Thursday, July 27, 2017

Travel Guide: Paris


On to Paris we go!
I posted about our time in London a couple of weeks ago and thought it was about time I brought you guys all the details of our next stop...PARIS.
From London, we took the Eurostar train to Paris - about a 2.5 hour trip. (Make sure you purchase your Eurostar tickets ahead of time before you go).
I love taking the train from London to Paris, as you get to see a lot of the French countryside, it's relaxing and a very comfortable ride.

Now let me start by just saying, Paris is my ABSOLUTE favorite city in the whole world. This was my fourth time visiting and I still fall more and more in love with the city every time I go. The architecture, the food, THE WINE, the fashion, the shopping, the list goes on. Now I get it, Paris isn't for everyone, but if you haven't been, I really recommend putting it into your itinerary and going for at least a weekend.
Let's jump into all the Parisian details!



Where We Stayed:
After visiting a couple of times, we have decided that our favorite area to stay in is the 1st arrondissement area of Paris. It's right across from the Jardin des Tuileries (one of my absolute favorite parks in Paris), about a 5 minute walk to the Louvre Museum, and centrally located to almost everything. Did I mention that it's right next to Angelina?! What's so special about Angelina?! Well, it has the BEST hot chocolate and the prettiest desserts - a MUST visit while in Paris. 
During our last trip, we stayed at the gorgeous Hotel Lumen (highly recommend) but decided this trip to stay a little bit closer to the Champs-élysées and landed upon the Hotel Mayfair


Talk about the best location! Now remember, all the hotels in Europe are very small, so the room was on the smaller side BUT still gorgeous and not too crowded.  I loved the Hotel Mayfair for it's boutique feel and did I mention that everyone that worked there was so nice and accommodating?! I talked about how they secured reservations to the Ralph Lauren restaurant for us before our trip in this post here! But before anything else, location is super important to us. When we travel, we want to be able to walk almost everywhere when we are exploring a city and this hotel was in the perfect location.


Where We Ate:
Where didn't we eat?! Honestly though, one of my favorite things about Paris is the amazing food. Unlike London, you really can roam anywhere around Paris and find a delicious café without prior plans or reservations. Bryan & I love finding little local french cafes where ordering a carafe of house red wine & some authentic french onion soup is easy and ideal. 

A big part of the Parisian culture is grabbing a seat at a local café and just relaxing with a glass of wine. Talk about my kind of life.

Café de Flore - This was my first time here and definitely not my last. This is everything you dream of when you think of "French cafe". We stopped in here for a glass of rosé and of course a french espresso and just people watched for a couple of hours. If you go, try and sit outside, it's beautiful.



Ferdi - Yum yum yum. This was one of our favorite spots of the whole trip. Not only was the food fun, funky and good, but the vibes of this little restaurant were so amazing. We could have stayed here all night just drinking wine & people watching. We made a reservation in advance (thanks again to our awesome hotel) and it was definitely a good idea. This place is very small and there were probably only about 15 tables total so a reservation is a must. Also, this is not french food....it's the french take on American food. Think burgers, fries, guacamole and twice baked potatoes. So fun!


Ralph Lauren - I shared all the details of the gorgeous brunch we had here in this post about a month ago but had to make sure I added it into this post again. Make reservations ahead of time and get ready to have a beautiful dining experience. 

La Terrasse de Pomone - A great place to stop and enjoy a glass of true Provence style rosé or bubbles and a ham & cheese baguette after strolling through the Jardin des Tuileries. You can sit outside and just enjoy the fresh French air.




Café Constant - We ate dinner here for our first night in Paris and it was an amazing way to start the weekend. We sat outside at a table lining the sidewalk, ordered a carafe of house red wine and indulged in some amazing french onion soup, deviled eggs and Caprese salad. 


Flow Paris - We stumbled upon this spot when we were walking home from Cafe Constant and just had to stop and enjoy one more drink. Located RIGHT ON the river Seine, you can sit in these lounge chairs lining the river and just enjoy the view. 


Carette - Place du Terte - We stopped at this little pâtisserie when we got to Montmartre to enjoy a morning espresso & croissant. It was the perfect spot to grab a little morning breakfast before exploring the charming city. (I also got one of the freshest baguettes here for 1 euro and enjoyed it throughly throughout the day).




La Belle Poule Café - We stopped in at this café while walking from Montmartre to the Champs-élysées. We enjoyed a margarita pizza & of course some more rosé. (It was a far walk, but we enjoyed every moment of exploring parts of the city we would have never discovered if we didn't walk!)


Angelina - I talked a little bit about this beautiful cake shop above but just wanted to remind you....it's a must! Their hot chocolate is world known (tastes like a melted brownie in a cup) & they have the cutest candies and tins to bring home for love ones.

Le Parvis - This was another random find as we were walking to see Notre Dame. We enjoyed a Caprese salad and an espresso to keep us going for the day. (Can you see the pattern?! Caprese salad, rosé, French onion soup, espresso, baguette?!)

Pavillon de la Fontaine - Another one of my favorite parts of Paris is just being able to grab a glass of prosecco and sit in a beautiful park. The Pavillon de la Fontaine is a little outside cafe in the Jardin du Luxembourg where you can grab a glass of champagne and some macaroons. So amazing.

Le Relais Odéon - We stopped in here because their happy hour looked appealing. We ended up staying for a couple of hours, sitting in the open setting café, and watching as the busy streets of Paris fill up with locals coming from work. A fun atmosphere.


Chez Nous Paris - One of our favorite spots of the trip. We actually walked by it on our way home and both turned around, looked at each other and said "That's a total us spot!" It's basically a wine bar that serves fresh amazing apps....right up our alley. We absolutely loved the people working there, as they really knew all about wine and let us explore some of their great French varietals.



