I am having a brain freeze while writing this. Like many of us, I have not travelled in last 6 months and I am kind of starting to forget what travelling feels like. Most likely, it’s going to stay like this for a while until a vaccine is discovered! I live in Singapore, a tiny island nation, where inland/domestic travel doesn’t exist. Anyhow, till then I am enjoying looking at my old travel pictures and insta accounts of travel bloggers who have the luxury of domestic travel! 😊
I loved my time in Paris. I was kind of prepared that I will find the city overrated but I was so happy to be proven wrong. It was also the first time I was spending about 10 days in one city and that too without a detailed itinerary (daily activities chalked out). It felt great when the receptionist exclaimed—Wow! You are staying with us for 8 days. 😊
We stayed at this lovely boutique hotel in Porte Dorée, which is about a 30 minute train ride away from the Centre. There is a big park right in front. The tram as well as train stations are a few mins away from the hotel. We found it quite easy to commute via public transport. Staying in the suburbs gave us a totally different experience of life in Paris. Also, the hotel is a stone’s throw away from what is now my favourite bakery in the world! We were in Paris in February and we got great weather on few days (clear, cold, crisp) and it was a bit rainy and super windy on other days.
There are innumerable blogs saying Paris is probably the most romantic and beautiful city in the world. I think they are true–despite the typical challenges of a bustling mega city. The city has a great vibe and the skyline, the architecture and the boulevards are truly magical. I had background music playing in my head every time I stepped out of the hotel.
I won’t do a list of ‘best things to do’ or a day by day itinerary. There are too many blogs for that! As I mentioned, we didn’t follow any itinerary but went with the flow every morning. We spent more time at shops, cafes or places which appealed to us. I am sharing some of the most memorable snapshots of my trip. I am definitely going back, probably every year 😅
Champs Elysees, Ponte Alexandre III, Arc De Triomphe
On our first day, we took a leisurely walk along Champs Elysees, probably the most beautiful avenue in the world! It’s a long road that connects Place de la Concorde to Arc De Triomphe, with lots of shopping centres and restaurants on either side. Top of Arc De Triomphe is a great way to admire the avenue!
While Champs Elysees was great, I found the avenue perpendicular to it a lot more to my taste. It connects the Grand Palais, Petit Palais to Invalides with the ornate Alexandre III Bridge over the river Seine. This bridge was also my favorite spot to watch the sunset, one of most memorable ones ever!
Monmartre, Sacre Couer, Wall of Love
Montmartre is a hill located in northern part of Paris. Basilica Sacre Coeur is located here. It’s also famous for its cobblestoned streets, artists, charming cafes and bakeries. You will find a lot of tourists here queueing up for insta worthy pictures. I found this area to be very charming. On our first visit, it was so windy that the Basilica Dome was closed. We visited again on a bright and sunny day for some sweeping views over Paris! Probably the best views of Paris because the Basilica is located at the highest point of the city.
You can easily spend a day walking and exploring this area. Check out the love wall which has ‘I love you’ written in almost every language, Moulin Rouge–the iconic cabaret in Paris, windmills and quaint cafes.
Paris Opera/Palais Garnier, Concorde, Galaries Lafayette
This was one of my favourite days. Palais Garnier or Paris Opera house is exquisite. The architecture is breathtaking and opulent (so much gold!). The audio guide was really nice as well which made the trip very informative. Did you know that Phantom of the Opera was inspired by real events at this opera house?
After that, we strolled through the majestic boulevards and shopped a bit at the iconic Galaries Lafayette. You can also go up the terrace for a nice view of the city and Boulevard Hausmann underneath. By evening, we strolled along Place de la Concorde and ended with a nice dinner nearby!
Sainte Chapelle, Notre Dame, Shakespeare and Company
Notre Dame remains closed for renovation after fire incident. Nonetheless, we admired the facade from outside. Hopefully next time it will be open!
Another gem on Ile de la cite, the natural island over Seine, is the Gothic Sainte Chapelle. There is a funny story behind our visit. When we entered the chapel, we were quite disappointed that it looks nothing like the pictures. Then we realized we need to go one level up! And we were bedazzled by what we saw. The stained glass covered interior is one of the most beautiful church interiors I have ever seen!
As a book lover, Shakespeare and Company was on my to-do list. So, I spent sometime there (if you are lucky the cat upstairs may decide to laze next to you). Ended up buying few books to take back home at really low prices.
Latin Quarter, Pantheon, Jewish Quarter
Shakespeare and Co. is located in the Latin quarter and was our starting point to exploring this area. You will find a lot of universities here and hence lots of students which gives it a very lively, vibrant vibe. The name itself is derived from Middle ages when Latin was widely used in the universities in this area. We walked all the way to Pantheon and chilled there on the benches for a while to soak in the atmosphere.
