Winter In Paris : Trip Recap
After spending New Years Eve in Belgium, we traveled to Paris on New Years Day. We planned on taking the train but the fares were outrageous on New Years Day and I didn't anticipate that since all of our other train trips had been very reasonable. Since there were four of us, we decided to price out how much it would be to hire a driver to drive us from Ghent to Paris and it actually ended up being more economical and way more convenient - picking us up and dropping us off door to door. You live and you learn!
We spent nearly a whole week in Paris which allowed us to experience so much and still go at a more relaxed pace with my parents. My mom and dad had been to Paris for one day when they visited me while studying abroad in London, which is where they met Austin. We actually covered a lot of ground that day, but weren't able to go in any museums or explore.
I might add that I had spent the entire night before planning an epic circumnavigation around the city of Paris with fun facts and tidbits to boot! Had to make a good first impression after all. Take note fellas!
While the weather was not great in Paris, it could have been much worse and I still would recommend visiting Paris around Christmas. It was really beautiful and way less crowded than the summer- fall and spring are definitely the best times to go though, but those are harder seasons for us to travel.
Paris will always hold a special place in our hearts, and every time we visit the feelings of nostalgia and the beginning of our life together come to the surface as if they were just yesterday. We are so thankful to have been to Paris several times together, including having our first date while Austin studied abroad here, getting engaged in Paris, and the several trips in between and since then! It's our favorite city in the world and one we will always be ready to travel back too!
So many famous and cliche quotes about Paris come to mind when reflecting on our time there initially and each time we return. "Paris is always a good idea (Audrey Hepburn)." "Paris is a moveable feast (Hemingway)"."The American in Paris is the best American (Fitzgerald)". "The chief danger about Paris is that it is such a strong stimulant (T.S. Eliot)." All seem to capture what the city truly means to both of us.
Where We Stayed:
In Paris, my parents stayed at a hotel and we stayed in an AirBnB. We wanted my parents to have all the amenities of a hotel and the location of being near everything they wanted to see. They stayed at the Renaissance Paris Vendome and it was great! The perfect location in the 1st arrondissement- right on the Tuileries and close to the Louvre and Place Vendome.
We chose to stay in our favorite neighborhood Le Marais in the 4th arrondissement. We love the historic, quaint, and narrow streets and the closeness to Place des Vosges and the Seine for scenic walks home each night. We've stayed in this neighborhood four times now and we feel like we know it like the back of our hands. We always stay in an apartment that's listed on AirBnB. In Paris, 9 times out of 10 the apartment is not lived in and only used for renting out so it's nice that you get that homey feel without feeling like you're intruding on someone's stuff. We have gotten good deals in the past on 1 bedroom apartments being much less expensive than hotels.
Day 1 in Paris:
- Walked through Place Vendome and window shopped and looked at the Christmas lights that were still up.
- Walked to the tourism office and got maps and window shopped on Rue St. Honore.
- We dropped my parents off at their hotel and started our walk home through the Tuileries and watched the Eiffel Tower sparkle from there.
- We walked around the outside of the Louvre and down the Seine and then through the Marais and stopped for a glass of red wine at La Belle Hortense, a bar/library.
- On our way home for the night, we stopped by L'as Du Fallafel (which is always a must-stop for us!) and split a fallafel sandwich.
- Woke up and took a walk along the Seine to my parents’ hotel. Along the way we stopped and got chocolate croissants
- Toured Musee d’Orsay and saw some of our favorite impressionist art like…
- Ate lunch nearby at La Fregate. We all had beef bourguignon and split a lemon tart.
- We headed to Rodin Museum and saw Austin and my favorite sculpture…
- My parents went back to the hotel to rest and Austin and I went to wait in line for over an hour to get into the Dior Exhibit at the Musee des Arts Decoratifs (will follow up with a separate blog post about this because it was my favorite thing that we did in Paris)
- For dinner we all went to our favorite restaurant in Paris Chez Mademoiselle and ate a baguette with mozzarella, steak, and the best chocolate mousse with mascarpone cream. AMAZING! Put it on your itinerary for sure.
- Started the day at our favorite patisserie, La Petite Versailles, and got our favorite almond croissants.
- Went to Place des Vosges to hang out but it was closed that day so we went in the Victor Hugo Museum. He was the author of Les Miserables and lived in an apartment in Place Des Vosges while writing it and his home is now a museum.
- We stopped for tea and coffee at Carette and got to sit outside.
- We stuck around Place des Vosges and explored Hotel de Sully garden and Rein Pavilion and bought tea at Dammann…
- We hiked in the rain to a store I have loved for years but only shopped online- Sezane. It was amazing and I bought two sweaters and I could have bought everything in the store.
- We visited a new to us museum, Museum Gustav Moreau. It is housed in the painter's home and showcases his studio, friends' works, and eclectic and dream-like, large pieces of art. It's also a beautiful museum on its own.
