France: Four Days in Paris
Four Days in Paris
Paris was our second stop on our RTW trip. The French architecture with shuttered windows and flower boxes, walks along the Seine River, and cafés full of two-top tables gives Paris a charm that sets it aside from the hubbub of London.
After hitting the tourist circuit hard in London and a touristy first day in Paris we decided to chill out on that museum life. So, you’ll see that our favorite parts of Paris are mostly sans the big museums—a quick Google search will get you all the popular stops. We opted to save a few more Euros and take one or two more naps during our relaxing time in Paris!
For those curious back in the states, Paris has definitely ramped up their security. They did bag checks as we walked along the Seine River and entered major tourist spots. There were groups of 4-5 police/military personnel patrolling the streets at all times. For our trains from London to Paris and Paris to Amsterdam we went through metal detectors and x-ray machines. And as I type, several police officers just bumped into me while patrolling our train to Amsterdam.
- See the Louvre at Night
Despite feeling burnt out by museums, we’d be remiss not to recommend a trip to the Louvre, one of the most famous art museums in the world. By day, 12 Euros will get you into an over crowded, massive art museum full of famous sculptures and paintings. The Rick Steves “Audio Europe” app will guide you through an abbreviated trip to the Louvre, focusing on the highlights. In our opinion, the best way to enjoy the Louvre is to look beyond the art and imagine how this enormous building was actually lived in as a royal palace and to take time to laugh at the mob of tourists trying to catch a selfie with the Mona Lisa (yes, Mona is as disappointing as you’ve heard). Also, don’t miss the Apollo Gallery, my favorite room, which houses dragon adorned goblets and the CROWN JEWELS. #shinebrightlikeadiamond
By night, the Louvre gets even better. The tourists clear out and you’re left with an enchanting, glowing Louvre where you can sit by the fountain, take an evening stroll, and capture pictures sans crowds. Bask in the Louvre in all its non-tourist glory.
- Take in the Sights in Montmarte
A bit of a metro ride will get you out the artistic neighborhood of Montmarte, home to the highest point in Paris. Climb the hill to see the beautiful, white washed (& free!!) Sacré-Coeur. A word of warning – we had our first uncomfortable encounter with a street vendor here. They were fairly aggressive in their selling “tactics” and didn’t take “no” well. Hopefully we just caught someone on a bad day.
After walking through Sacré-Coeur, head right out of the entrance and follow the fence to get a baller view of the Eiffel Tower. Then, wind back down the hill and take in the romantic vibe of Montmarte (we promise it’s romantic once you’re out of the tourist zone). The side streets, like Avenue Trudaine, are full of adorable cafés where you feel like a real life Parisian! If you’re feeling sleazy, walk through storefronts for peep shows and adult shops to the infamous Moulin Rouge and snap a picture outside.
35 Rue du Chevalier de la Barre, 75018 Paris
- Chow Down on French Comfort Food
Paris is known for its amazing food and wine. We kept it simple—rosé (all day) and comfort food. Our mission: savory crêpe, sweet crêpe, macarons, croissants for breakfast, steak frites, and croque-madame. We nailed it.
You can find crêpes all over the place in cafés and walk up food stands. Ham and egg, ham and cheese, and Nutella crêpes were our jam.
I took part in the great hunt for the best macarons of ’16 and was left with mixed reviews of everywhere. Laudree is famous, but for tourists. Pierre Hermé is where the locals go, but over priced. So, we went to the closest patisserie to our Airbnb, Lenôtre Bastille. They were yummy.
We scored really good croissants and fresh baguette for lunch from Miss Manon in Marais. I went with the chocolate croissant and Johnny went with the almond. Both A+.
Our favorite food stop was to Bistrot Victoires for our finale dinner. This spot was recommended due to it’s authentic French food, non-tourist vibe, and reasonable prices. It’s also quite close to the Louvre, so may be a nice option on a Wednesday or Friday (when the Louvre is open late). It did not disappoint. Johnny had the duck confit and I had the steak frites—both were on point. My steak frites even came with thyme that was on fire, the novelty was not lost on me. We had six glasses of wine (see, rosé all day!), shared an appetizer (entreé if you’re French), two entreés (or plates if you’re French), and the crème brûlèe all for 52 euros! Cha-ching!
6 Rue de la Vrillière, 75001 Paris
- Picnic Under the Eiffel Tower
Our favorite night was picnicking under the Eiffel Tower. We love picnics, can you tell? We grabbed wine, a fresh baguette, salami, and cheeses from the grocery nearby our place and headed to the Eiffel Tower just before sunset for our picnic. We took our wine incognito to be safe, but turns out everyone drinks out in the open…oh well. We enjoyed our spread, took 1,000 pictures of the Eiffel Tower, played cards, read our books, and then enjoyed the light show that takes place for the first 5 minutes at the top of every hour, after sunset. What a night! Are we living in a dream?
- Enjoy Parisian Gardens
Paris is home to many unbelievable gardens—Jardin des Tuileres, Jardin des Plantes, Jardin des Champs-Élysèes, the list goes on and on. Our favorite was Jardin du Luxembourg. Not only is this garden expansively beautiful, but it’s also were you get to watch kids sail boats in the fountain! We could have literally watched this for hours. Most of the gardens have chairs available so you can camp out and watch the Parisian world go by.
Now, it’s on to Amsterdam! Stay tuned….