A day in Paris or a week in Paris? My hope for you is that you have more than a weekend in the city, as the French capital has so much to offer on so many levels (#food #culture #fashion to name a few)! If you are a first time visitor and your ideal Paris weekend includes a desire to hit all the major museums and monuments just a weekend won’t do it. A couple of weeks ago I went back to the City of Lights and as some years went by since I was last there, I arranged a two day itinerary including the mayor landmarks. I was really surprised by how many I was actually able to fit in, as Paris is big and not all touristy spots are that close together. But … If a weekend’s all the time you’ve got, why not make the best of it and try to squeeze in as many famous sights as possible? What do you think… On y va?!
SAY HI TO THE LOUVRE
We got up super early so we were able to hop on the first train from Tourcoing to Paris Massy. We arrived around 8AM, but still had to take a second train as Massy is about 25 kilometers outside of Paris. Luckily these trains run very frequently and around 9am we were already at our first stop of the day: the Louvre!
We didn’t visit the museum as both my aunt and I had been there before, but as this was the first station in the heart of Paris with the B train, we got off and figured; why not stop by while in the area. The Louvre started out as a medieval palace during the 12th-century and has since been transformed into a Royal Residence and finally a museum with famous art works such as the Mona Lisa from Leonard Da Vinci and the Venus by Milo, to name a few. With its 60,600 square meters of publicly viewable exhibition space you can wander the hallways for months and still run into different pieces of art every time… The Louvre is one of the top landmarks in Paris, and so worth a visit, but if you are only in the city for a weekend that’s not something I would recommend doing. In that case you should do like us and enjoy the museum’s beautiful exterior and get your picture taken’ at the pyramid. #smile In case you do want to visit, make sure to buy your tickets in advance, because the lines can get super long. Oh and a fun fact: on the first Saturday of each month, the museum is also open from 6 PM to 9.45 PM and admission is free for all visitors, so that might be something you want to take in consideration.
EXPLORE THE GARDENS OF THE PALAIS ROYAL
Just around the corner from The Louvre lays the Palais Royal, which was once the home of Cardinal Richelieu and later a childhood home of Louis XIV. While you can no longer visit the palace, you can enjoy the gardens and the square that houses a unique striped art installation by Daniel Buren.
CLIMB THE EIFFEL TOWER… OR NOT!
The Eiffel Tower is the most iconic landmark in Paris and a must-see while there. It was built in 1886 by Gustav Eiffel for the World’s Fair. I have been admiring the building every single time I’ve been to Paris, but actually never made it up. There are a lot of spots from where you have a beautiful view upon the tower, so I don’t really feel the need to actually climb it. My favorite viewing points are the Rue de l’Université and the Champs de Mars.
LUNCH AT LE CONSULAT
If there is one café you should visit during your stay in Paris it’s Le Consulat. At first I was a bit doubtful about eating in such a touristy spot, but now I’m happy we did, because it was actually pretty good and decent priced.
STROLL AROUND MONTMARTRE
As birthplace of bohemia in Paris, Montmarte captures the old-world charm of a French village. Van Gogh, Monet and Renoir, once called this district home. If you want to learn about the history of art in this district, a visit to the Montmartre Museum a must.
Nowadays you can still feel the artistic energy! At the heart of Montmarte you’ll find Place du Tertre, a little square packed with artists painting and mingling with one another. If you’re looking to pick up a unique piece of art in Paris, this would be a great place to support local artists.
The most popular monument in Montmarte is the Sacre-Coeur Bascillica. The Roman- Byzantine interior features the largest mosaic work in all of France. As many city trippers solely travel to Montmarte to see this church, it can get pretty crowded here. If you’re interested in the history you can go inside, otherwise seeing it from outside is still pretty spectacular.
Another must-see is ‘The I Love You Wall’, a mural made by Frédéric Baron and Claire Kito that features ‘I Love You’ in more than 250 languages. Can you spot your own? I did, took me a while tough 😉
Among the countless things to do in Montmatre, passing by La Maison Rose was definitely a priority for me! I got this thing for all things pink. #sorrynotsorry. La Maison Rose is not just famous for its looks, it accumulated at least 100 years of history amongst the artist of Montmartre. Pablo Picasso, in particular, frequented the restaurant a lot back in the days as he was friends with the owner Laure Germaine.
