Let me start this post by saying how grateful I am for the friends that gave me a reality check that visiting Paris and Rome during a 4-day European trip would be too much. Thank you, thank you, thank you! It felt like four days went by much too quickly in this beautiful city. I was amazed that we were able to see all of the sites that were at that top of our list and that we didn’t feel rushed. It would have been icing on the already amazing cake to spend a few extra days sitting around in coffee shops, strolling through shops, and exploring the outskirts of the city, but I’m so grateful for the time we had there.
I remember reading somewhere about how photogenic Paris is- that it’s impossible to take a bad photo. This is so true. Even with gray skies, the beauty of Paris still shines through. This city is like a painting everywhere you look.
Our first day in Paris was mostly dedicated to getting ourselves set up logistically. The ten hour flight along with the time change had us both feeling pretty exhausted, but we were determined to get ourselves set on Paris time as best we could. By the time we got to bed on our first night we had been up well over 24 hours- talk about walking zombies! It took awhile to get out of the airport mainly because we had to figure out our rental car situation. One tip I have for anyone planning to visit Paris is to avoid renting a car if possible. I wish I had read one of the many articles out there that talk about the tricky city driving. Sometimes I think LA city streets can be tricky to maneuver, but you haven’t seen anything until you’ve tried driving in Paris.
The good news is that public transportation is efficient and pretty easy to figure out. We got an Expedia tour pass which included 4 days of free public transportation, free museum entrance (which helped out so much to avoid the long ticket lines!) and a tour bus pass, which I’d totally recommend if you don’t have a lot of time to spend in the city (or even if you do!).
We stayed at the Pullman Paris Montparnasse. If you like modern hotels, I’d totally recommend staying here. We had an amazing view of Paris from our window, and we were really close to the metro and bus stations. Beware of the outrageously expensive parking, or just avoid it by not renting a car :-)
On our second day we picked up our Expedia tour passes and then headed straight to the Musee d’Orsay. I LOVED this museum. First of all, it’s cool that the museum was once a train station- just seeing the building itself is reason enough to visit. But, if that doesn’t do it for you, you can say hello to paintings from the likes of Monet, Manet, and Renoir.
After spending a few hours in the museum, we walked along the River Seine, admiring the bridges, buildings, and overall beautiful architecture.
On our third day we spent almost the entire day touring the Palace of Versailles and Marie Antoinette’s garden. I was in complete awe of the palace itself, but especially the expansive gardens. Marie Antoinette’s garden was like something out of a fairytale. The pictures here really don’t do it justice. It was also here that I enjoyed the best cup of hot chocolate that I’ve ever tried. We spent the rest of the day exploring Notre Dame, walking the streets, and of course overindulging in delicious pastries.
On our fourth and final day we visited the Louvre. I almost had a meltdown when I saw a sign that the museum would be closed due to a strike against pickpockets. Thankfully, the museum still opened up mid-morning (cue happy cheers!) and we spent most of the afternoon walking the halls. The museum is a converted palace that royalty used before the palace of Versailles. I felt like the layout was partly amazing and partly downright confusing, but I can see why the Louvre is such a treasured museum.
We also enjoyed a bus trip all around the city and made a special stop at the Arch de Triumph where we climbed to the top to get some amazing city views.
Most of our stops were at the super touristy places, but I didn’t mind that one bit. These have been the places that I’ve dreamed of visiting for the last 10 years, so making this trip a reality was truly the coolest thing ever.
Have you been to Paris? Is so, what were some of your favorite spots? If I ever go back I’ll be seeking out recommendations for all of the cool less-known places ;-)