time but once that was resolved, it was smooth sailing. Ionah is also really nice and I definitely enjoyed chatting with her! If I come back to Paris, this is where I’ll be staying!
When my boyfriend first bought the Paris Pass, I didn’t think it would be worth the money. For two days, it was €129. The pass includes free entry with Fast Track to a lot of tourist spots and unlimited metro rides. In two days, we used the Paris Pass in three spots (Musee de l’Orangerie €9, Patheon €7, and Arc de Triomphe €8) and the metro a handful of times. We definitely did not make up the price of the pass.
However, I would definitely buy the Paris Pass again the next time I’m in Paris. Why? Because you get fast track entry to a lot of very popular spots. We skipped long lines at both Musee de l’Orangerie and the Pantheon. My boyfriend hates lines, so this was well worth the price for us. I think the Paris Pass is definitely worth it, as long as you cram in as many spots as possible.
Coming in from Dublin, I landed in ORLY. It was so convenient to get to where we were staying (right by the Eiffel Tower). I took the Orlybus to Denfert-Rochereau and then took the metro to Passy. Make sure to buy tickets for the Orlybus inside the airport because there’s long lines at the ticket stand at the actual stop.
Heading to Venice, we didn’t plan our trip to CDG well. It turns out CDG is quite far away from the Eiffel Tower. We debated taking the metro, the bus, or an uber. We chose the bus because it was supposed to be cheap and fast – it wasn’t. It turns out there was heavy traffic, a strike, and the bus stop we waited at for a while was actually no longer in service. With less than an hour left, we believed that there was no way we would make our flight.
At that point, I was over all types of public transportation systems. I decided to just get an Uber, no matter the cost. For €37 using UberPool, we made it to the airport with 10 minutes before departure. Lucky for us, our terminal was small and the flight was delayed, so we made it to our flight! What I learned in this case is always plan ahead for airport trips – or just take an Uber.
Illegal Salesmen & Pickpockets
Like in most major Europe cities, beware of pickpockets. When my dad was in Paris a couple of weeks ago, he caught a kid trying to take his wallet out of his pocket as he was walking up metro steps. I felt a tug on my purse as I was walking out of the metro gates. And with that tug, I swung my purse forward and realized that it was half open. Luckily, nothing was stolen in both cases, but just be smart and careful with your surroundings.
I’m not sure how to categorize the people who sell cheap souvenirs and selfie sticks to you at tourist locations – so I will call them salesmen. I hated them! They are relentless and will approach you at all times – some worse than others. If my boyfriend and I are laying down watching the Eiffel Tower, does it look like we want to be interrupted for a lit up Eiffel Tower statue?
What’s worse than the people who sell things are the people who ask you to sign a petition (a known pickpocketing scheme). This man approached my boyfriend and we had already rudely declined, but this man just kept walking next to us and got way too close to my boyfriend. We reacted by yelling at this guy to back the eff up and away from us. Because come on, personal boundaries!