I’ve had the extraordinary pleasure of visiting Paris countless times, once with family and many time while employed by a European study abroad company.
I always used to tell students and people with a new-found love for travel: “Always visit cities with an open mind and absolutely no expectations”. If you go to Paris expecting to be swept off your feet, find the man of your dreams, eat tasty pastries that have a magic no calorie – stay thin antidote – You’ll be painfully disappointed.
Every visit to Paris for me was different. I always found something new to enjoy there. For people who enjoy the more “underground” establishments. Paris has amazing consignment boutiques. Culture, good food and scenery is there for the finding!
Where I stayed:
I stayed at the same hotel every time we visited Paris. Hotel Mercure Gare de Lyon is cost-effective and attached to a train station. We would often times take trains to Amsterdam while in Paris for the week. It’s in a desirable part of town. It’s not super close to tourist attractions but you get a feel for what the rest of Paris feels like without the hype of being so close to the Eiffel Tower.
What I saw:
THE LOUVRE MUSEUM
Obviously, the Louvre Museum is a must. Even if museums aren’t your scene, at least grab a cup of coffee/tea and snack on a macaron while you walk by it. Something about seeing it in person, gives you goosebumps. The entrance fee is 17 euros (well worth it) and the museum is closed on Tuesdays. It’s the BIGGEST museum in the world. Walking through the Egyptian art exhibit will leave you intrigued and walking away with an eerie feeling – perhaps because its said to be haunted by a mummy named Belphagor.
Duh, The Eiffel Tower
If possible, visit Paris during Bastille Day (French Independence Day), July 14th. You will see the most spectacular fireworks show behind the Eiffel Tower that will leave you speechless and in awe of its beauty. Loud French music blaring while people gather in the grassy areas, picnic style enjoying a bottle of wine and baguettes.
VERSAILLES VS. GIVERNY, FRANCE
A trip to Versailles is also a must. Everyone is different – to each their own. That being said, if I had to choose between a train ride to Versailles or Giverny- hometown of famous painter/artist Claude Monet. I would hands down pick Giverny. It’s a small quiet town that has a village feel to it. Giverny is about an hour outside of Paris. Train ticket is anywhere from 10-15 Euros.
Directions: Vernon-Giverny station is situated on the main train line Paris / Rouen / Le Havre. It starts from the Saint-Lazare Paris station (which has not changed much since Monet painted it). The fastest trainscomplete the journey in less than 45 min. In the Metro, take the ‘SNCF – Grandes Lignes’ exit. Once you exit the train, take a short taxi ride to Rue de Claude Monet where the museum and home of Claude Monet is located. This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen in France. My body was overcome with inspiration being on this property where he painted the famous, Water Lily Pond.
These next spots may sound a bit odd but trust me on this.
Père Lachaise Cemetery
This is the burial site of Jim Morrison, writer- Oscar Wilde, composer- Chopin and many more famous individuals. The grounds are simply beautiful, it’s not uncommon for Parisians to take a stroll through this cemetery and Passy cemetery – where composer Claude Debussy, painter Manet and Princess of Iran Leila Pahlavi lay to rest. It’s not as creepy as it sounds to walk through these beautiful cemeteries to pay your respects to so many amazing legends. They are actually quite the tourist attractions.
What I ate:
You can’t leave Paris without trying a simple French cuisine. The most common would be the Croque Madame/ Croque Monsieur. You can find this at almost any diner in Paris. You also must try the traditional Crème brûlée and/or a macaron.
Maison Claudel or Chez Habibi – affordable wine bars near the Hotel Mercure.
Macarons from Laudree or Gerard Mulot are a must!!
There are simply far too many restaurants to mention or even begin to recommend in Paris. However, a trip to Paris really isn’t complete (in my opinion) without giving these a try. No blog or yelp review will ever truly do this city justice it’s simply a place that needs to be experienced. There is also nothing that could possibly prepare you for the awful smell of what is the city metro but it’s all a part of the amazing experience that is Paris.
voilà – There you have it in a nutshell.
Merci beaucoup for reading ❤