Laduree Paris - This wasn't a new one for me, as I've been here before in Paris and to the one in New York, but per usual, it didn't disappoint. I met my sweet friend & blogger Claire here for breakfast one day and we had the prettiest french toast!



Where We Explored:

Since this wasn't our first time here, we didn't really do much of the "touristy" stuff. If you are going for your first time, make sure you put these spots on your list:

Eiffel Tower - We were brave and walked up the steps....there was no line and no waiting.
Champs-élysées - Great shopping & people watching
Arc de Triomphe - pay to go to the top - the view is SO worth it. Beware, there are a lot of stairs.
Notre Dame 
Louvre - We waited in line to get in last time we visited and explored for about 2 hours. A MUST visit if you are going to Paris for the first time, but maybe invest in a "skip the line" pass before you go.

Ok, those are pretty much the obvious must-see tourist attractions if you haven't been to Paris. If you have been or are looking for some other things to do on your first trip, here are some other things we enjoyed doing & seeing while we were there. (Besides eating!)

Jardin des Tuileries - I talked a little bit about this park in the beginning of this post, but I LOVE these gardens. There is a huge fountain in the middle where you can sit in these lounge chairs, relax & people watch. It's the best.




Luxembourg Gardens - We LOVED it here. Another place to just sit, relax and enjoy Paris. Not to mention, the architecture and beautiful gardens are such an amazing sight. One of my favorite things to do in the gardens is to watch the children play with wooden boats in the fountain. Talk about feeling all the French feels. 




Musée d'Orsay - If you like museums, you can't miss this one. Such a gorgeous museum to just walk around and enjoy the atmosphere. No need to buy tickets ahead of time. We bought them there and waited in line for about 10 minutes. 

Champagne Tasting Seine River Cruise - We loved this! We boarded a cruise boat by the Eiffel, had our own little section up on the front of the boat and got to taste 3 different French champagnes while cruising down the river Seine. Such a great experience!



Jardin du Palais Royal - This place is a bloggers dream come true. A huge open area filled with black and white painted pillars - it's a beautiful place to explore!



Montmartre - This was our first time visiting Montmartre and we fell in love. We started the day here, sitting on the steps of the Basilica of Sacre-Coeur, eating croissants and enjoying the high up view of Paris. This little charming town is filled with cute patisseries, artists, musicians and beautiful buildings. We were told not to go here at night, so of course we didn't, but during the day, it was so fun and gorgeous. Highly recommend!



Other Tips:
*** When you go to a restaurant or café, don't be afraid to order the house wine. It's absolutely delicious and always so reasonably priced. Specifically the rosé....let me tell you something, if you don't like rosé before your trip, you will LOVE it after you visit Paris, I promise.

*** Book your Eurostar tickets ahead of time. Trust me. On my very first trip to Europe with my sister (I was 23), we walked up to the train station in London, just thinking we could purchase a ticket on the train to Paris that day. (I know, what were we thinking?!) Well, we couldn't. So we had to take a BUS. An 8 hour bus ride later, we arrived in Paris. Yes, the bus got on a boat...so confusing & so happy we survived. Don't make this mistake. 

*** Use Viator to book experiences, tours and activities ahead of time. I've used this site for YEARS and I'm always impressed on how easy & legit it is. They've never scammed me and have some amazing tours!

*** Don't be afraid of pick pocketers. We hear this all the time, "I'm so afraid to go to Paris because of the pick pocketing that goes on there". Well let me tell you something, it happens everywhere. If someone comes up to you asking you to sign a petition & asking if you speak English, say no and keep on moving. DUH. It is definitely worse in the very touristy spots, like by the Eiffel, but just be aware of your surroundings and you'll be fine.

*** Use Uber. It's actually cheaper than taxis and you can type in your location/destination without having to worry about telling the driver in your "best" French on where to go.

*** Try to at least learn how to say "please" and "thank you" in French before you go. It really goes a long way!

*** Unlike some of the myths and rumors out there, French people are not rude. Every single local we met in France was so nice, helpful, kind and respectful. What did we do? We were nice to people, we said please and thank you and smiled. It really makes a difference.

*** If you plan of doing any designer shopping, this is the place to do it. Designer bags and other apparel items are a little bit cheaper, PLUS you can get your VAT return and get the items tax free as well.



Alright, another long one I know, BUT if you are planning a trip to Paris, France, this post will be so helpful to you! Please feel free to comment below or shoot me a message/email if you have any other questions or are planning a European trip. I could talk about Paris all day and everyday so I'd be happy to answer any questions you have!

Stayed tuned....up next is VENICE!

(P.S. You can find my previous travel post about London here & you can find my post on Europe packing tips here).


Au Revoir!

xo
Ashley

4 comments :

  1. Have you ever been to Italy? Should you know some French more than please and thank you? Have you been to Florence? Any other Europe recommendations?

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    1. Hi Brooke! I have been to Italy! Tuscany, Rome, Florence & Venice! (There will be a Venice travel guide up here soon). I would say that you really don't need to know much French as mostly everyone can speak a little English. I went to Florence about 7 years ago for only one day but I would definitely say it's a must if you are going to Italy. We also went to Prague on this trip which was absolutely amazing!

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  2. Dear Ashley, that breakfast was definitely a very happy day for me. I am glad I can call you my friend, I am proud to know you and your lovely husband. If Max and I go to San Francisco we are sure gonna come and say hi to you've guys!!! Miss you ��

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    1. I loved every moment! And yes, if you guys come to SF PLEASE let us know! xoxo

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