I want so badly to love Paris…but I just don’t. Something about the hustle and bustle of a seemingly romantic city just creates this oxymoron of confusion and I have found the small villages and outskirts much more charming…nonetheless, living just a couple short hours from Paris meant that we would be there more than a couple times…
Places to stay:
With my parents, we stayed at Elysees Mermoz Hotel because it was one of the few hotels that would sleep 3 to a room which was cheaper than getting two rooms…though I don’t think the rooms for just two were much better priced but I will say the breakfast they served was really nice and it was a good location just off the Champs Elyses
Other recommendations that were provided to us:
Air B&B – “A bit out of the major touristy area, but still so easily accessible by metro and cute neighborhood. Marais/Bastille neighborhood is the name. You also get a little better price given you aren’t on top of the Champs-Elysees.”
AIR BNB – “Also, a friend of a friend in Brussels owns an apartment near the Eiffel Tower. I haven’t stayed there before b/c I keep missing out on times/dates, but some of the people that have stayed have had nothing but great things to say.”
Reservations are highly encouraged in Paris but your hotel can do that for you and sometimes it can even be done online if you really want to ensure you’ll get in…
My husband and I found a restaurant called Afaria and had a great experience there, we still talk about it.
I took my parents to La Fontaine de Mars because it was close to the Eiffel tower (which is a must see at night as well as in the day) and we liked it. cute and quaint and the waiters spoke good English.
Ben and I went to Marie-Edith and really enjoyed it.
Have lunch at Le Carre Elysees which is just off the Champs Elysees. I had the best warm goat cheese salad.
Also close to the Eiffel tower is FL (eiffel) which a few friends recommended. I couldn’t get a table when we went (too last minute) so I would definitely recommend trying to book well in advance for a reservation if interested.
Le Fumoir is a restaurant near the eiffel tower and a friend said “It’s not too fancy. “If you go, you MUST get the iced coffee.”
Things to Do:
Of course, you’ll probably already have an agenda for the big museums – Louvre, Notre Dame, Sainte Chapelle, Arch de Triomph, Versailles, etc. If you plan to go through the major ones then I would recommend the Paris Museum Pass . It allows you to skip lines (HUGE benefit at the Eiffel Tower and Louvre) and pretty much pays for itself after just a few museums but you can gauge if this is something that would be beneficial for you. You can buy online or you can buy them at the airport, train stations, or other tourist offices. The website tells you the specifics.
I LOVE this little perfumery called Nicolai. They make all their perfumes and candles (not in the actual store). They have men’s and women’s scents. Beware the scent knocks you down when you walk in the store. I have a friend from Chicago who loves Nicolai who would actually order hers online to be delivered at my Belgian address so I could bring it back to her. She’s the one who introduced me to it! Their products make for great gifts and something unique. 28 rue de Richelieu 75001 Paris, France.
While on the Champs Elysees, you MUST go into Laduree for some macaroons (not the coconut kind – think this!) My favorite are the rose and violet but there is a wide assortment to choose from. Even if you just grab 1-2 to-go from the assortment station, it’s worth going into just for the beautiful decor. They also have a cafe you can sit at but I imagine reservations are a must. There’s also a location in the Louvre (a pit stop for me, always) that never has a line but the inside of the Champs Elysees location is worth the visit.
Rick Steves also does good self guided tours within his book and through iTunes (free I believe) of some major places which we’ve also found beneficial. Most of the museums have audio tours you can pay extra for otherwise.
Tripadvisor also has an app that you can download where you can search and download audio guides to your phone before you leave and use inside the museums.