In early 2012, my husband (then boyfriend) invited me to Europe for the first time. He asked if I wanted to go to Paris? We were in the early stages of falling in love and I think he was surprised I didn’t want to go. Who doesn’t want Paris in the Springtime with their lover? Isn’t it the most romantic place on Earth? Isn’t it the city of love?
Truth be told, I never bought into all that Paris mumbo jumbo. I didn’t dream of going to Paris as a little girl, teenager, or adult. You would think, me, of all people would. I’ve always been a hopeless romantic. Because of all of my hopelessness in all things romance, the idea of Paris seemed so cliché and cheesy, for our first trip together.
Fast forward to 2015.
We were trying to decide where to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. After traveling to several other European countries and South America together, I told my husband: I think I’m ready for Paris now. Our decision was made. I didn’t want just Paris, though. I wanted to experience more of France. Half of our time was spent in Paris, but we also ventured to Versailles, Reims, Lyon, and Strasbourg.
These 3 books helped us plan our Team JP Tour de France. The Lonely Planet book has the best pull out map of Paris, that we’ve found. Highly recommend.
However, for this blog, I’m strictly going to focus on Paris and some of the things I learned along the way.
I’m happy I waited for Paris with my husband because she does not disappoint. She is an antique city filled with culture, history, and mouth watering food. Her architecture is gothic and at times surreal. What I did appreciate there, is that people take their food and dining experiences seriously, almost religiously, which is fine by me, because so do we.
Which reminds me of where we spent our first-anniversary dinner at L’atelier Saint-Germain de Joël Robuchon,
Anniversary celebration dinner at L’atelier Saint-Germain de Joël Rubuchon.
which at the time was a 2 Michelin starred and #31 ranked restaurant in the world. Amazing! Only 2 other restaurants voted above it in Paris, which were 3 Michelin starred and booked way in advance. If you’re going to have some of the most spectacular food experiences, make sure you book your date(s) way ahead of time.
TIP # 1 While Paris is full of Michelin star restaurants, where you can dine like royalty and have foodgasm after foodgasm, I suggest finding the local spots, as well. Ask someone on the street or at your hotel what they recommend. Don’t be surprised how close you will be sitting next to your neighbor. The best way to experience a new country is through their food.
My breakfast every day was either a croissant or pain au chocolat. Yum!
Although, no matter where you go in Paris, you’ll find delicious croissants, pain au chocolat, and macaroons on every corner.
For the Best Macaroons, Laduree, is a must. You’ll find macaroons, but so many other beautiful desserts, as well.
TIP # 2 When you think of Paris you think of the Eiffel Tower. Yes, it’s a Must!
And this right here is what you come to Paris for, Eiffel Tower, built in 1889. No matter what angle you look, it’s Spectacular!
You can buy your tickets ahead of time. If the winds are too high you won’t be able to go to the very top. Which is fine, because the Best views are on the 2nd level. Do yourself a favor and experience the Eiffel Tower at night, if you can. Starting at 8pm and for 5 minutes each hour after that, it lights up and sparkles. It’s definitely worth the show and crowds it gathers.
Eiffel Tower at night is stunning! It’s just as magical, if not more at night.
TIP # 3 My favorite thing we did in Paris, the Bateau Mouche Cruise. What an absolutely gorgeous way to see this beautiful city than on the Seine River. It doesn’t matter where you sit, because you’ll get the same views on either side, upstairs or downstairs.
If you get the opportunity to view Paris from the Seine River, do it! Boards daily between Pont Des Invalides and Pont de L’ Alma. The cruise lasts about 1.5hrs.
TIP # 4 If you’re not interested in spending hours amongst the crowds inside the Musée du Louvre, go on a Tuesday. It’s closed this day. Outside of the Louvre and Palais-Royal is open. It’s a great way to explore and take pictures up close and personal, while not being surrounded by a ton of other tourists.