DINNER AT AU CLARION DES CHASSEURS
Another restaurant that happily surprised me was Au Clarion Des Chausseurs, located on the Place du Tertre. Dinning in such touristy places is very much out of my comfort zone. The fear of walking into a tourist trap you know… But we had an amazing experience here! We wanted to have a taste of the real French cuisine and definitely found that here. There’s a three-course dinner special for € 16, which allows you to choose between several dishes. My aunt and I chose the Onion Soup as a starter and the Boeuf Bourguignon as a main. I had the Apple Cake for dessert and my aunt went for the cheese platter. All dishes were very good. The staff was also super nice and very helpful. Every night they are live-musicians making sure the ambiance is even better at the restaurant, so if you are looking for a good resto, this is it, you guys!
ENJOY CABARET AT THE MOULIN ROUGE
One of the most memorable things to do in that Montmartre is to attend a show at the Moulin Rouge. Ever since the opening in 1889, The Moulin Rouge is famous throughout the world for its legendary French Cancan and cabaret show. For sure you might have heard mixed opinions about the show. And you will either hate if or love it… But after watching the movie with Nicole Kidman & Ewan McGreggor, I wanted to go there and experience the extravaganza myself. And honestly I was it absolutely awe with the performances. Of course there were some naked boobies, but in an artsy kind of way. Nothing cheap or trashy. You can either catch a show at 9PM or at 11PM, but one thing is sure; you will have an entertaining night! There are several packages available including dinner and champagne, which will only make you experience richer, but we decided not to do that and went the second show instead.
STAY AT MAMA SHELTER PARIS EAST
There are many pleasant neighborhoods in Paris to stay, with some being closer to tourist attractions than others. I prefer to be a bit further of the mayor tourist attractions. Doing so you can find a lot of cool hotels at reasonable prices. A couple years ago a friend and I planned a Paris trip by car, and as we didn’t want to drive in the city center we looked for a hotel at the outskirts of Paris with a private parking. We then came across of Mama Shelter, a funky-chic design hotel in located in the 20th arrondissement of Paris and close to the Père Lachaise cemetery. If I would have to make a list with my favorite all-time hotels Mama Shelter would definitely be on it as it was love at first sight, well ok upon check-in! The 170 hotel rooms are hip and trendy and offer an entertainment system that allows you to watch TV and free movies on demand, listen to the radio, connect to the Internet (Airplay, Skype …). There are two restaurant at the hotel; a typical French one and a pizzeria. We have eaten at both and the food was absolutely amazing! So were the cocktails at the bar by the way. The group recently opened a second hotel, Mama Shelter Paris West. Make sure to check them out as you can find them in several cities; LA, London, Istanbul, Lille, Marseille…
CHRISTMAS SHOPPING AT GALERIES LAFAYETTE
Christmas is always a magical period, but Christmas in the City of Lights is from another level. While we were there the city was preparing for the most wonderful time of year and nobody does that like the biggest department store: Galeries Lafayette. Besides the beautiful window decorations, they have an ice skating rink upon the rooftop with views over the Eiffel Tower and Opéra Garnier. This year Galeries Lafayette Paris Haussmann was turned into a fantasy beehive with a giant Christmas tree under the famous dome. So very pretty!
“Aux Champs-Elysées, aux Champs-Elysées
Au soleil, sous la pluie, à midi ou à minuit
Il y a tout ce que vous voulez aux Champs-Elysées”
Anyone else feels like bursting out in song, whenever you are talking about the most beautiful avenue in the world? The famous Champs-Elysées runs from the Arc de Triomphe to the Place de la Concorde and no Paris visit is complete without spending some time there! The touristic highlight of the boulevard must be the Arc de Triomphe. My plan was to finally climb it this time and enjoy the gorgeous views, but the weather turned really bad at that point, so we skipped it.
Rain or shine my favorite spot upon the Champs-Elysées is one for every weather! Patisserie Ladurée, was founded in 1862 by Louis Ernest Ladurée. And what can I say, a girl can’t go to Paris without at least having a taste of their macaroons. For me this is a must-visit Parisian destination. When you enter the store, you are plunged into a world of pastel colors and sophistication. From the desserts to the decoration, everything is ‘simplement parfait’ at Ladurée!
The delicious macaroons may almost make you forget the reason why the Champs-Elysées is so popular in the first place! Right shopping! In this part of Paris, you can easily find what you’re looking for when it comes to shopping. Major brands or luxury boutiques, most of these stores are open late into the evening and every day of the week. Haute couture lovers can head to the Avenue Montaigne famous for its many luxury boutiques such as Dior and Chanel. The Louis Vuitton Champs-Elysées store attracts both fashionistas and curious peepz as this store is besides a boutique also museum dedicated to the fashion brand’s know-how.
- Buy a metro card! Paris is extremely walkable, but not all highlights are close to each other and if you want to give you feet a break now and down, this is the way to go! Paris’s metro system is cheap, easy to use and runs super frequently.
- For cheap trains to Paris make sure to check-out the website of Ouigo.