We explored Le Marais or Jewish quarter on our last day. You will find lots of Israeli and Middle Eastern food here along with some really good crepe cafes. My find of the day was a beautiful boutique jewellery shop on Rue de Rosiers. There are many trendy and quirky shops in this area so I ended shopping quite a bit!!
Jardin Du Luxembourg, Catacombs
Paris has quite a few beautiful gardens. Unfortunately, we couldn’t enjoy them as much since we were there in winters but we got our share of sunshine for a while at Jardin du Luxembourg. Also caught a peek at a cute little rainbow!
From there we headed to the Catacombs. It was a super unique and interesting experience. It was my first ever Catacomb visit so if you are also unaware–Catacomb is basically an underground ossuary (storage for bones of the dead). In the late eighteenth century, the overflowing cemeteries of Paris started to create health issues, so the authorities decided to transport the remains to these underground shafts.
There is an eerie atmosphere underground with all the skeletal remains around you. The Catacombs have apparently become a novelty place for private events and concerts!
Eiffel Tower, Trocadero, Seine Cruise
Eiffel needs no introduction. Make sure you buy your tickets for the observatory and show up at the exact time slot booked. It’s super windy up there so if you are going at night, especially in winters, you will need more layers and ear covers. The view is amazing. I know a lot of people say it’s not the best since you cannot see Eiffel itself. But still, I thought its pretty nice. I felt like I am on top of the world!! Make sure to catch the light show which happens every hour for 5 minutes after sunset.
There are many spots from where you can get a good view of Eiffel tower. We chose Trocadero– took some pictures, had breakfast at Cafe Du Trocadero which was right opposite with a nice view and then went for a cruise over Seine. Cruise is touristy, to be honest, but I did not mind it. Its good to sometimes just sit and watch the world go by!
Musee D’Orsay, Louvre
Paris is full of museums so we decided in this trip we will visit Musee D’Orsay and Louvre. Louvre is huge and a bit difficult to navigate. On the contrary, I loved Musee D’Orsay. It is housed in a building which was once a railway station. The collection of paintings here is amazing and I found the navigation to be very convenient as well. After this, we walked along the Seine all the way to Ponte Alexandre III to catch a beautiful sunset.
Montparnasse is a skyscraper with an observation deck that gives amazing 360 deg views over Paris. It was the tallest skyscraper in Paris when its construction was completed back in 2011.
So, now that we have established that we climbed almost every tower/building to see Paris, which one was our favourite? I will vote for Sacre Coeur and Montparnasse!
We did a day trip to Versailles to visit the beautiful Palace of Versailles. It’s a short 40 minute train ride away. Despite having pre-booked tickets, we queued up for 30-40 minutes as the entrance is a narrow one and security clearance is slow as well.
You can download their app which has detailed maps and audio guides. The palace is massive and quite exquisite not just with its ornate interiors but also with its majestic gardens and fountains. We spent almost the entire day exploring the palace.
Food Recommendations: Here are some places we loved during our time in Paris.
- Patchanka for a cozy, exclusive dining experience. They serve Argentinian food with a modern touch and the service is amazing. This was my favourite meal in Paris.
2. Bistrot Instinct for fine dining at affordable prices.
3. Le Sanglier Bleu for a lovely meal near Montmartre. It was raining and this was the nearest restaurant. By chance, it turned out to be a nice and romantic meal.
4. Francois Felix near Place de la Concorde has a nice vibe. Food and drinks are pricey but good. This one was a friend’s recommendation.
5. Cafeotheque for great coffee, fresh juice and pastries near Notre Dame. The ambience, decor of this cafe is very hip and laid back. We loved this cafe and spent much more than budgeted time here!
6. Le Peloton for nice coffee and waffles.
7. Angelina for a lavish and historical dining experience. It reminded me of my 30th birthday celebrations at Peninsula, Hong Kong. Angelina’s hot chocolate is as decadent as it can get!
8. Happy Caffe for cheap and delicious crepes on the go.
9. Le Grenier a Pain Abbesses for amazing croissants and pastries. We bought a whole bunch of stuff from here because everything looked so good. Both sweet and savoury items turned out equally amazing.
10. Le Fouquet’s crepes for a quick bite on Champs Elysees. The banana nutella/salted caramel crepe is very nice.
11. Hotel Lutetia’s Bar Josephine for an indulgent evening. We had our anniversary drinks here and it was a jazz night! The ambience, decor and music were all stunning!
12. Creperie Suzette for delicious crepes in Marais/jewish quarter.
13. Cascades for croque madames and desserts. We had a tarte tatin which was really good!
14. Restaurant de la Tour for a lovely meal near Eiffel. The scallops are too good!