Look at the crowd on a Tuesday! It’s the perfect way to see the Louvre and Palais-Royal without the crowds.
TIP # 5 If you plan on experiencing a show at the Moulin Rouge, buy your tickets ahead of time. This is a must. You can buy online or during the day at the ticket window. These shows are almost always sold out in advance.
Ahhh… the way this lights up at night! You know you’re in for a great time!
They have two shows a night. We went to the earlier show, which for us, was a normal time. The later show was sold out. Arrive as early as possible to get into line, as there are no assigned seats. I also suggest skipping dinner, only go to the show. Do buy a bottle of wine, sit back and get ready to enjoy the night!
TIP # 6 Do walk through my favorite neighborhood, Montmartre, to get to the Bisilique du Sacré-Coeur aka Sacred Heart. You’ll bypass all the steps and walk through a real Parisian neighborhood, where the likes of famous artists such as Picasso, Monet, and Dali frequented.
Monmartre is my favorite by far! You’ll find 2 remaining original windmills made famous by the painters, Renoir and Van Gogh.
Enjoy the historic and 2 remaining windmills left in Paris located in Monmartre. Don’t forget to enjoy some of the yummy treats below the steps of Sacré-Coeur or while walking back enjoy the gelato, as I did. Also, please be respectful when they ask for no pictures inside of Sacré-Coeur.
Basilique du Sacré-Coeur completed in 1914. Is majestic and considered holy ground. They also ask that you please don’t take pictures while inside, please be respectful.
TIP # 7 Want to visit the Arc de Triomphe? Please don’t try to cross the street to get to it. There is an underground walkway which will get you there safely. Do I think it’s worth spending the extra money to go to the top of the Arc de Triomphe? No.
Arc de Triomphe. Napoleon I’s triumphant Arc to commemorate France’s victory in battle.
You’ll still get to see the Arc up close from the ground.
TIP # 8 While you’ll be lucky to find most people or waiters can speak English, please try to speak a little bit of French. I used Duolingo to help me prepare best for France. Here are some of the words I lived by in France:
Yes = Oui
No = Non
Excuse me = Excusez – Moi
Hello = Bonjour
Goodbye = Au revoir
Please = S’il vous plaît
Thank you = Merci
Good night/evening = Bonsoir
Sorry = Pardon
Do you have a bathroom? = Avez – vous une salle de bain?
Where are the restrooms? = Où sont les toilettes?
A table for two please = Une table pour deux, s’il vous plaît
The check/bill please = L’addition, s’il vous plaît
Do you speak English/Spanish? Parlez-vous anglais/ Espagnol?
I love you = Je t’aime
TIP # 9 Many times wine is cheaper to drink than H2O. My tip to avoid dehydration while you’re getting your wine life fulfilled, buy water at a local market or store. You’ll need plenty of it while you’re wandering around Paris. After all, this is the best way to see the city. Don’t be afraid to get lost. Go off the map, just don’t forget to drink water.
TIP # 10 The most Important tip, is to wear good walking shoes.
I went with these Clarks Wave Walk shoes. Great purchase on my behalf.
It’s easy to walk up to 5 miles a day in Paris. Women in Paris do not wear heels. Flats are completely acceptable anywhere and everywhere you go in Paris. My best advice, break in your walking shoes before you go. Having comfortable shoes will make all the difference in determining how much you can or can’t see in one day. Keep your feet happy and the rest of your trip will be happy.
Maybe it’s because it’s, The Flame of Liberty, which sits above where Princess Diana tragically died. Maybe, it’s because of the view of the Eiffel Tower from here. Maybe, it’s because of the lovers in the picture, but it was a beautiful day and moment to be captured.
Paris means something different for each person who goes there for the first time or tenth time. While my husband has been going to Paris, since he was a teenager, even he discovers something new each time he goes. One thing I know, while, this may have been my first Parisian experience, I’m certain it won’t be my last. As my darling, Audrey Hepburn said, “Paris is always a good idea.”