Ahh Paris, je t’adore!!! Everything about Paris excites me – the sights, the culture, the food – incredible! I fell in love with French/Parisian culture when I was young (even though I hadn’t visited) from books read or movies watched and then learning the language in school. I’d been dreaming about visiting Paris for as long as I can remember and when we were planning our honeymoon, we just HAD to go! It was the last stop on our honeymoon and we were there for a week. I kid you not, the minute I stepped foot off of the plane at Charles de Gaulle airport, I was giddy and smiling ear to ear – Paris, j’ai arrivé!
Upon our return, I’ve pretty much asked BJ about going back (or moving there) at least 3-4 times a week. #nojoke So, when started discussing my 30th birthday this year, I wanted to go on a trip and of course France was a must. This trip we went to Paris and the Côte d’Azur (aka the French Riviera – and stayed in St. Tropez and Cap d’Antibes – if requested, I’m happy to do our favs there as well). While I chronicled much of the trip on Instagram/InstaStories, I’ve still been asked by many for our favorites/recommendations so, here you are!
Fun Fact: For my fellow Washingtonians/DC area residents or those that have visited DC, you may notice that the Paris’ street grid is very similar! Interesting, right?! “The streetscape of D.C. was designed by French-born American architect, Pierre Charles L’Enfant, whose design is very similar to that of Baron Haussmann’s restructured City of Lights” (source). For more on this unique similarity, click HERE.
Paris itself is divided into 20 arrondissements (or districts) and is divided into two sides by the Seine River, which flows between the Right and Left Banks. You will hear Parisians refer to their neighborhood by number and a rule of thumb is that the lower numbered arrondissements are closer to the center of the city.
A Few of My Favorite Neighborhoods:
- the 1st is great! Having stayed in the 1st this trip, we were able to explore much more of the neighborhood sights. Most notable sights in the 1st are Musée du Louvre, Jardin des Tuileries, le Palais Royal, Palais Garnier (Opéra) and if looking to shop there, visit Rue Saint-Honoré for to get your fashion fix! Fun Fact: Rue Cambon is in the 1st and is where CoCo Chanel’s apartment is located as well as her first store – an obvious must visit for those that know me 😉 #chanelinspired
- the 18th can’t be missed as Montmarte is a stunning and historic neighborhood! I loved taking a stroll along the colorful streets; often joined by musicians playing, artists drawing/painting-it has such a cool vibe. Most notable sight is Basilique du Sacré-Cœur (the view of the city from the steps is absolutely beyond). Montmarte is known for its’ artists – Picasso, Monet, Renoir and many more had studios there. Note: We walked Montmarte with a guide on our first trip there so we went to the best areas, I’d recommend either doing that or asking your concierge for their recommendations as some areas of the neighborhood are a little shady.
- the 6th or Saint‑Germain‑des‑Prés, is beautiful! I remember our first trip there, my hubby went on a mini shopping spree at the Ralph Lauren store (their 4(?)story store is located on Blvd. St. Germain). There are some great (and famous) restaurants in the neighborhood. I’d recommend taking a stroll along Rue Bonaparte as well and stumble upon the many cafés. Don’t miss visiting the Luxembourg Gardens – so lovely!
Where We Stayed:
On this trip to Paris we stayed at the Hotel Nolinski and it was fabulous! While we love the ‘bigs’ (Four Seasons, Park Hyatt, etc.) when we travel, there is something about luxe boutique hotels that are awesome! When we visited Paris on our honeymoon we stayed at the Saint James Paris – also a luxury, boutique hotel (apart of the Relais & Châteaux brand) and it was phenomenal (my hubby has dreams of modeling his future office after their library/bar/lounge – gives serious traditional, Ralph Lauren, rich wood vibes).
As far as location, Hotel Nolinski is located in the 1st arrondissement so there is so much to see and do. The hotel itself had beautiful decor, a restaurant adjacent (with really good food – it was our breakfast go-to this trip) and wonderful service.
*Tip: When looking for hotels, definitely stay in the city (more specifically, within the 20 arrondissements) as you are likely visiting Paris to actually spend your time there. While metro is known for being great and easily accessible (I wouldn’t know personally as I don’t use it, but I hear good things lol), why spend time commuting – instead walk around and really experience the city!
**Tip: Looking for restaurants/hot spots? Ask your concierge (especially if you are at a trendy boutique hotel like we were), they have great recommendations and hook ups to get you in hard to visit places!
My Favorite Sights to Visit:
- La Tour Eiffel – visit the top and grab a glass of champagne, darling!
- Trocadéro – the most iconic views of the Eiffel Tower and absolutely touristy, but, if you go early in the morning (sunrise or shortly thereafter) it is absolutely dreamy.
- Musée du Louvre *ask your concierge about the other entrance – locals know that you don’t wait in the line to enter via the Pyramid. And of course, the Mona Lisa!!
- Le Pont des Arts – I’m sad to report that the Love Lock Bridge is no more *insert crying emoji here* When BJ and I visited on our honeymoon (2014) we put a lock on the bridge and I swore when we went this time that I would be able to find it. Well, we heard rumors previously that they were starting to remove the locks because they were weakening the support of the bridge and I”m sorry to say they’ve been removed…thank goodness, I took a picture. You’ll notice people have put locks on other bridges around the city though.
- Le Jardin du Luxembourg
- Le Jardin du Palais Royal
- La Basilique du Sacré Cœur
- La Cathédrale de Notre Dame – it’s beautiful and even more dramatic in person!
