Eurotripp Recap Part 2: Paris
Oh Paris! Surprising to both me and Jordan, Paris was our favorite stop of the trip. I'm not sure if it was because of our low expectations (why does everyone tell you Paris is gross??) or the beautiful weather, but we both fell completely in love. From London (check out my London Recap), we took the Eurostar into Paris, and it was about a 2 hour and 15 minute ride. We arrived later in the evening and stayed in to rest up for the next day.
Day 5: We got up early for a full day and stopped in at the cutest little coffee shop called Telescope for a croissant and the best cappuccino I've ever had. Great start to Paris! From there, we went to Notre Dame where we started Rick Steve's Audio Walking Tour around Historic Paris. We love walking around new cities, so this was a great way to orient ourselves to Paris. On the tour, we visited and learned about several places that I will list below, but highlights include the flying buttresses at Notre Dame, buying a book at the English-language Shakespeare & Company where the likes of Hemingway and Fitzgerald once hung out, and the unbelievable stained glass at Sainte-Chapelle.
After our walking tour, we grabbed a croque monsieur on Ile Saint Louis, one of the cute little islands in the middle of the Seine, and headed toward the Louvre. We made a pit stop at Jardin de Palais Royal for a walk around the gardens and some fountain sitting, one of our favorite Paris pastimes. The Louvre is completely amazing but also super overwhelming. Again, we used Rick Steve's audio guide to hit the major stops: Venis de Milo, Mona Lisa, Coronation of Napoleon, and The Wedding Feast at Cana. After all that walking, we were starved! We had a delicious meal at Chez Janou, including their famous chocolate mousse.
Activities: Notre Dame (free), Deportation Memorial (free), Shakespeare & Company, Latin Quarter, Saint-Chapelle (€10 or Paris Museum Pass), Conciergerie (€ 9 or Paris Museum Pass), Pont Neuf (free), Jardin de Palais Royal (free), Louvre (€15 or Paris Museum Pass)
Day 6: Our second day in Paris, we trekked out to the Palace of Versailles. Between the Palace and Gardens, we could've devoted an entire day to this display of grandeur, but we stayed about a half day. With thousands of artworks, 2300 rooms, and over 2000 acres, it's definitely worth visiting. Aside from a few grand rooms in the Palace, like the Hall of Mirrors, the King's Private Chambers, and the Museum of the History of France, I enjoyed walking the Gardens the most and wished we had devoted more time to that.
After we walked for ages at Versailles, we took the train back into the city to visit the Eiffel Tower. Our plan was to get there at sunset to see the city both in daylight and at night. We got there a little later than we wanted to, but still were able to watch the sunset as we rode to the summit. For some reason, I had low expectations for this particular activity, but I have to say it was a really spectacular experience. To cap the night off, we had a super yummy dinner at Le Comptoir de La Gastronomie, where I had the fois gras ravioli and Jordan had the beef rib. Both were incredibly delicious, possibly one of our favorite meals on the entire trip.
Day 7: On our last day, we started our morning at the Arc di Triomphe and walked down the Champs-Élysées, which I referred to as "The Champs" and Jordan thought I was so uncouth. We continued walking all the way to the Jardin des Tuileries for a short break to enjoy some more fountain sitting and people watching, before hopping over to the Musée de l'Orangerie. Housed along with other impressionist works, Monet's Water Lilies are really the main star here. I can't even express how beautifully calming the gallery was with the peaceful diffused light floating in among the paintings. I could've sat in there all day, but Jordan wouldn't let me!
For lunch we trekked over to Las du Falafel for the best falafel I've ever had! You order from a window and eat it to-go, so we walked around this neighborhood and visited the shops as we enjoyed our falafel. We also picked up some amazing eclairs from L’Eclair de Genie and ate them back at the the Jardin des Tuileries, before finishing our day at another museum, Musée d'Orsay. This former train station houses European art from the 1800 and 1900's. My favorites included more impressionist work by Monet, Manet, and Renoir, and Jordan's favorite was the Van Gogh collection. Lastly, we couldn't leave Paris without crepes! We ended the night at Breizh Cafe with both delicious savory and dessert crepes.
Activities: Arc de Triomphe (you can pay to go inside, but we didn't), Champs-Élysées (free), Jardin des Tuileries (free), Musée de l'Orangerie (€9 or Paris Museum Pass), Musée d'Orsay (€13.50 or Paris Museum Pass)
General Notes About Paris:
Get a Paris Museum Pass, it's totally worth it! You can choose between 2, 4 or 6 days and can buy it at any participating museum. Not only do you save money, but you can skip those big, long ticket lines. We saved a lot of time!
Definitely recommend using the Metro, it's super easy. Try to plan ahead of time and figure out what is the best/cheapest way to buy tickets. We bought day passes, but realized later it would have been cheaper to buy books of individual tickets.
We both loved sitting in the gardens around the fountains and people watching!
The restaurants we enjoyed the most were in the 3 & 4th arrondissements. Make sure to make reservations 2-3 days in advance, because many places book up quickly.
We stayed in the 13th Arr., which was about a 25 minute metro ride from the city. The commute didn't bother us, but I would plan to stay somewhere closer to the center of the city if you want to return to the hotel throughout the day.