Paris has a hold on me. Within three days of exploring this past fall, the city of light captivated my heart and started what I know will be a long love affair. I have never visited a city so consistently beautiful. Typically, there are both pretty areas and more mundane areas of a city; not Paris. From the old blue doors to the classic Haussmann facades, she is 360 degrees stunning. Every nook more alluring than the last.
Beyond the architecture, are the people. Equally as attractive and mysterious all the same. I don't think we'll ever be able to pinpoint what makes Parisian women so lovely and perhaps that is what makes them so. The people watching is sublime. In 5 minutes of our arrival, I saw a man in a perfectly pressed blue suit riding a vintage bicycle with a baguette in the basket. Only in Paris.
Oh, and of course there are the museums, food and bakeries. They say no one does life like the French and I found this to be very true. They have it all and do it so well. So, if you are a dreamer, a romantic, an artist or just want to eat a bunch of croissants, jump on a plane and float on through this dazzling city. Step lightly along the Seine. Gaze in wonder at a Monet. And spend afternoons in street-side cafes watching this wonderful world that feels more like a dream than reality go by. Oui.
Before you go
Paris Guide Book by Cereal. One of my favorite travel publications. This pocket-sized, modern guide is filled with lovely gems.
French Phrase Book by Eyewitness Travel Guides. Try to learn as much basic conversational French as possible. Some people say the French are rude, but I do not agree. In my experience, they just want you to make an effort to be part of their culture. Always try to speak first in French and you'll be surprised how gracious and helpful they can be. Of course, there's always the rude a** ...but those people are everywhere on this globe.
There are several apps for their subway system, it's super easy to navigate and got us around really quickly. Walking is also a great way to see the city and not miss anything. We walked most everywhere we went.
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As you arrive
"April in Paris" by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. How perfectly they capture the affect Paris has a person.
Le Marais. We stayed here and loved the neighborhood and space. This couple has several Airbnb listings throughout the city and they are all so charming.
Cafe Kitsune. Tucked within the Le Palais Royal gardens. The perfect spot to fuel up before a day of wandering.
Also... Cafe du Flore, Cafe du Margot, Ob-La-Di, Merci
Musee de l'Orangerie. If you love French Impressionism and aren't quite ready to take on the Louvre, I highly recommend this museum. It has a huge collection of all the major players and also has two magical oval rooms that have Monet's Nympheas series wrapping around the walls. Monet worked with the curator to design them and seeing it is a bit of a religious experience.
Le Jardin du Luxemburg and Jardin de Tuileries. All the gardens are gorgeous and so nice to stroll through.
Eiffle Tower. We didn't go up the Eiffel Tower, we just walked around it. So cool to see in person, try seeing it both during the day and at night for the light show.
Saint Germain. Called the postcard of Paris, it is a very clean and beautiful neighborhood. Many of the old and famous cafes are here. It's a bit commercial, but worth an afternoon spent walking around and stopping at cafes. Don't miss the old Hemmingway and Fitzgerald hang outs, Cafe du Flore and Cafe du Margot... they are a bit overpriced because of their fame, but you can always just go for a drink or coffee.
Le Marais. We loved this cute, trendy area. Stop in Ob-La-Di coffee shop, adorable to the core and has the most incredible avocado toast. Also, Merci, a used bookshop/home store/cafe.
Cafe Bonaparte. Such a quintessential French cafe. It's in the Saint Germain area and had the best gnocchi I've ever tasted...served with a giant glass of Bordeaux, of course.
Gros. This was my favorite meal in Paris. It was right by our Airbnb and had recently opened. The staff was beyond friendly and the meal was incredible. We both got the duck (and for only 20 euro each)
Laduree. Delicious French Macaroons. They have several locations, make sure to stop every time you see one.
Juhles Bakery. If you happen to go to the above restaurant, the bakery right around the corner has the best croissants I've ever tasted. I ate 3 each day... if you don't make it here there is no shortage of amazing bakeries in other areas as well.