- We walked over to the Galleries Lafeyette and window shopped while enjoying all the Christmas lights.
- We had dinner at Le Castiglione by my parents hotel and ate French Onion Soup.
- Started the day with almond croissants again
- Took a tour of the Opera Garnier which was very good. Such a beautiful theater with so much history, like the setting for Phantom of the Opera.
I am 0-3 on actually seeing a production there. This simply has to happen next visit.
- We stopped at a sidewalk café and had tea and coffee before we walked to see my favorite piece of art at the Musee Orangerie.
- Seeing Monet’s "Water Lillies" at Musee Orangerie is always a showstopper. They are massive and spectacular and there are eight of them and each take up an entire wall in two rooms. They are masterpieces and you can spend all day in awe of each detail.
- My dad and I were the only ones brave enough to ride the ferris wheel in the Tuileries and got a great view of the Eiffel Tower, Place de Concorde, and The Louvre. While we were riding, Austin and my mom went to Angelina’s which is famous for their hot chocolate and Austin also got a Mont Blanc which was a pastry with a whipped cream and hazelnut frosting.
- We went to dinner in St. Germain at Le Procope which is the oldest restaurant in Paris, beginning in 1686. I got the coq au vin and Austin got a veal stew in a white sauce that he loved.
- We walked around St. Germain on Rue du Four, Rue des Rennes, Rue des Raspail, and Rue des Sevres. Abby bought a dress at Maje and it’s beautiful and looks like something 1950s Barbie would wear.
- We also walked around Bon Marche before heading home to bed early.
- We sought out breakfast on Ill St. Louis at Café St. Regis and it was one of my favorite meal experiences in Paris. It was so quiet and calm with only locals walking around the tiny island in the middle of the Seine. We shared café au laits, amazingly rich scrambled eggs and croissants and people watched everyday Parisians.
- We walked across the Seine and explored St. Germain. We went into the Pantheon, discovered a record shop called “La Dame Blanche” and got a classical music record and Edith Piaf vinyl.
- We stopped for lunch near the Luxemburg Gardens at Au Petit Suisse which was the tiniest restaurant and that is saying something for a Parisian restaurant. We got a croque madame and croquet provincial which had roasted peppers and onions in it. And it was a tasty and lively meal.
- We walked through Luxemburg Gardens in the rain which is one of my favorite parks in Paris so we were disappointed to not get to spend more time here.
- We walked over to the Officine Universelle Buly which is a perfume shop that was established in 1803 and I bought a way too expensive perfume but it’s an amazing souvenir and I still love it.
- We tried to walk to St. Chapelle (which we highly recommend visiting on any trip to Paris!) but we were a little too late and it had closed for the day. So we walked back towards Pont Alexandre III bridge and saw the most gorgeous sunset over the Eiffel Tower! After all the days of rain that was such a treat and I’ve never seen a sunset more beautiful (as seen in pictures!)
- After the sun set, we walked to the Champs de Elysees and up to the Arc de Triomphe. We had never climbed to the top before so we climbed up and the Eiffel Tower sparkle from the top. Great view! Recommend it!
- We grabbed chocolate almond croissants for breakfast and took the metro to Montmarte to meet my mom and dad. We walked around and had lunch at Le Consulat.
- Since this is the neighborhood where Austin and I had our first date and subsequently got engaged, we showed my parents around to all the important spots for us! We walked up to Place de Tetre where all the artists sketch and paint and you can walk around and buy something special to take home. The restaurant La Mere Catherine where Austin and I had our first date was closed and being gutted! We hope they bring it back in some form but it was quite sad for us! We had such good memories there.
- We walked up to Sacre – Coeur and walked around the church, lit our candle, said our prayers, and continued exploring Montmarte.
- We stopped for coffee at hipstery coffee shop Cuillier and Austin loved his latte.
The coffee scene in Paris is really awesome right now with roasteries and spots popping up
all over town. Hard to get a bad cup.
- We took my parents back to our Airbnb in Le Marais to show them our apartment and walked to Place des Vosges again. It was open this day so we walked through it and showed my parents the Victor Hugo Museum and we had dinner at Carrette. My mom got beef bourguignon, Austin got a duck filet and my dad and I split a club sandwich and all were good! We also all got hot cocoa which was really delish!
- We went back to our apartment to start packing for our trip home and got hungry again so we decided to check out Candelaria – a tiny taco shop with a speakeasy in the back! It was great and we highly recommend for something out of the box in Paris!
Any chance to get to Paris is a good idea and so so worth it. Whether you're fighting the crowds in the summer or the cold in the winter, I can't recommend the City of Light enough. It will always be Abby and I's special place. And what made this trip even more special was sharing it with some of our family. Honestly, what's better than having a blast in a place you love, doing things you love, than doing all that with people you love? I can tell you we're already bookmarking new neighborhoods to explore and saving pictures of food, architecture, and stores all over Paris. While we are not sure when the next trip will come, I can say for sure that it can't come soon enough!