- Musée d’Orsay
- Musée de l’Orangerie – we unfortunately didn’t make it this time, but it is home to Monet’s Water Lillies – definitely will be going next time!
- Arc de Triomphe – touristy for obvious reasons but beautiful views!
*Tip: I’ve heard from friends that it’s a must to get a Paris Museum Pass which is a huge help in skipping lines at the main attractions
My Favorite Day Trips
- Château de Versailles – hands down! It was absolutely magical to see in person and you could lost there for hours between the palace and gardens.
- Épernay – this visit we took a train to Reims and did a tour through the champagne region! One of our favorite stops was visiting Moët & Chandon, touring the cellers and doing a Dom Pérignon tasting on the stunning patio – fab! Both Reims and Épernay are very cute!
- It’s not a day trip just an excursion but I’d recommend a river cruise along the Seine – it’s a wonderful way to see Paris (especially at night). We did a dinner/tour cruise when we first visited.
My Favorite Places to Shop:
- L’Avenue Montaigne – my favorite – in my opinion it is the 5th Avenue of Paris. All of the fabulous, high end brands are there! Take a stroll, window shop (or go in, nudge your hubby, give him the eyes *hinty hinty* #happywifehappylife)
- Galeries Lafayette – Beautiful department stores, it was right near our hotel…accident?
- Chanel Boutique on Rue Cambon – as mentioned, if you are Coco Chanel obsessed as I am, this is iconic.
- Printemps – another fabulous department store.
*Tip: Unless you are looking for a specific designer/brand, wander into some of the boutiques they are lovely. And definitely stop by some of the street markets for unique finds and yummy treats!
A few of my Favorite Restaurants and Bars: *in no particular order*
I love to do food crawls…aka eat my way through a city…please, no judgement. #foodie
- Hotel Costes – it’s trendy and has amazing food! one word: CHEESECAKE – must.order. #yourewelcome
- L’Avenue – after a morning or afternoon of shopping along L’Avenue Montaigne – have lunch or dinner here. Great for people watching (you will also probably spy a familiar celebrity) – delish food – I believe it is actually the same owner as Hotel Costes.
- Ralphs – located on the main level/terrace of the Ralph Lauren flagship on Blvd. Saint-Germain. On a nice day, definitely eat on the terrace – have the burger!
- L’Atelier Etoile de Joël Robuchon – we went this visit and it was delicious – diverse menu and wonderful service – 1 Michelin star
- Ritz Bar (at the Ritz Paris) – cute bar and more contemporary vibe than Bar Hemingway
- Bar Hemingway (also at the Ritz Paris) – fabulous cocktails with great stories behind them. The cocktail menu looks like a newspaper and the decor is filled with Ernest Hemingway accessories and artwork. Order the Cucumber Martini – so good!
- Kong – If your a Sex and the City fan, you will remember this restaurant when Carrie meets Aleksander Petrovsky’s wife for lunch. Cool vibe and great view, but I will say the food is good but average.
- Hôtel Particulier Montmartre – this hidden gem located in Montmarte is so lovely and the food was very good. Dinner is served outside on the terrace and they have a cool, dimly lit lounge/bar downstairs. Also when you walk out of the main gates of the hotel look left! Because of its’ location on the hill you have an AMAZING view of Paris and the eiffel tower.
- Ladurée – well known for its delish macarons, Ladurée is also fabulous for breakfast and lunch! There are a few locations in Paris. We went to the one on the Champs Elysées.
- Le Bar at the George V (Four Seasons) – first off, I’d recommend going to visit the lobby of the George V if for no other reason to see what fabulous floral design renowned florist, Jeff Leatham, has dreamed up. The flowers throughout the hotel are just BEYOND! As for the bar, cool vibes and some of the best mixologists around.
- Pershing Hall – trendy, becomes a club at night, and good sushi!
Here are some restaurants that are on my ‘to visit’ list that we didn’t get to (but thought i’d share as well):
- Angelina – we passed by while walking near our hotel one day and I nudged Bj and told him I heard it’s great! It really must be as there was a line out the door. Angelina’s is known for it’s hot chocolate. We passed because of the line and it was warm out and couldn’t justify drinking something hot lol – next time we’ll suck it up and give it a try!
- Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée – seriously dreamy decor and chandeliers to die for!
- Maison Blanche – I want to go for the rooftop, panoramic views of the city (I heard the food is great too and I believe it becomes a club late at night)
- Le Relais de l’Entrecôte – rumored to have THE best steak frites in Paris (I heard the sauce is ridiculously amazing). You have to go right when they open and stand in line. No reservations, only one thing to order.
- Ferdi – I hear the churros are some kind of wonderful
- George V (located inside the Four Seasons)
- Restaurant Guy Savoy (unfortunately, they didn’t have a reservation available while we were there – it books up months in advance) – 3 Michelin stars
- Gabi Alves, the super sweet and amazing photographer we worked with, gave us some great recommendations that we were so bummed we couldn’t try as well! It’s always nice to find out the must try local spots: Le Chalet Sovoyard – which is said to have phenomenal fondue, Pedra Alta – which is said to be a go to for seafood, Ozio – for a pizza fix
I hope this is helpful! If you have any specific questions, don’t hesitate to ask! You can comment below, message me on social media, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
In exchange, I will be requesting to be your stowaway and go back with you! That’s fair, right??
photos by Gabi Alves Photography