Paris. The infamous city of love, good food, stunning architecture and fashion. This was my first stop on the road around Europe when I left Australia in July, and it’s hard to imagine a better start to my trip. I spent a week in the city, as well as two weeks on a road trip around France (post to follow). It was my third time here, so I feel like I have quite a few little tips and tricks to share!
Sweeping views over Paris as seen from atop the Arc de Triomphe
Museé D’Orsay, 1 Rue de la Légion d’Honneur, 75007 Paris
There are certainly no shortage of incredible museums in Paris but one of my favourites has to be the Museeé D’Orsay. Located in a converted railway station the space itself is enough to impress visitors, never mind its carefully curated collected of priceless historical art. Much less crowded than the Lourve (and with shorter lines, especially if you book ahead) but not any less impressive, the Museé D’Orsay is a great way to spend a few hours appreciating the incredible talent of the last masters.
Arguably the most famous landmark in the world, the grand dame of Paris does not disappoint. Best seen at any time of the day (I’m a huge fan of the light show, which I know probably make me terribly uncool to locals) the surrounding parks are a great chance to eat, drink, relax and soak in her grandeur. If you have the time and patience join the seemingly never ending line to go up to the top for breathtaking views of Paris. The shortest way up is to climb, which I have done twice (it’s surprisingly easy) as most people seem to queue for the lifts.
Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, 6 Parvis Notre-Dame – Pl. Jean-Paul II, 75004 Paris
The famed Cathedral certainly lives up to it’s reputation. Sitting amongst some of the most perfectly Parisian streets you’re likely to see, Notre Dame offers spectacular views of Paris for those willing to take the climb (join the line early to be the first through the doors to avoiding waiting in the queue all day), and offers plenty to see on the ground also.
Disneyland, Paris, 77777 Marne-la-Vallée, France / +33 825 30 05 00
Disappointingly I did not get the opportunity to visit Disneyland this trip, though having been before I couldn’t resist putting it in the mix. I’m sure you all know the deal, Happiest Place on Earth and all the jazz – and, well, that’s not far from the truth. While the ticket cost and the queues would be enough to turn the average visitor sour, the atmosphere is just too darn happy not to get caught up in Disney hysteria. Embrace it, live it, love it (then vow to come back in the low season).
Arc de Triomphe, Place Charles de Gaulle, 75008 Paris
I’ve climbed a lot of monuments in my time, but none have left my quite as sweaty and breathless (not from the views which, granted, are pretty staggering) as this old thing. Having got my whinging out of the way, I can assure you the views make it all worth it.
Montmartre Walking Tours
Montmartre; home of the Sacre Couer, Moulin Rouge and what feels like the entire gypsy population of Paris (seriously, watch your handbag like it’s your firstborn), Montmartre is a whirlwind of Parisian beauty and Parisian horror stories. However, if you escape to the backroads on one of the cities many free walking tours it’s not hard to be instantly charmed by this infamous neighbourhood. Once you finish the tour, be sure to stop by my favourite restaurant in the city, Seb’on, for a most needed reprieve.
If you’ve ever seen the Griswald family in National Lampoon’s European Vacation (an all-time favourite of mine)/ listened to just about any Euro traveller, then you’re probably familiar with the common Paris-hotel horror stories. True, 98% of hotels have matchbox sized rooms (unless you’re a Rockerfeller, in which case I hear the Park Hyatt is slightly more generous). But the character of Paris is in it’s small whitewashed apartment buildings, and I’d rather a square metre of Paris than just about any other city. Fortunately on this trip I stayed in two hotels which I can genuinely recommend.
Hôtel Henriette, 9 Rue des Gobelins, 75013 Paris / +33 1 47 07 26 90
I actually stayed in this same building several years ago when it was operating as a different hotel. I had loved the location so much that when I saw it had come under new ownership and had since had a facelift I insisted we stay here again. A charming building on a quiet street with beautiful rooftop views, Hôtel Henriette is centrally located with great access to public transport (most major sites are on the same metro line, so you can avoid navigating the labyrinth of the underground). It is also clean with well-sized rooms and within walking distance of some great little bistros, supermarkets and a food market (Rue Mouffetard) which is open everyday.
Hotel Alhambra, 13 Rue de Malte, 75011 Paris / +33 1 47 00 35 52
On the other side of the Siene I stayed at Hotel Alhambra, a hotel which was probably a little fancier and more “hotel-esque” (less boutique if you catch my drift) than Hôtel Henriette. The rooms were not quite as big, but the bathroom was a generous size and it seemed to be brand new and as such was very clean with modern amenities. It was a great location with lots of restaurants and bars around it and the metro stopped right outside it. As it was summer a nearby street was cordoned off every night and people spilled out onto the pavement drinking mojitos from the nearby bar, which made for a lovely street scene.
The french are famous for their love of food – but if you’re not careful it’s easy to find yourself in a low quality tourist trap! The best trick is to do your research and follow recommendations (both of which you’re doing now, and you can trust me, I’m passionate about my food).
Seb’on, 62 Rue d’Orsel, 75018 Paris / +33 1 42 59 74 32
Run by the loveliest French couple with a real talent for producing incredible quality dishes (seasonal, intricate and picture-perfect) Seb’on was a highlight of my time in France. We chose to celebrate my little brother’s 21st birthday here after reading several amazing reviews (thank you TripAdvisor) and we couldn’t have been happier with our choice! Tucked away on a classically Parisian street in Montmartre (right near Abbesses and Anvers Metro) the space is intimate and minimal, ensuring a cosy atmosphere which lets the food do all the talking.
Image courtesy of Seb’on
Le Sirocco, 8 Bis Rue des Gobelins, 75013 Paris / +33 1 43 31 13 13
Located on the same street as Hôtel Henriette which I mentioned above, Le Sirocco serves up some of the tastiest North African cuisine I have ever had (and trust me, I’m a purveyor of North African food). The setting in itself is incredible, with no detail being spared to create the illusion that you are in a Moroccan Riad.
L’Eclair de Genie, 14 Rue Pavée, 75004 Paris / +33 1 42 77 85 11
With several locations across Paris (I liked the shop in Le Marais because it was a beautiful area to wander in afterwards) L’Eclair de Genie is worth visiting if you have an insatiable sweet tooth like myself.
One of my favourite treats in France has to be macaroons; which I find impossibly hard to make and impossible to resist, hence why I’m willing to splurge at Ladurée, arguably the worlds most famous macaroon shop. With locations in just about every corner of Paris (or so it feels) there is no excuse not to pop-in and treat yourself to a box. #saltedcaramelforlife
Lets be honest, Paris can be ungodly expensive – hotels (the main killer), public transport, food and attractions can really start to add up. I had the bonus of travelling with my parents (thanks for feeding and sheltering me guys) but if you’re on a budget one of the best ways to save money is to picnic or make charcuterie boards for dinner. In the summer the sun is out until around 9:30pm, giving you ample time to pop into one of the many convenience stores or marketplaces (try Rue Mouffetard in the 5th arrondissement which is open all week) to pick up some fresh local produce. In my opinion a bottle of French wine and a view of the Eiffel Tower at sunset sweetens the deal.
I hope this little guide gives you some ideas on what to do in the City of Love. If you have any questions, or just want to drop me a line, feel free to write in the feedback box below. Bisous xx